Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/564/6817
Israel: Thousands march in Jaffa against Gaza massacre
Jews and Arabs united against Israeli regime
SHORTLY BEFORE the Israeli government decided to finish its onslaught on the Gaza Strip for the time being, thousands of Jews and Arabs marched in Jaffa, on 17 January, against the massacre, the siege, the occupation and against racism. More than 3,000 demonstrators participated.
Shahar Ben-Korin, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI in Israel)
Surrounded by a heavy police force, including horses and a helicopter, we marched. Arab and Jewish workers and students shouted slogans for another 'war', a war against those who are waging the current slaughter and against their system. The march was loud, with many banners, red flags and some Palestinian flags.
Socialist Struggle Movement activists marched in a bloc with supporters. Our banner read: "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies - stop the war - Socialist Struggle Movement."
More than 1,000 tonnes of explosives were used in the past three weeks in the horrific campaign of state terror waged by the Israeli regime against the Palestinian population in Gaza.
Over 1,300 were brutally killed, some by particularly torturous new weapons. One-third of murdered victims were children. Around 6,000 were injured, many of them permanently, not including widespread psychological injuries.
This is a scale of death and destruction even bigger than the catastrophe inflicted by the same government on the Lebanese population in 2006.
A very intensive propaganda campaign of lies and falsifications by the Israeli ruling elite managed to cynically manipulate the fears regarding security felt by the majority of Israeli-Jews. Thus, the Israeli regime and ruling class managed to build up an overwhelming base of support for the offensive at home.
The missiles fired by Hamas and some other Palestinian organisations from the Strip, were just an excuse used by the Israeli government for this brutal bloodbath. But they were a powerful propaganda tool in the hands of the Israeli government and this is one main reason why, while supporting the right of Palestinians to self-defence, socialists oppose such counter-productive attacks on civilians.
This government and the ruling parties have, recently, been strongly despised by the majority of Israeli-Jews, particularly workers and the poor, as they recognise it as a puppet, corrupt government for international capitalism.
The Israeli militarist propaganda was combined with a sharp escalation in the racist campaign against Arabs within Israel and with a strong repression of opposition to the war, including among Israeli-Jews. Hundreds were arrested and held for days.
In one incident, a police spokesperson claimed protests were "damaging the morale of the nation". A judge said: "We have enough enemies from the outside, we don't need them from the inside". Most protests were either ignored or demonised and ridiculed in the news media.
The police and military sabotaged some demonstrations under false pretences, with mafia-style conduct in some cases. For example, demonstrators' buses were on their way to a mass demonstration in the Eastern Negev, outside the range of missiles, when they were turned back by police on 16 January, who threatened to take away drivers' licenses if they did not obey their instructions, stating: "We will say that you don't have enough air pressure in the bus tyres".
In the Western Negev, within the range of the missiles, protests by just a few people against the war were crushed, as the area is under semi-military rule.
On 14 January, residents from the south of the country were demonstrating in Be`er-Sheva when the police came and arrested them for "gathering". Some were students. One was a bereaved Jewish father of a soldier who died in previous fighting. He is also the chairman of the pro-peace organisation, 'Bereaved Families Forum'. Also arrested was a Jewish female teacher from the south, who is a known community activist. Those arrested were kept overnight, and one of them was held in handcuffs.
Rightwing pro-war demonstrations were not really repressed, not even in the "special situation" area.
On 15 January, anti-war Jewish and Arab students at a college in Sderot (a town near the border with the Gaza Strip) - among them a member of Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI in Israel) - were prevented from holding an anti-war demonstration.
Nevertheless, some protesters, including CWI members, held a "discussion circle" outside, in the middle of an open air yard at the campus. Tens of pro-war protesters gathered within minutes, wrapped in Israeli flags, shouting loudly, making provocations, sometimes pushing and yelling "traitors" and "fifth column". Their protest was, of course, not stopped by the police.
Earlier, on 12 January, the Central Election Committee - a parliamentary body composed of representatives of the political parties in parliament - declared that none of the Arab national parties will be allowed to participate in the coming 10 February elections.
One of the main arguments used against the party Balad, an Arab nationalist party, is that it calls for a "state for all of its citizens" and not a "Jewish state".
One of these parties was previously disqualified before the 2003 elections, also on a wave of Israeli-Jewish nationalism, but the decision was then cancelled by the Supreme Court. It might be cancelled again, as it is clear that excluding the Arab national parties will spark an even more militant revolt, a scenario which is feared by the ruling elite.
This attempt represents an increase in oppression. It is joined by calls from the main establishment parties, to impose on the Palestinian citizens of Israel either military service or civil service, allegedly to prove their "loyalty" to the state.
Socialist Struggle Movement opposes these calls. The far-right populist party Yisrael Beiteinu ('Israel Our Home'), led by Avigdor Lieberman, also threatens to carry out this move after the elections, outlawing the Arab parties and forcing each resident in Israel to pledge loyalty to the state in exchange for citizenship.
This is not new for the Israeli regime's so-called 'democracy'. The Palestinians who remained in Israel after 1948 were kept under harsh military rule until 1966. Discriminative racist laws, rules and enforcement always existed under this regime and were sometimes implemented also - even if in a milder manner - against Israeli-Jews not from European origin.
The Israeli ruling class is attempting to spread its 'victory' propaganda, in support of its militarist agenda and future offensives. But the fact that it is incapable of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the security problems that stem from it, will push more Israeli-Jews to look for an alternative political road, recognising that the chief exploiters cannot become 'chief defenders'.
In the current situation, more horror and bloodshed is to be expected in the coming years. There is a need to organise forces to oppose it. It is necessary to escalate and expand the current movement against the occupation.
Most Israeli-Jews are not ideological supporters of the occupation and want a lasting peace solution. They can be won over, in time, to a clear socialist alternative.
Currently, many could be dragged into the hands of populist right-wing parties that exploit their hatred towards the elite. But, at the same time, many will get organised in class and social struggles and also politically.
Many will be convinced of the burning need to build a strong workers' movement and socialist organisations, as the only tools capable of changing the brutal reality of life in capitalist Israel and of the barbaric treatment meted out to the Palestinians.
In The Socialist 28 January 2009:
Slaughter in Gaza
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news
Socialist Party reviews