By Roberto Saenz – October 16, 2023
“This time, it is truly a catastrophe for the entire population of Gaza – more than two million people are under fire and affected by this war and escalation due to the total blockade,” states Hamdouna, predicting a critical increase in internal displacement [as of the close of this text, there are already 200,000 displaced people], in addition to the lack of shelter options [such as anti-aircraft bunkers and the like].
“There is a genuine concern about the water supply. I have water for one day, at most, and I’m not sure if I can get more. I also have no idea about the possibilities of obtaining food. But there are even restrictions on movement, to anywhere I can safely go to a supermarket, and I’m not even sure if water tankers can reach my house. All these factors make things worse, with the intensive bombardments that are hitting us every day,” adds Hamdouna.
“I believe this is collective punishment for the population of Gaza as a whole. Civilians are not safe, they cannot access their basic needs – water and food. The health sector is deteriorating under the impact of the number of injured people,” he says.
“All aspects of our lives have been affected. Electricity is a major concern; we have a maximum of three hours a day so far, and the Gaza power plant just announced that there will be no electricity at all in a few days. This will impact healthcare access and even food security, not to mention communication problems.
He adds, ‘I can’t even open my laptop to take notes – I’m trying to conserve electricity in my home to charge my phone. As a humanitarian worker, I can’t even work from home to respond to the crisis” (Ruth Michaelson, The Guardian, October 10, 2023).”
To address what is happening in Palestine today, there are three levels: a principled level, a political level, and an analytical level.
1.Our support for the Palestinian cause is unconditional
The principled level is that our support for the Palestinian cause is unconditional. That is the key word at the principled level: unconditional.
When a leadership, even if it is not our leadership, represents a legitimate demand, our defense of the cause is unconditional. The defense is unconditional.
The word is “defense,” not support. That is related to politics, where it is evident that the politics of Hamas are not ours.
But this is secondary on the principled level, which is where we must start. The events that have been unfolding since Saturday, October 7, have nothing to do with 9/11, nothing at all.
Because the attack on the Twin Towers, was terrorist and reactionary, it did not represent anyone, there was no progressive claim. It pretended to do so, but there was no legitimate cause behind it, only a marginal fraction of the Saudi bourgeoisie. And the victims were all innocent workers.
It has nothing to do with Hamas’ attack. That was an outburst of anger, rage, of mud, of filth and blood, from people living in the mud and filth and blood.
This is it. In these conditions, Palestinians are people who have no right to live. The State of Israel has denied them the right to exist in an increasingly barbaric manner.
So, the result of mud and filth can only be more mud and filth, it cannot be anything else. Although, obviously, in politics, we are clearly not with Hamas. In the conditions of Gaza and the West Bank, which we do not know firsthand and cannot speculate about from thousands of kilometers away, it is undoubtedly very difficult to pursue a revolutionary, socialist policy (although we know that there are various currents within the Palestinian movement, including some secular and left-wing ones, which may eventually have a sense of mass, socialist politics).
Roberto Ramírez’s articles on principled issues regarding this matter are very solid.
In 1987, the situation of the Palestinian movement was a hundred thousand times better than it is now from a political and social point of view (we presume this based on the likelihood of the phenomenal advance of elements of barbarism, not to mention the brutal turn to the extreme right represented by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu). When the first Intifada, which was consciously without weapons and divided Israel and the army that was suppressing people, it opened an immense political crisis in the Zionist state with mass mobilization methods.
Furthermore, the conjuncture, although it was already ugly, just before the fall of the Wall and the beginning of the neoliberal offensive, was not as complex an international conjuncture as the one we are experiencing now. More than a conjuncture, a new stage seems to have opened at the beginning of the 21st century, reopening the era of crises, wars, barbarism, and revolutions. But it seems to have started with a pendulum swinging to the right (we always insisted that a pendulum swinging far to the right can bounce back significantly to the left).
In Gaza, the living conditions are those of the Warsaw Ghetto. Gaza is Stalingrad. From these living conditions, only Hamas can emerge, said exaggeratedly but to understand the principled and unconditional defense of the Palestinian cause.
Hamas won the elections freely in 2006 because Hamas maintained the slogan, although in an Islamist format that is not ours (obviously), of a unified Palestine. Whereas the PLO had capitulated to that slogan, assuming the slogan of the “two states,” which were only on paper. It was Arafat’s historical capitulation in the Oslo Accords of 2003 that aroused initial illusions but, fundamentally, the Palestinian National Authority was only seeking a mini-apparatus of its own…
Developments are not politically mechanical, but, I insist, it is very difficult for mud, blood, and filth not to result in more mud, blood, and filth. It is difficult for it not to have as a consequence a sort of “indiscriminate vengeance”.
