As the Nov. 7 elections near, Socialist Workers Party candidates and supporters are taking the party’s program and activities to working people on their doorsteps, on strike picket lines and at public actions against Jew-hatred. They find one of the big questions working people want to discuss is the barbaric Hamas pogrom Oct. 7 in which over 1,400 Jews in Israel were slaughtered.
Along with members of the Communist Leagues in Australia, Canada and the U.K., SWP members and their supporters are using the campaign statement by Rachele Fruit, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida. It was issued three days after Hamas’ killing and hostage-taking of Jews and is still prominently featured on the Militant’s website. Campaigners use this statement alongside ongoing coverage in the paper and books by leaders of the SWP and other revolutionaries.
Party members and supporters are also discussing the need for solidarity with today’s labor struggles, from the United Auto Workers strike at the Big Three auto companies to the 15-week-long contract battle being waged by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Gabrielle Prosser, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Minneapolis City Council, and campaign supporter Joanne Murphy met nurse Pat Kohler when they joined a nurses’ union picket line demanding safe staffing levels at Abbott Northwestern Hospital Oct. 26. Kohler heard about Prosser’s campaign on Minnesota Public Radio.
Prosser showed her the Militant headline, “Fighting Jew-hatred is a union issue.” Kohler said that after Hamas’ massacre of Jews took place in Israel, she met with her neighbors who are Jewish and have family and friends in Israel. “They don’t feel safe, they don’t know who they can talk to,” she said.
“Jew-hatred is a deadly threat to working people here. As the capitalist crisis deepens, the rulers will try to make Jews the scapegoats for the calamity being brought down on working people. Already we see an increase in antisemitic attacks since the Hamas pogrom,” Prosser said. “Working people around the world need to organize to take power ourselves. It’s the only road to stop the coming wars and worsening conditions for all of humanity.”
Another hospital worker, also a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said, “What about the crimes of the Israeli government and the suffering of the Palestinian people?”
After discussing Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and looking at the Militant article, “Ukraine, home of Babyn Yar pogrom, stands with Israel,” she subscribed to the paper. She also bought The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us: The Socialist Workers Party Looks Forward by SWP leaders Jack Barnes, Mary-Alice Waters and Steve Clark.
Strikers back Jews under attack
Philip Laws, a UAW Local 2360 member at Stellantis’ Carrollton, Texas, distribution center, and his wife, Melissa King, bought a Militant subscription on the picket line from SWP member Josefina Otero Oct. 9. Laws told Otero that he “absolutely supports the right of Israel to exist. Hamas is embedded in vengeance and they have hatred in them.”
Laws said, “Almost everyone he works with supports Israel.” But he is “concerned about the college students who are protesting in support of Hamas.”
“Everyone I talked to on strike at both the Carrollton and Roanoke distribution centers over the course of three visits, Oct. 9, 14 and 20, was in support of Israel’s right to exist and for defending itself against aggression by Hamas,” Otero told the Militant. “Many saw it in the light of what they would do to defend themselves and their families. Some also expressed concern at the way Palestinians are being used as cannon fodder by Hamas.”
One young African American woman on the Roanoke picket line asked the question on many workers’ minds, “So why do people hate the Jews?”
Otero and SWP member Dennis Richter explained the historical roots of Jew-hatred and why this is different than racist prejudices against Blacks.
At times of severe capitalist crisis, they said, layers of the middle class, especially those facing economic disaster, look for someone to blame and the capitalist rulers find fertile ground to incite them against the Jews. Fascist forces use this toxic frenzy, which comes from outside the working class, to turn on Jews and the unions and other working-class organizations. The only social force that can stop it is the working class rising to take political power.
SWP campaigners Terry Evans and Craig Honts ran into a similar question when they visited truck driver and Militant reader Franklin Martinez at his home in Passaic, New Jersey, Oct. 28.
“I was four years in the U.S. military and I don’t like what I see in the Middle East right now,” he said, adding, there are “problems on both sides, between Hamas and Israel.”
“If Hamas isn’t defeated there will be more pogroms,” Honts said. “Standing up to Jew-hatred is a necessity for all workers. To end it, our class has to take power.”
“It’s not just in the Middle East. When I was growing up in the Dominican Republic, I heard people express antisemitism,” Martinez said. “What has it got to do with people there?”
“Jew-hatred is worldwide under capitalism,” Evans replied. “As the bosses’ crisis deepens, the capitalist rulers will turn to fascist thugs and Jew-hatred to try to disorient and crush the working class and our unions.”
Martinez said he appreciated the discussion, renewed his subscription to the Militant and got The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation by Abram Leon.
The fall campaign to expand the reach of the Militant and books presenting a working-class line of march forward is finding greater receptivity among working people, shaken by world events. By the end of the fifth week, 886 subscriptions and 1,186 books have been sold, putting us ahead of schedule.
Many people SWP campaigners speak to are also making contributions to the party’s annual Party-Building Fund to raise $140,000. To join SWP or CL members in campaigning, contact the nearest branch.