Following Hamas’ surprise attack on 7 October, a bloody retribution has been unleashed by the Israeli state. In the West, capitalist politicians and the prostitute press declare unwavering support for Israel’s “right to defend itself”, and brand those showing solidarity with Palestine as “terrorist sympathisers”. This is being combined with legal repression of solidarity towards the Palestinian people, which must be boldly countered. We will not be silenced!
In Britain, the Tory government and the Labour Party opposition under Sir Keir Starmer are united in backing Israel to the hilt. The Tories’ arch-reactionary Home Secretary Suella Braverman has sent a letter to chief police constables in England and Wales, urging them to block any attempts to use Palestinian flags, songs or swastikas [!] “to harass or intimidate members of the Jewish community.”
Shamelessly drawing a parallel between waving Palestinian flags and displaying Nazi insignia, Braverman seeks to smear anybody standing with Palestine as an anti-semitic terrorist sympathiser, giving a pretence to clamp down on solidarity.
The Tories are supported by a press campaign filled with lurid details of brutal violence by Hamas, real and exaggerated, such as the unverified story of “40 beheaded babies” at the Kfar Aza kibbutz.
Meanwhile, Israeli war crimes are either justified as self-defence, or brushed over, including the recent news about the deployment of white phosphorus in Gaza. In reports of casualties, Israelis are “killed” whereas Palestinians simply “die”.
On the rare occasion that pro-Palestinian voices are allowed in the media, they are forced to ritualistically “condemn Hamas”, including Palestinan ambassador Husam Zomlot on BBC Newsnight, who had moments earlier revealed that six of his relatives had been killed in Israeli airstrikes. Later, Zomlot was deliberately misquoted as having said “Israel had it coming”, with the presenter in question, Kay Burley, repeatedly refusing to retract the quote.
The message is simple: if you stand with Palestine, you support Hamas terrorism, and you don’t deserve the right to express your views. The Metropolitan Police in London have already announced that police patrols in “sensitive areas” of London had been increased, warning anyone found breaking the law would be arrested.
Academic freedoms under threat
These legal threats are combined with attacks on freedom of expression at schools and universities. A number of student societies have been harangued in the media for allegedly “glorifying” Hamas. Additionally, a teacher has spoken to marxist.com about new guidelines sent to their secondary school by the British government’s anti-terror ‘Prevent’ programme.
“Staff members were told that attending solidarity protests or vocally supporting the Palestianians in this conflict could violate the school’s policy of ‘upholding British values’ and may need to involve the Prevent Officer, which in itself is a thinly veiled threat,” they said, “Teachers were encouraged to silence children’s conversations around the conflict, and remove ‘Free Palestine’ stickers or other displays of solidarity.”
Reactionary Tory rags like the Daily Mail have run headlines accusing university academics (usually Muslims and those of Middle-Eastern heritage) of “legitimising Hamas attacks”, and demanding sanctions against them.
This media harassment and Orwellian meddling at schools and universities is being conducted by the same Tory government and press that once made a great song and dance about enshrining ‘free speech’ in universities.
At the same time as deploying counter-terroism agencies against students and teachers exercising their democratic rights, the British ruling class offer political cover and material assistance to Israeli state terror against the Palestinians. There are now plans afoot to deploy Royal Navy ships to the eastern Mediterranean to “bolster security”.
Across the Atlantic, 33 student organisations at Harvard University provoked howls of outrage by issuing a statement blaming Israel’s “apartheid regime” for the attacks on Saturday. “[These] events did not occur in a vacuum,” the letter read. “For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison.”
Aside from a tidal wave of condemnation in the press, demanding repercussions for the students from university authorities, a cabal of CEOs, led by billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, have insisted the “names of the signatories should be made public so their views are publicly known”.
Meanwhile, a truck bearing pictures of students and the words “Harvard’s leading antisemites” has been driven around the university in an act of open intimidation.
The political establishment has added its voice to condemnation of the Harvard student groups.
Republican and Harvard graduate Ted Cruz wrote on X: “What the hell is wrong with Harvard?” Meanwhile, Seth Moulton, Democratic congressman and Harvard alumni, said in an interview on WBZ-TV he was “embarrassed” by the students’ statement: “This is outright terrorism, and terrorism is never justified.”
