February 23, 2024

Introduction

The transient and fragile nature of ceasefires is evident when considering the history of conflicts in the Middle East. Since 1948, Israel has consistently demonstrated a pattern of repeatedly violating ceasefire agreements. These agreements are sometimes exploited as cover to gain military advantages, enabling surprise assaults or high-profile assassinations. With the support of the US, EU, and NATO, Israel has shattered numerous truces, leveraging imperialism’s ideological tool—the supposed “fight against terrorism.” Following Hamas’s victory in the 2006 Gaza elections, Israel imposed a severe blockade on the Palestinian population. This blockade led to widespread starvation, destitution, and limited to no access to healthcare. This coercive action fueled resistance, paving the way for almost two decades of Israeli authorities fabricating evidence to portray Hamas as perpetrators of “atrocities,” effectively whitewashing their own mass killings of Palestinians.

Israel, responsible for the Palestinian situation, operates under the facade of ceasefires. These ceasefires serve to conceal war crimes and allow the Israeli bourgeoisie and its allies to continue controlling transportation routes, raw materials, and Palestinian territories. This deceptive maneuver was highlighted in 2009 when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed the UN: “We need urgently to conclude a ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security. This would begin a period of true calm that includes an end to rocket, mortar, and other attacks on Israelis, and allows for the cessation of Israel’s military offensive.” Such a statement demonstrates the complete disregard of the massacre of Palestinians. It underscores the foreign policy of the Republicans and Democrats, whom under Obama and Biden, have always ensured that security and safety is reserved for the occupation forces, while the oppressed toil on with millions of dollars of US arms pointed at their heads. 

Globally, millions have unified in opposition to the terroristic and genocidal actions of Israel in the Gaza Strip. Images and videos depicting the plight of the Palestinian people have spread widely across social media platforms, sparking worldwide outrage toward the ongoing offenses of the Israeli occupation. This collective indignance has erupted into large-scale demonstrations in major cities, including New York, Berlin, Tokyo, London, Oslo, Barcelona, and more. While this article cannot cover all the protests in each country, it aims to delve into the ideological-political leadership at the head of the demonstrations in the United States, specifically rallying under the increasingly popular slogan: “Ceasefire Now.” In addition, it will briefly overview the reactionary positions of the open supporters of Israel.

Criticisms of the Ceasefire and Various Ideological Constructs

The duty of communists make it necessary to demarcate our views from the reactionary, pro-Zionist, and the “progressive” positions that can make their way into popular consciousness cultivated by the leading sectors of movementism. Following the events of October 7, a range of ideological constructs and hazardous generalizations have emerged, demanding a response. CWPUSA militants and supporters must be well-prepared as they encounter these issues within the rising pro-Palestine and anti-war movement. It is imperative for us to closely monitor the evolution of these ideological perceptions.

“Ceasefire Now”

The “Ceasefire Now” slogan has found a prominent advocate among the movementist sectors, especially the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), including its elected representatives [1]. Despite facing opposition from the contemporary right-wing faction within the DSA, including departures from the “old guard” of the 80s and 90s [2], our focus isn’t on these internal divisions. Instead, it’s crucial to highlight the DSA’s overall stance on the ceasefire. The DSA has collaborated with various mass organizations, trade unions, and NGOs, mobilizing thousands for demonstrations, showcasing an increasing solidarity with the Palestinian cause and a growing condemnation of the crimes of Israel. The PSL’s ANSWER Coalition has also been a key player in rallying forces behind the slogan. Criticism is not aimed at these popular mobilizations. Rather, it targets the ideological direction of the “left wing” of the Democratic Party, which attempts to dilute the momentum, channeling it into bourgeois and reformist avenues. This often occurs in mass movements lacking a working-class political vanguard capable of linking the struggle to the revolutionary upheaval against capitalism. 