We must take into account the testimony of the university colleague in the interview we reproduce in Izquierda Web from Mediapart, which also distances itself from Hamas. But she says: ‘We were all waiting for this,’ and she does not make any criticism, not a single criticism. Why? Because that daily humiliation in Gaza and the West Bank can no longer be endured (remember that since Hamas won the elections in Gaza in 2006, the Israeli policy has been one of blockade and suffocation. Just remember that from that date until the current conflict, there have been four wars against the Gazans).
So, the principled issue is that the defense of the Palestinian people is unconditional, no matter who leads or what they do. Because the political responsibility for the Israeli deaths (and, obviously, the multiplied Palestinian deaths) lies with Netanyahu, the Israeli state (and imperialism in general), and no one else.
In this case, the anti-colonial sentiment in dependent countries like Argentina perhaps empathizes, more so in the popular sectors than in the middle class, where the opposite occurs. It forms an “anti-imperialist” or “anti-colonial” opinion regarding the Gazans or Palestinians, which is progressive from the principled point of view (which is the main perspective from which to approach the ongoing conflict).”
2- The politics and methods of Hamas are not ours.
From a political standpoint, we are not aligned with Hamas. Their politics and methods are not in line with our own. However, this aspect is currently subsidiary, especially in the midst of the fierce imperialist campaign. If there were a different international conjuncture, obviously, more weight could be given to the delimitation of Hamas. But at this precise moment, it is a subordinate issue.
Another matter is what Hamas does within Palestine: their Islamist, reactionary, homophobic, and misogynistic policies. They are Islamists and reflect the bankruptcy of bourgeois nationalism. Ultimately, they are enemies of the left. Like Khomeini in Iran during the Iranian revolution, which resulted in the massacre of 5,000 left-wing militants and the crushing of the famous workers’ councils that emerged during the revolutionary upsurge of 1979 that toppled the Shah of Iran.
In any case, our policy is that of the first Intifada, a mass movement with mass struggle methods. But that is not relevant now in the midst of the fierce anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic campaign in support of the State of Israel, which is a state of oppressors (we will come back to this).
The Gaza Strip is the “Warsaw Ghetto” of the Palestinians. Its inhabitants are called “animals,” as stated by Netanyahu’s Defense Minister. We are in the 21st century, and animals are treated better than the people – the humans – of Gaza (naturally, it is right to fight for humane treatment of animals).
They have also closed the exits to Egypt, cornering 2 million people and issuing evacuation orders from the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) for one million people to move to the south of the Strip, something impossible to carry out (although the displacement of hundreds of thousands has already begun under unimaginable barbaric conditions).
Meanwhile, international imperialist media label Hamas as a “terrorist organization.” We are against such characterization because they were elected: they are the legitimate government of the Gaza Strip (although their methods and politics are not ours, we reiterate). Calling them “terrorists” is tantamount to labeling the entire Palestinian people as terrorists to delegitimize the justness of their cause as an oppressed people.
On the other hand, Israeli society was deeply divided. The Israeli society is the oppressor, but it doesn’t mean that among the oppressors, there can’t be progressive divisions. This is where Marx’s old slogan applies, “a people that oppresses another people cannot be free.” This does not mean that within Israel, among the Israeli citizens, there are not only Arab Israelis but also Jewish Israelis who do not align with the oppressor. It would be good if that happened, and a revolutionary socialist policy should aim for it as one way to halt the genocide in Gaza, in addition to advocating for a secular, free, and socialist Palestine.
In any case, it cannot be ruled out that within Israel (as is already happening in the rest of the world), the population begins to divide as IDF effectively enters Gaza and deepens the massacre that is already being carried out. It would be progressive for the Israeli population to divide.
In the immediate sense, the international conjuncture is reactionary. That is a fact, and it is also a fact that, at the moment, most people in the Western world – but perhaps only for the moment – are buying into the pro-Israeli and Islamophobic discourse.
But things could turn around, and the contours of the open conflict between the Zionist state and Gaza seem to be more explosive than the war in Ukraine. It can be safely said that a political crisis and international polarization have opened that we will have to see how it evolves day by day.
Things – the international conjuncture – can be reversed in response to the massacre. Qatar has just threatened to suspend gas shipments to the world unless electricity and water connections are provided to Gaza. Mass pro-Palestinian mobilizations have begun in the Arab world, as well as large (now prohibited) demonstrations in London, various points in the United States, repressed but persistent demonstrations in Paris, and more.
