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The Internationalist
October 2023

Zionist Revenge After Hamas Offensive Shakes Israel to the Core

Defend the Palestinians Against
U.S./Israel Genocidal War on Gaza!

The full-scale Zionist destruction of Gaza has begun. Rather than hitting individual buildings, as in 2021 and 2014, now the Israeli air force is leveling whole districts, giving no warning to the inhabitants. Above: Palestinians survey extent of damage in Al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza, October 9.  (Photo: Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times)

Drive the Zionists Out of the West Bank and Gaza
For International Workers Action Against the Attack on Gaza

For an Arab-Hebrew Palestinian Workers State
In a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!

OCTOBER 10 – In the early morning hours of Saturday, October 7, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza carried out a stunning surprise attack on Israel, the Zionist state that has driven millions of Palestinian Arabs from their homeland and oppresses millions more in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and within Israel. Reportedly over 5,000 missiles were launched, reaching as far as Tel Aviv, overwhelming Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile shield. The massive, 30-foot high, 40-mile long border wall that completely surrounds the Gaza Strip was breached in numerous places and Hamas fighters poured out, overrunning two dozen Israeli communities. At this time (October 10) the Israeli military is reporting over 900 Israelis dead, while Palestinian medical authorities report almost 800 Palestinians killed, mostly by Israeli air strikes in densely populated Gaza. In addition, there are thousands of injured on both sides.

The unprecedented number of Israeli dead has deeply shaken the Jewish population. The Zionist media talk of Israeli forces’ “Catastrophic Failure” (Haaretz) while Arab publications hail Hamas’ “Decisive Blow,” headlining “From Indignation to Jubilation” (Al Mayadeen). Western media and politicians denounce pro-Palestinian demonstrators as “apologists for terrorism.” For the first time in more than half a century of clashes, more Israelis were killed than Palestinians. (The usual figure is more than 20 Palestinians dead for every Israeli.1) Israel’s military is quickly turning that around and has already begun, once again, to turn the giant concentration camp that is Gaza into a killing field of Palestinians. Already more than 1,200 homes in Gaza have been destroyed, and as Israel’s rightist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed, the bloody assault on Gaza is “just the beginning.” As for Israel’s patrons in Washington, who pose as champions of “human rights,” they are responsible for the deaths of close to a million people in U.S. imperialist wars just since 2001.2

In a matter of minutes, using simple earthmoving equipment Hamas fighters broke through border fence that cost Israel billions and took years to build. The hated fence kept Palestinians locked up for decades in a Nazi-style concentration camp, “the world’s largest prison,” unable to leave and dependent on their Israeli (and Egyptian) jailers for food, fuel, water and electricity.  (Photo: Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa / Reuters)

Currently, the United States under Democratic president Joe Biden is running a bloody proxy war against Russia in Ukraine under the watchword “as long as it takes” – meaning, to fight to the last Ukrainian. But that, and previous squabbling with Netanyahu, hasn’t gotten in the way of Washington marching in lockstep with the perennial hardline Zionist Israeli leader (almost 17 years in office, on and off) as he prepares to flatten Gaza. Israel has requested, and the Pentagon said it will supply, more precision-guided munitions from the U.S. (The Pentagon sent 155-mm. artillery shells from its stockpiles in Israel to Ukraine, but now Israel’s military requires the arms as it gears up to occupy Gaza.) Meanwhile, Biden’s vow – and that of just about every other imperialist leader – that “Israel has a right to defend itself” amounts to giving the Zionist state a “license to kill” Palestinians. This is now an Israel/U.S. war on Gaza.

Any real blow against the Zionist state by Palestinian forces, even by reactionary Islamists, is in the interests of the workers and oppressed of the world. But along with striking at the Israeli military, Hamas fighters carried out an indiscriminate terror attack, killing some hundreds of Israeli party-goers, residents of kibbutz communities and apartment dwellers in southern cities. This is not striking at the Zionist occupation machine but a random assault on Israelis that undermines the defense of the Palestinian people. Such a jihad (holy war) is the method of right-wing nationalists and religious zealots, such as the Islamists of Hamas … and of Zionist militarists of all political stripes. Now the misnamed Israel Defense Force (IDF) is doing the same on a far larger scale, against the entire population of Gaza. The toll will quickly surpass the hundreds of Palestinians the IDF murdered in its 2021 attack on Gaza.

