Summary of Unité communiste’s positions on Palestinian resistance

Unité communiste Lyon, 

We have already developed and argued our views in 2 articles: “L’espoir des colonisés” (“The hope of the colonized”) (October 8, 2023) and “Le temps maudit des colonies” (“The cursed days of the colonies”) (November 4, 2023). Here, we present a summary of our analysis and positions on the situation in Palestine and on Palestinian resistance.

In Palestine, there is one main contradiction, and this determines the resolution of all other contradictions. This main contradiction is the contradiction between the national liberation struggle of the Palestinian people and Israeli settlement colonialism.

Israel is a settler-colonial state, which distinguishes it from “classic” imperialist states, and which conditions the struggle against it. It is important to understand that the strategy of struggle against installation colonialism, which is one of the forms of imperialist political domination over dominated peoples, is not reducible to the anti-imperialist strategies that generally apply in the case of “counter” colonialism and neo-colonialism.

Israeli society is dominated by a hegemonic, transpartisan and transclassist colonial consensus. Virtually the entire Israeli political spectrum is colonial, from right to left. Recent social mobilizations in Israel, and the current sacred union around national defense, have demonstrated this state of affairs universal to settlements: social and political struggles in Israel all operate within the colonial consensus. The problem is not Likud or Netanyahu, but the colonial consensus, which far exceeds them. Overthrowing the current government would only be a superficial change in Israel, as the colonial project and the colonial consensus would remain unchanged.

The colonial consensus must be fought within Israeli society, and particularly among the proletarian settlers, according to internationalist watchwords. However, historically, there has been an objective trend in all settlements: proletarian settlers defend their (short-term) colonial interests first, before their (long-term) class interests. This is not an excuse for abandoning internationalism, but a historical and current empirical observation, which informs us about the real circumstances and perspectives of the internationalist struggle among Israeli workers. Without awareness of this state of affairs concerning the colonial proletariat, internationalism can only become metaphysical.

The main contradiction in Palestine is national-colonial, and this has been demonstrated as antagonistic by the last 75 years of Israeli colonialism. Internationalism is not the denial of the existence of the principal and antagonistic contradiction between the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, but the struggle for its resolution through national liberation. The priority for internationalists, then, is not to unite the colonial proletarian and the colonized proletarian, but to resolve the principal antagonistic contradiction between them in the case of settlement colonialism. Only in the Palestinian national liberation struggle can there be real, truly progressive unity between settler proletarians and colonized proletarians. It goes without saying that anti-colonial propaganda must be carried out within the colonizing proletariat. However, the struggle of the colonized cannot be conditional on union with or approval of the colonizer.

No resolution of the contradiction between Labor and Capital is possible in Palestine without first resolving the main national-colonial contradiction. Socialism in Palestine can only be built on the ruins of Israel. As a settlement occupying Palestine, Israel has no right to exist. This means not only that the colonial state of Israel must be destroyed, but also that the nation of Israel, because it is intrinsically colonial, must be dissolved as such.

We advocate the creation of a secular, multinational Palestinian state on the ruins of the Israeli colonial state. Harmonious cohabitation between Jews and Arabs can only exist if the relationship between the Israeli settler and the Palestinian colonized is first broken. For this to happen, the creation of a liberated Palestine must involve the submission of the colonizers to the conditions of the colonized. Only when the main national-colonial contradiction is thus resolved, will real peace be possible in Palestine between all religions and all nationalities. Only then can the contradiction between Labor and Capital be resolved towards socialism.

In national liberation struggles, the united front strategy is the right strategy. Palestine is no exception. This united front exists today in the joint operation room. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) are part of it, alongside more than 10 other Palestinian resistance organizations, including the communists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are nationalist organizations with many undeniably reactionary aspects, including anti-Semitism, misogyny and anti-communism. However, Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are no more or less reactionary than Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist, anti-communist Kuomintang was in the anti-Japanese Chinese United Front, or the equally nationalist, anti-communist National Liberation Front in the Algerian United Front. The Palestinian case is no different: for national liberation, the united front strategy is no less relevant in Palestine than elsewhere.

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad must be criticized — like all reactionaries — and progressive and communist forces must retain their political and strategic autonomy — as in all united fronts. However, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are sincerely waging the Palestinian national liberation struggle against the Israeli colonial state. The communist organizations that are members of the Joint Operation Room share this view, which justifies their commitment to it. The opportunism and reactionary positions of all Palestinian organizations must be criticized, but as participants in the national liberation struggle, they are waging a just war, while the colonial state of Israel is waging an unjust war.

It is impossible to equate Hamas with the Israeli state. They differ qualitatively and do not correspond to the same contradictions. Hamas is a nationalist organization seeking to create a reactionary bourgeois regime in Palestine, while the Israeli state is a colonial settlement regime seeking to realize a colonial project, which increasingly involves the genocide of Palestinians. The mere existence of Israel as a genocidal settlement is more reactionary than anything Hamas could possibly do if it were to realize its program. Moreover, the communist position must assess future possibilities and prospects, but it cannot be built in opposition to the risk of a pessimistic “what if?”.

