The Descent from Fantasy to Reality in the "Arab-Israeli Conflict"

That the situation is still in flux determines the following series of remarks, notes, assessments…

The aerial barrage is unleashed against the inhabitants of a Bantustan that is, on the one side, hemmed in by the sea, and on the other, by the sentries of the Jewish state. The press thrusts a microphone in front of a certain genus of mollusc, i.e. the humanitarians that abhor violence against civilians, but that vociferously defend the Zionists’ right to direct the latest-and-greatest military hardware—the technological acquisitions of the proverbial, human slaughterhouse—against the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli minister Gallant speaks plainly. He calls the two million Palestinians confined to an area of 365 square kilometers “human animals”. The truth is this: Gallant and his accomplices are the ones that are actually below the level of the animals, the animals of the world that have never been known to drop white phosphorus on other members of their own species.

Hamas touches off this latest round by killing 260 people at a rave on October 7. It raises the question: Why do armed groups in Palestine emphasize non-military targets? Simple: for the same reason the French colonial administration, the Front de libération nationale, and the Organisation armée secrète engaged in assassinations and terror to cleave apart the Arab, Kabyle, etc., workers from the European proletarians of Bab-el-Oued in Algeria. Then as now, the goal of all belligerents is to put an end to, or preclude, fraternization between the exploited—to permanently dismember the proletariat, and make it that much more prey to the demagogy of different capitalist factions.

By creating an atmosphere of intense racial enmity, one that fosters tit-for-tat reprisals, silences (or accomplishes the physical liquidation of…) voices that do not abide by the cordon sanitaire erected between the colonized and the Jewish proletarians; by poisoning the air, the Arab and Jewish workers are placed in even deeper thrall to their respective exploiters, and to the various armed rackets. It is the classical, counterinsurgents’ stratagem, and equally the stratagem of those that are engaged in “insurgency” against a rival bourgeois gang, but that are nonetheless counterinsurgents vis-a-vis the colonized proletariat. In July, repression of proletarians’ mobilizations in Gaza showed Hamas cops are no less adept at using a police nightstick than Israeli cops. G. Munis says all there is to be said about the likes of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, ETA, the IRA, FARC, etc: “Like so many other falsifiers, what [ETA, but in this case Hamas] calls revolution is the centralization of the exploitation and oppression of the working class in a state of its own.”

From Algeria there are a few, specific parallels that present themselves. At the end of the “national struggle” of the 1950s and ‘60s, to strike a final blow at any remaining, fraternal bonds between European (usually Italian, Spanish, Maltese…) and Arab proletarians in Algiers, the OAS killed the Kabyle poet and teacher Mouloun Feraoun, alongside a number of his European and Algerian companions. He was not an FLN. However, because this man did not only write in his native language but in French, because he rubbed shoulders with both the European and Algerian literary figures, by killing him the OAS vanquished—symbolically—what he was thought to represent: fraternization between the immiserated, European proletarians of Algiers, and the Arab, Kabyle, and Amazigh proletarians. The FLN also struck at Algerians (and killed more Algerians than Europeans in the first phase of the war…). FLN leaders passed down orders to “kill any person attempting to deflect the militants and inculcate in them a bourguibien [conciliatory] spirit”.(1) Guided by the objectives sketched above, the FLN targeted cafés where the European students of Algiers gathered, so as to provoke pogroms against Algerians, drive the Algerians into the arms of the FLN, and sever the bonds between proletarians of different nationalities that—unlike the subsequent myths—did once abound.

On 24 February [1962], following the killing by the F.L.N. of a Bab-el-Oued taxi driver, a pied noir mob trapped a score of Muslim workers in a cul-de-sac and stabbed and beat them to death. Increasingly a kind of [separation], which had never previously existed, was growing up in the cities as Muslim workers declined to enter European quarters—and vice versa.(2)

A comrade from the CWO notices this stratagem is repeated in many settings:

It reminds me of the Miami Showband killing in Northern Ireland in the '70s, which was denounced as senseless violence… They were a working class and "apolitical" band of kind-of-rock musicians, their tour bus was stopped and they were taken off and murdered after a gig. Everyone denounced it because they stood apart from the conflict, they were made up of both Catholic and Protestant musicians and both communities would go to hear them play—which, from our perspective, is exactly why they were murdered by one of the rival sectarian/ethnic groups, they were living proof that friendship and cooperation rather than sectarian violence was possible, and because proletarians from both sides were "fraternizing" at their concerts…

Some of the pied noirs were, for the last time, massacred as they left the country en masse in the spring of 1962. But the same guns that massacred the pied noirs were quickly turned against the Algerian proletarians, for whom the FLN’s acquisition of power was feted to be a real victory… But that was nothing new. All along, as they vyed to supplant the colonial administration at the head of the exploitation of labor by capital, the guns of the FLN were arrayed against the Algerian proletarians as much as they were against the pied noirs.

