For a bi-national workers’ state in Palestine-Israel!

From the river to the sea: Smash Zionist tyranny!

The campaign of wholesale terror underway in Gaza is the pathological response of Israel’s deranged Zionist ruling class to the remarkably successful 7 October 2023 ghetto breakout led by Hamas, the leading Islamist resistance organisation in the Palestinian occupied territories. Since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 one thing that all wings of the Zionist ruling class have agreed upon is that their survival depends on projecting an image of overwhelming military superiority (guaranteed by imperialist patrons) to their Muslim neighbours. This was not the image conveyed to the world by the confusion and incompetence of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) on 7 October. The indiscriminate mass murder and wholesale destruction in Gaza being unleashed by the Israeli ruling class is aimed at restoring the balance of terror in the aftermath of their humiliation at the hands of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and allied militias.

The current genocidal assault on Gaza is also a continuation of the historic Zionist project of eliminating the indigenous Palestinian population from all territory between “the river and the sea,” (i.e., Gaza, the West Bank and southern Lebanon). The state of Israel was born in 1948 through a campaign of ethnic cleansing by murderous Zionist thugs who succeeded in driving hundreds of thousands of terrorised Palestinians from the lands their ancestors had inhabited for thousands of years.

In April 1948, in a particularly horrific terrorist act, a unit of the Irgun, the fascistic Zionist organisation led by Menachem Begin, massacred 250 Palestinian civilians in the village of Deir Yassin. Begin subsequently founded the right-wing Likud party and became Israel’s sixth prime minister from 1977 to 1983. It is a tragic irony that Begin, like most of his fellow Zionist pogromists, was himself a traumatised survivor of the Nazi holocaust against European Jewry. As Edward Said observed in 1999: “we [Palestinians] are the victims of the victims, the refugees of the refugees.”

Today millions of the descendants of the original victims of the 1948 Nakba, (“Catastrophe”) remain languishing in refugee camps on the periphery of their ancestral homeland. Gaza’s population, most of which is made up of refugees, has long been a centre of Palestinian resistance, as liberal historian Tareq Baconi observed:

“One only needs to walk the streets of Gaza to feel the pride that people take in ‘the resistance.’ In countless conversations, I was reminded that while the Israeli army can drive up to any house in the West Bank and arrest its members—even to the house of the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas!—it was unable to step foot in Gaza. At least not without incurring a beating. This strip of land is thought of as undefiled, Palestinian, sterile of Israel’s occupation.”

Hamas Contained—the Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, 2018

Hamas, which has governed Gaza since 2006, organised the 7 October breakout to spike the prospect of Saudi Arabia normalising relations with Israel by joining other Arab states (Bahrain, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco) in the US-brokered “deal of the century,” the 2020 Abraham Accords. A deal with the Saudis threatened to relegate the Palestinian question to a domestic issue for the Zionist state to sort out. The leadership of Hamas undoubtedly anticipated that the Israeli government would respond to their raid with unrestrained brutality—but correctly calculated that this would upend the reconciliation with the Saudis and restore the Palestinian issue to a prominent place in international politics.

In an 11 December 2023 discussion organised by the Carnegie Endowment, Ami Ayalon, former director of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, described why Hamas opted for what he described as the “Samson option” (a Jewish biblical hero who toppled a Philistine temple, killing himself along with many of his enemies):

“they felt that they had nothing to lose and this was the only way for them to show to the world ‘you will not be able to create stability in this region if you will bypass Palestinians—no more!’ And the tragedy is that they succeeded. Today, even America, and all the Arab states around us, understand that if we want to achieve stability…we have to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Ayalon outlined how Israel’s “divide and rule” strategy of covertly backing Hamas against its secular rivals in the Palestinian Authority was designed to undermine any progress toward the creation of a Palestinian mini-state as projected by the 1993 Oslo Accords. (The 13 December 2023 New York Times reported Israel’s role in channelling hundreds of millions of dollars from Qatar to Hamas). Israeli policy, Ayalon said, was intended to:

“make sure Palestinians would not have a unified leadership; to make sure that we should always be able to say that: ‘nobody to talk with, nothing to talk about’. And in order to do it, we had to make sure that Hamas will go on controlling Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, supported by Fatah, will go on leading Palestinians in the West Bank, and they will create a conflict, you know, they will, in a way, almost fight each other.”

Over time Fatah and the corrupt Palestinian Authority it headed discredited themselves by acting as contract Zionist enforcers, leaving Hamas as “the only group…who fought against the Israeli occupation in order to achieve Palestinian freedom.”

Zionist ‘Final Solution’ for Gaza: Nakba II

During his time as prime minister between 2009 and 2021, Benjamin Netanyahu combined repression of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories with political manoeuvres aimed at neutralising neighbouring Arab regimes, which had historically posed as the defenders of the dispossessed Palestinians. Gaza was considered to be completely under control: fenced in, surrounded by minefields and remotely operated weapons, and constantly monitored by underground sensors and state-of-the-art surveillance systems. When Hamas and its allies successfully broke out on 7 October, they not only upended Netanyahu’s strategy but also shredded his claim to be the guarantor of “security” for Israeli Jews.

Netanyahu’s declared war aim is to liquidate Hamas. But to do so means getting rid of Gaza’s Palestinian population—either by mass murder or forcing them into exile. On 9 October, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant declared his intent to achieve a “final solution” to the Palestinian problem: “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.” Israeli policy has undergone some cosmetic modification as a result of international pressure, but the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes, hospitals, schools, mosques and other critical infrastructure is clearly designed to make Gaza unlivable—and to encourage the “voluntary exile” of those who are still alive when the bombing finally stops.

As of 1 March, the United Nations estimated Israel had killed or wounded over 100,000 Gazans—or roughly one in 23 inhabitants. Various pro-Zionist media shills, attempting to minimise the appalling truth about the massacre of Palestinian civilians, have cynically suggested that Gazan health authorities have inflated the numbers. A study published in The Lancet, Britain’s leading medical journal, rejected such speculation and concluded that it is more probable that civilian fatalities in Gaza have been understated.

The unprecedented depth of popular outrage at the grotesque brutality inflicted on Gaza has compelled Israel’s imperial patron to hypocritically demand that minimal shipments of food, fuel, water and medicine be allowed through the Zionist blockade. But conditions have steadily worsened. In December the US-based Human Rights Watch announced: “The Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the occupied Gaza Strip, which is a war crime.”

Israeli journalists who interviewed current or retired intelligence officers confirm that the target of the massive destruction inflicted on Gaza was its civilian population:

“according to intelligence sources who had first-hand experience with its application in Gaza in the past, [bombing civilian areas] is mainly intended to harm Palestinian civil society: to ‘create a shock’ that, among other things, will reverberate powerfully and ‘lead civilians to put pressure on Hamas’ , as one source put it.”