In almost all the imperialist countries, there are now moves to suppress any and all support for Palestinians and enforce a Zionist monopoly on political space. In Germany, pro-Palestinian protests have been banned in Berlin. In France, pro-Palestinian demonstrations scheduled for Paris, Lyon and Marseille have likewise been banned, on the bogus grounds that they “incite racial hate.” Meanwhile, the justice minister has launched an investigation of the leftist Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) and called for a “swift and firm penal response” to any support for Palestine, claiming that this is equal to anti-Semitism. In Italy, the education minister dispatched inspectors to investigate and possibly jail student collectives in Milan that have come out in favor of the Palestinians. It is necessary to denounce and defy these bans and threats, and to link protests against the NATO imperialist war in Ukraine with defense of the Palestinian people. This could include workers action against the shipment of arms to Israel and Ukraine.

Biden speaking at the White House the day after venomous announcement that the U.S. would supply Israel with “what it needs” in weaponry to bomb Gaza into smithereens. This is an Israel/U.S. war on the Palestinians. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Sipa)

In the U.S., the Democratic Party is whipping up pro-Zionist hysteria. New York governor Kathy Hochul went on the warpath against the NYC Democratic Socialists of America for promoting an October 8 pro-Palestinian demonstration she called “repugnant.” She is in effect putting a target on the back of anyone who dares to speak up in defense of a besieged people. What is truly vile is the support of Democrats and Republicans for the Zionist murder machine. Hochul was joined in this by New York City mayor, ex-cop Eric Adams, who recently returned from a junket to Israel, where he currently has a delegation NYPD cops for “training.” At the same time, several universities are “investigating” students and student groups who have come out in defense of Palestinian rights. It is necessary to confront this new McCarthyite witch-hunting head-on.

Yet DSA Democrats in Congress echoed Biden’s vituperation. Their star, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, issued an October 9 statement, “I condemn Hamas’ attack in the strongest possible terms.” While piously calling for “an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation,” her statement had not a word of criticism of Israel or defense of Palestinians. Another member of AOC’s “Squad,” Jamaal Bowman, made a similar statement.3 Now (October 10) the NYC DSA is backing away from its earlier stance, saying it is “sorry for the confusion our post caused.” All DSAers, as members of this pro-imperialist organization, are complicit in the shameful capitulation before the Zionist and imperialist censors. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, at least called to lift the blockade, end the occupation and dismantle the suffocating system that produces resistance.

At the White House today, Biden declared: “In this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel,” adding that “we will make sure that Israel has what it needs” to attack Gaza. So in this moment, as the imperialist warmongers are insisting it is “which side are you on,” we are equally clear: as Israel is dropping U.S.-supplied bombs on mosques, schools and hospitals, murdering worshipers, schoolchildren and patients, all opponents of imperialism and Zionism must stand with the Palestinian people, oppressed by Israel since its inception, and now subject to genocidal attack.

The Internationalist Group, U.S. section of the League for the Fourth International, has joined recent pro-Palestinian protests with signs calling to “Defend Gaza, Defeat Israeli-U.S. War on Palestinians!” and “Defend Palestinians’ Right to Return!” We called “For Workers Action Against Zionist Terror,” and declared, “Defend Gaza, the New Warsaw Ghetto! Expel Zionist Occupiers from the West Bank!” Our signs call as well as to defeat the U.S./NATO war drive against Russia and China, for full citizenship rights for all immigrants, to break with the Democrats and build a revolutionary workers party, and to fight for an Arab-Hebrew Palestinian workers state in a socialist federation of the Middle East.

Bitter Fruits of Decades of Bloody Zionist Occupation

Israeli tanks line up in preparation of ground invasion of Gaza that can only be a genocidal slaugher of Palestinians. Drive the Zionists out of Gaza and the occupied West Bank!  (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg / AP)

Courageous Israeli journalist Amira Hass, who has reported from and lived in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank for decades, wrote in the liberal Zionist daily Haaretz (10 October):

“In a few days Israelis went through what Palestinians have experienced as a matter of routine for decades, and are still experiencing – military incursions, death, cruelty, slain children, bodies piled up in the road, siege, fear, anxiety over loved ones, captivity, being targets of vengeance, indiscriminate lethal fire at both those involved in the fighting (soldiers) and the uninvolved (civilians), a position of inferiority, destruction of buildings, ruined holidays or celebrations, weakness and helplessness in the face of all-powerful armed men, and searing humiliation.”

The Hamas operation, on air, land and sea – using bulldozers to break through the massive fortifications that Israel spent billions to build, and which have confined Gazans for decades in their barren strip of land; vaulting over the wall on improvised paragliders; knocking out military communications, seizing an Israeli army base, taking out Israeli tanks with drones – caused celebration in much of the Arab world and shock in the Zionist government. Its security apparatus apparently had no inkling of the elaborate operation, which had to involve hundreds of people over many months of preparation. Israel’s vaunted Mossad spy agency, whose deadly skullduggery has become a staple of Hollywood thrillers, was caught flatfooted. The arrogant Israeli leaders, who revel in subjugating Palestinians, were dealt a blow.

Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant orders a racist, genocidal siege of Gaza. (Photo: Middle East Observer / X)

The Zionist leaders are now out for bloody revenge. Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant declared on Tuesday (October 9), “We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything will be closed. We are fighting against human animals. We act accordingly.” This vile declaration of intent to commit genocide is from one of the more “moderate” elements of the hard-right government, who opposed Netanyahu’s judicial reform that hundreds of thousands of liberal Zionists have mobilized against for months. Netanyahu himself said that what the Israeli government was about to do to Gaza “will reverberate with them for generations.” This talk is echoed by U.S. president Biden, who today declared the Hamas attack “pure, unadulterated evil.” That would be a better description of U.S. imperialism’s murderous wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and now in Ukraine.

For 16 years, ever since Hamas took over the territory in 2007, more than 2 million people have been penned up in the tiny Gaza Strip, smaller than the New York City borough of Queens, unable to leave what amounts to the largest prison in the world. Controlled by Israel and Egypt, Gazans are deprived of jobs, dependent on their jailers for food, water, fuel and on the United Nations for meager essential services. The Palestinian population of the West Bank, under Israeli occupation since 1967, is confined to even smaller enclaves, subject to repeated murderous incursions by IDF hit squads and fascist settler gangs. Keep an entire population locked up for decades, condemning them to a threadbare existence, and what did Israel expect? People who feel they have nothing left to lose may strike out in rage.

For Arab-Hebrew Workers Revolution!

Last November, Netanyahu took office yet again, this time at the head of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, including two ministers from the fascist movement of the late Meir Kahane, Bezalel Smotrich (finance minister, also in charge of the West Bank) and Itamar Ben-Gvir (national security minister, in charge of the police). Ever since, there has been a string of provocative police/army attacks on Palestinian cities on the West Bank, particularly in Jenin, searching for “militants.” More than 200 Palestinians were killed in 2023 already before the October 7 attack. And last week, “More than 800 Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday morning under the protection of Israeli forces” (New Arab, 5 October). None of this is mentioned in the Western media, of course.

October 6 was the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel shook under a surprise attack by Egypt and other Arab countries. It can’t be an accident that Hamas staged its attack early on the next day. In its announcement of the assault, “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” Hamas’ military arm cited the attacks on the Jerusalem mosque, and the over 5,000 Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails. Hamas justified taking hostages in order to exchange them for the imprisoned Palestinians. Defenders of democratic rights have long called for release of the thousands of Palestinians who are being held by Israel as hostages. But in the present atmosphere, it is doubtful that concern for the lives of Israeli hostages will hold off the Zionist military invasion of Gaza for even a minute.

It is also certainly not accidental that the dramatic Hamas attack came after the huge protests of hundreds of thousands against Netanyahu’s judicial “reform” that would eliminate the ability of Israel’s Supreme Court to block decisions and policies voted by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Although liberal and “left” Zionists (and their U.S. backers) call this a “coup” by Netanyahu, the present situation, where a few unelected judges can veto the actions of the elected parliament, is highly undemocratic. The real issue is that the Zionist state itself is anti-democratic to the core, a religiously defined “Jewish state” based on the subjugation of the Palestinian population, whether as second-class “citizens” in Israel itself, or as subjects without rights in the occupied West Bank. Yet the liberal Zionists have rigorously excluded any Palestinian flags from their protests.

Speaking at the United Nations on September 22, Israeli prime minister brandished a jumbo marker to draw a map of “The New Middle East” in which the occupied West Bank and Gaza were annexed to the Zionist state. (Photo: Richard Drew / AP)

Hamas may also have calculated that the Biden administration in the U.S. was preoccupied with the war in Ukraine, and thus less able to intervene, which is far from the case; and that its attack would be make it more difficult for Arab regimes to “normalize” relations with Israel, which could turn out to be accurate. Speaking at the United Nations last month, Netanyahu held up a map of the “new Middle East,” and with a red jumbo marker drew an axis extending from the United Arab Emirates across Saudi Arabia and Israel (including the West Bank and Gaza) to Europe. But while such a Zionist pipe dream may be off the agenda for now, the fighting in Israel could spark a regional war. The U.S. moved a naval battle group to the eastern Mediterranean as a warning to Iran not to intervene, but a massacre in Gaza could set off explosive unrest throughout the region.

