Socialist India

International Socialist Alternative

In the four weeks since the deadly October 7th attack, more explosive ordinance has been dropped on Gaza, an area of 365 square kilometers, than the United States dropped on Afghanistan, an area nearly 2,000 times larger, in 1 year at the peak of the Afghanistan War. In weeks, the Israeli military regime has already killed over 10,000 people in a brutal retaliatory operation. The bloodbath has killed thousands of Palestinian children. The Israeli regime’s cruel blockade has cut off access to electricity, water, food and fuel, and already crippled services are being bombed to the ground. The bombings of hospitals, refugee camps, and escape routes have drawn near-universal international condemnation. The territory of over 2 million, 50% of which are children, is in a state of total free fall. The brutal revenge massacre that the rightwing Israeli regime wages against the people in Gaza, triggered by the terrorist attack of Hamas, is rooted in the deep and decades-long oppression of the Palestinian people.

Even more terrifying is the creeping ground offensive by the Israeli military, an act that will unquestionably escalate the violence exponentially even compared to the unprecedented levels so far inflicted. The 11,00,000 people living in northern Gaza have already been ordered to evacuate, and hundreds of deaths have been caused by the direct and intentional bombing of the escape routes by the Israeli military, a move reminiscent of the Rajapaksa offensive against the LTTE in Sri Lanka. Upon reaching the border crossing into Egypt, they have found the gates closed to all exit. The Egyptian government has declared the refusal to open the borders to let refugees in until aid is allowed to come into Gaza from the Egyptian side. The over a million refugees potentially face being backed into the wall by the advancing Israeli army, or being forced into the Sinai Peninsula only to have the door locked behind them by the Israelis, a move that would be unmistakable ethnic cleansing reminiscent of the 1948 Nakba expulsion of Palestinians from Israel. In fact, a member of Likud has openly called for “A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 48.” The situation, which already bears many genocidal features, could quickly evolve into a full-on slaughter of Palestinian civilians of unspeakable scale. Combined with Netanyahu’s statements referring to the genocide of the Amalek, many in the UN have called for indictment of Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders on charges of genocide.

What’s more, on the back of the Supreme Court protests, Israel’s biggest political crisis in years, this costly invasion is threatening to lead the entire Middle Eastern region into a spiraling crisis. The Israeli ruling class may find that in trying to take down Hamas, they drag the entire region into an uncertain future as well.

Politics does not happen in a vacuum, but rather in a deeply interconnected web of global and local conflicts of material interests. Likewise, this orgy of violence, which threatens to take tens of thousands of lives, involves the Indian government intimately, as the BJP’s Yogi Adityanath uses Zionism and Israel’s settlement project as an ideological model to justify his efforts towards ethnic cleansing in Uttar Pradesh. But the parallels and direct ties between Hindutva and Zionism go further than mere ideological similarities. The two have found themselves in an unlikely alliance against a common enemy: the Muslim population, which presents a challenge to their vision of theocratic hegemony. In doing so, they are breaking the long-standing bond between India and Palestine, going back all the way to the two partitions of 1948.

What Separates Israeli and Indian “Order” From Hamas and the Naxals’ “Terrorism”?

Israel is far from the only government using brutal repression and violence to enforce the will of their ruling class, but is rather following a playbook whose subscribers include among others China, Saudi Arabia, The Philippines, and yes, the government here in India. Like the Uighurs in China, the Yemenis on the southern borders of Saudi, and the tribals and other minorities across India, the Palestinian people have been both systematically brutalized by Israel as an extension of Western imperialism for its own gains, as well as in retaliation for acts of resistance against the imperial authority. This is not meant to diminish or equalize the brutal and acute suffering of the Palestinian people who go through living hell in Gaza, but rather to point out and denounce the systemic and pervasive application of brutal state violence, which is an integral part of the capitalist system.  

As Marxists, we understand that the state is not the embodiment of morality but rather the embodiment of violent force. Lenin mentioned in The State And Revolution that the state is not a neutral body, reconciling differences between opposing groups, but rather the representatives of oppressive class rule. Furthermore, in the effort to exert absolute control, the ruling class also develops ideology not as an a priori set of universal values but rather to justify its brutality after the fact. As India has done in the Khalistani conflict in the 1980’s, the Kashmir insurgency, Naxal movement and the ongoing Northeast insurgency, the Israeli regime has used the pretext of “maintaining order and fighting terrorism” to commit atrocities and acts of collective punishment against the occupied people. What separates this, in the definitions given by the ruling class, from terrorism? The state, which attempts to enforce a monopoly on violence, is simply casting morality in its own image. Capitalist “morality” is a method of control exercised by the ruling class, not an objective fact. We can’t blind ourselves to the fact that the ongoing brutality which has devastated the Palestinian people for nearly a century meets every definition of the word “terrorism”. It is in this moment, when the states of Israel and the USA even ignore the moral calling of their citizens for a ceasefire, that the mask is removed revealing the naked face of imperialism.

Blowback And The Politics Of Terror

The deadly attack of 7th October which precipitated the ongoing destruction cannot be described as anything but a tragic loss of life and a brutal act of terror. It is sad that this needs to be said: mass murder of civilians is not a Marxist tactic, neither is the religious fundamentalist Hamas an ally of the Palestinian working class. Yet the responsibility for this tragedy lies not only on Hamas but the occupation itself, and in particular the right wing government and settler movement that has been provoking conflict and escalating the oppression in recent years. The West Bank has seen a major uptick in settler violence as Jewish settlers have continued the practice of staging riotous marches in Palestinian villages reminiscent of the Bajrang Dal’s Nuh riot. And like the Hindutva movement, the Israeli regime for nearly 80 years has fed extremism by robbing, harassing, terrorizing and murdering Palestinians. After being denied justice, the right to self-determination and basic human rights for so long, many now harbor illusions in Hamas or any other militant group that promises to deliver them from suffering. 