Avi Dichter, Israel’s current agriculture minister, explicitly confirmed that the wholesale destruction of Gaza’s urban infrastructure is intended to replicate the murderous ethnic cleansing of 1948:

“‘We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba. From an operational point of view, there is no way to wage a war—as the IDF seeks to do in Gaza—with masses between the tanks and the soldiers.’

“When asked again whether this was the ‘Gaza Nakba’ Dichter—a member of the security cabinet and former Shin Bet director—said ‘Gaza Nakba 2023. That’s how it’ll end.’”, 12 November 2023

John Mearsheimer, doyen of American “realist” foreign policy analysts, identified the clearly “genocidal intent” of the Zionist rulers:

“…Israeli leaders talk about Palestinians and what they would like to do in Gaza in shocking terms, especially when you consider that some of these leaders also talk incessantly about the horrors of the Holocaust. Indeed, their rhetoric has led Omar Bartov, a prominent Israeli-born scholar of the Holocaust, to conclude that Israel has ‘genocidal intent.’ Other scholars in Holocaust and genocide studies have offered a similar warning.

“To be more specific, it is commonplace for Israeli leaders to refer to Palestinians as ‘human animals,’ ‘human beasts,’ and ‘horrible inhuman animals.’ And as Israeli President Isaac Herzog makes clear, those leaders are referring to all Palestinians, not just Hamas: In his words, ‘It is an entire nation out there that is responsible.’ Unsurprisingly, as the New York Times reports, it is part of normal Israeli discourse to call for Gaza to be ‘flattened,’ ‘erased,’ or ‘destroyed.’”, 12 December 2023

The world is witness to the horrendous suffering deliberately inflicted on Gaza by the Zionists—and the role of the self-styled “free world” in supporting the crimes of Netanyahu’s regime. On the very day the International Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling that a real danger of genocide is posed in Gaza, the Zionists claimed (without any proof) that a handful of the 13,000 employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had some sort of connection to Hamas. The US and a dozen of its cronies (including Australia, Britain, Canada and Germany) immediately cut off funding for the agency, which since 1949 has been the chief source of material support for Palestinian refugees.

The scale of the devastation in Gaza is so vast and the suffering of its people so thoroughly documented that the imperialist media has effectively lost control of the narrative. Most of the world’s population rightly perceives the Zionists’ pathological genocidal actions to be sponsored and enabled by the US-led imperialist network which advertises itself as the “free world.” American imperialism’s pose as the champion of “human rights,” and its claim to be ready to exercise the “right to protect” wherever defenceless people face extraordinary persecution, is seen by billions of the victims of imperialist exploitation around the world as an obscenely cynical charade. The “soft power” of the US imperium may be suffering as much damage from its reflexive, tone-deaf support to Netanyahu’s criminal assault on Gaza as it did from its earlier failures in Vietnam and Iraq. The implications are significant at a moment when the global world order is being radically recomposed in the twilight of the American Century.

Israeli civilian casualties on 7 October

The amazing success of the meticulously planned and executed 7 October incursion stunned Israeli authorities and their imperialist backers. Although marred by the arbitrary killing and abuse of hundreds of Israeli civilians—acts Marxists absolutely oppose—the number of victims was inflated by Israeli and Western propagandists who added various inventions, subsequently largely discredited, about beheaded babies and raped women. The Palestinian fighters seized some 240 hostages, a tactic intended both to complicate IDF operations and provide leverage to free thousands of imprisoned Palestinians. Seymour Hersh, the renowned US journalist who broke the story of the My Lai massacre in 1969 and a quarter of a century later exposed American atrocities in Abu Ghraib prison, noted that many of those taken hostage by Hamas were “on active duty in the Israeli Defence Force.”

US President Joe Biden regurgitated the claims about Hamas fighters beheading 40 babies and engaging in mass rape during the breakout. While the baby murder story was quickly walked back, allegations of mass rape were treated seriously by Haaretz, Israel’s left-liberal “newspaper of record” which has over the years not been shy about exposing various Zionist crimes against Palestinians. Jonathan Cook, a credible British journalist with pro-Palestinian sympathies, analysed the two Haaretz articles:

“The first is a kind of evidential overview. The other is a profile of Cochav Elkayam-Levy, who founded the ‘Civil Commission on October 7 Crimes by Hamas against Women and Children’ which has been at the forefront of making allegations of mass rape by Hamas.”

Cook notes that in both articles:

“…there is little evidence that Hamas carried out systematic, mass rape.

“Doubtless, as these articles state, the Israeli military and police were too busy fighting Hamas to record and collect evidence. Doubtless, some bodies were too burned—most likely by Israeli shelling and missile strikes, as my previous article [] highlighted—for forensic examination to be possible. Doubtless, many potential witnesses were killed that day.

“But the absence of evidence cannot be treated as evidence, as it is by Haaretz and the western media.”

Cook observes, sensibly enough, that “only a fool would argue with certainty that no rapes or sexual assaults occurred” during the chaotic events, while asserting that to date there is no evidence that Hamas fighters were involved in such activity. He cites a disturbing 2016 report by Ynet, a popular Israeli website quoting Eyal Karim, the IDF’s chief rabbi, on why it is permissible for Israeli soldiers to rape “attractive Gentile women” in order to maintain “morale”:

“Karim replied that, as part of maintaining fitness for the army and the soldiers’ morale during fighting, it is permitted to ‘breach’ the walls of modesty and ‘satisfy the evil inclination by lying with attractive Gentile women against their will, out of consideration for the difficulties faced by the soldiers and for overall success.’”

As Cook suggests, the intent of the sensational allegations (and inventions) about beheaded babies and raped women is to “rationalis[e] the far graver and greater crimes now being committed in Gaza against Palestinians.” But a number of Israelis were killed during the Hamas jail break. Initially, Israeli authorities claimed there had been 1400 victims, but subsequently identified 200 as Palestinian fighters. We would also not include the 373 Israeli soldiers, cops and security personnel who perished in the fighting as “victims” (, 15 December 2023). Included in the death toll, were also at least a couple of hundred Jewish civilians killed as collateral damage by the IDF while it was trying to suppress the breakout. Many doubtless fell in circumstances which made it very difficult to distinguish friend from foe, but it is clear that others died simply because Israeli authorities put a higher priority on eliminating any possible Palestinian fighters than saving Jewish civilians (, 27 October 2023).

