Socialist Worker has detailed and decried deaths and casualties in Gaza. And rightly so! But Socialist Worker has not found the space or the inclination to report on protests by movements like Standing Together. Instead, it refers to Hamas, persistently and euphemistically, as a “resistance organisation”, and compares it in favourable terms to other Palestinian forces for its “militancy”.
Hamas is a far-right political-Islamist party and militia with its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood. It favours the military conquest of Israel and the setting up of an Islamic state in historic Palestine. In 2006, benefiting from the corruption and stagnation of the dominant Fatah faction of the PLO, Hamas won Palestinian elections. Following a nasty civil conflict, it consolidated its power in Gaza, where it has ruled with a tight grip ever since.
Hamas was not the moving force in the street movement that has contested the planned evictions in Sheikh Jarrah. Its “contribution” was to fire hundreds of rockets from Gaza towards residential neighbourhoods in Israel. These attacks were by their nature indiscriminate — indeed, among the first casualties were an Arab mother and father killed in the Arab village of Dahmash, near Lod. The purpose of the rocket attacks was to return Hamas to a position of relevance and leadership. The effect was to provoke a murderous Israeli bombing campaign, and to allow Netanyahu to rally the Israeli-Jewish public behind the banner of national self-defence.
On the scanty occasions when Hamas come in for criticism in the paper, it is for making deals with Egypt or “preparing to compromise”. On 7 May, an article fleetingly conceded that Hamas was “an Islamist movement”, but by 25 May, Alex Callinicos was approvingly quoting Israeli politicians noting Hamas’ capacity to “break out of its Gaza cage”.
The starting point of Marxist politics is to acknowledge that the working-class has separate interests from the classes that exploit it, and that consequently the workers need their own independent political programme. Socialist Worker has junked all that in favour of a myopic boosterism for a far-right theocratic organisation hostile to democracy and the labour movement. There is no criticism of their Islamist politics, no criticism of their rocket attacks, no serious engagement with what a victory for that organisation would actually mean.