Source: By North New Jersey DSA, https://north.dsanj.org/

While rightly bringing attention to the ongoing massacre, the DSA, akin to its approach during the Black Lives Matter uprisings, aims to steer the outrage of workers and people toward electoral strategies. Rallying under slogans like “Ceasefire Now” and “No Money for Massacres,” the National Political Committee (NPC) Steering Committee, the DSA’s political leadership, has backed the statement of Congress representatives Cori Bush, Rashida Tlaib, André Carson, Summer Le, and Delia C. Ramirez. This resolution urges members to exert pressure “from the streets, all the way up through Congress,” to push Congressmen to endorse the resolution [3]

Despite the existence of “Marxist” and “socialist” caucuses (Bread & Roses, Red Star, Marxist Unity Group, and Socialist Unity) on the NPC Steering Committee, the “socialist” rhetoric does not change the movementist character and serves as a means to captivate and redirect support toward forces that, rather than embodying a genuine and combative alternative capable of undermining the two dominant bourgeois parties, effectively steer even the most radical elements of protest towards the social-democratic methods of capitalist management. Consequently, this approach facilitates the absorption of such a movement into the mechanisms of the bourgeois political apparatus, leaving the ruling class’s hegemony unchallenged. This mirrors experiences observed in forces fully integrated into the bourgeois political system in countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal (Syriza, Podemos, Bloco de Esquerda). The DSA doesn’t represent a qualitatively different approach from these instances and generally appears as more backward in its political positioning. 

It might be assumed that this “Marxist” leadership of the DSA has learned from Jamaal Bowman’s support for Israel’s Iron Dome and his visits to Israel, as well as from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism of pro-Palestine demonstrations and her attempt to appease the 194 pro-Israel Democrats by condemning Hamas and acknowledging fabricated evidence [4,5] of the “atrocities of Hamas,” along with her interview supporting further funding for Israel’s Iron Dome [6,7,8]. The DSA’s inability to challenge these political maneuvers by their elected representatives is revealed, rather than steering workers in a truly socialist direction. 

The “Squad,” responsible for the ceasefire resolution, approaches the issue from bourgeois humanism, relying on moral appeals to the managers of capitalism, concealing its vices and inhuman characteristics. On the other hand, while acknowledging the existence of the state of Israel, these “socialists”, supporting bourgeois mainstream narratives, make weak arguments on the violence and statements blaming Hamas for Israeli deaths. This false equivalency unchallenged leaves the forces within the DSA ideologically disarmed. 

“The Squad”, Source: By Emily Scherer/Getty Images. Retrieved from FiveThirtyEight. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-the-squad-tells-us-about-progressives-ability-to-win-voters-of-color/

On one front, the Israeli people are continually pulled into military conflicts and the massacre of neighboring peoples by the Israeli bourgeoisie and its state, paying with their lives for barbaric policies. These “socialists” fail to confront the false equivalency by demonstrating that the Israeli people also suffer under the State of Israel and the reactionary Netanyahu government. This failure further confuses the working class by exacerbating the split between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples while perpetuating the notion that Hamas and Israel are equally responsible for the violence, absolving the Israeli bourgeoisie of fault. On the other front, ground is given to reactionary conceptions which overshadow the right of the Palestinians to fight for their liberation by any means necessary; obscuring the fact that decades of occupation, oppression, and apartheid naturally provoke great anger, retaliation, and extreme actions. Politically, this resulted in the significant NYC DSA chapter, pressured by the condemnations from AOC and former DSA member Jamaal Bowman, issuing a statement, apologizing for the pro-Palestine mobilization and its message promoting the rally [9]. Moreover, acknowledging the presence of dissenting voices within Israel, including militants, workers, Jews, and Arabs opposing the genocide, would require recognizing the role of the Communist Party of Israel – something the DSA could never accept. This lays bare the anti-proletarian internationalist character of the DSA.

Coupled with the historical transience and failure of ceasefires, these circumstances highlight the evident absence of the Marxist approach within the “Marxist” dominated NPC. Why demand a ceasefire when there’s no equality between both sides? When a ceasefire leaves the new territory acquired by the occupation forces intact? Especially when Israel possesses over $20 billion in armaments aimed at the Palestinian people, while Palestine lacks similar military capability. The Israeli state, supported by the Americans and the EU, has consistently breached agreements and declared the “two-state solution” as a deceit, using this stance to rationalize its ambition for an Israeli state extending “from the Euphrates to the Nile. Under such conditions, any and all agreements are made with a gun to the head of the Palestinian people. Therefore, “Ceasefire Now” is as empty as the politics of the DSA.