Observers say the Hamas incursion into southern Israel is an “uprising”, to be filed under “Palestinian liberation”. What they really cheer on are the maneuvers of a capitalist-state-in-formation and its regional patrons, in which Palestinian workers are being led—blindfolded and at the end of a gun—into “national struggle” as sacrificial cows of world imperialism. They are cheering on a cynical gamble that, in the architects’ minds, is supposed to goad Israel into a new punitive expedition against the inhabitants of the open-air prison, the Gaza Strip. Indeed, the impetus behind—and the international dimensions of—events are becoming clear. The incursion was green-lit by Iranian rulers to sabotage “normalization” between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and to torpedo the geopolitical corollaries of normalization; because, à la russe, the Islamic Republic is nervous normalization isolates them even more than they currently are. Now, the USA is sailing a carrier group into the eastern Mediterranean. The Middle East has become another flashpoint of the first order; once more, it draws in members of the main imperialist line-up. As the battle intensifies, reality continues to be shrouded by leftists’ obsequious expressions of “solidarity” with a fraction of the Palestinians’ oppressors—the Haniyehs and Deifs, whose guns are trained on the Arab proletarians, and who, from sumptuous lodgings in Qatar, execute brilliant geopolitical schemes, the consequences of which are shunted onto the population of Gaza via the bombs of the Israeli Air Force; bombs that do not touch the real, military infrastructure of the Islamists’ rump-state (buried safely underground), so much as they incinerate the human beings that are unfortunate enough to inhabit the bottom rungs of Khamenei’s celebrated ummah.

Another comrade says the following about the other genus of mollusc, that equivocates over massacres in the Negev:

The idea that some killings are "more justified" because of a past sin, and thus less worthy of denunciation, is not only rooted in obviously magical thinking… [It is also rooted in] a logic of "score-settling" that has been the modus operandi, since time immemorial, for bourgeois revolutions and seizures of power by a new exploiting class, but which is completely alien to the proletariat and the mass form which its struggle is naturally inclined to assume…

Revolutionaries repudiate the line that people at a rave are good targets because they are “settlers”, that the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon is a good target for rockets because it treats “settlers”. Revolutionaries do not tell the world, “we are indifferent to the deaths of settlers who are struck by rockets”. They do not justify this indifference by pointing to the many, many Jewish workers who undoubtedly exhibit disgusting and cavernous racism. Revolutionaries denounce the attacks on proletarians in Israel by Hamas, for the same reason they denounce the daily, Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank: proletarian internationalism… But the survivors that lived to tell the tale of October 7 are not only “settlers” (Jews), but Arabs! The bullets of Hamas do not distinguish between them.

Fatma Altlakat, 35 years old, was on her way to work at Moshav Mivathim. She was traveling in a car with her husband, her baby daughter and two other workers from Gaza. The head of Arara Council [Bedouin], Naif Abu Arar, told Ynet: "Fatma's husband told the terrorists, 'Don't shoot, we are Arabs,' but it didn't help. They put a bullet in his shoulder and killed Fatma and the two Gazan workers."(3)

As we have said, the utility of “senseless attacks” is this: They head off solidarity between Jew and Arab, as they did between pied noir and Arab and Amazigh. They disintegrate solidarity on class or on other bases. They place the colonized proletarians’ struggle on national, statist bases, and succeed in diverting it from autonomous, classist bases. They place the Jewish proletarians in tow of the Jewish state, by creating an Israeli “9/11”. Hamas has effectively gifted the Jewish state its own anti-fascist (recall the term “Islamofascism”) crusade. It is a crusade that identifies the atrocities of October 7 as the justification to bomb Rafah and Khan Yunis, as previous crusades justified bombing Tokyo and Hamburg. The ground was sewn with the bones of Arabs and Jews alike by Hamas, to ensure unimpeded mobilization for the latest flareup of the “Arab-Israeli” conflict.

Every “liberation group” is a capitalist organization. But the PFLP identifies the Palestinian bourgeoisie as enemies, no? It is true, the Palestinian bourgeoisie basically functions as an appendage of the Israeli state. But whereas the Euzkadi bourgeoisie did not support “the national revolution”, this does not extinguish the capitalist credentials of the ETA, whose qualification as a capitalist force is valid in the absence of—especially in the absence of— the support of a “comprador” bourgeoisie. The national bourgeoisie is obstinate; therefore, the creation of a new state is an objective that falls to the armed groupuscules. The Islamists and the radical reformists—that, upon the distant victory of the national revolution, will either entrust the greater part of the economy to the private sector, or opt to crack the “socialist” whip over the workers in state enterprises—vye for the administration of capitalism in Palestine, and do not countenance even the smallest inklings of autonomous, proletarian action. They definitely will not countenance the diffusion of an internationalist class program…

The latest confrontation is irrevocably connected to the machinations of the big imperialist players, engaged in a competition that foreshadows generalized war. For those who say Palestinians have something to gain by being cannon fodder, in a conflict to decide which faction gets to administer their exploitation: the descent from fantasy to reality is vertiginous.

Internationalist Workers’ Group


(1) Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962. New York Review Books, 2006, pp. 135.

(2) ibid., pp. 516.

(3) “We were told that he was a hero and ‘saved many citizens’; The families of the murdered are separated.” Ynet, 8, Oct. 2023,

Thursday, October 12, 2023