On 12 December 2023 Yoav Zitun, Ynet’s military correspondent, reported that almost a fifth of “casualties who fell [in Gaza on 7-8 October did so] specifically from operational accidents or friendly fire.” Zitun also included the following stunning revelation:

“Casualties fell as a result of friendly fire on October 7, but the IDF believes that beyond the operational investigations of the events, it would not be morally sound to investigate these incidents due to the immense and complex quantity of them that took place in the kibbutzim and southern Israeli communities due to the challenging situations the soldiers were in at the time.” (emphasis added), 12 December 2023

Presumably the “moral” reason to avoid investigating the “immense and complex quantity” of civilian casualties attributable to “friendly fire” is that doing so would undercut popular support for the war on Gaza. Scott Ritter, a well-informed former US Marine and UN arms inspector in Iraq whose reports are generally factually accurate, commented in November:

“…it turns out that the number one killer of Israelis on October 7 wasn’t Hamas or other Palestinian factions, but the Israeli military itself. Recently released video shows Israeli Apache helicopters indiscriminately firing on Israeli civilians trying to flee the Supernova Sukkot Gathering held in the open desert near Kibbutz Re’im, the pilots unable to distinguish between the civilians and the Hamas fighters. Many of the vehicles that the Israeli government has shown as an example of Hamas perfidy were destroyed by the Israeli Apache helicopters.

“Likewise, the Israeli government has widely publicised what it is calling the ‘Re’im massacre,’ citing a death toll of some 112 civilians it claims were murdered by Hamas. However, eyewitness accounts from both surviving Israeli civilians and military personnel involved in the fighting show that the vast majority of those killed died from fire from Israeli soldiers and tanks directed at buildings where the civilians were either hiding or being held hostage by Hamas fighters.”, 20 November 2023

There is no question that, in addition to the victims of “friendly fire,” hundreds of Israeli civilians perished at the hands of Palestinian gunmen during the breakout. Hamas has denied deliberately targeting Israeli civilians, and while its pronouncements cannot simply be taken at face value, it seems highly unlikely that the architects of such a tightly coordinated and precisely choreographed operation would prioritise activities (like shooting random civilians) that would reduce the forces available to go after more high-value targets. Hamas (and its resistance partners) are aware of the importance of distinguishing between civilians and IDF soldiers (or fascistic West Bank settlers). This is evident in the priority they have placed on maintaining the well-being of the hostages they are using to negotiate with the Israeli government.

Hersh reported that, “The Hamas fighters who poured through the destroyed fence were soon followed by local residents of Gaza City who, in their ongoing anger at Israel, were eager to join in on the assault, as were members of other resistance groups in the Gaza Strip.” It seems probable that most of the Jewish civilians killed by Palestinians on 7 October were the victims of the several thousand unorganised escapees from the Gaza concentration camp, rather than the elite resistance fighters executing their mission. Yet, as Scott Ritter pointed out, Hamas had operational control during the breakout and therefore bears overall responsibility for the actions of those who flooded across the border once the barriers were down. Hamas failed to make provision for controlling the border or providing some rudimentary security for the adjacent civilian population. The failure to do so was a mistake that helped fuel a popular appetite for revenge—had civilian casualties been minimised, the intensity of support for the current genocidal campaign in Gaza might have been considerably less.

Marxists condemn indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians, but we view them in the context of the decades of unending brutality inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza. The World Socialist Website offered an apt historical analogy:

“In 1831, a slave uprising led by Nat Turner took place in Southampton County, Virginia. The escaped slaves used knives, hatchets and clubs to massacre dozens of white men, women and children. The rebellion was put down with even more extreme savagery, with roving militias and mobs murdering black people on sight regardless of whether they were involved in the rebellion. Turner’s body was flayed and his skin was turned into souvenir purses.

“Any objective historian, with the benefit of hindsight, would place the blame for the terrific violence of such uprisings not on the slaves, but on the slave system itself, with all its colossal inhumanity.”

It should hardly be surprising when people desensitised by a lifetime of hideous oppression lash out indiscriminately when they get a chance. Nor is it surprising if their oppressors respond with massive and disproportionate brutality. The horror with which the death of the five or six hundred Israeli civilian casualties have been treated by the corporate media contrasts sharply with the bland descriptions of the tens of thousands of Palestinian civilian victims of the Zionist military. There is nothing unusual in this: the moral indignation of finance capital’s professional publicists is always highly selective.

Hamas & the politics of Palestinian resistance

During the 1970s Israel regarded Yasser Arafat’s secular-nationalist Fatah, and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) which it led, as a serious threat. At that time the PLO enjoyed mass popular support because of the sometimes spectacular, if ultimately ineffective, “armed struggle” attacks it carried out on Israeli targets. While routinely denounced as “terrorists” by the imperialist media, by the early 1970s the PLO was walking back its original call to erase Zionist rule throughout the entire 1947 territory of Mandate Palestine and instead advocating a “Democratic, Secular Palestine” with equal rights for all, regardless of religion or nationality. The projected new “democratic” (i.e., capitalist) Palestinian state would recognise a “right of return” for the millions of refugees from the Nakba, but not for Jews living outside Israel.

The Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Arabic Islamist movement founded in Egypt in 1928, abjured both the PLO’s secularism and its militant tactics and instead sought to expand its influence through the creation of a network of religious, medical, social and educational agencies operating in Gaza as the “Islamic Association.” In 1976 its leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, successfully applied for a licence from the Israeli state to open the Islamic Association. In 1981, after the success of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution in Iran, some younger members of the Brotherhood, disenchanted with Yassin’s gradualist strategy, broke away to form “Islamic Jihad.” By 1983, largely in response to the increasingly aggressive tempo of Zionist incursions in the Occupied Territories, the Jordanian and Palestinian branches of the Brotherhood, in a major doctrinal shift, embraced armed resistance as a legitimate tactic to be pursued in tandem with its longer-term strategy of competing for popular influence through the creation of Islamist institutions.

Hamas was launched in January 1988, at the beginning of the first intifada. Its name, derived from the Arabic acronym for “Islamic Resistance Movement” (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya) means fanaticism, enthusiasm or zeal. “The Charter of Allah,” the founding document of Hamas, conflated the terms “Jew” and “Zionist” throughout and endorsed one of the worst examples of overt antisemitism:

“Zionist scheming has no end, and after Palestine they will covet expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates….Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there.” [Article 32]

As Hamas gradually gained influence and emerged as the leading organisation in the Palestinian resistance struggle, its position shifted on several key issues. In 2017 it adopted a new charter accepting the idea of a Palestinian mini-state on the Occupied Territories (East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank) and dropped the overt antisemitism of its founding document. In the 2017 declaration Hamas described itself as:

“a Palestinian Islamic national liberation and resistance movement. Its goal is to liberate Palestine and confront the Zionist project. Its frame of reference is Islam, which determines its principles, objectives and means.”

