Neither Israel nor Hamas!

We totally condemn and abhor the indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza strip just as we totally condemn the atrocities recently committed by Hamas against civilians, not just Jews but Christians, Bedouin, and others from around the world.

As we said back in 2021 when there was another murderous assault on Gaza, “as ever, the working class population of Gaza are those who suffer most beneath the phosphorus explosives and the ‘death from above’ of Israeli rockets and jet fighters who meet with little resistance from a Palestinian government which, whilst armed to the teeth with small arms, has no air force or air defence. Hamas continue to hurl surface to surface missiles in something between impotent rage and a desperate attempt to maintain themselves as defenders of the Palestinian people. Hamas cannot afford a defeat in front of its own population. The proletarians on both sides of the conflict suffer most from the escalation, while the respective leaderships can divert attention from their own problems.” Little has changed in the latest attacks on Gaza.

Hamas was originally supported by the Israeli State to undermine the more secular Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). It has its origins in Mujama al-Islamiya which was founded by the Palestinian cleric Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, seen as an organisation involved in charity and welfare work for the Palestinian community of Gaza. The Israeli state regarded it as preferable to the PLO, as was its successor Hamas. Hamas was always right wing, Islamist and nationalist, with hostile attitudes towards women and LGBQT people and to the Palestinian working class.

However, this changed when Hamas killed two Israeli military personnel in Gaza in 1988. In a situation similar to that of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, supported by the USA and its allies, against Russia and the Afghan regime it supported,  where the Taliban evolved to become a greater danger to US imperialism, the Israeli regime began to regret its initial support.

Hamas took advantage of the peace process between Yasser Arafat and the PLO, and the Israeli state, despite hundreds of Palestinians killed in the first Intifada mass uprising. Hamas thus gained popular support in Gaza.

Various Israeli officials went on record to express their regrets about support for Hamas. Avner Cohen, who had been an official in Gaza during direct Israeli occupation admitted that “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation.” He went on to say that “instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas.”

Another Israeli official in Gaza, Andrew Higgins, said “When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake but at the time nobody thought about the possible results…Israel also endorsed the establishment of the Islamic University of Gaza, which it now regards as a hotbed of militancy… Yassin’s Mujama would become Hamas, which, it can be argued, was Israel’s Taliban: an Islamist group whose antecedents had been laid down by the West in a battle against a leftist enemy.”

Brigadier General Yitzhak Segev, who had been Israeli military governor in Gaza in the 1980s, admitted that he had helped fund Hamas as a “counterweight to the secularists and leftists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah party, led by Yasser Arafat (who himself referred to Hamas as ‘a creature of Israel’).”

Hamas gained control of Gaza from the PLO. It imposed sharia laws, forcing women to wear the hijab and imposing an alcohol ban, although both of these have been hard to enforce. Armed clashes broke out between Hamas and the PLO. This suited the Israeli state which felt that fighting between the Islamist Hamas and the secular PLO would divert them from attacking Israel.

No statist solutions!

Because a solution to the conflict can ultimately only be a common, classless and stateless society in which people of different religious (and non-religious) and ethnic backgrounds can coexist peacefully. And the way to achieve this can only be through class struggle, with workers uniting on both sides to improve their situation and thereby overcoming long-held resentments. It is the task of the libertarian communist movement to push for exactly this.

On both sides of the conflict there are actors who see things fundamentally differently, who either want to see one side eradicated from the area or pushed back by the settlement policy and are prepared to sacrifice the lives of non-combatants in the fight for their own interests. We reject both, as it is at the expense of the proletarians and only serves to deepen the divisions within the class. Resistance is needed against both the Israeli state and the Palestinian leadership.

Resistance against the Israeli settlement policy is necessary and justified, but this can often be accompanied by anti-Semitic resentment and attacks on the non-combatant population. We must reject this. Similarly, in other countries, sympathy for the plight of ordinary Palestinians and opposition to the Israeli State’s attacks on them can sometimes attract anti-Semitic fellow travellers, or slogans such as ‘We are all Hamas.’ These elements must be shunned.

We reject the Two State solution, backed even by some socialists, where there would be an Israeli and a Palestinian state co-existing. This would mean a few shabby Palestinian enclaves, with those Palestinians still living in Israel living as at the best second class citizens, and those living in Jordan, Lebanon and other Middle East countries abandoned altogether.

A One State Solution would produce a constant struggle over which bourgeoisie would control the State apparatus. The two sides distrust each other so much there would be no peace.

For us, all nation states should be rejected.  As our comrades of the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group have written: “The liberation of the Palestinian people, without merely reversing the terms of oppression, can only come about through a workers’ revolution to abolish capitalism completely, to make the land and all social resources the common property of all, abolishing inequality and all forms of oppression. Given the present situation in Israel/Palestine, this is not on the immediate agenda, but it does not deny the necessity of the solution. In practical circumstances, the initiative will have to come from the outside, through workers’ revolution in the surrounding Arab countries, most importantly Egypt, which has a large working class already. It is essential, however, for those workers’ revolutions to transcend the nationalism of the countries in which they occur, since it is only internationalism which will allow the workers to defeat their own capitalist rulers; it is only internationalism which will allow Arab workers to reach out in friendship to the workers of Israel; and only internationalism which can break the Israeli working class from its Zionist rulers. The task before the workers of Palestine and Israel is thus no different from the task here. It is only to be conducted in more difficult circumstances. We must build a working class movement, based on liberty, equality and solidarity, and fight for a revolution which will re-make society on the same principles. We must abolish capitalism and its State, and we must recognise the folly of building another State in its wake. We must build Libertarian Communism.”

Israel looks set to launch a full scale invasion of Gaza over the next few weeks and months with the intention of destroying Hamas completely and to drive most Palestinians there into Egypt. If Hezbollah in the Lebanon intervenes, Israel will attack there too and then both Iran and the USA may be drawn into a conflict. Together with the Russian-Ukraine war, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, and the growing tensions of China, Taiwan, and the US in the pacific, this most recent conflict in Israel-Palestine feeds into the threat to accelerate into a world war.

The USA and its allies, including in the UK, with both the increasingly authoritarian Tory regime  and the Labour Party, are openly backing Israel. Biden has given carte blanche to Israel for its siege and attacks on Gaza. The USA has sent war ships including an aircraft carrier to the region in a show of strength to support Israel and to threaten Hezbollah. Netanyahu, leader of a coalition government that includes far right parties in Israel, threatens to turn Gaza into “a deserted island.”

The brutal attacks by Hamas resulting in many hundreds of dead have created a feeling of national unity and has temporarily shored up the weak position of the Netanyahu government. This has faced nine months of agitation, including a general strike, over unpopular judicial reforms. Similarly, Hamas only had minority support in the Gaza Strip, but the recent events may also temporarily boost this.

We see hundreds slaughtered in both Israel and Palestine. These horrendous scenes that we see in the media may just be an appalling opener to even worse bloodshed and destruction.

Against the barbarism of capitalism and the march towards world war we call for working class unity, internationalism and preparation for mass movements that can implement social revolution and create libertarian communism.