This is rich, coming from a representative of the same government that for decades has funded Israeli terror against Palestine and uses its political clout to protect the Israeli state from accountability. The US has now sent an aircraft carrier and strike group to the eastern Mediterranean, anticipating the threat of a wider war.
In the past few years, much has been made of Europe’s ‘democratic’ values, as opposed to the authoritarian, censorious and violent regimes in Russia, China and so forth. On the question of Palestine, however, the fiction of European democracy stands exposed.
For instance, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned “anyone who glorifies the crimes of Palestinian militant group Hamas” will face legal repercussions, citing “zero tolerance” on antisemitism. “These means expressly include bans on associations and activities,” Scholz added.
This point about “glorifying Hamas” is pure sophistry to justify total legal repression of all pro-Palestine demonstrations. Indeed, Berlin police have already banned planned such demonstrations, citing the risk of “antisemitic statements and glorification of violence.”
There are reports already of police crackdowns on people carrying pro-Palestinian symbols including the national flag and wearing the keffiyeh scarf.
Also, Berlin’s Education Senator Katharina Günther-Wünsch (CDU) has banned the wearing of Palestinian scarves and other symbols associated with Palestine in schools. Stickers with inscriptions such as “free Palestine”, maps of Israel in the colours of Palestine, even uttering the words “free Palestine,” are all prohibited, as “such actions and symbols endanger school peace in the current situation.” This draconian attack on students’ basic liberties will doubtlessly prepare a backlash.
In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that mayors would intervene in pro-Hamas demonstrations, and a planned march in Amsterdam had to change locations following political pressure and legal threats.
Meanwhile, the Macron government in France has issued a blanket ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations, with Interiror Minister Gérald Darmanin saying anyone taking part should be arrested as “they are susceptible to disrupt public order.”
In defiance of the ban, thousands assembled in Paris, Lille, Bordeaux and elsewhere yesterday. These demonstrations were immediately broken up by the police using water cannons and tear gas, and dozens were arrested across the country. Such is the farce of French ‘democracy’!
Macron made the motive for this especially outrageous attack on democratic freedoms clear in a video address to the nation, saying “let’s not add national divisions to international divisions”. With his authority and popularity in the toilet, having already faced two major waves of struggle this year (against a hated and undemocratic pension hike, and the police murder of a French-Algerian teenager), Macron is fearful of another conflagration.
But his attempt to wield the hammer of state repression to enforce ‘unity’ could rapidly backfire, given the fragility of the political situation in France.
The French courts are also being used to clamp down on dissent. The New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA), a small left-wing party led by Phillip Poutou, is facing a legal probe for allegedly glorifying “terror” following a Pro-Palestinian statement.
While we do not subscribe to the dot and comma of the NPA’s stance, they correctly place the principal blame for the bloody events of recent days squarely at the feet of the reactionary Israeli state, and call for a new intifada to liberate Palestine.
In a clear reference to the NPA, Darmanin warned that he reserved the right to use the law “to initiate dissolution proceedings” against “groups, associations and sometimes political parties [issuing] absolutely despicable statements calling for hatred, the intifada and the glorification of terrorism.”
This is absolutely scandalous. An intifada is nothing less than a mass uprising by an oppressed people against an occupier for the elementary democratic right of statehood. It has nothing to do with Hamas’ attack on 7 October. Is this right (enshrined in international law) not afforded to the Palestinians? For the French bourgeoisie, who once launched their own uprising against the despotic Bourbon dynasty, this right is entirely conditional on aligning with western imperialist interests.
To its shame, the French left has been silent in the face of this open threat to dissolve the NPA. Both the Socialist Party (PS) and Communist Party (PCF) have issued statements supporting Israel, in full complicity with the French ruling class. For its part, La France Insoumise (LFI), the main opposition party at the head of the left-wing Nupes coalition, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, issued a statement calling for a cease-fire.
“The armed offensive by Palestinian forces led by Hamas comes in a context of intensification of Israeli occupation policy in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” it said. “We deplore the Israeli and Palestinian deaths. Our thoughts are with all the victims.” It further noted: “the violence unleashed against Israel and in the Gaza Strip only produce [further violence].”