The 2017 text stipulates: “Islam is against all forms of religious, ethnic or sectarian extremism and bigotry” and explicitly distinguishes between the Judaic religion and the racist ideology of Zionism:

“Hamas affirms that its conflict is with the Zionist project not with the Jews because of their religion. Hamas does not wage a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine. Yet, it is the Zionists who constantly identify Judaism and the Jews with their own colonial project and illegal entity.” [Point 16]

The document also states:

“Hamas rejects the persecution of any human being or the undermining of his or her rights on nationalist, religious or sectarian grounds. Hamas is of the view that the Jewish problem, anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews are phenomena fundamentally linked to European history and not to the history of the Arabs.” [Point 18]

It is true that for hundreds of years antisemitism was essentially a European phenomenon—for some 1500 years prior to the founding of Israel, Muslims, Jews and Christians co-existed peacefully in Palestine and thriving Jewish communities could be found in cities in virtually every Arabic country.

Zionism & Imperialism: partners in the Middle East

The roots of antisemitism in the Middle East can be traced back to the Balfour Declaration—the original charter for the Zionist colonisation of Palestine issued by Britain’s foreign secretary in 1917. The managers of the British Empire were indifferent to the welfare of either the Zionist settlers or the indigenous Palestinian population. Their objective was to establish a community of European Jews in the Middle East who would be dependent on their imperial godfathers for protection and could therefore be relied upon in the event of a colonial revolt.

Zionism originated in the late 19th Century as a reactionary response to Jewish oppression in the Tsarist Empire. It is premised on the ahistorical notion that antisemitism is a permanent feature of human society—when in fact it originates in the exclusion of Jews from many types of economic activity in feudal Europe during the Middle Ages as Abram Leon explained in his classic work, The Jewish Question—a Marxist Interpretation.

While Zionism inflicted enormous pain on the Palestinian population it displaced in 1948, it has also been a tragedy for the majority of Jews by diverting them from participation in the socialist struggle to transcend capitalist irrationality into dead-end nationalism. The Zionist project promised a harmonious nation-state where company owners and their employees would cooperate for their mutual benefit, but, from its origins, Israel has been an oppressive Jewish-supremacist state in which capitalists are privileged over workers, European Ashkenazi Jews over the Mizrahi/Sephardic Jews of Spanish, Middle Eastern and North African origin, and all Jews over Palestinians and other goyim.

Leon Trotsky, the great Russian revolutionary, writing in July 1940, a month before he was murdered by a Stalinist assassin, presciently observed:

“The attempt to solve the Jewish question through the migration of Jews to Palestine can now be seen for what it is, a tragic mockery of the Jewish people. Interested in winning the sympathies of the Arabs who are more numerous than the Jews, the British government has sharply altered its policy toward the Jews, and has actually renounced its promise to help them found their ‘own home’ in a foreign land. The future development of military events may well transform Palestine into a bloody trap for several hundred thousand Jews. Never was it so clear as it is today that the salvation of the Jewish people is bound up inseparably with the overthrow of the capitalist system.”

On the Jewish Question

The Trotskyist movement in Palestine in 1948 (which had a membership that was a quarter Arab and three-quarters Jewish) opposed the creation of the Zionist state and took a dual-defeatist position in the subsequent war, as did the US Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the Fourth International’s flagship section. The SWP (Militant, 31 May 1948) declared: “the program of a Jewish state in Palestine and the Jewish war for this end—is reactionary and bankrupt from beginning to end.” It also correctly observed: “Neither are the Arab rulers conducting a progressive struggle for national independence and against imperialism.”

From its creation in 1948 Israel has served as a base of support for western imperialism in the Middle East. But it also became the homeland of the survivors of the Nazi attempt to exterminate European Jewry during the Second World War. Most of the Jewish “displaced persons” who survived the Nazi death camps and flocked to Palestine after the war were not Zionists—they only ended up in Palestine because the victorious Allied powers refused to accept them. The pervasive anti-communist atmosphere of the post-war “Free World” made it far easier for former Nazis to emigrate to the US, Canada and other “democratic” imperialist countries than their Jewish victims who were seen as ideologically suspect.

At a 13 October 2023 press conference, Israeli president Isaac Herzog defended the collective punishment of everyone in Gaza on the grounds that: “It is an entire nation out there that is responsible” for the 7 October raid:

“It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not being aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’etat.”, 17 October 2023

This is the mirror image of the Zionist rulers’ desire to implicate all Jews in their wanton criminal assault on Gaza’s defenceless civilians. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews, horrified by the death of hundreds of their compatriots during the 7 October jail break and fearful for the future are, at best, indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians crowded into the world’s biggest outdoor concentration camp.

The pro-Zionist imperialist media has largely ignored reports that despite a surge of support for Hamas in the West Bank after 7 October, it still does not command the allegiance of a majority of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) reports:

“Support for Hamas has more than tripled in the West Bank compared to three months ago. In the Gaza Strip, support for Hamas increased but not significantly. Despite the increase in its popularity, the majority in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip does not support Hamas. It is worth noting that support for Hamas usually rises temporarily during or immediately after a war and then returns to the previous level several months after the end of the war.”

The PCPSR reported that support for the Islamist movement rose from 12 to 44 percent in the West Bank and it saw a more modest increase in Gaza, from 38 to 42 percent. Yet “a vast majority (72%; 82% in the West Bank and 57% in the Gaza Strip) said [the October 7 offensive] was a correct decision.” Among Palestinians:

“Support for armed struggle rises ten percentage points compared to three months ago, with more than 60% saying it is the best means of ending the Israeli occupation; in the West Bank, the percentage rises further to close to 70%.”

It is hardly surprising that most Palestinians view the 7 October breakout as a legitimate act of resistance, but it is also clear that many harbour serious reservations about Hamas. While Marxists side with Hamas in military confrontations with Israeli occupation forces, it is a tragedy that the resistance of the Palestinians, generally regarded as among the best educated, most secular and politically sophisticated in the Muslim world, is being led by a theocratic, homophobic and misogynist Islamic movement. Islamic obscurantism no more represents a historically progressive alternative for the brutally oppressed Palestinians than the pathological racism of Netanyahu’s regime does for Israeli Jews. Yet it is impossible to deny that, under very difficult circumstances, on 7 October Hamas (and its allies in Islamic Jihad and various smaller Palestinian resistance militias) carried out an effective military operation which stunned the Israeli military (and the world) and that they have waged a surprisingly resilient and effective struggle since then.