In words supporting the “two state solution”, in practice strengthening the Israeli occupation  

For over half a century, Biden has unwaveringly expressed his support for Israel. The Biden administration’s supposed concern for Palestinian lives has been empty, over the years advocating for a “negotiated two-state solution,” a stance reiterated repeatedly, while consistently backing the criminal occupation and expansion of settlements. With bipartisan support, the Biden government has utilized the right of “emergency determination” to allocate nearly $254 million in weapons and munitions, a measure employed only four times since 1979. Once again, the Biden administration has staunchly upheld “Israel’s right to self-defense,” showcasing the imperialist war-drive of the Democrats and their allegiance to capital’s anti-people objectives. The people and workers are witnessing a clear demonstration of the similarity between the Democrats’ and the Republicans. Both parties serve the interests of monopoly capital, against the working-class both domestically and internationally, and are willing to bleed out any country and intervene against any people who oppose them. It is this administration, stained with blood, that “progressives” and “democratic socialists” aim to engage with in hopes of achieving radical changes in foreign policy. However, regardless of the Democrat in power or the pressure exerted on the administration, the policies that prevail will serve the US bourgeoisie and its murderous imperialism.

Democratic officials are currently urging Biden to support a “permanent ceasefire.” This internal conflict has resulted in two administration officials resigning, over 500 administration officials signing an open letter advocating for a ceasefire, and campaign staffers pressing Biden to endorse a ceasefire. With additional pressure from the “Left wing” of the party and escalating mobilizations, the DSA is expected to act as a pressure valve, tasked with containing social upheaval. As a result, Biden is left with the choice of either yielding to demands for a ceasefire or risking the alienation of a significant voter base, especially with elections just ten months away. The latter scenario seems plausible, underscoring the fact that the DSA’s political strategy fosters false hopes. This situation sheds light on the need for popular struggle, to rid of this “lesser evilism”. What is necessary is a comprehensive assault against capital, against involvement in imperialist rivalries. To leave behind the demand for a ceasefire which benefits the occupying force and hoist the banner for the overthrow of this exploitative system. 

“A ceasefire is a compromise with terrorism”

A general position of the conservative, right-wing, and adjacent elements propose that the ceasefire cannot be maintained because it would represent a compromise with “terrorism” [10,11]. Generally evident within the Republican Party, these views are a regurgitation of the  “traditional American” idea that Israel must be supported at all costs, as “God’s chosen people”.

These positions equate Hamas with the Taliban, Hezbollah, or Al-Qaeda to completely reject the struggle of the Palestinian people. From a foundation of reactionary and religious fanaticism, they generalize all “Islamic movements”, sometimes invoking the need to protect the Judeo-Christian civilization against the danger of Islam. On this basis, it can be seen that these views do not recognize the social, class, political, cultural, and historical basis of the growth of these groups. Thus, the fact that Hamas, which drew its strength in the vacuum left by the overthrow of socialism in the USSR, currently represents a section of the Palestinian bourgeoisie who want, alongside the creation of the Palestinian state, a strong army, is all ignored. Some of the main proponents of these views, Caroline Glick (author of the The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East) and David Wurmser (former Middle East Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney), state that Israel must go “all the way”. In other words, the Israeli bourgeoisie, in lock-step with the capitalists of US, Great Britain, NATO (excluding Turkey), and the EU, must achieve the complete annexation of the Gaza Strip. As a result these positions justify the drive to cancel the two-state solution so that the monopolies obtain a greater stake in the exploitation of new energy sources and trade routes. 

Muddying the Waters

The Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA)

As the great vehicle of opportunism, the CPUSA continues to raise a wall between the new generations and communists, aligning itself with the politics of DSA to influence the Biden administration’s policies [12]. Similar to the DSA, the CPUSA directs its efforts towards the tail of the mobilizations, seeking peace from the Democratic Party, and echoing the calls for a ceasefire [13]. Its advocacy for a ceasefire sows confusion, even suggesting that it serves as the essential first step towards negotiations for a lasting political solution, including Palestinian statehood and the right of return, free from occupation [14]. Such illusions have also been advocated by the opportunists of the PCUSA.