The siege and attack on Gaza are events of tremendous drama, and, in a way, this could detonate the international conjuncture with unpredictable consequences (as of now, as far as I know, China has not made any statements). It is an ongoing genocide because the punishment is collective, and that is genocide. Netanyahu’s government is holding the entire population of Gaza responsible for the actions of Hamas. That is collective punishment. And collective punishment, I repeat, is the precise definition of genocide (despite all its contradictions with traditional and non-traditional imperial agency, the UN is taking responsibility for alerting about the issue, as are other humanitarian organizations).
Furthermore, it should also be noted that this is not a “religious” issue (or a “war of religions”). It is a national issue: the occupation of an oppressed people by an oppressor. That is the origin of the problem, and in its origin, it was “secular,” so to speak. The problem’s origin was the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the war declared by Zionism to displace one million Palestinians, the native inhabitants of these lands, from their homes, localities, and cities.
The religious aspect may, in any case, be a component of the national issue, just as language, certain traditions, or territorial occupation can be. But the issue is national, not religious. People can have the religion they want or be atheists; that is secondary at this level of the problem. Hence, the only lasting solution is to end the oppressive state and move towards the traditional program of the Palestinian cause: a free, non-racist, secular, and socialist state where people of all religions and national origins can coexist.”
3.An international political crisis has opened up
The situation is dramatic, but it can be turned around. It can be turned around because, indeed, a genocide has begun. The Nazis collectively held the Jews responsible for Germany’s problems. The collective punishment resulted in 6 million deaths in extermination camps (in addition to the 50 million killed in the imperialist war, the deaths caused by the former USSR – whose anti-Nazi war was a popular struggle against barbarism, etc.).
Zionism, although it may seem paradoxical and is undoubtedly tragic at the same time, is Nazi because of this.  Because it uses methods of collective punishment. They are punishing the people, the entire population of Gaza and the West Bank (in recent days, clashes between Palestinians and the IDF have increased in the West Bank). This could generate a response, an international democratic wave in favor of the Palestinian people.
The number of casualties on the Gaza side will continue to rise. And sensitivity will increase. This will be a political opportunity for a global march, a march against war, as in 2003 against the invasion of Iraq, which was a historic march.
Hopefully, there will be a global day of action. Here, in Argentina, it’s difficult because it coincides with a very adverse situation. But if there is a global day, it could have an impact here. But it must be clear: if there is a global day of response, it’s because there is a genocide, a global day that should break the reactionary ban on demonstrations imposed by governments like Macron’s in France. 
On the other hand, it’s too early to say whether Hamas’s action was effective or not. For me, at this moment, it’s a mistake to draw that conclusion. We don’t know.
Gilbert Achcar argues the opposite: that it was “trash,” that it was “a desperate act.” I think that perspective is exaggerated. It doesn’t seem like a desperate act (at least not militarily), because it was a well-planned action. It was a conventional, basic guerrilla warfare action against a cybernetic army (perhaps something intermediate between a “terrorist” action in the sense of a minority action by a minority group and guerrilla warfare representative of a larger collective, which we cannot determine yet). 
The consequences are still to be seen. For example, they have achieved a national unity government in Israel for now, although the country is deeply divided over this character Netanyahu (a true professional provocateur). In addition, an international political crisis has opened up, and an explosive global polarization scenario, so we will have to see the developments to draw clearer conclusions about the events triggered on Saturday, October 7.
We must be careful because the methods of mud and mire are not our methods. And perhaps at this moment, there is no room for another method. But they are still not our methods. Nevertheless, they exposed a huge security flaw in the State of Israel and undoubtedly opened up a major political crisis (considering that it is said to be the most serious crisis since the Yom Kippur War in 1973). 
But for the oppressing people to divide, there must be another policy. The situation is difficult, although we hope and bet that it will turn around. But times of crisis, wars, and revolutions can also begin with reactionary and bloody moments (indeed, this seems to be the historical norm).  It is the proposal of “Socialism or Barbarism” by Rosa Luxemburg in her Junius pamphlet, written in prison at the beginning of World War I.