Cracks in the Zionist Monolith

A significant minority of the Jewish diaspora, most notably in North America, has joined the majority of the world’s population in expressing horror and disgust at the murderous ethno-nationalism of the IDF campaign in Gaza. This sentiment is particularly acute among a layer of radical-liberal Jewish youth. On 28 October 2023, New York police arrested 400 of the several thousand predominantly Jewish protesters who shut down Grand Central Station to protest the massacre in Gaza. One demonstrator held a sign reading “Never Again, for Anyone”—a reference to the Nazi Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews.

Netanyahu, after his tenure as prime minister was briefly interrupted in 2021, won re-election the next year at the head of a hard rightist coalition that includes ultra-Orthodox religious parties and rabidly racist West Bank settlers. Aluf Benn, editor of Haaretz, described Netanyahu’s coalition program as “a blueprint for an autocratic and theocratic Israel” in an article published in the March issue of Foreign Affairs, US imperialism’s premier foreign policy journal. Benn describes how over the course of nine months of massive protests against proposed “reforms” to limit the independence of the judiciary, Netanyahu’s liberal Zionist opponents avoided any issues concerning Palestinians in the Occupied Territories:

“Netanyahu’s radical new government stirred outrage among Israeli liberals and centrists. But even though humiliating Palestinians was central to their agenda, these critics continued to ignore the fate of the occupied territories…. Instead, they focused largely on Netanyahu’s judicial reforms. Announced in January 2023, these proposed laws would curb the independence of Israel’s Supreme Court…

“The judicial reform bills were, without doubt, extraordinarily dangerous. They rightfully prompted an enormous wave of protests, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis demonstrating every week. But in confronting this coup, Netanyahu’s opponents again acted as if the occupation were an unrelated issue. Even though the laws were drafted partly to weaken whatever legal protection the Israeli Supreme Court would give Palestinians, demonstrators shied away from mentioning the occupation or the defunct peace process out of fear of being smeared as unpatriotic. In fact, the organizers worked to sideline Israel’s anti-occupation protesters to avoid having images of Palestinian flags appear in the demonstrations. This tactic succeeded, ensuring that the protest movement was not ‘tainted’ by the Palestinian cause: Israeli Arabs, who make up around 20 percent of the country’s population, largely refrained from joining the demonstrations.”

Netanyahu’s power grab, denounced by his critics as “the end of democracy,” was not welcomed by much of Israel’s state security apparatus. Benn described how the split in the Zionist ruling class was manifested in the military:

“Reservist pilots, who are crucial to the air force’s preparedness and combat power, threatened to withdraw from service if the laws were passed. In a show of institutional opposition, the IDF’s leaders rebuffed Netanyahu when he demanded that they discipline the reservists.”

The judicial “reforms” were also generally unpopular with intellectuals and many entrepreneurs. The Taub Center thinktank observed:

“The resulting rift created in society caused concern among senior economists regarding the threat to the economy’s performance. In the high-tech sector, negative signs began to appear (such as the registration of new companies in Denver, Colorado rather than in Israel).”

A 27 March 2023 article in The Cradle reported:

“Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar also warned Netanyahu that Israel was headed toward a very dangerous place and presented the prime minister with a ‘very bleak’ picture of his [judicial reform] plan’s consequences….

“Former senior security official Amos Yadlin recently penned an article for the same network [Channel 12], in which he called Netanyahu ‘the father of the failure of 2023,’ [warning]:

“‘The Israeli army is shaky and torn from the inside, and there is disunity and mistrust in our relations with our most important ally, the United States. Israeli deterrence is at an all-time low, the economy is deteriorating and heading for a sharp decline, social unity has been replaced by a deep rift, and the sense of destiny and shared destiny have been dealt a heavy blow.’”

Yadlin’s prescient observation that: “the cracks [in the IDF] are already visible, Efficiency levels are weak, and deterrence is weak,” was validated by the inept response to the Hamas breakout six months later.

Military victory eluding Zionists

The enormous disparity of the resistance forces in Gaza and those of the Israelis rules out the possibility of a simple military victory over the IDF. Hamas is evidently pursuing a political strategy of eventually realising a Palestinian mini-state (aka “two-state solution”) through an accommodation with the Zionist regime (and its imperialist backers) achieved by a combination of armed resistance and support from regional bourgeois regimes. A December 2023 poll of Palestinian popular opinion reported:

“despite the increase in support for armed struggle, support for the two-state solution has not dropped in this poll. To the contrary, support for this solution has increased slightly in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This increase seems to come especially from those who believe that the US and European talk about the two-state solution is indeed serious.”

The imperialist double talk about a “two-state solution,” via a “peace process” supposedly initiated with the 1993 Oslo Accords, was never much more than an attempt to stall for time for hundreds of thousands of fanatical Zionist settlers to establish “facts on the ground” throughout the West Bank. The more liberal wing of the Israeli ruling class envisaged a Palestinian mini-state as a demilitarised entity without control of its own borders or airspace—a framework rejected out of hand by a servile Palestinian Authority. The advocates of a Greater (Eretz) Israel have never seriously countenanced a Palestinian state as anything other than a totally subservient Bantustan—a “solution” designed to legitimise the current grossly unequal relationship. In December Shlomo Karhi, Netanyahu’s communications minister, proclaiming Israel to be the “historical estate of our ancestors” (as per the Bible), categorically renounced any “two-state” solution:

“There will be no Palestinian state here. We will never allow another state to be established between the Jordan and the sea.”, 13 December 2023

After five months of fighting, Gaza is devastated but Hamas retains substantial operational capacity and continues to inflict losses on Israeli occupation forces, whose rehabilitation department admitted 3,400 disabled soldiers during the first three months of the conflict. According to a 4 January Ynet report:

“the Ministry of Defense hired an external company to examine trends from previous operations and wars, in order to estimate the number of soldiers who will be accepted as disabled by the IDF in the Rehabilitation Division in 2024. The forecast is staggering: 12,500 soldiers will be recognized as disabled, and this is a very conservative and cautious estimate.”

The Taub Center has pointed to the “severe” economic damage on Israel resulting from the conflict:

“Since [7 October 2023], the Israeli economy has been on a war footing, with numerous casualties and terrible destruction in the South, hundreds of thousands of reservists called up, and hundreds of thousands of citizens evacuated from their homes in the North and South. The war, which is imposing heavy direct and indirect costs, will affect the economy’s growth in the current year and will require far-reaching modifications in the State budget. Despite the relative resilience with which the economy entered the crisis, the damage is severe.”

On 9 February Bloomberg News reported that Moody’s Investors Service had downgraded Israel’s credit rating:

“The conflict and its aftermath will ‘materially raise political risk for Israel as well as weaken its executive and legislative institutions and its fiscal strength, for the foreseeable future,’ Moody’s said in its statement on Friday, adding that it ‘expects that Israel’s debt burden will be materially higher than projected before the conflict.’”