For now, the liberal Zionists are closing ranks with Netanyahu, as negotiations for a “national unity” government are underway which would include Benny Gantz, the retired general who ran against Netanyahu in the October 2022 elections. While being sold to the Zionist “left” as a way to rein in the fascist ministers, Gantz is no “dove,” having commanded the previous massacre of Palestinians in Gaza in 2021 as defense minister in an earlier “unity” government led by Netanyahu. A full-scale invasion of Gaza will doubtless produce significant casualties in the IDF, as Hamas forces capable of overcoming the border wall in minutes will certainly have prepared deadly traps inside Gaza.4 But no matter what the scale of Israeli losses, the impending Israeli ground attack (for which the IDF has mobilized over 360,000 reservists) will be nothing but a deliberate slaughter of Palestinians.

Many Palestinians living under the yoke of Israeli occupation and Palestinian activists abroad were elated by the Hamas attack. The bourgeois-nationalist PLO and the deeply discredited Palestine Authority it leads are nothing but security guards for Israel, paid for by the United States through the U.S. Security Coordinator, a Pentagon lieutenant general. While it has grown at the expense of the PLO, the Islamic fundamentalism of Hamas and other formations such as Islamic Jihad can only lead to defeat. The surrounding Arab states will not come to Palestinians’ aid in anything more than a token manner, and more likely not at all, as seen in the role of Egypt and Jordan as jailers of Palestinian refugees ever since the 1967 Arab-Israel War. Nor is Iran likely to join a fight with Washington, as it has gone to great lengths to get U.S. sanctions partially lifted. All these forces – including Hamas – in reality seek to strike a deal with the imperialists and Zionists, at the Palestinians’ expense.5

The only road to a future of peace and genuine liberation for the Palestinian masses lies in common revolutionary struggle with the working people of Israel, both Hebrew-speaking and Arab, as remote and unlikely as that seems at present. And the Jewish population of Israel, half of which is not religiously observant, can only look forward to a “future” as a besieged garrison facing the endless threat and periodic reality of war. The Zionist “left” is finished as an electoral force, consumed by the logical evolution of the theocratic state it once led. Meanwhile, the fascistic settler movement may try to seize on the present crisis to carry out longstanding plans to push hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs out of the West Bank and Israel.6 A “Jewish state,” by definition exclusionary and counterposed to the surrounding population, can never be secure in the Middle East, even using genocidal terror, as Israel is now doing.

Internationalist contingent in October 9 Palestinian solidarity march in New York City.  (Internationalist photo)

The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International stand squarely on the side of the Palestinian people, which we have always defended against the Zionist oppressor state and its imperialist patrons who have condemned them to a stateless, impoverished existence and exile. Trotskyists opposed the founding of the Zionist state, built on the dispossession and mass expulsion of the Arab majority of Palestine. This historic crime came on the back of the Nazi Holocaust that murdered over 6 million Jews in World War II, and was fed by the refusal of the “democratic” imperialists to accept Jewish refugees during and after the war. We oppose all religiously based states, whether the self-proclaimed “Jewish state” of Israel or the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan, officially Christian states (like Franco’s Spain), etc.

Nevertheless, as a result of this history of crimes upon crimes, there are now two peoples inhabiting the same small territory, the Hebrew-speaking population of some 7 million and an equal number of Palestinians split between the occupied West Bank, Gaza and Israel proper. Meanwhile, there are another 3+ million Palestinian refugees in the immediate vicinity (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt), and another couple million elsewhere in the diaspora. Defending the oppressed Palestinians against the Israeli oppressor, we fight for the right to return of all Palestinians to their homeland. To open a path toward a just and viable solution, there is no way around it: these two peoples both have national rights to exist. But in a “two state” scenario, as foreseen in the 1994 Oslo Accords, under capitalism who gets scarce resources, like water, will be the stronger entity, which won’t be a small, dispersed Palestinian “state.”

While many “progressives” call Israel a “colonial settler state,” unlike the West Bank settlers, who are mostly émigrés from the U.S., particularly New York City, the vast majority of Hebrew-speaking Israelis have no other home to go back to. The Zionist fortress state of Israel must be exploded from within, and the mass protests of the first nine months of 2023 show plenty of fissures that could crack the seeming monolith. The IG/LFI holds that in such cases of interpenetrated peoples, the only road to an equitable and democratic resolution to competing national rights is through socialist revolution by the common struggle of the working people of both nations. To secure real defense of the Palestinian people, we fight for a binational Arab-Hebrew Palestinian workers state, linking up with the powerful proletariats of Turkey, Egypt and Iran in a socialist federation of the Middle East.