This rather mild, pacifistic statement produced an outpouring of outrage. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said in a televised interview: “The position of LFI is well known, and often marked by a lot of ambiguity, by anti-Zionism, and… it’s also a way of masking a form of anti-semitism.”
Equating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism is a time-honoured strategy by reactionaries to attack the pro-Palestine left. For its part, the Socialist Party also announced a “temporary break” from the Nupes alliance, threatening to bring down the coalition unless Mélenchon reverses the statement, in effect doing Macron’s work for him.
IMT under attack
Our own comrades in the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) have also come under attack around the world for showing solidarity with Palestine, for condemning the murderous actions of the Israeli occupiers, and for calling for a revolutionary solution to Palestinian oppression.
A number of student unions in Britain have attempted to censor our materials and shut down our public meetings at universities. The Marxist Society in University College London (UCL) was ordered to remove posters advertising a public meeting on Israel-Palestine, and suspended upon refusal. This was based on the scandalous charge that the comrades’ political material, particularly their slogan “intifada until victory” could be construed as “inciting violence”!
And in Cambridge University, Marxist Society comrades attempting to hold a public meeting in solidarity with Palestine were locked out of the campus!
Meanwhile, a comrade in Sweden was collared by four police officers while travelling to his home in Hagfors from a meeting in Stockholm. The train he was riding on was held for an hour without explanation while the comrade was questioned, searched and accused of “visiting web pages about Hamas.”
Apparently, his ‘crime’ was accessing articles on marxist.com expressing solidarity with Palestine, and spreading speeches from demonstrations on social media. This was enough for someone on the train to raise a report about a “suspected bomb threat”! We see here the effect that the utter hysteria whipped up in the press about anyone supporting Palestine being a terrorist sympathiser.
Most scandalously of all, the biggest Swiss media outlets have launched a full-blown witch hunt against our comades of Der Funke/L’etincelle, accusing them of organising a pro-Hamas rally in Zurich, calling for violence, and spreading anti-semitism. These outlandish and false allegations resulted in the universities of Zurich, Bern and Fribourg stripping our student groups of room-booking rights on campus. (See the end of this article for more on the attacks against our Swiss comrades).
A statement from the University of Zurich (UZH) says: “The UZH does not tolerate calls for violence. The call for ‘Intifada until victory’ spread by ‘Der Funke’ and ‘IMT’ is not compatible with the stance of the UZH. The UZH supports democratically conducted discussions.”
This appeal to ‘democracy’ is completely laughable when the university authorities are openly complicit in attacks on the basic democratic rights of speech and assembly by the Swiss state and their media mouthpieces.
We have seen in recent years, with the systematic destruction of the movement behind Jeremy Corbyn in Britain for example, how the capitalists, the press and political elite shamelessly smear and slander their opponents. One of the main sources of ammunition for their mudslinging has been the question of support for Palestine, anti-Zionism, and the allegations of ‘anti-semitism’ that they inevitably attach.
The main error of reformists like Corbyn was to give ground over this despicable campaign of lies, rather than clearly identify it as a politically motivated attack, and punch back.
The communists of the IMT treat the mendacious rubbish hurled at us by our class enemies with the contempt it deserves. We proudly and clearly declare our total opposition to Zionism. We say that the attack on 7 October was provoked by decades of brutal occupation, and the bloody repression of all attempts by the Palestinian people to peacefully protest their daily hell. We state our unconditional solidarity with the Palestinians striving for a state to call their own, and a dignified existence.
And most of all, we point our finger squarely at the double standards of our own imperialist leaders, who have supported the heinous crimes of the Israeli state, continue to do so, and are currently abetting the collective punishment of the people of Gaza, which is illegal by every standard of the imperialists’ own (admittedly worthless) international laws.
Now, the Israeli government is employing the language of genocide and ethnic cleansing in its response to Hamas’ attacks, which our ruling classes justify as “self-defence.” The Israeli army has warned 1.1 million people living in the north of Gaza to evacuate within 24 hours, an utter impossibility that a WHO spokesperson has called “a death sentence.”