4.A people who oppress another cannot be free
An oppressing people cannot truly be free. This was the case with the English working class in relation to Ireland. It was also the case with for the pro-slavery South in the American Civil War. An oppressing people are oppressors as such, just as the English people were oppressors of Ireland. In Palestine, this is even worse because they are colonizers, everyone, even the kindest and most compassionate people. Unfortunately, an Israeli citizen is an oppressor (a non-Arab citizen). Even if they are the kindest person in the world. Now, if that person begins to mobilize against the genocide and, eventually, with the flag of a Palestinian state or even a binational state, they stop being oppressors. They have to fight for the oppressed people to stop being oppressors.
Palestine is an old-style colonization; it’s not a classic colonization of the 20th century (at least not in its second half, which was, in reality, a process of decolonization up to a certain limited point).  New-style “20th-century” colonization is semicolonial (or a dependent country), like American imperialism, which controls your economy, even if you have “political sovereignty” (with varying degrees and limits in each case). Colonial and semicolonial, and less so, a dependent character, are not the same.  A proper colony, such as the English in India in the 19th century, has some settlers who control all the “indigenous” (natives). But it can also be many settlers because the natives are a (relatively) developed population.
And because Palestine was a fairly developed population, then there are many settlers who control many oppressed people, more oppressed people (the Arab-Israeli population, which is growing, falls into this category of second-class citizens in the State of Israel).
Now, among the oppressors, there are good people, there are progressive people, etc.; it would be a mistake to think that all Israelis are “bad.” It’s not like that. Or that all of Israel is colonized. It’s not like that either. There is also political and democratic life. If not, there wouldn’t have been marches against Netanyahu on the issue of the judiciary and the political regime (of the oppressors).
So, yes, it’s an oppressing people. That’s why the solution is not the State of Israel, nor the two-state solution because one is a bantustan (isolated ghettos like the West Bank or crowded enclaves like Gaza). The solution is a single Palestine, where all origins and all religions live together peacefully, even though it’s not a religious problem, as I mentioned, it’s a national problem. And socialist, because without a socialist revolution uniting the peoples it’s not possible.
What we have today is a state of permanent war because the logic of colonization is one of permanent expansion.
All of this has to do with a conjuncture that starts on the right but can turn to the left. In this “first act” of the drama, In this “first act”, everyone closes ranks with the Palestinian people
We need to start by explaining why the unconditional defense of the Palestinian cause is a matter of principle. And we must take the measure of the terrain: inch by inch. And where there is an inch in favor, take advantage of it, and another inch in favor, take advantage of it, and another inch in favor, take advantage of it.
Things will turn around, the mobilizations for Palestine will grow, and we must fight for it.
 This short text is a corrected transcription of a report given by the author at the Executive Committee of Nuevo MAS on Friday, October 13th.
 We state this as a working hypothesis to be verified in further, more balanced analyses.
 In any case, all facts must be thoroughly verified. In today’s world of social media and information warfare, especially when not on the ground, caution is essential in all statements.
 Roberto Ramírez’s notes remind us that the State of Israel functions as the 51st state of the United States.
 Apparently, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated regions in the world.
 Enzo Traverso delves quite deeply and balanced into the end of Jewish progressivism and the sharp rightward shift of the international Jewish community in recent decades (this does not mean that there are no progressive and leftist elements in international Judaism and Israel, of course – the Israeli newspaper Haaretz would be part of the latter segment, but we have not been able to verify this for this short text).
 Under the pretext of an attack on a teacher in northern France, an attack we obviously condemn, Macron placed all of France in a sort of “state of emergency,” creating a reactionary climate in the country.
 Traditional guerrillas from the 1970s or even earlier had more social representation than terrorist groups like the Islamic ones, although there was also populist terrorism in Russia in the late 19th century. So, from the left, while terrorism and guerrilla warfare are not our methods, which are mass actions, we do not disqualify them per se. It depends on the context, although they are never our primary method, which is mass action. Guerrilla warfare could be an auxiliary factor in a socialist mass policy, but that is a matter we cannot delve into here.
 On that occasion, Egypt and Syria launched a conventional war against Israel to recover the territories lost in the “Six-Day War” (1967). Finally, Israel ceded the Sinai Desert to Egypt (apparently a strip of land of little strategic importance), and not much else (Jerusalem remained entirely in Zionist hands, etc.).
 In a certain way, the ongoing events seem like a “return” to certain conditions of the first half of the 20th century (a “return” in quotes because all the developments in this 21st century are original to this new century).
 A programmatic discussion that we are not going to develop here, and we have not studied its potential implications sufficiently.
 We do not have space to develop this issue here. We only mention it as an illustration and acknowledge that it requires further study, especially on our part regarding the Arab world.
 Marcelo Yunes has conducted a study on this matter, primarily focused on Latin America.