This is of course nothing compared to the suffering endured by the Palestinians; the death, destruction and displacement resulting from the current conflict exceeds that of even the 1948 Nakba. Yet the costs for the Zionists have been high—their embarrassment at the 7 October breakout and subsequent difficulty subduing Hamas has undoubtedly reduced Israel’s ability to intimidate Hezbollah and various other regional enemies. The Zionist rulers have also paid a high price in terms of global public relations; real-time footage of the punitive death and destruction rained on the impoverished masses of Gaza is seen for exactly what it is by billions of Asians, Africans and Latin Americans who still bear the scars of the legacy of European colonialism. Israel’s attempt to impose a “Final Solution” on Gaza has alienated a sizeable layer of Jewish youth in North America—a region from which the Zionist state has long drawn important political, military and financial support.

The Israeli ruling class has long wanted to see the US engage in direct conflict with Iran, its primary regional antagonist and the main backer of the “Axis of Resistance” including Hezbollah and Hamas. In a December 2023 interview Israeli president Isaac Herzog pitched the conflict with Hamas as a struggle “to save Western civilization” from Tehran’s “empire of evil”:

“‘This war is a war that is not only between Israel and Hamas. It’s a war that is intended, really, truly, to save Western civilization, to save the values of Western civilization,’ Herzog told MSNBC’s Ana Cabrera in an interview. ‘We are attacked by Jihadist network, an empire of evil, emulating from Tehran with its forks in Lebanon with Hezbollah, with Hamas in Gaza, with the Houthis in Yemen. This empire is in Iraq, and this empire wants to conquer the entire Middle East,’ he said. ‘And if it weren’t for us, Europe would be next, and the United States follows.’”, 5 December 2023

Thus far the US has avoided direct conflict with Iran, while engaging with pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria which have been striking American military outposts in the region to express solidarity with the people of Gaza. US and British bombers have been attacking Yemen in an unsuccessful attempt to end the heroic, and remarkably successful, efforts of Houthi fighters to sever Israel’s vital Red Sea shipping route. A recent report from described how the “constantly extending string of attacks by Yemen’s Houthis on ships passing through the Bab el-Mandeb strait between Africa and the Middle East” have “redrawn the global maritime transport map,” by tightening available capacity and pushing up daily rates:

“Despite the stronger U.S. and UK military presence in the Red Sea, many shipping operators have chosen to reroute their vessels around Africa to avoid the risk of attacks. This has added days to journeys between Asia and Europe and has increased fuel consumption and overall transportation costs.”, 19 February

Israeli hostages: a pivotal issue

In 2006 Hamas fighters captured Gilad Shalit, a 20-year-old IDF corporal who was held captive for more than five years as a lengthy series of negotiations took place. In October 2009 Hamas won the release of 20 female Palestinian prisoners in exchange for video proof that Shalit was still alive. Two years later, after much popular protest—including a 10-day, 190-kilometre march from Mitzpe Hila (Shalit’s hometown) which concluded with a rally of 10,000 in front of prime minister Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence—Shalit was finally exchanged for 1027 Palestinian prisoners. Ynet news (17 October 2011) reported that Israelis overwhelmingly supported the deal:

“Asked whether they were in favor of Shalit’s release in exchange for 1,027 terrorists, 79% of the respondents said yes and only 14% said no.”

Netanyahu received more mixed reviews: “49% said he gave into public pressure while 43% believe he acted like a leader.” Opinion was also split over the implications for “the security of Israel’s citizens,” with fifty percent saying they were fearful, “while 48% said they trusted Israel’s security forces.”

The Shalit exchange revealed a vulnerability that Hamas sought to exploit; the hostages seized on 7 October were intended to be exchanged for some (or all) of the roughly 7,000 Palestinians currently being held by Israel for alleged security infractions. According to Human Rights Watch:

“The majority have never been convicted of a crime, including more than 2,000 of them being held in administrative detention, in which the Israeli military detains a person without charge or trial. Such detention can be renewed indefinitely based on secret information, which the detainee is not allowed to see. Administrative detainees are held on the presumption that they might commit an offense at some point in the future. Israeli authorities have held children, human rights defenders and Palestinian political activists, among others, in administrative detention, often for prolonged periods.

“The large number of Palestinian detainees is primarily the result of separate criminal justice systems Israeli authorities maintain in the occupied territory. The nearly 3 million Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, are ruled by military law and prosecuted in military courts. By contrast, the nearly half a million Israeli settlers in the West Bank are governed under civil and criminal law and tried in Israeli civil courts. Discrimination pervades every aspect of this system.”, 25 April, 2022

The report adds that under the Zionist apartheid “justice” system: “Israeli settlers and Palestinians live in the same territory but are tried in different courts under different laws with different due process rights and face different sentences for the same offence.”

The Zionist rulers need a victory—IDF casualties are mounting and the 80,000 displaced inhabitants of northern Israel are becoming agitated. Israel’s Jewish population is deeply divided over the fate of the hundred-odd hostages currently held by Hamas (many of whom are either IDF soldiers or reservists). Demonstrators have appeared in front of Netanyahu’s residence but, unlike in 2011, there is no consensus on how to proceed. The Times of Israel (6 February) reported:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing public pressure to secure the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, with a narrow majority of Israelis prioritizing their return over toppling Hamas as the country’s primary war aim in Gaza.

“Just over half of Israelis (51 percent) expressed support for such a policy, which rose to 69% among Arab Israelis….

“Among Jewish Israelis, opinions were more evenly split, with 47% expressing support for prioritizing the return of the hostages and 42% saying that removing Hamas from power should take precedence.”

Concern about the hostages does not translate into opposition to the war on Gaza—65 percent of Jewish Israelis (compared to only 11.5 percent of Arabs) consider “the best way to bring about the release” of the hostages is to “continue the intensive fighting,” according to a December poll by the Israel Democracy Institute. The same poll reported that 75 percent of Jews opposed “reducing the heavy bombing of densely populated areas” in Gaza (compared to only 21 percent of Arabs) and 57 percent thought “Israel should deal Hezbollah a heavy blow now, even at the cost of opening up another front in the north [i.e., Lebanon],” compared to 30 percent (53 percent of Arabs) who wanted to make “every effort to avoid opening up another front, with Hezbollah.” A more recent poll (, 16 February) reports “support for a large-scale military operation against Lebanon” has risen to 71 percent.

This doubtless reflects frustration at the slow progress of the campaign against Hamas, but Hezbollah fought the IDF to a draw in 2006 and is, by all accounts, far more formidable today. Such considerations have not deterred right-wingers like Zvi Hauser, a former Chairman of the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, who in a 23 January op ed piece ( expressed concern that the “October 7 default” and subsequent Gaza “quagmire” have reduced Israel’s capacity to intimidate its neighbours:

“It is doubtful whether victory in Gaza is enough to restore the fear of Israel to the levels we had vis-a-vis our enemies. A victory that boils down to just the release of the captives and confidence-building measures to establish a Palestinian state would not be enough in shoring up Israel’s image in that regard.