Our comrades who have come under attack in recent days have all responded to the attempts to repress their activities with a bold political counter-attack, issuing defiant statements slamming the hypocrisy of their respective university authorities, the capitalist press, and capitalist governments.
The communists in London held their planned UCL meeting outside the campus, affirming their solidarity with Palestine and support for a revolutionary intifada to free the Palestinian people, as part of a revolutionary wave throughout the Middle East. Meanwhile, the ‘banned’ rally in Zurich went ahead regardless, with large crowds participating.
This must be the attitude of all groups on the left when faced with any repressive measures against expressing their solidarity with an oppressed and occupied people. We must stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the Palestinians, and in defence of the hard-won democratic freedoms of speech and assembly.
The ruling class is fearful. Working people have been battered by the cost of living crisis, and have already begun to organise and fight back, with a big uptick in strike activity. The ruling classes throughout the western world anticipate future unrest, as further attacks are necessary in their attempts to stabilise the crisis-ridden capitalist system. Moreover, they know that as Israel’s slaughter intensifies, the resulting indignation could spark a wave of protest at home.
Whilst shutting down pro-Palestine activity, they are affording their state forces more and more power to silence and shut down all forms of protest. By undermining democratic rights now, they are preparing the ground for future battles with the working class. The workers and youth must mobilise and meet these attacks with all their strength.
An injury to one is an injury to all. We say: No to anti-democratic attacks on the right to protest! Intifada until victory! Free Palestine!
The ruling class attacks our Swiss comrades for defending Palestine!
The main bourgeois media outlets in Switzerland – 20 Minuten, Tagesanzeiger, NZZ, Weltwoche – have launched a witch hunt against the communists. They are targeting us because we are organising in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The front page of 20 Minuten was recently plastered with the headline: “Unknown group calls for pro-Hamas rally in Zurich”. Shortly afterwards, 20 Minuten and NZZ adjusted their slanders to remove the reference to Hamas.
In their lurid articles they say that our rally is a “call for violence” and accuse us of anti-Semitism for raising the slogan of solidarity with Palestine.
The universities of Zurich, Bern and Fribourg have withdrawn room-booking rights on campus for our student comrades.
The University of Zurich (UZH) writes: “The UZH does not tolerate calls for violence. The call for ‘Intifada until victory’ spread by ‘Der Funke’ and ‘IMT’ is not compatible with the stance of the UZH. The UZH supports democratically conducted discussions.”
That same evening, three vans of policemen were mobilised to Zurich’s other main university (ETH) to prevent the rally.
The Swiss establishment – much like its counterpart in Britain, for example – is immediately going on the offensive against any attempts by workers and youth to show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. The basic democratic right to freedom of speech and assembly is being met with repression.
The hysterical reaction of the Swiss media is not a sign of strength, but of weakness. It is the desperate attempt of the ruling class in Switzerland – and in the west as a whole – to justify Israeli imperialism, to intimidate and silence all those who want to fight against oppression and to stop any discussion about Israeli aggression and the occupation of Palestine.
Yet their hypocrisy knows no bounds. These are the same media outlets that have looked the other way for decades at all the atrocities of western and Israeli imperialism in the Middle East.
Where are the headlines denouncing the murder of thousands of Palestinians in recent years? Rather, they ruthlessly defend Israel’s “right to defend itself”.
Bourgeois media presents the situation as if it were a conflict between two equal forces. Yet they all ignore the fact that what we have here is a sophisticated imperialist power marching its modern military into the largest open-air prison in the world! All the while denying hundreds of thousands of people access to drinking water, electricity and health care!
As communists, our response must be resolute: we must defend the right of the oppressed Palestinians to resist.
We are many! Organise the resistance!
The bourgeois media does not represent the working class.
Large crowds attended the “banned” rally in Zurich, disgusted by the article in 20 Minuten. A number of workers and youth have also contacted us to get active in the struggle.
A message to our website reads:
“I am an uneducated man, but even I know that when people are harassed for years, literally deprived of their homes and land, at some point exactly what is happening now is bound to occur. 90 percent of the world points the finger at Palestine and calls them terrorists. What are the Israelis then if they are not even bound by human rights?”
