From Israel to Ukraine: The dangerous spasms of defeat

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
May 28, 2024

History comes full circle.  

“The Palestinians have now made their own August 20. We’ll see what it will give”, Mohamed Harbi, a veteran of the Algerian revolution and former member of the Political Bureau of FLN, was telling me a few days ago in Paris. His parallel was with the August 20, 1955 uprising in Algeria, when, at exactly 12 noon, the soldiers of the National Liberation Army (ALN), supported by the population, simultaneously attacked the quadrilateral between Collo, Philippeville, Guelma and Constantine. Hundreds of men, sometimes accompanied by women and children, often with knives, sticks and whatever other weapons they could find, along with ALN men, attacked the colonial power centres, gendarmerie stations and barracks, municipalities, warehouses and silos. During the fighting, 26 French soldiers and 92 civilians were killed, including 71 Europeans. On the same day the French occupying forces regained control and in the weeks that followed they killed thousands of Algerians in retaliation.  

The 20th of August was to go down in history as the beginning of a long and bloody war that ended with the expulsion of the French from Algeria and the declaration of Algeria’s independence.

Double strategic defeat  

It has been said of Netanyahu that he could “give lessons to Machiavelli”. Except that what rises is bound to fall, and it is well advised that before the end one should count his blessings. Israel has already suffered the greatest strategic defeats in its history under his watch, that are at the same time defeats for the collective West, who, by its support for the Jewish state, has been disgraced it in the eyes of humanity, further diminishing its global political capital.  

Israel has lost the main, enormous moral and political advantage that the Holocaust gave it and has been transformed, in the eyes of humanity, into a criminal state. It has also suffered a serious military defeat since, eight months after the start of the war (massacre), it has not managed either to expel the Palestinians in Gaza or to dislodge Hamas, which continues to put up a strong resistance, with rifles, against one of the most powerful armies in the world, writing one of the greatest epics of resistance in our century and proving, once again, that war is the continuation of politics by other means (Clausewitz), not politics the continuation of war as the owners of powerful weapons would like; that the soul can defeat matter. To be victorious, a revolution, as Trotsky, who knew something about this subject, wrote in the History of the Russian Revolution, it does not need more weapons than its opponents, it needs more people determined to die.  

Moreover, so far, Netanyahu’s attempts to provoke a general war with Iran and to lure the Americans into such a conflict, which could turn nuclear and see other powers intervene, have also failed. ‘Not only are Jews not continuing to settle in Israel, which is the government’s goal, some 200,000 Israelis have left the north of the country because of Hezbollah attacks and many more are leaving Israel itself.  

You will perhaps tell me at this point that Hamas is a terrorist organisation. The same argument has been used extensively against every resistance movement, such as the European resistance movements against Nazism and Fascism during WWII, the EOKA guerrillas in Cyprus, the Algerian revolutionaries, the African National Congress, the Irish Republican Army, the Kurds of the PKK.  

To invoke such arguments in favour of a force that kills tens of thousands of civilians and is accused of a host of gross war crimes seems extremely cynical and ludicrous. By repeating such arguments, today’s (one must say very low-intellectual) Western leaders are doing a dangerous brainwashing of themselves, which ultimately prevents them from pursuing rational policies. Moreover, before one starts accusing Hamas of terrorism, it would be good to suggest an effective way of resisting the occupation. The Palestinians tried the path of compromise with the Oslo agreement, with Arafat and Rabin. The agreement was never implemented and the two signatories were assassinated. Already in 1967, more than half a century before the current events, General De Gaulle was warning Israel to withdraw from the territories it had occupied in the war. If you stay, you will face resistance and terrorism, he told them, but in the ears of the deaf.  

Hamas  

It should be noted that, according to all available polls and testimonies, support for Hamas has now soared and embraces the vast majority of the Palestinian population, both in Gaza and, even more so, in the West Bank. Otherwise, after all, this organisation could not continue its resistance. At the same time, the popularity of its allies, namely the anti-Oslo components of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, has increased, whereas, whatever authority the compromised and corrupt Mahmoud Abbas administration had has been eroded.  

The latter recently accused Hamas of giving Israel, with the 7 October attack, the pretext it needed to unleash ethnic cleansing and genocide. Hamas replied that Israel does not need pretexts.  

As Leyla Ghanem, an influential figure on the Lebanese left, explains, Hamas went ahead with the October 7th attack because it estimated that, without it, a) the Palestinian issue would have ended with the implementation of the Abraham Accords and the recognition of Israel by Saudi Arabia; b) the Jews would have occupied the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem; c) the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in the West Bank would have escalated, after having already reached dramatic proportions in recent years, with 300 young Palestinians being executed in front of their families for terrorism, amidst complete indifference from world opinion and the media; d) Israel would proceed with Netanyahu’s declared plan to expel one million from the Gaza Strip in order to build the Ben Gurion Canal. Competing with Suez, the canal would form part of the India-Saudi Arabia-Israel-Mediterranean “road” (ending at Piraeus) and its strategic value would be to undermine the Chinese OBOR initiative.

 Before Hamas proceeded with the attack of October 7th, it obtained the agreement of the other Palestinian resistance forces, while the external “axis of resistance” (Iran, Hezbollah, Yemen, etc.) did not agree and asked for the operation to be postponed, as Ghanem tells us.

 For her, Hamas itself is undergoing an accelerated transformation under the leadership in Gaza itself of Yahya Sinwar, who spent 22 years in Israeli prisons, does not represent the Muslim Brotherhood and distances himself from the leadership of Haniyeh and Mashaal, considering that it is rather continuing the tradition of Arafat’s pre-Oslo Palestinian national liberation movement.  

For the moment, the situation appears to be deadlocked with Israel escalating its aggression, as the attacks on Rafah have shown, despite an order from the International Court of Justice. ‘When the ICJ Prosecutor even announced his intention to seek arrest warrants for Netanyahu, the latter responded (in Hebrew only, not in the English text) with renewed references to Amalek and the Bible and God’s command to Jews to destroy their enemies to the death, including their children and animals https://mondoweiss.net/2024/05/netanyahu-invoked-another-genocidal-biblical-reference-in-his-response-to-the-icc/. But also by escalating third-party attacks against anyone who criticizes Israel internationally, including the judges of the International Court of Justice who have received direct threats from US senators and the US administration itself. Just yesterday, the British Guardian revealed the former Mossad chief’s threats against the former prosecutor of the International Court of Justice, as early as 2021, in order to prevent the investigation of Israeli war crimes in the occupied territories.  

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The fact is that the growing aggression, which has already provoked a protest movement comparable to the 1968 movement against the Vietnam War, is not advantageous for Israel. So Mr Netanyahu is now caught between a rock and a hard place, having cut the bridges with peace, while unable to win the war.  

The same has happened, mutatis mutandis, with Ukraine, where again the West cannot accept a defeat, the fact that it has managed to rally its two strongest opponents (Russia and China) and to isolate itself politically from the vast majority of humanity. Here, the “War Party”, led by Blinken and Nuland, is fighting to allow US long-range weapons to hit Russian territory, to send NATO troops to Ukraine, to use anti-aircraft systems from Germany and Poland against Russian aircraft and missiles over Ukraine. As the attempted assassination of Fico showed, they are ready for anything and the experience so far is that Biden at first resists and eventually backs down.  

Unless a strong anti-war movement intervenes and with the political and communication forces of Europe tightly controlled by the “war party”, the risk of a nuclear catastrophe remains dangerously high. 

Translated from Greek by Christos Marsellos