. . .

“If the quagmire of the Gaza tunnels, US pressure, and the issue of the captives bring the leadership to the realization that there is no ability to present a clear victory on this front, one that will lead to a strategic change in the region, they must consider switching fronts and reasserting Israeli deterrence through the removal of the strategic threat in Lebanon.

“Initiative and victory against one of the richest and most powerful terrorist organizations in the world, Hezbollah, can restore deterrence in the region in general, and vis-à-vis the pro-Iranian axis in particular.”

Hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah have been gradually escalating since October but neither side has as yet pushed things to a full-scale war. If Israel opens a “second front” against Hezbollah, it could easily become a precursor to a broader regional clash with Iran. While the Zionists would clearly like to draw the US into such a conflict, Washington has shown little interest. And the US has the capacity of effectively vetoing any Israeli military adventure as Yitzhak Brick, a retired IDF general, explained in November:

“All of our missiles, the ammunition, the precision-guided bombs, all the airplanes and bombs, it’s all from the U.S. The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting. You have no capability….Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.”, 27 November 2023

The US has done little to actively discourage its aggressive Zionist underling, rationalising the genocidal assault on Gaza as an exercise in “self-defence,” while providing political, financial and logistical support. America’s rulers are fundamentally uninterested in what is best for Israel or its citizens; they regard the Zionist state essentially as a useful instrument in the struggle for control of the immense petrochemical wealth of the Middle East.

Sections of the American political establishment have begun to openly express concern about Zionist war crimes in Gaza. On 15 February Foreign Affairs published an article by Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, containing some surprisingly sharp criticisms:

“After more than four months of conflict, Israel’s campaign of retaliation against Hamas has been characterized by a pattern of war crimes and violations of international law.

. . .

“Today’s diplomatic complicity in the catastrophic human rights and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is the culmination of years of erosion of the international rule of law and global human rights system. Such disintegration began in earnest after 9/11, when the United States embarked on its ‘war on terror’….

“It is as if the grave moral lessons of the Holocaust, of World War II, have been all but forgotten, and with them, the very core of the decades-old ‘Never Again’ principle….”

Israel’s campaign in Gaza is not going well. The failure to win a decisive victory over Hamas or rescue the hostages after five months, combined with Netanyahu’s speculation about the conflict dragging on throughout 2024 has fuelled the growth of defeatist attitudes among Israeli Jews. Yedidia Stern, head of the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), sounded the alarm in an opinion piece entitled “Israel cannot afford to stop the war in Gaza,” that appeared in the 27 January issue of the Jerusalem Post:

“The growing concern for the fate of the hostages is at the core of the social/moral argument for stopping the war. There is an understandable, all-too-human desire for their return ‘now’ and ‘at any cost.’ Since Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has conditioned the hostages’ release on a full halt of military operations, some feel that ‘there is no choice’ but to end the war. The noble feeling of solidarity pushes us to do what seems most important: to save lives, literally.

“There is also the security/utility argument: is Israel being dragged into the Gaza quicksand, where the continuing war exacts an ever-increasing price without achieving the strategic advantages that justify it? It seems that Israelis are afraid of this: according to the JPPI Israeli Society Index, at the onset of the fighting, 78% were certain of victory, but now it is just 61%.

“The growing skepticism of victory is tied to the assessment that continued fighting will claim the blood of even more IDF soldiers, fragment Israeli “togetherness,” delay reconstruction in the Negev and the north, punish the national economy, and diminish political support for Israel around the world.

. . .

“The JPPI Index shows that trust in the prime minister and the government is very low (30% and 35%, respectively). These figures indicate that the current leadership’s ability to rally public support for significant moves has been severely diminished.”

Confidence in the IDF campaign received a boost when two hostages were freed on 12 February (although pro-Palestinian sources claim they had not actually been held by the Hamas-led resistance.) Israel’s military action has reportedly been responsible for killing at least 30 hostages—including three shirtless Jewish men waving a white flag and shouting in Hebrew who were gunned down.

Family and supporters of the hostages are demanding that the government do whatever is necessary for their release—including declaring a ceasefire, pulling out of Gaza and releasing “high value” Palestinian prisoners. This puts Netanyahu under considerable pressure, particularly as his fractious coalition government is divided on the issue. The Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) is reporting a “sharp left-right split” in popular opinion on the hostages:

“On the left, support for a deal with Hamas involving concessions such as a ceasefire or prisoner release in exchange for the hostages is much higher, while on the right opposition to such a deal and support for continuing the war are stronger.

“Political scientist Tamar Hermann of the IDI said solidarity with the hostage families was blending with broader anti-government sentiment, partly rooted in a huge pre-war protest movement against Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary.

“A large proportion of the Gaza captives come from kibbutzim, communities that have deep historical links with the political left. New or existing left-wing parties could be a natural fit for any hostage relatives who did decide to go into politics.

. . .

“Conversely, the hostage families are seen as opponents by some on the right, and especially on the ultra-nationalist far right, which has sway over Netanyahu because it is part of his fragile coalition.”, 5 February

Elements of the Israeli liberal-left are becoming more active as pro-war mania abates. “Standing Together,” which describes itself as “the largest Jewish-Arab grassroots movement in Israel,” reports that its modest, but politically significant, anti-war actions have been growing:

“In December we held two rallies calling for peace and a ceasefire agreement, the first in Haifa bringing over 300 people, and the second in Tel Aviv with over 1000 attendees. In January we held a march and rally in Tel Aviv with over two thousand people—the biggest rally for a ceasefire since the outbreak of the war. The rallies demanded a ceasefire agreement to bring back the hostages and save the lives of innocent people in Gaza, a sustainable peace agreement, and promoted solidarity between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

While committed to the illusory project of reforming the existing Zionist state, “Standing Together,” correctly recognises the way forward lies through “building a mass movement of Jewish and Palestinian citizens” to struggle for a better “shared future”:

“The occupation of the West Bank and the blockade on Gaza must end—not only because it is brutal and oppressive for Palestinians—but also because it does not guarantee any long-term safety for Israelis. We know that a negotiated peace agreement is the only way to ensure freedom, equality, and safety for both peoples. As a progressive grassroots movement, we are focused on building the political will in Israeli society to reach a political solution by building a mass movement of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel who truly believe that such a shared future is possible.”

