Clarifying Our Perspectives on Palestine and Israel after October 7

Alireza Kia

Summary: On several tendencies on the left, especially in Iran and the diaspora — Editors

In this article, I want to discuss some of the implications of the Statement of the Steering Committee of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization, “The Middle East and the World After October 7, and Israel’s War on Palestine,” issued October 15, 2023.

I hope the comments below will help to clarify our position.

Today, I see three tendencies regarding today’s war, or rather, another round of the Israeli war machine for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Those three tendencies as:

  1. Those who support Israel.
  2. Those who support Hamas without any critique of their actions.
  3. A third tendency rejects Israel’s criminal state and Hamas’s Islamic fundamentalist organization while supporting the Palestinian people and their self-determination as we have done. But many of those who lean towards the third tendency believe that both sides are equally responsible.

Among the Iranian left, because of their opposition to the Iranian Islamist regime, many lean towards a “two side-ism” position with slogans like, “No to Islamic terrorism and no to state terrorism.” This is a convenient position for some to take since they can stay neutral and hope everything goes well for the people of Palestine!

Today, two-state solutions are dead and buried, by Israel. For them, Palestinians are not human.

In my view, the Israeli state and Hamas are not the same. The rise of Hamas is a by-product of Israeli reactionaries and their apartheid policy that has been rejecting Palestinians’ claim for self-determination. Close to 6 million Palestinians have been driven out of the country since 1948. Israeli right-wing terrorists carried out a series of massacres against Palestinians, they targeted innocent people including children, and used policies of “ethnic cleansing” to establish a Jewish state “free of Palestinians.” Today’s Islamist terrorism in Gaza is a direct by-product of Israel’s long-standing policies against the Palestinian people. Thus far, in Israel’s recent massacre, there have been almost 5,000 Palestinians killed (among them 2,000 children).

The Israeli state is warning millions of Palestinian people in Gaza that everyone who chooses not to evacuate from the north of the strip to the south of Wadi Gaza might be considered a partner of the terrorist organization.

What does ethnic cleansing look like? Some Palestinian people believe that if we must die it’s better to be in their homes, rather than in tents without any food, water, electricity, fuel, and medical supplies.

Bombing children is not self-defense. To be sure, I condemn the tactics and reactionary ideas of Hamas, but in my view, those who are oppressed have the right to defend themselves and need to fight against their oppressors.

For these reasons, I hold that our Statement expresses our responsibility as an organization to defend 2.3 million Palestinian residents against Israel.

I also recall that forty-one years ago Raya Dunayevskaya wrote her 1982 article on “Israel’s genocidal invasion of Lebanon.” At the time, we were witnessing, she also wrote, how Israel “transformed into opposite from 1947-48 exodus into the Imperialistic state-capitalist Israel.” Since then, we witnessed a lot more genocidal actions by Israel’s Apartheid reactionary state.

This needs to stop.

In my view, our Statement on today’s war gives us a direction for the IMHO Organization. We cannot stand outside the struggle and hope for things to get better.


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  1. Sam Friedman

    This is an excellent statement.

    I want to add a brief few words about a similarity between Gaza and Ukraine that I have not seen anyone mention, though this is in terms of Ukraine’s history and active memories.

    As we observe the Israeli state denying food and water to Palestinians in Gaza, and struggle to stop this genocide, we should also think about its similarities to (and differences from) what the state of the Great Russian so-called Soviet State did to Ukrainians during the Holodomor.

    Never again!

  2. Richard Abernethy

    On the question of Palestine and Israel, IMHO’s recent statements show a marked departure from the analysis worked out by Raya Dunayevskaya, which went against the left orthodoxy of the time.
    Of course, Raya’s ideas are not sacrosanct, but if we decide that some of them no longer apply in a changed world, or were even mistaken all along, we should do so consciously, and not forget our own history.

    While strongly supporting the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, and denouncing the many inhumanities of the Israeli state, Raya also spoke out in the most forceful terms against atrocities committed in the name of the Palestinian struggle (even though these were far less bloody than the massacre of 7 October 2023, and carried out by leftists, not Islamists).
    Consider this from October 1970:
    “Wild, mindless terrorism… not only does not wreck ‘the system’. It provides exactly the fuel needed to stoke the fires of repression… Destruction of the kind the bomb-throwers glorify is the type of destruction that leaves all relationships exactly the same – if not worse – when the dust and smoke have cleared… The ‘system’ remains untouched. More important, the terrorists have shown such total disregard for human life that their actions cannot possibly serve as a focal point for a new social order.”

    I see no reason to regard October 7 as “a global turning point”. Gaza has gone from purgatory to hell, with paradise as distant as ever.
    To say that “Hamas is a by-product of Israeli reactionaries and their apartheid policies” is only partly true. It is also part of a global fundamentalist movement. Gazans voted for Hamas in part because it was seen as more honest compared to the corruption of the PLO. It receives support from Iran (I am surprised that Alireza does not mention this).

    Alireza writes: “To them, Palestinians are not human”. But who are “they”? Does it mean the government and the far right in Israel? Or the whole Israeli population? Such distinctions are important.

    I agree with the slogan “No to Islamic terrorism and no to [Israeli] state terrorism”, as far as it goes, although I would switch it around to put Israel first – and say “Islamist”, not “Islamic”.
    To my mind, this is not a “stay neutral and hope” attitude. Rather, it is a refusal to accept “the lesser of two evils”. A necessary preliminary to the search for new humanist beginnings.

  3. james hull

    Interesting comparison, Steve, thanks–something to think about. —Richard, Raya’s general eschewing of terrorism is quite in line with basic Marxist thinking from Marx and Engles on problems with anarchists through writers like Trotsky, who dedicated an entire essay to it. But most in that tradition have opposed terrorism on tactical grounds. In contrast, you have captured an important distinction from this tactical emphasis in Raya’s perspective and our revolutionary theory as Marxist humanists, namely the need to model, existentially, the values we envisage to be consonant with a socialist humanist society.