Hamas. Israel. It’s Complicated.


Followers of this blog probably know that I effectively broke with the U.S. Socialist Workers Party (SWP) after almost 50 years supporting it and working with it. I took this action over disagreement on a few specific issues. These disagreements are strong and heartfelt, but narrow. I still broadly agree with the SWP on many others. With respect to international politics, I consider the SWP’s insight, perspective and analysis second to none.

October 23, 2023 issue

Following below are four items published in the current issue of the Militant, a weekly newspaper that reflects the views of the SWP. This issue reports the events now in Israel and Gaza following the terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7th, together with statements and analysis. You will not find similar clarity or objectivity anywhere else.

I defend Israel’s right to exist and condemn Hamas’ actions as literal crimes against humanity. At the same time, I can’t overlook Israel’s sordid history with respect to the Palestinians. While seeking to be a refuge against the oppression and atrocities visited upon Jews worldwide, Israel has in turn been an oppressor of Palestinians. To be clear, however, this fact in no way justifies Hamas — which itself is an oppressor of the Palestinians!

Although everyone has a right to free speech, I am appalled at protests around the U.S. and world cheering Hamas. It is incomprehensible to me how the slaughter of infants, children and elderly — the slaughter of anyone! — can be acceptable. And worse, celebrated. On the other side, I fear that in responding to Hamas now, Israel risks committing war crimes of its own. It could be said it’s already starting with the cutting off of water, food and electricity to Gaza, and uprooting the entire northern population of Gaza. We’ll see how events unfold.

This is a complicated issue. Personally I believe the answer lies ultimately in two states: continued existence of Israel and creation of a new Palestinian state to join the community of nations. Tragically many will suffer on all sides before this is resolved. In the meantime, we should all be deeply concerned about the rise of antisemitism everywhere. The BBC and others are reporting a dramatic increase in antisemitic threats and incidents worldwide over the past week, inspired by Hamas’ attack. This is a deadly threat — not only to Jews, but to all working people.

Biggest massacre of Jews since the Nazi Holocaust

The murderous pogrom Oct. 7 by Hamas and its allies is a stark warning to all working people that Jew-hating slaughter and demagogy are a permanent reality of the world imperialist order. These heinous acts and the bourgeois leaderships that carried them out — from Hamas itself, to Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and their command post in Tehran — are united around one aim: annihilation of the Jews.

Their Nazi-like operation was far and away the largest roundup and slaughter of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust during World War II. It is a sharp reminder of the living threat of Jew-hatred in today’s capitalist world — from the Middle East, to Europe, the United States, and elsewhere in the Americas and beyond.

In a single day last week, Hamas-led death squads murdered over 1,200 Israeli men, women and children and wounded more than 3,000 inside Israel near the Gaza border.

The vast majority were Jewish civilians, as well as a number of Arab Israeli citizens and more than a dozen immigrant farmworkers from Thailand. Today 20% of Israel’s population are Arabs. Dozens of soldiers died fighting to defend people from the onslaught.

Hamas also kidnapped over 150 hostages, including children, whom they are threatening to kill if the Israeli government doesn’t accede to its demands. The blood-soaked operation is an assault on Israel’s place as a safe haven for Jews the world over in the face of rising anti-Jewish demagogy and violence.

The pogroms began in the early morning of Oct. 7, which was both the Jewish Sabbath and holiday of Simchat Torah. Hamas claims they and their allies launched 5,000 rockets at Israeli cities and kibbutzim (farm collectives), and simultaneously used bulldozers and other rams to break through barriers to surge into Israel. Targeting some 22 locations, the death squads used pickup trucks, motorbikes, paragliders, drones and inflatable boats, all assembled with the help of Tehran.

The Hamas units also hit a handful of military bases to keep Israeli soldiers from getting in the way of their efforts to kill as many Jews as possible.

A central target was an all-night music festival in the desert near Kibbutz Re’im, where some 3,500 people had gathered. The Hamas operatives fired rockets, grenades and thousands of bullets at unarmed festivalgoers.

Over the next six hours they killed at least 260 people, many at point-blank range, riddling fleeing vehicles with bullets and shooting people on foot in the back as they fled. Dozens were slaughtered in bomb shelters where they sought refuge. Hamas triggermen looted the pockets and bags of many of their victims.

