The dead-end future of “socialist Struggle” (ISA Israel)

Yossi Schwartz, ISL the section of the RCIT in Israel/Occupied Palestine, 05.12.2022,

Socialist Struggle” is the section in Israel of the right-centrist ISA (a split from the CWI in 2019). The main problem with this group and the ISA, when it comes to Palestine, is their equation of the Zionist settler society and the Zionist imperialist state wars against the native Palestinian people and with the heroic struggle of the Palestinians led by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Behind this pro-imperialist position is their support for the right of self-determination to the Zionists and their support for two states as a solution to the repression of the Palestinians.

On 22 March 2022 the Palestinian resistance killed 11 Zionists. Two dead and five injured in uniforms, the majority of the dead were Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The Zionist state retaliated by killing many Palestinians. According to a report from April 2022, Israel killed five times as many Palestinians in 2022 than it killed in the same period in 2021.


Euro-Med Monitor’s field team documented the killing of 18 Palestinians in the first half of this month, (April) most of whom were killed following statements by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on 8 April, granting a mandate to the Israeli army to wage an unrelenting war on what was he described as terrorism.” [1]

Still “Socialist Struggle” wrote: “A series of murderous attacks claimed the lives of 11 victims – including both Jews and Arabs, women and men. Solidarity with the victims and their families and with the masses on both sides of the national divide in days of fear and anxiety about the future.” [2]

A careful reading of this paragraph reviles that the enemy is not only the Zionist army but also the Palestinian freedom fighters.

There is a stupid assertion behind the method of Socialist Struggle of putting the settler’s colonialists and the oppressed Palestinians on the same level. The assumption is that the Jewish Zionist working class and the Palestinian working class can unite and overthrow together the capitalist system.

At this point ask yourself how many whites joined the black workers’ struggle in South Africa?

The problem with this assumption is that it is a pie in the sky. This is clear not only by the results of the elections where Ben Gevir, the follower of the Rabi Khana, is the Minister of Police/Internal Security.

55% of Israelis want IDF to kill terrorists who are no longer a threat – poll. In addition, just under half (45.5%) of Israelis support targeting civilian populations in Gaza to deter rockets being fired into Israel, which marks a jump from 27.5% in 2018.” [3]

Lenin and Trotsky supported only the right of self-determination only of oppressed nations. In addition, even the capitalist international law recognizes the right of the oppressed to fight with arms.

Supporting the military struggle of the oppressed under a non-revolutionary leadership

So, what is the reason that these right-wing centrists that claims to be a Leninist and Trotskyists takes a position so different from Lenin and Trotsky or even international law? The section of the ISA in Palestine is suffering from Islamophobia. They cannot understand how it is possible to support the military struggle of Islamists fighting an imperialist regime. After all the Islamists want to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state.

Trotsky replied to this argument long ago: “I am not sufficiently acquainted with the life of the individual Latin American countries to permit myself a concrete answer on the questions you pose. It is clear to me at any rate that the internal tasks of these countries cannot be solved without a simultaneous revolutionary struggle against imperialism. The agents of the United States, England, France (Lewis, Jouhaux, Toledano, the Stalinists) try to substitute the struggle against fascism for the struggle against imperialism. We have observed their criminal efforts at the recent congress against war and fascism. In the countries of Latin America, the agents of “democratic” imperialism are especially dangerous, since they are more capable of fooling the masses than the open agents of fascist bandits.

I will take the most simple and obvious example. In Brazil there now reigns a semi-fascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally—in this case I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil. If Brazil on the contrary should be victorious, it will give a mighty impulse to the national and democratic consciousness of the country and will lead to the overthrow of the Vargas dictatorship. The defeat of England will at the same time deliver a blow to British imperialism and will give an impulse to the revolutionary movement of the British proletariat. Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. Under all masks one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers!” [4]

Trotsky and the early French Communist Party supported the people of the Rif led by a religious figure Abd el-Krim. The Rif War was an armed conflict fought from 1921 to 1926 between the occupying colonialists of Spain (joined by France in 1924) and the Berber tribes of the mountainous Rif region of northern Morocco.

