Oppose Israel’s War on Palestinians

Hamas Atrocities Set Back Palestinian National Liberation Struggle

The Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip — cutting off water, food, and electricity to its inhabitants, accompanied by widespread bombings that set the stage for a ground invasion — threatens Palestinians there with death and destruction that can become genocidal.

Working people around the world should do everything in our power to stay the hand of the Israeli government as it mobilizes its military to inflict further devastation on the Palestinian people in response to the repugnant attacks by Hamas.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinians to get out of the way of Tel Aviv’s military onslaught. But there is nowhere to go! The 2 million people crowded in the small territory — often referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison — are blockaded by Israeli forces on its north and east and by the Egyptian military on its south. They have nowhere to go but the sea, where the Israeli Navy is standing by with its massive fire power.

Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Oct. 8, 2023. (Photo: Fatima Shbair / AP)

The world must reject the Israeli policy of collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, or elsewhere, for the atrocities committed by Hamas. Even the editors of the New York Times, in expressing support for Israel, acknowledged that such collective punishment is a violation of international law. Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and inside Israel must not be made to pay for the actions of Hamas.

Hamas is an antisemitic group that denies the Holocaust and has often unleashed rockets and other assaults on Israeli targets with an explicit goal of “driving the Jews to the sea.” Hamas has ruled Gaza with an iron grip since 2007, often retaliating against Palestinians that criticize its outlook and conduct, effectively turning the Palestinian people into bystanders in their struggle for a homeland.

On October 7, hundreds of Hamas gunmen bulldozed barricades and swept through Israeli military installations and residential areas close to Gaza. As a prelude to its ground assault, Hamas launched a wave of rockets, which breached Israel’s “iron shield,” reached Tel Aviv and beyond, damaged residential and other buildings, and killed hundreds of Israelis.

Hamas militiamen hunted unarmed civilians in their homes and cars and indiscriminately shot many in cold blood, including children. Some documented such repugnant actions in self-made videos they proudly posted online. In the most grotesque of these attacks, Hamas members massacred more than 250 youth participating in a music festival in the Negev Desert in southern Israel. This echoes the 2015 Baclan Theatre massacre ISIS carried out at a concert in Paris.

Location of Tribe of Nova music festival, in a rural farmland area three miles from Gaza-Israel border, where Hamas gunmen massacred more than 250 youth. (Photo: Screenshot from Wall Street Journal video)

Conducting and celebrating these actions, which included parading bloodied hostages in the streets of Gaza, has nothing to do with advancing the just struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination. To the contrary, this conduct will set back the Palestinian national liberation struggle.

The Hamas pogroms gave the right-wing Netanyahu regime a new opening to intensify Tel Aviv’s crackdown on Palestinians resisting the Zionist occupation of their land in Gaza, in the West Bank, and inside Israel proper. It will diminish the political space for action by supporters of the Palestinian struggle in Israel and the occupied territories. It has already emboldened Washington and Tel Aviv’s other imperialist allies to accelerate military and other aid to the Israeli colonial settler state.

The atrocities by Hamas must be unequivocally condemned.

Hezbollah bombings of Shebaa Farms, an area in the Golan Heights Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and Tel Aviv’s retaliation with drone and artillery attacks in southern Lebanon, threaten to open another front and widen the conflict. Hezbollah, an armed political organization in Lebanon with an outlook similar to Hamas, indicated its rocket launchings were in solidarity with the Hamas attack. The clerical regime in Iran backs both groups politically, financially, and militarily. Such attacks do nothing to organize and mobilize the Palestinian people and their supporters.

At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Israel has an unbroken record of decades of savagery against the Palestinian people that surpasses the actions by Hamas. It includes the massive expulsion of Palestinians from their land in 1948 through force and violence; the denial of the right to return for those expelled from their homes; the constant expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, where Israeli control is akin to apartheid; the routine brutalization, humiliation, imprisonment, and killing of those who dare to resist the inhuman occupation, and often of their family members; and the enforcement of second-class status for Arab citizens of Israel.

As journalist Gideon Levy wrote in the Israeli daily Haaretz on October 8, “Israel can’t imprison two million Gazans without paying a cruel price.” Behind the recent eruption is “Israeli arrogance,” Levy wrote. “We will shoot innocents, gouge out their eyes and smash their faces, expel them, expropriate them, rob them, kidnap them from their beds, ethnically cleanse them and, of course, continue the incredible siege of Gaza. And we will assume that everything will continue as if nothing had happened.”

These events show that Israel was and remains a death trap for the Jews. In a pamphlet titled How Can the Jews Survive — A socialist Answer to Zionism,[1] revolutionary socialist leader George Novack explained, “What is the way out? If the Israelis are not to be caught in a bloody trap of Zionist devising, they will have to abandon the exclusive and aggressive Jewish state and opt for a Middle East federation of the Arab and Jewish peoples.”

Novack continued, “the salvation of the Jewish people cannot come from reliance upon Zionist chauvinism, [or] American imperialism…. They cannot achieve security for themselves or anyone else so long as the root causes of discrimination, racism and reactionary nationalism continue to exist.”

The danger of Zionist policy to the Jewish people themselves was highlighted by Peter Beinart, a former editor of the New Republic, in an October 10 Substack essay. “Put aside the horror of cutting off Gaza from electricity and water and food. Put aside the horror,” Beinart wrote. “This does not keep Jews safe. If it kept Jews safe, what happened on Saturday morning would never have happened because Israel has blockaded Gaza for more than 15 years now. Israel has pummeled Gaza, bombarded Gaza again and again and again. G-d knows if beating up on Palestinians, if brutalizing Palestinians kept Jews safe, Jews in Israel would have been safe a long time ago, starting with the Nakba when most of the people who live in Gaza were forced into Gaza. If this was the way to keep Jews safe, this would never have happened.”