On 3 September, a month prior to the 7 October breakout, 230 Israeli youth signed a denunciation of the Netanyahu government’s anti-democratic policies toward both Palestinians and Jews. Their statement, “Youth against Dictatorship,” asserted:

“As young women and men about to be conscripted into Israeli military service, we say NO to dictatorship in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We hereby declare that we refuse to join the military, until democracy is secured for all who live within the jurisdiction of the Israeli government.

. . .

“The judicial coup [attempted by Netanyahu] has already exerted an enormous price on the Israeli society and on the Palestinian people. The dictatorship that has existed for decades in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is now oozing into Israel proper and is directed against us. Violent settlers now control the entire state. These are not recent developments. Undemocratic attitudes and actions are essential to maintaining this regime of occupation and Jewish supremacy.”

Likud’s success in tapping the anxiety, chauvinism and religious backwardness of many working-class Jewish Israelis is distilled into a crude lie: “Netanyahu—good for the Jews.” The extent to which the poison of Zionist chauvinism has seeped into the Jewish working class is evident in the overwhelming approval of mass murder in Gaza. But Likud is the party of oligarchs who offer nothing of value for ordinary Jewish people in Israel—the persecution of the Palestinians and belligerence toward neighbouring Muslim peoples will only make the lives of ordinary Jews more difficult and less secure.

The handful of Israeli Jews who have the decency and courage to openly come out in opposition to the historical crimes and brutal mistreatment of the Palestinians represent a potentially important factor in finding a path to a historically progressive resolution of what is widely viewed as an intractable problem—establishing equality between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples in the territory between “the river and the sea.”

Not Jew against Arab, but class against class!

Israel is a society that is deeply divided along class, ethnic, gender and religious lines. Inequality has risen in recent decades as neo-liberal “reforms” privatised utilities and banks, raised the age of pension eligibility, cut industrial subsidies and reduced trade-union rights while simultaneously slashing taxes on corporations and the rich. The intensifying class contradictions came into sharp focus in 2011 after the “Arab Spring” revolt deposed Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak and massive protests erupted across Israel as hundreds of thousands of Jews aggrieved by rising housing costs and declining real wages took to the streets. According to the Los Angeles Times (26 July 2011):

“Over the last five years, the average income in Israel has increased by 17% and food prices by 25%. Water rates have gone up 40% and gasoline by 23%. The average apartment price has gone up 55% and rent by 27%.”

Many participants in the demonstrations were Jewish workers of Middle Eastern and North African origin who have historically constituted Likud’s core voting base.

Very little has changed since 2011, and many Jewish Israelis (despite their relative privileges compared to Arab Israelis) find it difficult to keep their heads above water in one of the world’s most inegalitarian societies. A 2016 Times of Israel article explained:

“Unless you and your spouse both work in professions that put you in the top fifth of income earners (e.g. high-tech engineer, doctor, money manager), or you have pre-existing assets, ‘then it’s not only hard to make ends meet, there’s also the desperation of not being able to see yourself on a probable path of getting ahead in life and saving money’ [according a researcher for the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies].

“That’s because most young couples in Israel save money primarily through the mortgage on their apartment. But most cannot amass the NIS 400,000 they would need for a down payment on even an inexpensive apartment—without parental help.”

The difficulty Jewish working-class families have with affording a decent place to live is an issue that can potentially be used as a wedge to separate Likud’s deluded, politically-backward plebeian base from the megalomaniacal Zionist ruling class. One way an adept Marxist leadership could help Jewish workers begin to differentiate their class enemies from their natural allies would be by raising demands around housing that intersect their existing consciousness. Housing is not only a problem for people who are currently living in Israel, but is also, obviously, particularly important to Palestinian refugees from the Nakba, the only people for whom revolutionaries recognise a “right of return.” A revolutionary workers’ party would seek to address this issue by advocating massive public investment in the construction of high-quality residential infrastructure on a large enough scale to meet the needs of returning Palestinian refugees while simultaneously vastly improving housing options for Jewish families.

Israel was created by the horrific crime of forcibly dispossessing the Palestinian people from lands their ancestors had occupied for thousands of years. The Zionist mantra “a land without a people, for a people without a land” was never more than a cynical lie. But the result of the 1948 Nakba is that two peoples are now interspersed within a single territory, and each can only exercise their right to “self-determination” at the expense of the other. No “two state” solution can equitably resolve their competing national claims and Marxists reject out of hand “solutions” to national oppression that simply reverse the terms of oppression.

In view of the impossibility of any equitable two-state solution, support is growing for the utopian project of replacing the existing Jewish-supremacist apartheid capitalist state with one in which all residents have equal rights. But social equality can only be achieved through a social revolution to smash the existing Zionist state and expropriate the Israeli ruling class whose interests it serves. A successful working-class uprising in Israel would set off a tsunami of class struggle across the region, severing the grip of US imperialism and laying the basis for the creation of a socialist federation in which the competing claims of the multiplicity of ethnic, religious and national groups spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East could be equitably resolved.

The Zionist monopolists who have profited immensely from the original displacement of the Palestinians have also reaped vast wealth from the neo-liberal “reforms” that have promoted the growth of social inequality within Israeli society. The current reactionary social and political attitudes of Jewish Israeli workers pose a formidable political obstacle for socialists to overcome. Yet their subjective backwardness (like that of workers anywhere else) cannot negate the reality of their social oppression and exploitation by their “own” capitalist ruling class. Exploding the Zionist fortress from within will require the active participation of politically advanced Jewish workers who understand that their liberation is tied to the overthrow of Jewish supremacy—this strategically important layer cannot be recruited by a movement committed to their wholesale dispossession.

The creation of a bi-national workers’ state in Palestine-Israel depends on the creation of a revolutionary socialist party deeply rooted in the working masses of both nationalities. This can only be done by effectively combining the pursuit of the day-to-day class struggle against capitalist exploitation in the workplace with advocacy of the interests of the Palestinians and all other victims of the oppressive Zionist state. As our comrade Tom Riley observed in a public talk given in Toronto in 2003:

“The precondition for Palestinians and Israelis equitably sharing the territory they both claim…is the uprooting of imperialist control in the region and the creation of a Socialist Federation of the Middle East. Unlike the various competing bourgeoisies, the proletariat of every country has an objective interest in promoting egalitarianism and resolving national antagonisms. But the working class can only come to power if it is led by a Leninist-Trotskyist party, based on the program of permanent revolution, and committed to implacable struggle against the Islamic reactionaries, monarchists and bonapartists of the Arab world as well as Israel’s racist Zionist rulers.

“It will not be easy to build such an organization, but it is not impossible. Most importantly, there is no other road. Only a party that inscribes on its banner ‘Not Jew Against Arab, But Class Against Class!’ can solve the seemingly intractable problems of the Middle East in a historically progressive manner.”

1917, No.26