Of course, these centrists may not distinguish between military and political support. However, their members should read carefully the 1938 Transitional Program that says:

“From April to September 1917, the Bolsheviks demanded that the S.R.s and Mensheviks break with the liberal bourgeoisie and take power into their own hands. Under this provision the Bolshevik Party promised the Mensheviks and the S.R.s, as the petty bourgeois representatives of the worker and peasants, its revolutionary aid against the bourgeoisie categorically refusing, however, either to enter into the government of the Mensheviks and S.R.s or to carry political responsibility for it.” [5]

A great example for military but not political support for Kerensky is Lenin’s policy toward Kerensky.

“On August 21 (September 3), the Germans occupied Riga, and Petrograd itself appeared to be in danger. This intensified the urgency of more efficient military command, and Kornilov became convinced that he must assume control of the civil government as well as the army. Kornilov was surrounded by a number of right-wing politicians, whose clumsy efforts to obtain Kerensky’s support for the proposed military coup d’état only brought about a complete breach between the two. On August 27 (September 9) Kerensky denounced Kornilov as a traitor and relieved him of his command. Kornilov replied by sending a cavalry corps against the capital. Kerensky appealed to the soviets and the workers to defend the revolution. This provided the Bolsheviks with an excellent opportunity to put themselves at the head of the resistance. When the troops reached the outskirts of Petrograd, they were met by delegates of the soviets, who harangued them with revolutionary appeals. The morale of the troops was low, and they had no desire to fight their own countrymen; they therefore submitted to the Provisional Government. Their commander, Gen. Aleksandr Krymov, committed suicide, and Kornilov himself, who had remained at his headquarters at the front, was arrested. On September 1 (September 14), 1917, Kerensky proclaimed Russia a republic.

The Kornilov rebellion was a defeat for the right, but it was certainly no victory for Kerensky. Those who gained were the Bolsheviks, who had always argued that Kerensky and the moderates were incompetent to defend the revolution, and who themselves had played a large part in the defeat of Kornilov. Bolshevik prestige had never been so high among the working class of Petrograd and among the ranks of the military forces in the capital. By mid-September the Bolsheviks had a majority in the soviets of both Petrograd and Moscow. Lenin, still in hiding, decided that the time had come to seize power and urgently exhorted the party, by correspondence from Finland, to prepare for insurrection. At the Sixth Congress of the Bolshevik Party, convened in Petrograd in late July (early August), the intention to seize power, regardless of the formal majority in the soviets, had already been asserted. The loss of Bolshevik support in the soviets, as a result of the July demonstrations and the charge of serving the Germans, had not deterred Lenin from his aim. Now that the Bolsheviks were once more popular, the arguments for action were further strengthened. The party leaders were, however, divided. Grigory Zinovyev and Lev Kamenev, two of the most eminent, were opposed to early action. On the other hand, the able recruit Leon Trotsky, who had brought his own faction into the Bolshevik ranks in the wake of the July Days uprising, strongly supported Lenin and began active preparations.” [6]

National self-determination for settlers?

In addition, “Socialist Struggle” is calling for self-determination for the settler colonialists and imperialists’ population. “Yes to a united struggle of Jews and Arabs against ‘separate and rule’ and racism and against degenerating into another bloody war. Yes to livelihood, security and life with dignity for women on both sides of the national divide. Yes to ending the occupation and siege, yes to equal peace and democracy, including an equal right to self-determination and an independent state, yes to socialist change and a society of welfare, solidarity and equality, instead of the capitalist society that perpetuates poverty and bloodshed.” [7]

But since when Marxists support the self determination of an imperialist settler colonialists? [8]

Marx did not support the right of self-determination of the Southern confederation that declared themselves a separate nation in the U.S. Civil War 1861-65. On the other hand, Marx supported the struggle of the Irish and Polish led by reactionaries. Lenin recognized the right of self-determination only of oppressed nationalities. He wrote:

“Furthermore, imperialism means that capital has outgrown the framework of national states; it means that national oppression has been extended and heightened on a new historical foundation. Hence, it follows that, despite Parabellum, we must link the revolutionary struggle for socialism with a revolutionary programme on the national question”…” Imperialism means the progressively mounting oppression of the nations of the world by a handful of Great Powers; it means a period of wars between the latter to extend and consolidate the oppression of nations; it means a period in which the masses of the people are deceived by hypocritical social-patriots, i.e., individuals who, under the pretext of the “freedom of nations”, “the right of nations to self-determination”, and “defense of the fatherland”, justify and defend the oppression of the majority of the world’s nations by the Great Powers” [9]

The right of nations to self-determination means only the right to independence in a political sense, the right to free, political secession from the oppressing nation. (…) It is merely the logical expression of the struggle against national oppression in every form.“ [10]

Trotsky wrote on the apartheid sister of Israel – South Africa – until the end of last century:

A Black Republic?

