we published an article on the conflict between the forces of Hamas and those
of Fatah in the Gaza Strip. The article was written by Yehuda Stern in Israel,
but it had been heavily edited by the Editorial Board of www.marxist.com. The original article that
we received came under the title "The Liberation of Gaza and the Questions Facing
Israeli and Palestinian Workers".
Upon receiving the article the Editorial Board informed the author that
many changes had to be made for it to be published on our website, starting
with the title itself. We do not consider the victory of Hamas in the conflict
with Fatah in Gaza in any way a "Liberation of Gaza", nor is it in any way a
progressive step for the Palestinian masses. It is in fact a tragedy that the
vacuum created by the corruption and collaboration with imperialism on the part
of the PLO leadership in running the Palestinian Authority has been filled by
the reactionary Hamas.
We sent our comments to the author (and to Yossi Schwartz), who then
made some corrections, but we considered these were still not enough. We had a
long phone conversation and we followed this with emails detailing the changes
we considered needed making. The article was changed but we still considered
that it was not satisfactory. We went ahead and edited it further. Eventually
the author and Yossi Schwartz accepted the form in which it was published. On
this basis we believed we had an agreement on the fundamental issues.
Unfortunately, we must admit that some unfortunate formulations were
still present in the article. It must be said that what seemed to be a movement
in the right direction by the author was no such thing. He (in agreement with
Yossi Schwartz) very quickly reverted to the opinions he had expressed in the
original text. He maintains that Hamas led an anti-imperialist struggle,
mobilizing the masses, and that therefore Marxists should support the "military
victory" of Hamas, claiming that the situation in Gaza was a blow to
imperialism and that it would push forward the class struggle throughout the
How "progressive" the situation was became apparent very soon, with
Hamas clamping down on all left groups and trade union activity in the Gaza
Strip. It is an unfortunate fact but the author of the article has made one of
the most serious mistakes that anyone claiming to be a Marxist can make, i.e.
to confuse revolution with counter-revolution, and has capitulated to Islamic
fundamentalism. This goes against all the previous positions expressed in
articles on Israel and Palestine published on this website.
We believe the approach developed by the Moroccan Marxists is what is
needed. We are implacably opposed to Islamic fundamentalism. To make any kind
of concession to these reactionary forces would be disastrous for a genuine
Marxist tendency in the labour movement. We will return to this question again,
but for now we believe the comments of the Moroccan Marxists suffice.
The quotes in this article are either from the article The
victory of Hamas in Gaza and the questions facing Israeli and Palestinian
workers or from other articles written by Yossi Schwartz in the past where
he was putting a balanced and correct Marxist position on the question of Hamas
and Islamic fundamentalism.
to understand the causes behind the confrontations between Hamas and Fatah in
Gaza, we need to study the politics that led to these confrontations. By posing
things in this way things become clearer.
that the political reasons for these confrontations are the struggle for "a
fair repartition of the cake" between the "old" and the "new" – the interests
of the masses count for nothing… We believe, like "most people on the left",
that it is "a mere power struggle between two equally reactionary forces".
victory of Hamas brings nothing to the Palestinian masses in terms of their
living conditions or their liberation struggle. Comrade Yehuda Stern is right
when he says: "the victory of Hamas in Gaza does not solve any of the
fundamental problems of the Palestinian masses" and that "one would have to be
a fool to consider Hamas as a revolutionary or even a consistently
not led this war for the masses nor for national liberation. They have led it
because "They, too, wish to become part of the capitalist system. They climb on
the shoulders of the oppressed masses and try to take the lead in order to use
their strength to achieve a ‘better compromise’ with the imperialist oppressor.
[Their aim…] is to be accepted as part of a viable ruling elite by the
imperialist powers that dominate the world scene."
not one progressive atom to these policies of Hamas. The war between the
reactionary forces to determine which amongst them will be the representative
of the imperialists in the country is not a war in which we must take part.
Revolutionaries do not need to support one camp against another. On the
contrary, the policy of the Marxists is to denounce this war and call for class
policies on the part of the mass organisations.
reading a part of comrade Stern’s article, we can only come to the conclusion
that he demands support for Hamas since the masses "support" this organisation,
and that we must be with them in their war against Fatah – because this war is
"a decisive battle between imperialism and the Palestinian people" and because
"the victory of Hamas has galvanized the Palestinian and Arab masses against
imperialism and shaken the confidence of the Israeli workers in their
However, after only a
few lines we see in the same article by the same author that "Hamas does not
have any real alternative to offer to capitalist exploitation". We also see
that "Hamas is a populist movement" and above all "we should always keep firmly
in mind that Hamas does not want to overthrow capitalism. They merely wish for
banks and monopolies with Islamic names. If they
follow the same path of making deals with the imperialist powers, which at a
certain stage will be inevitable, its leadership will be exposed as just
another group of bourgeois politicians, no better than Fatah, especially should
they attempt to set up a regime in their image to assert their domination.