In both cases, we emphasize the following: Throughout the past seven decades, when has any ceasefire allowed the Palestinians to achieve a lasting solution? Would we have sought a ceasefire between the French Resistance and the German Reich? Would we have urged the Chinese to sign a ceasefire with the occupying Japanese forces in mid-1940? Would we have encouraged the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to agree to a ceasefire with the Nazis and accept life within the ghetto?

A ceasefire without concrete demands does not effect change and maintains the position of the dominant power. Despite the minimal relief it may offer the Palestinian people, history shows how Israel is exploiting them to their advantage. For communists to call for a ceasefire equates the victim and perpetrator, disregards the conflict’s asymmetry, and renounces the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people. Ultimately, it places the proponent of such a view in service of the class enemy, against a just war of national liberation. Furthermore, the attempt to co-opt the Ceasefire Now movement by rallying around the already vacuous slogan and attempting to infuse it with a method of managing capitalism (Third Reconstruction) and electoral strategies is even more egregious. Not only does this maintain the exploitative system. It pulls the wool over the eyes of the workers and people to the horrors of imperialism, the monopolies, and capitalism. It introduces the absurd and vague notion that if a ceasefire is achieved, “it will be our job to help ensure this negotiation process moves forward”, completely disregarding the inalienable right and historical duty of the Palestinian people to assert their rights and to fight for a free homeland, free from occupation and occupying troops, and to be the masters of their own land, shaping the conditions for their total liberation from capitalist exploitation. It provides no real solution to once and for all removing any and all involvement of our country in imperialist wars. It does not, as a duty of the communists, link the anti-war struggle to the necessity of the socialist revolution. In essence, it is another method of trying to “humanize” capital, only this time it is attempting to do it in the guise of the “ceasefire” and “peace”.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) 

The PSL stands as a significant force in the mobilizations for Palestine. While it’s crucial to delve into the historical origins of PSL’s ideological framework, this article won’t undertake this extensive yet essential task. What’s vital is to emphasize the perplexing nature of PSL’s political activities in relation to its ideology, which can be traced back to the eclectic theories of Sam Marcy, an adherent of Leon Trotsky. Particularly, Marcy’s concept of “global class war,” which bears similarities to the prevalent modern opportunist trends that interpret developments through a geopolitical lens, outside class criteria, essentially viewing phenomena as antagonisms between states. In practice, this approach essentially leads to supporting any anti-US force as anti-imperialist or even “socialist”. Despite rejecting the “Marcyite tradition,” this kind of analysis has influenced PSL’s evaluations of the imperialist system throughout its history, leading it to offer “critical support” to any state seemingly opposed to US imperialism, such as China, Venezuela under Maduro and Syria under Assad, among others. As a caricature of Leninism, in the end it leads to collaboration with the bourgeois classes of less developed capitalist states. Ultimately, this reflects the broader opportunist trend of “anti-imperialism,” which holds incorrect understandings of imperialism: 1) the “unipolar” or “multipolar” world, 2) the United States government as the primary aggressor, 3) imperialism as an aggressive foreign policy, disregarding its fundamental economic characteristics that result in monopoly domination, uneven development, competition, and an unending pursuit of profits. 

This ideological framework, or the lack of it, leads to other variants such as the characterization of imperialism as colonialism which has been a thing of the past for decades now. In a word, PSL’s avowed “Marxism-Leninism”, is in fact anti-revolutionary. It ideologically petrifies the labor and popular forces and lines the workers up behind interests alien to their own. The conflict in Palestine is no exception to this fact. The trap is laid by the leadership of PSL.

Take the analysis [15] of Brian Becker, prominent and leading figure in the PSL:

“This division is not about ideological minutiae, but a fundamentally different approach to the colonial question. It speaks directly to the question of what type of movement we aim to build: either one that is tethered to a section of the liberal bourgeoisie, and so vacillates alongside it, or one that seeks to build anti-imperialist politics among the working class and is oriented towards unity with the Global South.”


