The Uprising in Gaza and the Need for an Anti-War Left

Adam Marletta
6 min readDec 20, 2023
Thousands march in solidarity with Palestine in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 2023.

The last two months have witnessed something truly inspiring: The re-awakening of the long-dormant U.S. anti-war movement. The mass uprisings in support of Palestine have galvanized the left — particularly young working-class leftists.

The pro-Palestine march in Washington, D.C. on November 4 drew at least 300,000 people. It was easily the largest pro-Palestine rally in U.S. history. This is in addition to the hundreds of rallies and marches held throughout the world since Oct. 7 — in London, Tokyo, Milan, Beirut, Tehran, and Cairo, to name a few. In France, protesters have defied a nationwide ban on pro-Palestine demonstrations, rallying in the streets regardless.

A Shifting Terrain

Large segments of the working-class — particularly, Millennials and Gen-Z leftists who have known nothing but endless war their entire lives — are no longer buying Israel’s Zionist propaganda.

Israel’s brutal response to Hamas’s Al-Aqsa Flood uprising on Oct. 7 has laid bare its genocidal mission in front of the entire world. The Israeli government has, for decades, become so conditioned to getting away with war crimes, that it no longer even attempts to hide them. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) indiscriminately bomb hospitals and refugee camps — murdering Palestinian children and civilians in the process — if it has the slightest suspicion that even one Hamas soldier might happen to be there.

For the first time in my lifetime, Israel and its Zionist supporters are the ones on the backfoot. We may well be witnessing the beginning of the end of the Israeli apartheid colonialist project. Such regimes — from the Roman and British empires to apartheid South Africa — always seem eternal and invincible right up until their inevitable collapse. Israel is no different.

And when Israel does finally fall, and the verdict of history has been rendered, there will be those — including many on the left — who will falsely claim to have always supported Palestine. They will insist they were always on the “right side of history.” We must not allow these opportunists — these “Good Germans,” if you will — to get away with such revisionist lies.

Liberal Apologists for Genocide

We must never forget that when Israel launched its latest assault on Gaza, nominally “socialist” figures like Bernie Sanders, Naomi Klein, and Cornel West, along with bourgeois liberal intellectuals like Michelle Goldberg and Sam Harris either sided squarely with the oppressors, or cowardly condemned “both sides” in this highly asymmetrical campaign of genocide.

Figures like Klein and Goldberg would rather condemn the people of Gaza for employing their legitimate right to self-defense than Israel’s occupation and blockade, which prompted such resistance in the first place. (Funny how Zionists routinely invoke Israel’s “right to defend itself,” yet this same right does not extend to the stateless, military-less Palestinians…)

These bourgeois liberals are more concerned that Jewish Americans may not “feel safe” at college campuses due to the presence of a Palestinian rights student group or a campus chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace. These are the same “woke” liberals who have lectured leftists for years about the primacy of identity-politics over any substantial working-class politics of solidarity.

They are figures like Maine blogger and “nonprofit” executive director, Shay Stewart-Bouley, who for years has railed against racist “microaggressions,” yet employs a cowardly “both sides” approach to Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Stewart-Bouley constantly hectors white working-class Mainers to do the “anti-racist” “work” of “decolonizing your mind.” Fighting for actual decolonization, however, remains off the agenda for these hucksters. Nobody should take these race-reductionists seriously, ever again.

Whose Violence?

Goldberg, in her Oct. 12 column for the New York Times, condemns the “disgusting … vocal segments of the left” who allegedly “celebrated” Hamas’s killing of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7. While I do not know any serious socialists who have openly celebrated these deaths, most Marxists understand that the inherent violence of colonial resistance cannot be equated with the violence of the oppressor. Would Goldberg similarly condemn slaves who participated in violent slave revolts in the Antebellum South? Would she condemn John Brown, who killed a slave owner in order to liberate 11 slaves?

As Franz Fanon observed, decolonization is “always a violent event.”

“… In its bare reality, decolonization reeks of red-hot cannonballs and bloody knives,” Fanon wrote in his 1961 manifesto, The Wretched of the Earth.

For the last can be the first only after a murderous and decisive confrontation between the two protagonists [the colonized and the colonizer]. This determination to have the last move up to the front, to have them clamber up … the famous echelons of an organized society, can only succeed by resorting to every means, including, of course, violence.

What Goldberg fails to mention is that the people of Palestine have for decades engaged in nonviolent methods to achieve their liberation. It is Israel that has responded with violence at every turn. When thousands of Palestinians participated in the series of nonviolent protests known as the “Great March of Return,” beginning in March 2018, for example, Israeli snipers fired on the demonstrators, killing 266 people and injuring nearly 30,000 others.

Why is Goldberg not disgusted by this instance (one of many) of Israel’s overt extreme violence? Indeed, her “disgust” seems reserved mainly for the Trotskyists in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) who have the nerve to (correctly) denounce Israel’s illegal occupation of Gaza. She is more offended by the young leftists who have pictures of Che Guevara in their dorm room, and the “evils of Stalinism,” than Israel’s current campaign of genocide.

Ultimately, Goldberg’s op-ed does more to confirm a longstanding suspicion of mine: That Zionism, at the end of the day, is little more than dressed-up anti-communism.

Consider that Jews, historically, have been among some of socialism’s staunchest, most enlightened supporters. It is no mere coincidence that Hitler, in Mein Kampf, denounced not just Judaism per se, but what he called the “Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy.” In other words, the Nazis were not driven by antisemitism, alone. They were, in large part, driven by anti-communism. Little wonder, then, why the Nazis received so much financial support from Western corporations like Ford and General Motors, and Coca-Cola. The U.S. ruling-class saw Nazism as a vehicle with which to finally wipe out the “Red Menace,” once and for all.

We need to understand Zionism not merely as a colonial ideology in its own right, but as one deeply rooted in anti-communism.

Not a Ceasefire — We Demand an End to the Occupation

The left’s calls for a “ceasefire” to Israel’s hostilities, while well-intentioned, are ultimately insufficient. Our goal must be an end to Israel’s occupation of Gaza. Full stop.

Even the past rhetoric of a “two-state solution” is, in my opinion, no longer viable. This is largely because Israel would simply never accept a two-state solution, as it would grant the Palestinians some degree of government representation. But the concept of a two-state solution itself is largely a farce. The two-state solution is based on Britain’s 1948 partition of the land in Israel, in which Israel would get about 80 percent of the land, while Palestinians get the remaining 20 percent. Such a scenario would leave all of Israel’s brutal inequality firmly in place. It is neither equitable, nor feasible.

Furthermore, a two-state solution would necessarily put a halt to Israel’s settlement expansion — which it has no intention of doing. Israel wants all of Gaza and the West Bank. Israel’s ruling-class will simply not accept anything less.

No, our end goal must be a liberated Palestine. “Israel has a right to exist,” you argue? Perhaps. But not in its current form. Not as a genocidal, settler-colonial apartheid state.

So let’s keep up the pressure. Do not let the Zionist bourgeoisie cow you into silence. Say it loud enough for Elon Musk to hear: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”



Adam Marletta

Writer, socialist, and coffee-fiend. I have written for the West End News, Socialist Worker, a bunch of decidedly less interesting publications.