This, in the long run, is the only possibility in Palestine, where the ruling
class is extremely weak and lacks any popular base."
Furthermore that "we do not give the fundamentalists
any political support" [our emphasis].
see that in the article it is stated that that Hamas’ war is "a decisive
battle between imperialism and the Palestinian people" and their victory
is "a severe blow against imperialism" etc. If this were the case the
comrade would have the right to demand political support for Hamas (=
fundamentalists) and it would be a serious error not to… However, all this talk
of "the decisive battle" and "severe blow" is wrong and the truth is that Hamas
"merely wish for banks and monopolies with Islamic names." We must remember
that "Hamas is a populist, reactionary movement, whose leadership not long ago
had announced its willingness to negotiate with the USA and Britain," etc. In
this case, we must not give "any political support".
point of view, we believe that:
this war is not "between imperialism and the Palestinian people". It is between
two camps of the same class for domination, as we have already explained.
the victory of Hamas will not weaken the confidence of the Israeli masses in
their oppressors. On the contrary, Hamas is a semi-fascist, anti-Semitic
religious party. Its propaganda about exterminating the "infidel" Jews and its
methods are the best arguments in the hands of the Israeli ruling class for
maintaining the "sacred unity"…
not have a lot of room for manoeuvre even if they come to an agreement with
imperialism and "climb on the shoulders of the oppressed masses and try to
take the lead in order to use their strength to achieve a ‘better compromise’
with the imperialist oppressor".
reality, as our comrade says, "has already signalled that it is willing to
reach a compromise with the imperialists and their representatives in
Palestine, i.e. the Fatah movement and President Mahmoud Abbas".
lead to desperation, where at least a small fraction of their rank and file
could begin to launch suicide attacks against the Israeli masses. In this case,
"This act [will create] more hatred between the Israeli masses and the
Palestinian masses. By pushing the Israeli working class into the hands of the
[ruling class] these terrorists are in reality the best friends of the [ruling
class]. If they did not exist [the Israeli ruling class] would have to invent
them. The logic behind this criminal act is to strengthen the right-wing,
giving more legitimacy to the terror of the state." (see: Israel: Ashdod
bombings: How reaction and individual terrorism feed off each other.
Obviously, this will not "shake the confidence of the
Israeli workers in their oppressors."
the "galvanisation" of the Arab masses against imperialism around
forces such as Hamas is comparable to the "galvanisation" called for by Bin
Laden and other fanatics…
Do the Palestinian masses support
election gave Hamas a large victory (in parliamentary terms, although not in terms
of votes) whereas Fatah and the other groups suffered an important defeat. The
comrade is right when he explains this victory by saying: "This victory of
Hamas would not have been possible without a massive turn of the Palestinian
masses both in Gaza and the West Bank against Fatah and the leaders of the
Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA)
after more than a decade of extreme corruption and collaboration with
imperialism and the Israeli government against their own people."
cynically exploited this situation by using demagogic, populist language which
concentrates on the struggle against corruption and the continuation of the
resistance. Its promises are not limited to this world, but extend even to the
that the vote for Hamas was not a vote for its reactionary, anti-Semitic
project, nor for its attitude towards women, etc., but revenge against Fatah
and a vote for a change in living conditions. This makes us more conscious of
the relevance of the revolutionary Marxist alternative to save the masses from
can sometimes support very reactionary movements ‑ when they find themselves at
an impasse, in unbearable living conditions, in the absence of a revolutionary
alternative, and when the leaders of the mass organisations behave like
traitors. In such cases, and since nature abhors a vacuum, it is possible that
a fascist party, or something similar, takes advantage of the situation and
cases we must endure temporary isolation. However, the situation in Palestine
is different, and more favourable, as we have already explained – the masses in
Palestine voted for a reactionary party, but for progressive reasons.
Hamas is a
reactionary bourgeois party. We must unmask it and struggle against it. To do
this, we must struggle for class independence. We must struggle for a united
front of the mass organisations – the trade unions and left currents – on the
basis of a militant programme against the barbarism caused by this confrontation,
against the Israeli aggression, and for the improvement in the living
conditions of the masses. These are only general ideas and we must develop such
a programme concretely.
all this despite the fact that we believe that it is premature to speak of an
intervention in the mass movement in Palestine at this stage. We believe that
we must concentrate our forces on making contact with the most advanced
elements there and educate them in the spirit of Marxism, etc. But they must be
educated as Marxist cadres who struggle for the independence of the working
League of Action (Morocco)