It is precisely the ideological minutiae that matter. The communists cannot be the “leftwing chorus” of the system. The ideological front embraced by communists serves as the basis for the strategic direction of the communist movement, aiming for independence from the agendas of various bourgeois classes and their factions. A vital prerequisite for the success of this strategy is a comprehensive revolutionary plan aimed at guiding the insurgent masses toward dismantling the existing capitalist system. 

It is the ideological minutiae which allows the communists to see the deception by Becker which radically denounces the “liberal bourgeoisie” but leaves open the question: If not tethered to this section of the bourgeoisie then to which? Becker answers: “unity with the Global South”. In other words, the bourgeoisie of the less developed capitalist nations. This papers over all the class antagonisms in the “Global South” and the capitalist forces with their own interests, and launders a progressive image to fundamentally anti-revolutionary conceptions. It is a nod towards the ideological intervention of “multipolarity” being waged on behalf of the capitalist blocs, BRICS, ALBA, CELAC, etc., against the workers and people.

Brian Becker, National Coordinator of ANSWER, PSL Central Committee, Source: The ‘Sheer Evil’ of Israel’s War Crimes: Israeli General’s Son Speaks Out. The Socialist Program on BT News https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4ivtdzbaOY&ab_channel=BreakThroughNews

Becker’s analysis also proposes the idea that the conflict in Palestine is categorized as a colonial one. It is necessary to deal with the conception of Palestine as a colony in greater detail to make a more decisive contribution to the coordination of the forces of the communist and workers’ movement internationally. But what we aim to stress in the context of Becker’s analysis of the struggle against the occupation of Palestine is that the anti-colonial narrative neglects the class struggle and the need for Israeli workers to overthrow the bourgeois Zionist establishment. It simplifies the complex issue of class struggle into a conflict between peoples and states, and does not address the fundamental reason for the occupation: capitalism in its parasitic and final phase. Moreover, while it recognizes the right to national liberation, it treats it as an end in itself rather than as the “link” in the goal of real social emancipation. It fails to emphasize the critical role of the Palestinian working class and its leading elements within the communist party in forging a connection of this “link” to the necessity of workers’ power.

Demands for a “Free Palestine”

The question may arise: does the CWPUSA not agree with a “Free Palestine”? It is important to highlight what we mean when we say “Free Palestine”. As we have seen, the slogan, alongside demands for a ceasefire, have clear political strategies. These political orientations have distinct ideological leadership that drags the workers and peoples to interests that will not end the system that lives off the backs of the working class in order to support the barbarous Israeli state. Furthermore, they allow the door for interpretations leading to practices which abandon a class-oriented approach. The revolutionary movement cannot lose sight of the fact that the escalation of conflicts is driven by the quest for new outlets for over-accumulated capital. This crucial reality must not be overlooked in our analyses, as it is an element of directing the uprisings toward their primary target: the exploitative system.

We agree that Palestine should be free. In fact, we think the organizations are correct to draw attention to the necessity of a liberated Palestine and the need to end US support to Israel. However, it is important that demands for freedom consist of concrete, class-oriented goals that are linked, in our country, to the only cause capable of removing our country from the imperialist agreements with Israel and imperialist wars in general: the socialist revolution. 

Conclusions and the Role of the CWPUSA

A ceasefire alone cannot achieve the liberation of Palestine, just as maneuvers that exploit this uprising to advocate for policies aiming to “sign” socialism into power or plead with the staff of capitalist management for mercy for the Palestinian people. This underscores the importance of imbuing the calls for freedom with a character that empowers the Palestinian people to be masters of their own land and capable of being linked to the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism:

  • The right of the Palestinian people to a free and independent Palestine on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
  • The return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes.
  • The immediate release of all Palestinian and other political prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
  • The complete and permanent withdrawal of US forces from the region and the end of all aid to Israel.
  • The cessation of all economic–political–military cooperation with the murderous state of Israel and the recognition of the Palestinian state.

