For a Free and Democratic Palestine
The following statement was drafted by CounterPower's Political Committee, and adopted by a unanimous vote of our Coordinating Council on October 17, 2023.
On the morning of Saturday, October 7, 2023, a Hamas-led united front of Palestinian resistance forces in the Gaza Strip launched a coordinated offensive against Israel's settler-colonial occupation of Palestine, much to the shock of the world, and especially the Israeli state. The ideological composition of this front is diverse, encompassing not only Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Lions' Den, but also Marxist-Leninist organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).
This organized military offensive of the Palestinian resistance, dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, targeted military bases and outposts, police stations, and residential communities throughout Israel. The operation was a direct response to the settler-colonial apartheid system, which has inflicted 75 years of occupation, oppression, and exploitation upon the people of Palestine. On October 8, Israel officially declared war on Hamas, launching a siege against the people of Gaza.
The timing of the offensive coincided with several important geopolitical events. First, the offensive took place against the backdrop of popular Israeli opposition to the judicial reforms proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right, fascist coalition. Second, in the weeks prior to Al-Aqsa Flood, Saudi Arabia and Israel – who have never had formal diplomatic relations – were involved in normalization talks, brokered by the imperialist U.S. government, which would have likely resulted in a deal leading to further regional integration between the two states at the expense of the Palestinian people and their right to national self-determination.
As a result of Al-Aqsa Flood, Saudi Arabia has paused moves towards normalization with Israel, and is currently seeking rapprochement with Iran. This follows a resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which was brokered by China and announced shortly after the public disclosure of normalization talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Finally, we must note that popular disillusionment among Palestinians with the Oslo Accords, fractures within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), frustrations with the impotence of the Palestinian National Authority, discontent with Fatah's leadership of the PLO, and the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements are all important historical factors which have shaped the present conjuncture. In effect, Al-Aqsa Flood is the Palestinian resistance movement's veto to any "peace process" that excludes the Palestinian national question, undermines the unity of the Palestinian nation, and leads to the further marginalization of the Palestinian people.
Gaza, which has been under blockade for over 17 years, is aptly described as an open-air prison. In the West Bank, illegal Israeli settlements and an Apartheid Wall have carved up what remains of Palestinian national territory. Thousands of Palestinians – including Palestinian children – are incarcerated in Israeli prisons for resisting the settler-colonial occupation. The U.S. government has supported Israeli apartheid with over $3 billion USD this year alone. The state of Israel also receives strong support from far-right and fascist movements internationally.
In response to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, Israel has inflicted mass terror against civilians. At the time of writing, more than 2,778 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been massacred in retaliation for the offensive. In addition to this figure, more than 500 Palestinians have been killed in the blast at Gaza's al-Ahli Hospital on October 17, and it is estimated that more than 1,200 Palestinians throughout Gaza are trapped beneath the rubble. Israel has cut off water, electricity, fuel, and medicine in occupied Gaza. It has made many genocidal statements against the Palestinian people. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has announced a complete siege of the Gaza Strip, describing its residents as “human animals.” Gaza is being brutally bombed, and preparations are being made for a full-scale ground assault by Israeli military forces. A new generation of refugees is being created, as over a million of Gaza's residents are being forcibly displaced by the Israeli government's order to evacuate. Israel is enacting genocide against the Palestinian people.
We support the right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination, and to resist the Israeli occupation. This right is recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations, who in 1990 reaffirmed "the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity, and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid, and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle."
As communists, we support those progressive political forces who advocate for the formation of a secular, democratic, and socialist Palestine. We are critical of all forms of social chauvinism (religious, ethnic, or otherwise) and struggle against all reactionary ideas and ideologies within the ranks of the people's movement. Alongside our rejection of all forms of Orientalism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism, we reject all manifestations of antisemitism, and hold high the banner of revolutionary internationalism and global socialist revolution.
We also raise the question of the proper ethical conduct and military line for popular liberation armies engaged in armed struggle, even under conditions of occupation. Throughout history, armed revolutionary movements in the Global South have made deliberate strategic and tactical choices on the terrain of politico-military struggle – even under the most repressive conditions – in order to minimize collateral damage and the intentional abuse of civilians. Our support for an oppressed people's right to engage in armed struggle in pursuit of national liberation does not mean a blanket acceptance of all strategies and tactics, such as the intentional targeting of noncombatants.
We mourn the death of Israeli civilians just as we do Palestinians. However, our empathy does not lead us to make a false equivalency between the violence of the settler-colonial apartheid state of Israel, and the counter-violence of the Palestinian resistance. We understand the historical context for Al-Aqsa Flood to be Israel's strangling of Gaza, the settler-colonial occupation, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the Israeli state and Zionist settler militias, all with the full support and funding of the U.S. government. The struggle for Palestinian liberation therefore requires an immediate lifting of the siege and blockade against Gaza, an end to the occupation, a cutting off all U.S. support for Israel, and the dismantling of the settler-colonial apartheid state of Israel.
The ultimate aim of the Palestinian liberation struggle is the establishment of a free and democratic nation in which peoples of all nationalities and faiths can live as equal citizens with equal rights. The establishment of a free and democratic Palestine is a necessary condition for a free and democratic federation of the Middle East, united in struggle against imperialism with the forces of social progress the world over. Only on the basis of Palestinian national self-determination will there be hope for the region's cycle of violence to end.
Israel and its imperialist allies in the U.S. and Europe have denounced participants in the global movement in solidarity with Palestine as supporters of "terrorism," including the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. We will continue to staunchly support the Palestinian people in their struggle for national liberation, and will be undeterred by forces who wish to silence the growing mass movement in support of the Palestinian resistance. We urgently call on all revolutionary and progressive forces everywhere to support international actions against Israel's genocidal war against Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories, and we demand humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.
As communists based in the U.S. empire, our main task is to end U.S. military aid to Israel, stop the ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people, and support the struggle to win self-determination for the Palestinian nation and the right of return. Therefore, we must remain steadfast in our support of the liberation forces that aim to dismantle the settler-colonial apartheid state of Israel as a political, military, and economic power that rests on aggression, annexation, and integration with global imperialist interests in Palestine.
Our organization stands united in solidarity with the freedom struggle of the Palestinian people, especially with all genuinely progressive forces fighting for the national democratic rights of the Palestinian people. We reiterate our support for their right to national self-determination and the right of return. We support the struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people, condemn Israeli settler-colonialism and imperialist maneuvering throughout the region, and support the construction of a revolutionary people’s movement that unites workers and oppressed people of all nationalities and faiths in the struggle for peace, justice, and socialism.
From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free!