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The Betrayal of Gaza

We are posting an article on “The Betrayal of Gaza: Why anti-imperialist Leftists in Germany must leave the Reformist DIE LINKE Party”  by comrade Karl Naujoks from the German organization Revolutionary Left – Revolutionäre Linke:

October 12th marks a breaking point for the left in Germany. On this day, the parliamentary faction of the reformist DIE LINKE party approved a motion, together with the fascist AfD for a resolution that the government parties SPD (Socialdemocrats), Greens (Grüne) and Liberals (FDP) submitted together with the Conservatives (the Christian Democratic Union CDU/CSU) on the occasion of Chancellor Scholz’s government declaration.

This motion calls on the Federal Government to “grant full solidarity and all support to Israel” in view of the escalating war over Gaza. Furthermore, “to ensure that the facts that occurred on the evening of October 7, 2023 on the streets of Neukölln in Berlin and elsewhere are clarified and prosecuted. All constitutional means must be exhausted, this may also include [revoking] residence law measures.”

In short: a political blank check is being issued to both the foreseeable continuous bombing and ground offensive by the Israeli army against Gaza, as well as the police state-like repression of pro-Palestinian demonstrations and events in Germany. It has gone so far that migrants without a German passport are even threatened with deportation if they take a critical and public stand against Israel’s conduct of the war.

Dietmar Bartsch, the leader of the DIE LINKE parliamentary faction, gave the speech for the left faction in the plenary session under the heading “Determined against terror and the enemies of Israel”. He expressly welcomed the government declaration by the Social Democratic Chancellor Scholz. In his speech, Bartsch condemned all expressions of solidarity with Palestine. He literally spoke of “jubilation celebrations on Sonnenallee” in Berlin-Neukölln that “approved of Hamas terror” and described these as “terrible examples of this hatred of Jews.”

Bartsch didn’t say a word about the fact that the population of Gaza has been locked up in the largest open-air prison in the world for decades and that every protest, even non-violent ones like the one at the Gaza-Israeli border in 2018, is met with lethal violence by the Israeli state. At that time during the non-violent protests in 2017, according to the UN, the Israeli army shot over 180 Gazans and injured 6,100 more with live ammunition who were expressing their anger behind the Gaza fence.

By approving the federal government’s Israel policy on October 12, DIE LINKE joined the front of those who deny the Palestinian people the right to protest and resist colonial oppression. It has become an appendage of German imperialism, which has had the closest military relations with Israel for many years and runs numerous arms deals worth millions.

The balance after 30 days of war

Weeks after the Bundestag decision, it becomes clear what DIE LINKE has shown solidarity with: In the first thirty days of the war, the Israeli army dropped 18,000 tons of explosives on Gaza. According to the Israeli army, “over 14,000 terrorist targets” were allegedly attacked. In fact, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 20,000 people in the Gaza Strip have died under the bombs and over 53,000 people have been injured. Every day the numbers of those killed, rises. Two thirds of the victims are children, women or seniors. The Gaza Strip has been cut off from water, food and electricity supplies. In the West Bank, the Israeli army and radical settlers “ethnically cleansed” four Palestinian villages and shot dead around 140 people in the shadow of international attention in the first four weeks of the war against Gaza.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Faeser (SPD) boasts that every fourth registered pro-Palestinian demonstration has been banned in Germany. Associations and events against the terror of the Israeli bombing are prohibited, regardless of whether they are organized by Palestinian alliances, left-wing groups or the German based Jewish Voice for a Just Peace.

Since the approval of the application by the federal government and the CDU/CSU, which also received the approval of the fascist AfD, the Bundestag faction DIE LINKE has shone through its inaction. No motion, no statement that would have broken through the imperialist parties’ cartel of silence. While a wave of solidarity with the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank erupted on the streets of many cities around the world, there was no call from the party board or the parliamentary group to take part.

Quite the opposite: On November 9th, after four weeks of continuous bombing on Gaza, the party-affiliated Rosa Luxemburg Foundation preferred to disinvite the British former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn from an event in Berlin because of his pro-Palestinian stance in the face of domestic politics pressure did not appear to be appropriate.

A new August 4th

DIE LINKE was founded fifteen years ago. At that time, it raised the hopes of millions for social change and stood for a pacifist foreign policy, against all German military missions and arms exports. But its reformism and opportunism towards the ruling class, coupled with the aim of assuming government responsibility, has made it a party of the political mainstream. It no longer represents a basis from which to work for a consistent, anti-imperialist policy.

Of course, there are still party members in DIE LINKE today who argue for a different, anti-colonial policy in solidarity with the Palestinian population. But their position has become untenable since Sahra Wagenknecht announced her imminent departure from the party. This will further strengthen the weight of those who most openly support the federal government’s pro-Israel war course, such as Dietmar Bartsch, Klaus Lederer and Bodo Ramelow. Anyone who identifies with the party DIE LINKE in this situation cuts themselves off from the pro-Palestinian solidarity movement, contributes to the blurring of the fronts and threatens to use up their strength in fruitless intra-party trench warfare. In the best case scenario, empty formulaic compromises emerge at party conferences that conceal the betrayal of the DIE LINKE faction in the Bundestag.

We must have no illusions about the character of the reformist DIE LINKE party. DIE LINKE faction’s approval of the federal government’s Israel policy on October 12, 2023 signals an open transition into the camp of German imperialism. We have experienced nothing less than a new August 4th. On August 4, 1914, the then SPD parliamentary group in the Reichstag voted for the approval of war loans, which was a prerequisite for the German Empire’s entry into the First World War.

This capitulation to the German imperialism of the former Marxist SPD was justified as an act of self-defense against Russian despotism and the terror of Serbian nationalists. “We will not abandon our own fatherland in the hour of danger,” said parliamentary group leader Hugo Haase, explaining the Social Democrats’ decision. “We feel that we are in harmony with the International, which has recognized the right of every people to national independence and self-defense at all times, just as we, in agreement with it, condemn any war of conquest.”

The result of this decision is known. For four years, the SPD justified the bloodbath of the First World War on the side of the German Kaiser. An important result of this betrayal was the break between the internationalists around Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht and the SPD. Luxemburg called the SPD a “stinking corpse” and ultimately advocated the creation of an independent revolutionary party, the KPD.

A hundred years later, the same mechanism repeats itself in a different historical context. The loss of solidarity with the resistance of the Palestinians, the support of the federal government and the right-wing Israeli government, as well as the justification of this betrayal with reference to the historical obligation after the Nazi genocide of European Jews, all of this is a single blow to every active anti-imperialist and anti-fascists, against every internationalist in Germany.

DIE LINKE has become an obstacle in the fight against the ruling class and war. It is important to draw the consequences and build a new, revolutionary left.