The united front strategy, like all strategies, offers no guarantees, but it does offer possible paths. In national liberation struggles, progressive and communist forces must accept partial alienation to avoid total alienation. By allying themselves with other organizations for national liberation, progressives and communists take the risk of strategic defeat to avoid the certainty of strategic defeat. To reject the united front for national liberation would be not only a misapprehension of the contradictions in Palestine, but above all an absurd strategic suicide. Within the united front, communists and progressives can fight to place themselves at the head of the Palestinian national movement, but outside the united front, they condemn themselves to placing themselves at the tail end of the Palestinian national movement. The struggle for leadership of the Palestinian national resistance and against the reactionaries can only be waged within the united front of Palestinian resistance, not outside it.

The scenarios of Iran (the seizure of power by Khomeini’s theologians in 1979), Algeria (the ousting of the PCA communists by the FLN in 1962 and 1965) or the 1st Chinese united front (which ended with the Kuomintang’s massacre of communists in Shanghai in 1927) are always possible, and this risk is an unavoidable necessity in any united front strategy. However, the scenario of the 2nd Chinese united front is just as possible. There is never certainty, but there are possibilities and struggle. In the 1st and 2nd Chinese anti-Japanese united fronts, the Communist Party of China was in the minority compared to the Kuomintang, which was reactionary (nationalist and anti-communist), opportunist (having sometimes collaborated with the Japanese) and supported by imperialist powers (notably the USA, to serve their interests in their inter-imperialist struggle), yet, in the end, the united front strategy remained the only possible one and proved to be a winning one for the communists. If the Communists of the Communist Party of China had radically abandoned the united-front strategy after the failure of the 1st anti-Japanese Chinese united front in 1927, they would not have won in 1949, and the future of the Chinese nation could have been compromised by Japanese colonialism.

The October 7 offensive, in which all the Palestinian resistance forces of the Joint Operation Room took part, was justified. Armed struggle is the only possible way to liberate Palestine. But war is never clean or ideal. The tactics chosen by the united front of Palestinian national resistance must not condition our support for it. Either we accept violence as it really is (dirty, chaotic and with necessarily reactionary aspects), or we reject violence, but we cannot demand or expect ideal (clean and pure) violence.

In the October 7th offensive, there was an undeniably anti-Semitic aspect, as well as an equally undeniably patriarchal one, but the main aspect was national: the violence of the Palestinian fighters was first and foremost the violence of colonized people against colonizers. As such, the violence of the October 7 offensive was a just violence. Not all acts are justifiable in the name of national liberation (this is not an absolute), but if the main aspect of the violence is just, then it is just. Anti-Semitic or patriarchal violence is never right, but these are not the main aspect of the October 7th violence. It is well known that the Red Army massively raped German women when it entered the territory of the Third Reich, despite the strict instructions given by the Soviet leadership and relayed by the political commissars. It remains clear, however, that the main aspect of Soviet violence against Germans during the Second World War was not patriarchal, but national-antifascist. Patriarchal violence is inevitable in all wars involving men, as long as patriarchy exists. They must be denounced and fought everywhere and without delay, but they do not represent the main aspect of the wars and violence in question.

Communists must criticize and combat all reactionary positions and actions, but we believe that to focus one’s discourse on a secondary aspect of the Al-Aqsa Flood offensive is to dissolve into bourgeois propaganda. Moreover, to reduce the October 7 operation to Hamas, when it was the work of the Joint Operation Room, is to play into the hands of reactionary rhetoric.

We maintain that it is materially impossible to fight against a settler-colonial state without also fighting against its settlers, whether or not they actively participate in settler-colonialism, for they are the physical extension of the colonial project and the colonial state. This cruel reality is nonetheless inevitable. There are no ideal wars in which the colonized can free themselves from colonization without also fighting the colonizers. Not all settlers are consciously and actively an extension of the colonial project and the colonial settlement state of Israel, but all are no less their extension. The indifference of some settlers to the colonial project or colonial state of which they are an unconscious and/or passive extension, does not make them innocent.

The particularities of settlement colonialism cannot be lumped together with the generalities of other forms of colonialism. The specific concrete conditions imposed by settlement colonialism condition the struggle against it. What’s more, this struggle is that of a David against a Goliath, in other words, it is extremely asymmetrical. In such a situation, strategic imperatives and objective conditions call for unconventional war tactics.

In the short term, we can only hope that Israel’s diplomatic normalization process fails, and that Tsahal becomes bogged down and militarily humiliated in its ground operations in Gaza. In the medium and long term, we hope that the armed struggle of the Palestinian resistance will intensify, until Israel is routed and completely destroyed.