Videos show terrified festival participants being forced onto motorcycles, jeeps and trucks to be carted off to Gaza as hostages. Hamas documented its heinous atrocities and ostentatiously posted them online for the world to see.

One of those taken captive by Hamas was Shani Louk, a 23-year-old woman from Germany. Hamas broadcast a video of her apparently lifeless body being paraded through the streets of Gaza on a flatbed truck, stripped half naked, as Hamas members cheered, chanted and spit on her. Her mother told the press Oct. 11 she has gotten reports her daughter is still alive, though severely wounded, in the hands of Hamas.

When Israel Defense Forces finally arrived at the site where the slaughter took place, they were joined by groups of Bedouin Arab citizens of Israel who had driven there to rescue survivors. One of those they helped was Maya Alper. “This is not just war,” Alper said. “This is hell.”

More than 100 Jews, some 10% of the population, were exterminated by death squads going door-to-door in the Kibbutz Be’eri. One survivor, 70-year-old Amit Shalvi, told Haaretz, “Where am I, in a pogrom in Lithuania?”

Dozens more were murdered in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, including some 40 children and babies, some beheaded. Much of this depravity was caught on video or in photos by the attackers themselves, or by Israeli surveillance cameras, and have been publicly released.

When IDF forces got there and held a press conference, one soldier shouted, “Tell the world what you saw here!”

What you see there is exactly what you see.

In all its horror.

Coming on top of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, this massacre of more than 1,000 Jews and others marks a turning point in world politics. Capitalist rulers everywhere — from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, Beijing to Washington — are looking for new openings and new imperialist pacts and alliances to best defend their national class interests. The dangers and realities of new conflicts and wars are growing.

Slaughter aimed to massacre Jews

The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah Oct. 8, who said officers of the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had been holding regular meetings with the two groups since August to prepare for the pogrom. They said Iranian security officials greenlighted the attack at a meeting in Beirut on Oct. 2.

Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose regime openly calls for the destruction of Israel, claimed Tehran wasn’t involved, that this was the work of Hamas and Islamic Jihad alone. But he hailed the atrocities, saying, “We kiss the foreheads and arms of skillful and intelligent designers.” He added, “God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the resistance forces.” For these groups, “Zionist” is a synonym for Jew.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” is the banner of Hamas, the Iranian government, and their supporters abroad, including in the U.S. Their real aim, however, is “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Jewish-free!”

In recent years these misleaderships have actively sabotaged any opportunity for negotiations to recognize Israel and carve out an independent Palestinian state. They have no interest whatsoever in a so-called two-state solution — a mantra that not only offers no viable solution to the exploitation and oppression of the region’s toilers, nor is any longer remotely feasible.

The decision by Hamas, Tehran, Hezbollah and others to attack now was coldly calculated. Relations had been expanding between Israel and a growing number of Arab regimes, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. Discussions were underway on normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli government. The counterrevolutionary leaders in Tehran view this as a serious threat to their expansionist aims and military operations in the region.

Tehran also believed that sharp bourgeois political divisions inside Israel between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his critics had turned attention from the border and weakened the Israeli government’s military preparedness.

And they questioned the willingness of the Joseph Biden administration in Washington to respond decisively to an attack.

Middle-class left applauds Hamas

Virtually the entire middle-class left in the United States rushed to applaud Hamas’ bloody terror against Jews in Israel.

An Oct. 8 demonstration in New York’s Times Square, initiated by the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the People’s Forum, was joined by Workers World Party, the Communist Party and Democratic Socialists of America. “We don’t want two states. We want all of it!” participants shouted. Some openly chanted slogans against Jews. At least one person held up a cellphone picturing a swastika.

Similar actions — all saying not a word about the calculated slaughter of Jews carried out by Hamas, its allies and benefactor in Tehran, instead calling the massacre “resistance” — have taken place elsewhere.

Since Hamas smashed their rivals in a bloody civil war for control of Gaza in 2007, their repeated rocket barrages and other terror attacks aimed at Israeli Jews inevitably drew sharp responses from Israeli forces, worsening even more the dire conditions of the 2 million people in Gaza. Hamas has done little to provide for the population. While constructing deep networks of underground tunneling for their commandos — where they are likely holding hostages today — there are few bomb shelters or protection for civilians.