The overthrow of the hegemony of British imperialism in South Africa can come about as the result of a military defeat of Great Britain and the disintegration of the Empire. In this case, the South African whites could still for a certain period – hardly a considerable one – retain their domination over the blacks.

Another possibility, which in practice could be connected with the first, is a revolution in Great Britain and her possessions. Three-quarters of the population of South Africa (almost six million of the almost eight million total) is composed of non-Europeans. A victorious revolution is unthinkable without the awakening of the native masses. In its turn, that will give them what they are so lacking today – confidence in their strength, a heightened personal consciousness, and cultural growth.

Under these conditions the South African Republic will emerge first of all as a “black” republic; this does not exclude, of course, either full equality for the whites, or brotherly relations between the two races – depending mainly on the conduct of the whites. But it is entirely obvious that the predominant majority of the population, liberated from slavish dependence, will put a certain imprint on the state” [11]

Socialist Struggle” rejects Trotsky’s position on South Africa as irrelevant to Israel where the Arab Palestinians are not as great a majority as blacks were in South Africa. This is another pro Zionist nationalist argument. First, the Palestinians are a clear majority if we include the many millions of refugees which were expelled by the Zionists. Secondly, the Palestinians are part of the overwhelming Arab majority of the region and the Arab revolution will finish Israel.

What is missing for such a victory is a strong working-class revolutionary leadership and building such a party is the task of authentic revolutionaries! The precondition for this is the struggle for a consistent international and anti-imperialist program. The ISL and our international organization – the RCIT – recognizes that the main force for permanent revolution in Occupied Palestine is not the Israeli-Jewish working class but the Palestinian working class and its brothers and sisters in the whole region of the Middle East.

Such a struggle will have a strong emphasis of national and democratic rights. It will include, among others, the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, it will oppose the existence of the Zionist state and advocate the creation of a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea. Such a state should be workers and poor peasant republic within a socialist federation of the Middle East. It will have a Palestinian majority population but will recognize minority rights for the Jewish people. We have summarized this perspective in the slogan: For a Palestine red and free from the river to the sea! In this struggle it is necessary to win over a section of the Israeli workers and the poor for such an anti-colonialist perspective. [12]

Socialist Struggle” and the Ukraine War

The inability of “Socialist Struggle” to differentiate between the oppressed and the oppressor results in its failure to defend the Ukraine against the invasion by Russian imperialism. They denounce the Ukrainian resistance as a “proxy” of NATO and call workers around the world to obstruct weapons deliveries to the Ukraine.

This war has nothing to do with protecting the security of any population. NATO does not, and has never had, a problem cooperating with dictators when it suits them, and Putin supports the most extreme right-wing parties in Europe – so much for the talk of “anti-fascism” and “defense of Democratic rights”. The meaning of war is terrible human suffering, ruined lives, economic distress and refugees, it will not solve any of the existing problems and the tensions between the powers. Although there are those who claim the opposite, this war is not in the interest of the ordinary people and the working class in any of the countries involved.” [13]

The ISA calls on workers’ movement around the world to initiate mass mobilizations against the war and against imperialism, including refusing to produce and transport weapons and armaments as well as strike action while raising demands that will help to advance social solutions for the majority in society.” [14]

In contrast, the ISL and the RCIT recognize that the current conflict has a dual character – Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine as well as the escalating tensions between the imperialist Great Powers. The failure to understand this has caused numerous reformist and centrist leftists to arrive at reactionary conclusions.

Such recognition of the complex character of the current conflict is the basis for advocating a dual tactic. Hence, the RCIT views the national war of defence of the Ukrainian people as progressive and legitimate. We therefore support their resistance against the invasion of imperialist Russia. At the same time, we also recognize the reactionary character of the inter-imperialist rivalry between the Great Powers. In this conflict, socialists oppose both camps – Russia as well as NATO. We summarize the RCIT’s position in the following slogans: Defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism! [15]

On the origins of “Socialist Struggle

When the Third International under Stalin became a reactionary force, the centrist “London Bureau“ was formed. The POUM was a member of the “London Bureau” of centrist parties that rejected both the reformism of the Second International and the pro-Moscow orientation of the Third International. Other members included the Independent Labour Party in Britain, the Workers and Peasants’ Socialist Party (PSOP) in France, and the Poale Zion faction aligned with Hashomer Hatzair. Its youth wing was affiliated to the International Bureau of Revolutionary Youth Organizations.

