Israel

On 9 April, a new parliament will be elected in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister from the nationalist Likud party, has to face corruption charges. In order to hold on to power, Netanyahu is trying to lean on the support of several far-right parties. At the same time, Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, a more moderate and liberal, but still nationalist alliance is leading the polls.

On 3 December, 20,000 people in Tel Aviv protested against violence towards women. The protests followed the murder of two girls – Silvana Tsegai, 12, and Yara Ayoub, 16. This year, 24 girls and women were murdered in Israel, which is a sharp increase compared to the years before. For days, protests were going on and a women‘s strike was called for the following day.

A lot of fuss is being made about what one can and cannot say about the state of Israel. Especially virulent is the campaign against Jeremy Corbyn’s so-called “anti-semitism” in Britain. In reality this is a blatant attempt to silence any criticism of Israel and its discriminatory policies against the Palestinian people. In light of all this, Francesco Merli looks at the new law that openly discriminates against Palestinians living in Israel, officially reducing them to the status of second-class citizens.

In the third episode of IMTV  the International Marxist Television channel, hosted by the UK section of the IMT, Socialist Appeal Francesco Merli provides a Marxist analysis of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

While the attention of the international media is drawn to the threatened US airstrike on Syria, the Palestinian mobilisations for the right of return of refugees and the ruthless killing of demonstrators by the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) in the Gaza Strip continues.

Recent allegations of corruption against Benjamin Netanyahu have sparked a backlash and his position looks more vulnerable than ever. Netanyahu is one of Israel’s longest-serving prime ministers has been in power for two non-consecutive periods totalling over 11 years. Throughout this time his career and reputation have been repeatedly tarnished by controversy and corruption. In fact, his first premiership ended with an electoral defeat (1999) which was marred by a host of corruption allegations. Israeli Police recommended that he be indicted on two separate occasions, first in 1997 then again in 1999, however he avoided sentence due to lack of evidence.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump declared that he would officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This reveals the real nature of the so-called peace talks. In a speech delivered at the White House, Trump said, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering. My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Israeli tanks advancing on the Golan Heights. June 1967

On 5th June 1967 the Israeli Air Force launched a surprise attack on Egyptian air bases in the Sinai province, beginning what came to be known as the Six-Day War and ending with Israel occupying the West Bank, Gaza, the whole Sinai Peninsula and shortly afterwards also the Golan Heights. To this day the Palestinians have had to live with the consequences.

In spite of the claims of Israeli government ministers and top army generals, Israel did not win the recent war in Lebanon. It is Hezbollah that has emerged enormously strengthened, as the 800,000 strong rally the other amply proved. All this is forcing the imperialists to rethink their strategy in the region.

Dostoyevsky wrote, “That a country should be judged by its prisons”, and that unfortunately still holds today. But nowadays one should also add, “And its health service”.

Dear Editor,

I read the following on the BBC’s web site: “An Israeli soldier accused of shooting a British cameraman dead has been cleared by a judge of any wrongdoing. James Miller was killed in 2003 at the age of 34, as he filmed a documentary in the Rafah refugee camp. Israel had already said the soldier – known only as Lt H – would not be prosecuted over the death.” Having read the article it made my blood boil so I had to say something.

Ms. Tali Fahima, a peace activist from Kiryat-Gat suspected of contacting the leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, Zakariya Zbeide, was arrested on August 8, 2004, and turned over to the GSS. The interrogation methods used against her include: sleep deprivation, food deprivation, painful handcuffing to a chair for long periods and sexual harassment.

In the last few days the masses in many parts of the Middle East have been pouring out onto the streets in protest against the murder of civilians in Iraq and Gaza. They have been coming out emboldened by the feeling that the killing machine of the occupying armies in Iraq and Gaza can be defeated. Yossi Schwartz, just returned from one of these protests in Rafah (Gaza) looks at the effects throughout the Middle East and in particular in Israel.

While Sharon has plenty of money to spend on bombing the Palestinian people and on building a wall to steal more of their land, inside Israel itself another war is going on, the war of the rich against the poor. Poverty levels have shot up and many of Israel’s Jews are living in terrible conditions. This is particularly true of the newly arrived immigrants. Many Jews left Russia thinking they would find a better life in Israel. Instead what they find is degrading and humiliating conditions. The government has been systematically attacking welfare and health.

Dear comrades,

This year there were three events of May Day. The first one in Nazareth around 4 thousands people, 99 % Arab Palestinians citizens of Israel. About 3000 of them young people of the YCL most of them under the influence of Hadash leadership led by MP Mohammad Barake. There were about 50 Jews of them 30 or so Jews of the YCL who marched as a small block. There  many red flags and shirts with pictures of Che. There were not too many written slogans. The chanting was focused against Sharon's plan.

Dear Comrades,

First I want to thank you for putting up my article. What you say in the forward about bringing the atomised individuals like myself together and transforming them into a genuine socialist opposition within Israel, is my dream, but alas we are far and few between.

Yesterday the Histadrut trade union federation in Israel formally announced a labour dispute in Israel's public sector. At the end of a 15-day "cooling off" period, some 700,000 workers will be legally entitled to take strike action.

After months of playing a game the likes of which have few comparisons in modern history, the war in Iraq is now a reality. From a personal point of view I gave a sigh of relief. This may sound callous, but living in Israel one is more or less on the front line, and the tension for me had reached a point where it was almost unbearable. So now the mighty war truck of the United States will go forward eventually achieving its object, with the British van bringing up the rear. No doubt Tony Blair will be rewarded with a few miserable rebuilding contracts, like a begging dog being thrown half eaten food from the dinner table.

On May Day this year in Tel-Aviv there was an impressive demonstration which shows that the left is growing. Nobody had expected such a large turnout. On previous May Day demonstrations only a few hundred took part. This year on the streets of Israel's main city 5,000 left activists marched. The column moved from the Tel-Aviv museum to the building of the Histadrut union. The people chanted slogans against Netanyahu's economic plan and Sharon's aggressive policy. The public and many foreign workers from local buildings welcomed the demonstration. There were also a lot of policemen and special service people with cameras. They filmed the demonstration.

Last week we reported on the growing tensions between the Sharon government and the Israeli trade unions. It looked as if a general strike was about to be called, but last minute deals were being made to avert it. In the end the Histadrut leaders climbed down and called off the action, in response to a Ministry of Finance agreement to open negotiations with the unions.

On Sunday, March 30, 50,000 ministry employees started what amounts to a work-to-rule (a work ban) in Israel. The following day a further 100,000 municipal workers came out on strike, and have stayed out. They came out in protest against government plans to make drastic cuts of around $2.3 billion (11 billion shekels) in public spending. Civil servants will have to suffer a 10% pay cut if the government programme goes ahead. It could also mean 10,000 sackings and further attacks on public pensions.

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