Every day we hold discussions with more and more communists in order to get them organised in the fight for revolution. Since Sunday, Palestine has been the only topic on the agenda. A report from one such discussion describes the experiences of one new attendee:
“She comes from Egypt. She has been watching the bombings of Palestine on TV since she was seven. She experienced all the crimes of imperialism first hand growing up, and understands the history of Israel and the hypocrisy of Western imperialism. She intuitively defended the IMT’s position in its entirety as if she knew it by heart: from “Israel is the aggressor” to “Hamas are the only leadership available, but the masses have to fight and it is good that they are fighting. Don’t confuse them with Hamas” to “the Israeli working class will not be free until the Intifada wins!”. When I explained our position to her and said that we are building an International that will lead the struggle of these masses to victory, she almost cried because our position is just spot on and because she wants to be part of an international organisation that defends this.”
We must give a voice to the growing resentment of Swiss workers and youth against this barbaric and one-sided war. We must also unite against any repression or propaganda by the ruling class!
If you also feel suffocated under the thick torrent of propaganda in the bourgeois media, if you really just want to express your solidarity with the oppressed – then get organised with the communists!
The communists of the IMT are evidently the only ones to stand up for the Palestinian struggle without caving to the pressure of the ruling class.
That is why they are trying to make an example of us. They need to send a bold warning to the whole left: “If you dare to say even one consistent word against the Israeli state, we will call you anti-Semites and terrorist sympathisers.”
We are not in the least intimidated by this. We are going on the counter-offensive. For this we need you and all those who want to fight for the liberation of the Palestinian people!
The SVP and the betrayal of the Young Socialist leadership
In the meantime, Benjamin Fischer, a politician with the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), has also joined the cynical hysteria about our poster. This is not surprising. The SVP is the party of the fatcat bourgeoisie, for whom nothing is off the table when defending the interests of the Swiss capitalists. They stand firmly on the side of Israeli imperialism in their barbaric oppression of the Palestinian people.
It is an absolute scandal that the leadership of the Young Socialists (JUSO) around Nicola Siegrist is now also participating in this repression. On Twitter, JUSO stated that it is correct that the University of Zurich does not tolerate our event and calls on other universities to do the same.
In other words, they are calling for the suppression of our basic democratic right to organise an event in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people!
At a time when it should be second nature for the left and the labour movement to stand together in defence of the Palestinian people, the JUSO leadership joins the bourgeoisie in cynically agitating in the interest of imperialism.
We are convinced that this attitude does not reflect the opinion of all members of JUSO.
We call on all JUSO members to take a stand in their local groups and unconditionally side with the Palestinian people in the struggle against imperialist oppression.
The scandalous attitude of the JUSO leadership does not affect us communists, but it is a betrayal of the Palestinian people and of all the oppressed of the world.
The most important thing today is for communists to cut through bourgeois propaganda and its hypocritical morality and to take a crystal clear class position on this question.
Is the struggle against the Israeli regime anti-Semitic?
Our enemies are now accusing us of anti-Semitism – as they always do when someone dares to oppose Israeli imperialism. They cynically confuse criticism of Zionism with anti-Semitism.
But the truth is simple: it is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel’s government. We criticise it not on the basis of religion, but on the basis of its actions – decades of violent oppression of the Palestinian people.
To claim otherwise is a deliberate lie that props up the Israeli regime and delegitimises justified resistance to the oppressors.
We have never, in a single word, blamed the Jewish population – either in Switzerland or Israel – for the oppression of the Palestinians.
That is not our position and any honest journalist has the duty to research our genuine positions before branding us anti-Semitic.
But honesty and integrity are not attributes of these ladies and gentlemen who day in, day out conceal the crimes of the ruling class.
What can you do?
The Israeli invasion of Gaza and the complete occupation of the West Bank could cause a social explosion across the Middle East. Revolutionary movements are implicit in the current situation.
In Switzerland and around the world, the IMT is organising all those who want to be at the forefront of this revolutionary struggle!
Are you a communist? Do you support the liberation struggle of the Palestinians against imperialism? Then you must not remain isolated! Join us!.
The spark will light a flame!
Intifada until victory!