However to leave the story here would still be ignoring the much deeper and more direct involvement of the Israeli regime in creating Hamas. The ruling Likud party is keen to hide the fact that it was the Israeli ruling class’s own desire to split the more authoritative left-wing Fatah Party (which was birthed by the PLO), and the Nasser regime, that led to them supporting the right-wing militant group Mujama al-Islamiya in the 1970’s. Mujama al-Islamiya directly birthed Hamas itself. Netanyahu continued to negotiate and give Hamas fodder during his administration, in particular legitimizing Qatar’s financial support for the group while continuing to refuse negotiations on resolution of the national question. This divide-and-rule strategy critically allowed Hamas to develop into what it is today. The parallels to Indira Gandhi’s Congress supporting J.S. Bhindranwale are obvious–Gandhi’s support to Bhindranwale was designed to split up the more moderate Akali Dal, leading to a fragmentation of the Punjabi Sikh community that the Indian government then crushed with deadly force in Amritsar. And like the Khalistani insurgency, the Israeli government remains locked in a struggle to this day against the foe it created.

India likewise has directly sponsored Israel for generations, even before the BJP declared their support for the theocratic state in what they see as a united struggle against a common Islamic enemy. Relations go back as far as the 1962 Sino-Indian War, but have rapidly escalated to the point where India now accounts for nearly half of all Israeli arms sales. This includes the infamous Pegasus spyware which the BJP used to illegally spy on hundreds of opposition leaders, journalists, activists, and personal enemies of BJP ministers. Targets even included the accuser in the Ranjan Gogoi sexual harassment case, and the Dalai Lama. The weapons that the Israeli government has tested on Palestinians are sold to India to use on its own “problematic” people and populations.

The Right to Protest Is Under Attack–We Must Act Now to Prevent Further Atrocities

The Palestinian people have long faced atrocities in the face of peaceful protest. In 2018-2019’s Great March of Return, peaceful protestors including medics and even non-partisan journalists were killed by Israeli snipers while simply marching or standing near the proximity fence of the Gaza ghetto. The Indian government has also used mass violence and murder to repress political dissidence in all forms, and uses the violence of the state not only to defend its own rotten policy but also to attack the critics of its allies. New Delhi is no stranger to this tactic, as governor Saxena is currently under a firestorm of criticism for his politically motivated arrests of dissidents including the world-renowned author and social critic Arundhati Roy. Over 60 protestors were dragged into vans and hauled away by Delhi police. Their statements were simple: “The Killing of Innocents Must Stop! Ensure Peace!” But this does not matter to the ruling class, whose emphasis on civility and decorum is merely a tool to grant them a monopoly on violence.

It is the duty of Marxists and the global working class to fight back against imperialism, war and oppression in all forms, and to intervene to the best of our ability to prevent atrocities by building a mass struggle that can lead the way for a root solution. We cannot pretend in this modern day and age that the struggles against Hindutva and Zionism are not connected, or that the national question in so many places across India is not united with the struggle for Palestinian independence. It’s clear that the Hindutva movement and Zionists see themselves as united in a crusade against Islam. We must collectively oppose Islamophobia and all forms of oppression that are used by the ruling class to divide and rule. To be able to wage a united struggle by the working class and oppressed for our liberation, we also need to oppose reactionary attitudes within our own ranks. The ruling class has shown its complicity across national boundaries with their exchange of 16,000 crore worth of weapons that they will use to brutalize us similarly as the Israeli regime does to the Palestinians. We have no chance of victory unless we stand united against them.

The greatest weapon of the working class is not military force, nuclear weapons, or billion dollar arms deals. We do not support taking sides in inter-imperialist conflicts–such conflicts only benefit the ruling class while we die for their glory. While we support the right of the working class to armed self-defense when necessary and as an auxiliary method, we uphold labor-based movements such as the powerful First Intifada and the Indian Farmer’s Strike as examples of the success the working class is capable of achieving in using our collective labor as a weapon against the ruling class. Through withholding their labor, the women organizers of the Intifada managed to win the largest concessions from the Israeli ruling class in the history of the occupation. Already workers around the world, including India, have pledged to refuse to transport arms to Israel to assist in its genocidal actions against the people of Gaza and the occupied West Bank. We applaud the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions’ decision to join an ongoing effort of workers’ sanctions to prevent more arms from reaching Israel. This effort must be taken on by the major organizations of labor across India and around the world, and include the refusal to import Israeli arms into India as well.

International Socialist Alternative (ISA) is heavily involved in the protest around the globe against the on-going massacre in Gaza. Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM), ISA’s section in Israel-Palestine, is campaigning on the ground against the slaughtering and bloodshed in Gaza and against the occupation and siege that led to these carnages. The recent wave of protests throughout the globe show the potential for much needed mass struggle in the region and internationally to halt the deterioration and end the siege, occupation and poverty, to put an end to the endless cycles of conflict, on the basis of guaranteed equal rights to existence, self-determination, dignity and well-being. This is a socialist struggle to abolish capitalism and imperialism.

End the bloodbath! Ceasefire now!

For a mass movement against occupation, poverty and capitalism!

Whether Hindutva or Zionism, we stand against Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and oppression!