”The horror!… The horror!”

As is and has so often been the case, the outbreak of yet another open armed conflict between the Israeli state/government and Palestinian authorities (The Palestinian Authority-PA and/or Hamas) leaves some anarchists and libertarian/anti-authoritarian leftists reaching for their tired and worn ideologies of “class war against national wars”.

“The position of revolutionaries confronted with capitalist war is always the same: to oppose social revolution to war, to struggle against ‘their own’ bourgeoisie and ‘their own’ national state.” (From Gaza to Tel-Aviv and to the whole World… No War But Class War!)

Our interest has never been to enter into polemics. And nor would we wholly dismiss the statement quoted above. However in its simplicity, such statements both neglect the complexity and diversity of armed conflicts (to put it bluntly, not all wars can be read or diluted in a “class analysis”, as if such an analysis were itself self-evident) and overlook the differences between a nation as a historical-affective community (with all of its internal dissensions and conflicts), a nation state (as a collection of apparatuses of appropriation and control, but also as a zone of internal conflict), and the “wars” that may exist between states, and between states and nations, and within both. The failure to recognise that identities (social, cultural, political, etc.) are not reducible to “class”, and that they are not thereby false or merely ideological, renders, as it has in the past, any interpretation and any radical politics (e.g., “revolutionary defeatism”) inferred from it, hollow and helpless.

We do not have the truth about what is happening in Palestine-Israel, or what will happen – we do not know enough. Nor do we pretend to know what should be done, as anarchists, or as individuals simply concerned to imagine and create a more just world.

The violent events of the last few days in Palestine-Israel are horrifying. Yet they should not blind us to the horror of the daily life of Palestinians under Israeli colonial occupation (Human Rights Watch). This is not to justify the actions of any of the state(or state-like)-actors in the conflict: we have no political sympathies with the PA, with Hamas or the Israeli government (and other para-state actors in the conflict). And we consider the state-centred ethnic-religious politics largely pursued by each of these actors to be not only problematic, but condemnable.

When the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, after the Hamas attacks on Israel, on the 7th of October, that “We are at war”, he passed over the fact that Israel has been at war, with greater or lesser intensity, since its declared foundation in 1948 against those that it colonised to become a state, the Palestinians, not to mention its frequent wars with neighbouring states.

Hamas, along with its violence, is the “child” of this war. This does not make it innocent (as if “resistance” could justify any act of violence). And Hamas’ murder and kidnapping of hundreds of civilians in its recent incursions into the country’s territory and bombings of Israeli villages and cities are heinous. And the very many Palestinians who have died and will die with Israel’s military response are equally grotesque.

The killings of acts of resistance against violent colonialism are not the same as the murders of colonialism, we will be told. But in the name of what can such a distinction be made? In the name of an uncertain projected future of greater justice? Must liberation, revolution, always demand sacrificial victims? And can one be assured that whom or what they are sacrificed to merits the loss? And what will be nature of the “post-liberation/post-revolutionary” regime, sanctified by the sacrifice of blood?

The language of modern politics and modern revolution quickly takes on theological airs. And the language of the Israeli state/government and Hamas is steeped in a violent religious zealotry that increasingly can only see in the other that which must be extinguished. Both have corrupted religion with the claims of absolute earthly sovereignty, both seek to govern for the sake of power, and nothing more.

We do not judge or condemn those in Palestine/Israel who fall in behind their respective statist-political authorities, in the belief that it is only in and through a proper state that their security can be assured. And we do not identify the many peoples of these territories with their states. Yet we are equally horrified by the inability of seemingly many on both sides of the divide to understand the pain of loss suffered by the other. And we believe that this violent divide can only begin to be overcome when this pain, this suffering, and the desire to overcome it, cease to be defined by the borders of state authorities.

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