Our responsibility, as workers and youth in other countries, is to support and stand alongside the struggle against the occupation forces. Therefore, it is crucial for CWPUSA militants and their supporters to intensify ideological and political intervention within the workers’ and people’s movement to counter the current cultivation of reformist and opportunist illusions. Additionally, the war gives impetus to an intensification of the class struggle, with higher oil and gas prices, and increased food costs eroding workers’ wages, exacerbating social issues in our country. This demands an enhancement of our political guidance to prepare our forces ideologically, politically, and organizationally, consolidating them for the reorganization of the Communist Party.

CWPUSA militants and supporters must initiate discussions in all workplaces, trade unions, universities, schools, and neighborhoods, particularly following the example set by the courageous workers of Starbucks, to exert pressure on labor leaders and expose their inability to guide US workers towards action in this military conflict. It is vital to participate in mobilizations and demonstrate that communists are at the forefront of the struggle against imperialist wars. This involves organizing rallies, protests, and similar events, such as the recent CWPUSA screening in Miami, to educate the public and youth about the ongoing power play between imperialist forces, which is being waged to the detriment of the Palestinian people within the context of a larger inter-imperialist conflict for supremacy within the imperialist system. These events highlight the risk of a broader, generalized conflict that could draw in more of the capitalist states in the region to clamber for a higher position within the imperialist hierarchy and by result, calling the people and workers to pay the price. 

Sources 

[1] Reps. Bush, Tlaib, Carson, Lee, Ramirez Lead Colleagues in Call for Immediate Ceasefire https://bush.house.gov/media/press-releases/reps-bush-tlaib-carson-lee-ramirez-lead-colleagues-in-call-for-immediate-ceasefire

[2] Why I Just Quit DSA https://www.thenation.com/article/activism/quit-dsa-gaza-israel/

[3] No Money for Massacres! https://www.dsausa.org/no-money-for-massacres-phonebanks/

[4] Biden lied about seeing photos of beheaded Israeli children https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/biden-lied-about-seeing-photos-beheaded-israeli-children

[5] There is no proof Palestinian fighters ‘beheaded’ babies. The only source is a radical settler. https://mondoweiss.net/2023/10/there-is-no-proof-palestinian-fighters-beheaded-babies-the-only-source-is-a-radical-settler/

[6] STATEMENT: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on Violence in Israel and Palestine https://ocasio-cortez.house.gov/media/press-releases/statement-rep-ocasio-cortez-violence-israel-and-palestine

[7] ‘A war crime’: AOC condemns both Hamas attacks and Israeli air strikes on Gaza https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5VNcoK9PWg&ab_channel=MSNBC

[8] Abby D. Phillip “Two years ago @AOC voted ‘present’ on a bill for additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome and said she opposed it. I asked her whether she would support funding the defense system today. Her answer:” https://x.com/abbydphillip/status/1714271758101147709?s=20

[9] STATEMENT: PEACE NOW, END OCCUPATION & APARTHEID https://socialists.nyc/press-releases/statement-peace-now-end-occupation-apartheid/ 

[10] Securing America – Will the Israeli government give in to pressure of a ceasefire https://centerforsecuritypolicy.org/securing-america-will-the-israeli-government-give-in-to-pressure-of-a-ceasefire/

[11] Calls for a Ceasefire Now Are Calls to Reward Terrorism https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/calls-for-a-ceasefire-now-are-calls-to-reward-terrorism/

[12] What Biden didn’t say at the State of the Union https://www.cpusa.org/article/what-biden-didnt-say-at-the-state-of-the-union/

[13] CP and YCL take it to the streets: Ceasefire now! https://www.cpusa.org/article/cp-and-ycl-take-it-to-the-streets-ceasefire-now/

[14] A ceasefire is the first step toward peace and liberation https://www.cpusa.org/article/a-ceasefire-is-the-first-step-toward-peace-and-liberation/

[15] Building a real left: Not one that condemns resistance and is without Palestinians https://www.liberationnews.org/building-a-real-left-not-one-that-condemns-resistance-and-has-no-palestinians/