May Day: For Class-Struggle Defense of Gaza!

1 May 2024

This May Day, a key demand of international working-class solidarity is for an immediate end to Israel’s ongoing slaughter in Gaza that has resulted in mass death and destruction for the besieged Palestinians. Seven months into the brutal military assault, Gaza lies in ruins.

According to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, over 41,000 people have been murdered by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), including 15,000 children. An additional two million (some 85 percent of all Gazans) have fled their homes, the intentional design of relentless IDF air strikes and a scorched-earth ground invasion that has destroyed much of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure (homes, schools, healthcare facilities) and historical landmarks. The densely populated enclave is completely blockaded and humanitarian aid is largely cut off. With northern Gaza facing imminent famine, more than half of all Gazans—an estimated 1.4 million—are now huddled into the southern city of Rafah, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu boasts that “nothing will stop” an invasion of Rafah to “finish the job.”

Israel has been aided and abetted in carrying out this genocide by the steady supply of funds and arms from Western imperialism, particularly the United States and Germany. Last week US President Joe Biden approved $26 billion in extra funding for Israel, in addition to the $3.3 billion Tel Aviv already receives annually. The Biden administration has also pushed through more than 100 weapons sales hidden from congressional oversight to ensure the Israeli war machine continues to operate, including precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, bunker-buster rockets and MK84 2,000-pound bombs, and has authorized the transfer of F-35A fighter jets and engines. As “Genocide Joe” feigns concern about civilian casualties, more depraved political representatives of the American ruling class are openly advocating that Gaza “should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick.”

Meanwhile the conflict is extending to other parts of the region. Israel is attacking Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and has led strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria, including the 1 April bombing of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, prompting Tehran’s retaliatory barrage on Israel two weeks later. The speed with which the US, Britain and France leapt to Israel’s defense by shooting down most of the Iranian missiles highlights the grave danger that regional tensions will prompt substantial direct imperialist intervention.

Washington, which has over 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria, has already targeted Iranian-linked forces in both countries earlier this year. Alongside its imperialist allies in Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the US is conducting ongoing military strikes against the Houthis in Yemen. With Iran backed and armed by Russia and China, we face the prospect not only of a potentially catastrophic regional war but of a global conflagration.

International Working Class: Key to Victory for the Oppressed

A crucial step in avoiding such an outcome is unleashing the social power of the international working class to defeat the US/Israeli genocidal war through strikes, “hot-cargoing” of war materiel and labor-led mass mobilizations.

The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) has issued a May Day appeal for working-class solidarity with the Palestinian people. It calls on the American labor movement to prevent the export of US-made weapons to Israel and for trade-union militants in the US “to be our voice and advocate inside and outside America.” While the PGFTU declares that earlier calls for trade-union action have “encountered shocking silence and neglect by the international labor movement,” the May Day statement also notes there have been “some exceptional examples.”

Among those heeding the PGFTU’s call are unions in a number of imperialist countries, including Australia, Britain and France. Transport unions in Belgium and dockers in Spain have refused to handle military equipment being sent to Israel. In November, Italian stevedores and labor-community activists successfully shut down operations at the Port of Genoa. A week later Italian longshoremen carried out a one-day political strike that closed down logistics warehouses, factories and other workplaces.

Extension of workers’ action against the Zionist war on Gaza, led by class-conscious militants in the unions in coordination with community activists, would give the ongoing demonstrations and campus protests in Western Europe and North America a clear class-struggle focus. It would sideline liberal and “progressive” elements promoting dead-end pressure politics. Most crucially, it would bring an end to the “shocking silence and neglect” imposed by the class-collaborationist labor bureaucracy in the imperialist countries, while extending the hand of international workers’ solidarity to our class siblings among the beleaguered Palestinians.

Revolutionaries in Israel must attempt to break the Hebrew-speaking Jewish working class away from the poisoned ideology of Zionism—the false notion that all Jewish people, regardless of social class, have a common interest embodied in the Israeli state. Israel, like all capitalist societies, is class-divided. While the hold of Zionist ideology over the Jewish-Israeli working class is very powerful, Zionism, like the nationalism that binds working people to the ruling class in other capitalist countries, is by no means indomitable.

Cracks have already begun to show. An increasing number of young Jewish Israelis are refusing compulsory national military service, many serving prison time as a consequence. Israeli Jewish activists have held anti-war protests, many jointly organized with Palestinian Arabs within Israel, who make up approximately 20 percent of the population. Although small in number and limited in scope, acts of solidarity such as these offer glimmers of hope for the Israeli and Palestinian working class. They provide opportunities in which class-struggle militants on the ground can intervene to turn the pacifist anti-war movement, which at best seeks a permanent ceasefire, into one which actively calls to defend the Palestinians and defeat the IDF war machine. For militants struggling within Israel, “the main enemy is at home!”

A revolutionary organization in the region would articulate a political program that addresses the various fault lines within Israeli society (ethnic, religious, gender, national), making the connection to the need for workers’ power within Israel/Palestine. Marxists consistently advance a perspective of common Arab/Jewish class struggle to smash the Zionist fortress from within and establish a bi-national workers’ state as part of a larger socialist federation of the Middle East. Workers in the imperialist countries must support this goal and attempt to overthrow the predators at home. This requires a struggle against the labor reformists and trade-union bureaucrats and a fight to build an international revolutionary socialist party.

Related articles
May Day: Capitalism Must Go! (1917 No.47)
Stop the Gaza Genocide: Marxism & the struggle for Palestinian liberation (27 November 2023)
Israel-Palestine: Apartheid, Imperialism & Class (1917 No.44)
On the ‘Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions’ Campaign (1917 No.33)
The Birth of the Zionist State: A Marxist Analysis (Workers Vanguard, 1973–74)