Hashomer Hatzair Workers Party was the only Zionist political party in Palestine under the British rule that recognized the national rights of the Palestinian Arabs. It tried to combine Marxism with Zionism. It opposed partitioning Palestine, instead it called to transform the British Mandate into an international trusteeship. In the longer perspective, a ‘Palestinian Commonwealth’ with Jewish majority.

The “Socialist Struggle” that originated from a small split from Hashomer Hatzair is not much different from the Poale Zion faction aligned with Hashomer Hatzair. It tries to combine Zionism with Marxism. It recognizes the right of the Palestinians to form a mini state while it defends the Zionists right to their own state in Palestine.

The presumption that the road forward is leading by the unity of the Palestinians with the Zionist Jews has been the paradigm of the Stalinists and the wrong perspective of the RCL (Revolutionary Communist League), led by Tony Cliff (born Yigael Glückstein) and of Matzpen that disappeared from history. [16]

As a matter of fact, Marxism and Zionism can not be combined, they rather exclude each other. The former is the world view of the international working class, the latter is the ideology of pro-imperialist settler-colonialism. A revolutionary organization must be based on the Marxist method and unambiguously fight against Zionism.



[2] “רצף פיגועים רצחני גבה את חייהם של 11 קורבנות — ביניהם גם יהודים וגם ערבים, נשים וגברים – סולידריות עם הנפגעות והנפגעים, משפחותיהם ועם ההמונים משני צידי השסע הלאומי בימים של חשש וחרדה מפני העתיד” ( The English translation is ours.





[7] “כן למאבק מאוחד של יהודים וערבים נגד ׳הפרד ומשול׳ וגזענות ונגד התדרדרות לעוד מלחמת דמים. כן לפרנסה, ביטחון וחיים בכבוד לא.נשים משני צידי ההפרדה הלאומית. כן לסיום הכיבוש והמצור, כן לשלום שוויוני ולדמוקרטיה, כולל זכות שווה להגדרה עצמית ולמדינה עצמאית, כן לשינוי סוציאליסטי ולחברה של רווחה, סולידריות ושוויון, במקום החברה הקפיטליסטית שמנציחה עוני ושפיכות דמים.” ( The English translation is ours.

[8] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, June 2013,




[12] See on this e.g. the program of the Palestinian RCIT section which can be read here: and

[13] “המלחמה הזאת לא קשורה להגנה על ביטחונה של אוכלוסייה כלשהי. לנאט״ו אין, ולא הייתה, בעיה לשתף פעולה עם דיקטטורים כשזה מתאים לה, ופוטין תומך במפלגות הימין הקיצוניות ביותר באירופה — עד כאן הדיבורים על “אנטי־פשיזם” ו”הגנה על זכויות דמוקרטיות”. המשמעות של מלחמה היא סבל אנושי נוראי, חיים הרוסים, מצוקה כלכלית ועוד פליטוּת שלא יפתרו אף אחת מהבעיות הקיימות ואת המתחים בין המעצמות. למרות שיש מי שטוענים הפוך, זה לא האינטרס של האנשים מהשורה ושל ציבור העובדות והעובדים באף אחת מהמדינות המעורבות.” ( The English translation is ours.

[14] “ה־ISA קוראת לתנועת העובדות והעובדים מסביב לעולם ליזום התגייסות המונית נגד המלחמה ונגד האימפריאליזם, כולל סירוב לייצר ולשנע נשק וחימוש וכן צעדי שביתה תוך העלאת דרישות שיעזרו להציב אופק של פתרונות חברתיים עבור הרוב בחברה.” Ibid. The English translation is ours.

[15] We refer readers to a special page on the RCIT website more than 140 RCIT documents on the Ukraine War and the current NATO-Russia conflict: In particular we refer to the RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022,

[16] See on this chapter 16-18 in our book by Yossi Schwartz: The Zionist Wars. A History of the Zionist Movement and Imperialist Wars, RCIT Books, 2021,

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