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.
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.
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, 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.”
 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).