That perspective requires forging the leadership of an Arab-Hebrew revolutionary internationalist workers party based on the genuine communism of Lenin and Trotsky. It is the only road to liberation, and it is a task we must undertake in the dark times ahead. ■

The Origins of Hamas

We have written more than once about how, “while Zionists vituperate against Hamas they neglect to mention that Israel helped set up the reactionary Islamic group, in order to compete with the Palestinian nationalist Fatah”7 (“Defend Gaza and the Palestinian People – For Arab-Hebrew Workers Revolution!” The Internationalist No. 38, October-November 2014). During and since Israel’s 2021 attack on Gaza, more details have come to light about the Zionist sponsorship of the Islamists. In a letter to the editor of the New York Times (18 May 2021), the former chief of the Times’ Jerusalem bureau, David Shipler, wrote that “Israel did much more than ‘allow’” Hamas to rise as a counterweight to Yasir Arafat’s secular Fatah party that leads the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO):

“In 1981, Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Segev, Israel’s military governor of Gaza, told me that he was giving money to the Muslim Brotherhood, the precursor of Hamas, on the instruction of the Israeli authorities. The funding was intended to tilt power away from both Communist and Palestinian nationalist movements in Gaza, which Israel considered more threatening than the fundamentalists.”

After a former Muslim Brotherhood leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, set up his Islamic Association in 1978, Israel poured money into some of his projects and continued to do so for years. General Segev said, “The Israeli government gave me a budget, and the military government gives it to the mosques.” A few years later, Yassin founded Hamas (the Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement). Avner Cohen, the oficial who was responsible for religious affairs in Gaza for more than two decades of Israeli occupation, later said, “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation” (from the video, “Blowback: How Israel Helped Create Hamas,” The Intercept, 20 February 2018).

Building up Hamas as an alternative to the PLO and in order to prevent the formation of a Palestinian state has been a policy of the right-wing Zionist Likud party for decades. It was the cornerstone of the 2005 decision by then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who took over Likud after the fall of Netanyahu’s first government, to “disengage” from Gaza. Sharon advisor Dov Weissglas wrote: “This whole package called the Palestinian state has fallen off the agenda for an indefinite period of time…. The plan provides the amount of formaldehyde required so that there will be no political process with the Palestinians.” With Netanyahu back at the helm, in 2018 he agreed to Qatar transferring millions of dollars a year to finance the Hamas government in Gaza (“The End of the Netanyahu Doctrine,” +972 Magazine (9 October).

The next year, at a meeting of Likud members of the Knesset in March 2019, Netanyahu declared: “Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas…. This is part of our strategy – to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank.” The prime minister, who is under indictment for three corruption cases, confided his strategy to police investigators. Regarding Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon, he said, “I mislead them, destabilize them, mock them, and then hit them over the head.” There can be no agreement with them, he said, “but we control the height of the flames” (“Israel Can’t Be Managed by a Criminal Defendant,” Haaretz, 9 October). Not this time. The Hamas attack just sent Netanyahu’s whole strategy up in flames. ■

  1. 1. According to United Nations statistics, from 2008 to March 2023, 6,269 Palestinians were killed in clashes as against 293 Israelis.
  2. 2. See “U.S. Imperialism Hurtling Toward World War III,” The Internationalist No. 69-70, January-May 2023.
  3. 3. In November 2021, Bowman went on an all-expenses-paid tour of Israel “arranged” by the liberal Zionist lobby J Street, which he reported on in a glowing account of his meetings with Israel’s president, prime minister (Netanyahu), “the Israel Defense Forces” and others (“Reflecting on My Trip to Israel,” 20 November 2021). Amid the recent uproar, Bowman let it be known that he had let his DSA membership lapse a year ago.
  4. 4. Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, said: “The resistance bases its position and plans on the worst possibilities, including a ground invasion,” which he described as “the best scenario for us to resolve the battle” (quoted in International Crisis Group, “A Second October War in Israel-Palestine” [9 October 2023]).
  5. 5. Hamas repeatedly proposed a ten-year truce with Israel (which was refused), so it could peacefully administer Gaza, just as the PLO/PA does in the West Bank enclaves.
  6. 6. These plans were originally drawn up by the “Labor Zionist” politician Yigal Allon, a former member of the Palmach militia and the “left” Zionist Ahdut HaAvoda party, as the next step after Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war.
  7. 7. Fatah (“Victory”), a reverse acronym for the Palestine National Liberation Movement, is the nationalist party that is the largest component of the PLO.