As Cuba’s revolutionary government said accurately in an October 7 statement, “The escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine…  is a consequence of 75 years of permanent violation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and Israel’s aggressive and expansionist policy.”

We share Cuba’s position that today “A comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [must be] based on the creation of two states, which would allow the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and to have an independent and sovereign State within the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”


[1] This pamphlet, which is now out of print, was originally published as an article in the Militant newspaper on February 7, 1969, under the headline “Isaac Deutcher on the non-Jewish Jew” (see page 8).

7 replies »

  1. All war crimes should be prosecuted. Hamas should be held accountable for the war crimes they commit, just as the US, Russia, Israel, the UK, China, France, etc. should be held accountable for the war crimes they commit. I see too much of a *double-standard* on much of the American left. Today on “Democracy Now!” all Mustafa Barghouti could do was complain about Israeli atrocities and the like. He could have begun his talk by condemning Hamas atrocities and pointing out that they represent but a small fraction of Palestinians. While we all are concerned that the right-wing Israeli government will over-react in Gaza, the American and international left should clearly demand that those Hamas fighters who committed war crimes be brought to account!

  2. Well written and accurate. This sentence, “Hamas has ruled Gaza with an iron grip since 2007, often retaliating against Palestinians that criticize its outlook and conduct, effectively turning the Palestinian people into bystanders in their struggle for a homeland” is important. Hamas is not leading a mass movement, it is hurting that cause.

  3. Wow. I find it interesting that my reply doesn’t even get a hearing and this jingoism at blaming Hamas for their actions because they’re “not leading a mass movement” and the liberalistic privileged view that they “hurting that cause” as if the open air prison of Gaza is a protest movement. What atrocity to judge Hamas as war criminals, as if they are equal to the Zioinist settler colonial state. This is so far from a humanitarian never mind revolutionary perspective, it is wretching.

  4. I sent this reply earlier this afternoon, before those above: I am trying again.

    I find it . . . untenable to oppose Israel’s genocidal attempt at retaliation for the attack by Palestinians provoked into murderous rage at the colonial settlers occupying Palestine and at the same time condemn Palestinians, whose political and religious program I do not share, but whose frustration, anger, and desperation to continue their fight for self-determination by any means they believe necessary. It is convenient, to Israel, the Democratic and Republican parties, the liberal bourgeois “progressives” and the sensibilities of Americans and Europeans to label the actions of oppressed people as the work, solely, of an organization, Hamas. There is a reason, militants of Hamas exist. The tendency to be guided by extreme hatred for an enemy clearly intent on exterminating a people is both comprehensible to many Palestinians as well as Arabs not mention other oppressed people and thought reprehensible to people who conveniently forget the origins of this struggle and, in the case of U.S. citizens, the origins of genocide upon which this so-called democracy were built.

    Revolutionaries have absolutely no business telling Palestinians, including those in and influenced by Hamas in Occupied Palestine. And, we certainly have no business telling them what kind of world, society, or poility they should have, especially from purported revolutionaries in Cuba and the United States. The Cuban government may feel it expedient to thread among imperialist and oppressed countries for their own survival at the doorstep of Imperial “America”, but it is not in the interests of the Cuban people to say to Palestinians that they find the methods they use to survive at the doorstep of imperialist-backe Zionism “abhorrent”. And, revolutionaries in the United States have no business saying anything about the tactics of any wing of the freedom struggle to rid the Palestinian people from the grip of a murderours colonial settler state. Our only statement should be stand in solidarity with the Palestinian right to self-determination and to pressure the State of Israel to withdraw their occupation and negotiate with Palestinians for a resolution of their criminal occupation and theft of another people’s country.

    There is only one solution to the occupation of Palestine, to assure the Palestinian people are able to decide how they can proceed after decades of theft, murder, unspeakable atrocity at the hands of colonial Zionism and U.S./European support to establish White Supremacist power in the Middle East. How dare you tell the Palestinian people what kind of state you think is best for them. Using the veil that Cuba thinks it’s good idea is not only misguided but utterly racist in the attempt essentially to say, “see? Brown revolutionaries think it’s good to have two state! If colored folk think it’s good idea, then it must be” It is an all too time-honored approach to foist “reasonability”, “rational” thinking in the guise that it is clearly what the oppressed “want”. What hypocrisy. What lazy and conciilatory thinking to the “sensibilities” of the “civilized” imperialist society who tremble when the oppressed finally say, ¡Basta! And act, even if born of desperation, cynicism, futility, and, even, misguidedly.
    It’s not our place to say how they should fight. It is our duty to do what we can to prevent them from being eradicated as if they were less than human.

    This jingoistic hatred of Palestinian “terrorism” reeks of the hatred meted out to the Algonquians, “Hurons”, Sioux, Apache, Comanche, Modoc, and even the peaceful Californian native peoples who never even resisted all in the name of establishing “democracy” on stolen land and murdered, exterminated people. There have been hateful regimes, including the one that resulted in the Jewish Holocaust, who have “beneifited” by American example. That the State of Israel exists is greatly a result of such a legacy.

    There is only one thing to say about the latest battle for the rights of Palestinians to self-determination, We Support You, We Stand With You, We Will Do Everything To Help You Win Your Freedom, Your Right to Exist, and Your Right to Determine How You Will Win These Rights.
    Palestine Will Be Free

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