Hamas exploits these conditions to appeal for funding from the U.N. and other agencies, much of which they use for their military and political purposes, not the needs of Gazans.

The fact is, Hamas is a political obstacle both to the national aspirations and class interests of working people in Gaza. The organization and its bourgeois Islamist leadership care nothing whatsoever about them.

In response to this week’s bloody pogroms, the Israeli government declared war on Hamas. It has begun aerial operations striking targets in Gaza and has mobilized 360,000 reservists in advance of a possible incursion into Gaza. The state of Israel is determined to eliminate Hamas’ ability to launch murderous attacks on its citizens and other residents ever again.


Fight to win workers power and socialism to end Jew-hatred

At an Oct. 10 rally in Miami to stand in solidarity with the Jews of Israel after the Nazi-style pogrom carried out by Hamas and its allies, Rachele Fruit, the 2024 Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida, presented the following statement to the press and other participants.

The Socialist Workers Party is part of the continuity in the fight against Jew-hatred that goes back to Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Socialists should never support any crime against humanity in the name of revolution.

In 2010 Fidel Castro asked journalist Jeffrey Goldberg to interview him, so he could respond to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denied the Holocaust. Responding to a question from Goldberg, Fidel said he supported Israel’s right to exist “without a doubt.”

“I don’t think anyone has been more slandered than the Jews,” Fidel said.

Working people cannot rely on democratic imperialism to protect the Jews. Washington and London closed the door on Jewish immigration before, during and after the Second World War. That fact, and the betrayal of revolutionary opportunities by the Stalinists in Moscow and elsewhere, led to Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

That’s why Israel had to be and has to be a refuge for the Jews.

Those who call themselves “socialists,” and who champion Hamas and other terrorist proxies of Iran, will easily find themselves allied with future fascist forces.

Only the working classes of Israel, Palestine, Iran and the whole region can find a solution in their common interests. The same is true for workers in the United States.

Condemn Jew-hating pogrom!
Defend Israel’s right to exist!

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The Holocaust Memorial here was the site of an Oct. 10 rally of some 3,000 in solidarity with the Jews of Israel after the Nazi-style pogrom three days earlier.

“We distributed flyers for the next Militant Labor Forum, ‘Defend Israel’s right to exist as a refuge for Jews!,’ as we talked with participants,” Rachele Fruit, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate, told the Militant. “I carried the sign in the picture shown on front page, and Laura Anderson, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress, carried another, saying, ‘No to Jew-hatred, never justified to murder civilians.’”

Image from the Militant.

Fruit said she was both surprised and pleased that among those she met at the rally was a co-worker of hers, and fellow member of UNITE HERE Local 355, at a hotel in Miami. They’d met before but had never talked politics or gotten to know each other. “He’s a worker from Mexico who said he came to the rally to support the Jewish people,” Fruit said. He bought a copy of The Jewish Question written in 1942 by Belgian revolutionary Abram Leon.

SWP candidates and other party members and campaign supporters are taking this political perspective to working people in cities large and small and to rural areas. A working-class party has to be built that can lead a revolutionary fight for workers power, overthrow capitalist exploitation and oppression, and join in the world fight for socialism. That’s what the SWP is out to do.

Hamas in its own words: ‘Kill the Jews’

Hamas claims charges that its program is based on Jew-hatred are a slander. So that our readers can judge for themselves we reproduce below quotes from the 1988 Hamas covenant, which the group has never repudiated, and is in its updated charter issued in 2017.

From the 1988 Hamas covenant

“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

“With their money, they [the Jews] took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others.”

From the revised 2017 charter

“The establishment of ‘Israel’ is entirely illegal and contravenes the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

“There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity. Whatever has befallen the land of Palestine in terms of occupation, settlement, building, judaisation or changes to its features or falsification of facts is illegitimate.”

“Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.”

These articles are the first published following the October 7th attacks by Hamas. Follow subsequent coverage in the Militant here.

Title image: Shutterstock/Golub Oleksii

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