UM AL-FAHAM, (PIC)– Israeli policemen, escorting a march for far-right activists in Um Al-Faham, on Tuesday fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters and opened water cannons at Arab citizens who blocked their way into the city.
Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Palestine, told Al-Jazeera TV that a number of citizens were injured in the process, and charged the police with blocking access to the wounded citizens.
He stressed that the Israeli oppression of Palestinians started ever since the occupation of most of Palestine in 1948, charging the Zionist fanatics with maintaining a policy of religious and racial discrimination against the Palestinians and with trying to force the Palestinians to abandon their lands.
Salah said that Arabs from various areas of Palestine occupied in 1948 came to Um Al-Faham in solidarity with this city in a reflection of a unanimous stand in defense of Arab destiny and future and in rejection of the attempts to force them out of their ancestral land.
The city’s municipality had declared general strike in protest over the far-right march at the outskirts of Um Al-Faham led by the leader of the terrorist Kach movement, Baruch Marzel, which was escorted by 2,500 Israeli policemen.
The Hebrew radio said that the Israeli police turned the city into military barracks to protect the march.
In a related issue, a report by Musawa (equality) center for Arab citizens’ rights in Israel has disclosed that racial dissemination against those citizens was on the rise.
It said that the center monitored 270 assaults on Arabs since start of 2009 compared to 166 assaults in the entire year of 2008.
24/03/2009 Occupied Palestinian town of Umm al-Fahm witnessed on Tuesday fierce clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers protesting a march by far-rightists who tried to enter the town amidst the protection of the Israeli occupation police.
The Palestinian residents, led by Arab leaders and MPs, and along with hundreds of Palestinian residents of the neighboring towns gathered at the town’s entrance to prevent the settlers from marching into the city and waving Israeli flags during the march.
Earlier Tuesday, more than 2,500 Israeli police officers deployed in and around Umm al-Fahm, ahead of the rally, for which the far-rightists had received High Court approval. Israeli Police used stun grenades and tear gas against the Palestinian residents, and even had undercover officers among the crowd who detained some of the rioters.
The clash erupted after police arrested three Israeli Arabs who had scuffled with officers. The detainees had gathered for a counter-demonstration held by Umm al-Fahm residents.
On Monday, in Umm al-Fahm, a small group of protesters set up a vigil outside the town’s police station, calling for the procession to be banned.
Umm al-Fahm mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamdan said at a press conference on Monday that residents will prevent the right-wingers from entering their town, and will use force if necessary. “We have no desire for clashes,” he said, “and we are not planning on confrontations with the marchers or the police. Our position is that we will try to block them with our bodies, but peacefully and quietly.”
Meanwhile, a general strike has been called in Umm al-Fahm for Tuesday. Businesses, schools and government offices will be closed to protest the rightist march. MK Afu Aghbaria (Hadash) also called on the Israeli left to join the counter-demonstrations in the city. He said that the incoming government could adopt a similar approach to Israeli Arabs as the rightist marchers. “When they attack Umm al-Fahm, they attack the entire Israeli-Arab population. We will protect our town and our homeland,” he said.
The city’s residents faced Ben-Ari and Ben-Gvir, furious over the parade. “This is a sad day for me. The police are giving shelter to the most racist person in Israel,” said one of them, Muhammad Talas. “I’m not against Jews. We love those who love us and hate anyone who hates us, and what is happening here is the Right’s policy.”
One of the Arab protestors complained about the Israerli police’s policy. “What can I say? You see for yourselves how the police defend the settlers instead of defending the city’s residents.”
Arab MKs who came to the city said Israeli occupation police made excessive use of force and called for the prosecution of “the racists who came to provoke”.
Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh said after seeing one of the residents hurt and collapse, “We are witnessing police who are easy on the trigger. Instead of preventing provocations, they attack the people who came to defend their town. It’s clear to everyone that the demonstration is aimed at uprooting Umm al-Fahm’s residents.”
“This is not just a simple provocation,” the head of the Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah said, adding Israel’s extreme right wanted to “legitimize the transfer” of Israeli Arabs from the country. “We have to fight to stay here and we must prevent by all means Marzel and company from entering into Umm El-Fahm.”
The most important sentence written in Israel this week was lost in the general tumult of exciting events.
Really exciting: In a final act of villainy, typical of his whole tenure as prime minister, Ehud Olmert abandoned the captive soldier, Gilad Shalit.
Ehud Barak decided that the Labor Party must join the ultra-right government, which includes outright fascists.
And this, too: the former president of Israel was officially indicted for rape.
In this cacophony, who would pay any attention to a sentence written by lawyers in a document submitted to the Supreme Court?
The judicial debate concerns one of the most revolting laws ever enacted in Israel.
It says that the wife of an Israeli citizen is not allowed to join him in Israel if she is living in the occupied Palestinian territories or in a “hostile” Arab country.
The Arab citizens of Israel belong to hamulas (clans) which extend beyond the borders of the state. Arabs generally marry within the hamula. This is an ancient custom, deeply rooted in their culture, probably originating in the desire to keep the family property together. In the Bible, Isaac married his cousin, Rebecca.
The “Green Line,” which was fixed arbitrarily by the events of the 1948 war, divides families. One village found itself in Israel, the next remained outside the new state, the hamula lives in both. The Nakba also created a large Palestinian diaspora.
A male Arab citizen in Israel who desires to marry a woman of his hamula will often find her in the West Bank or in a refugee camp in Lebanon or Syria. The woman will generally join her husband and be taken in by his family. In theory, her husband could join her in Ramallah, but the standard of living there is much lower, and all his life – family, work, studies – is centered in Israel. Because of the large difference in the standard of living, a man in the occupied territories who marries a woman in Israel will also usually join her and receive Israeli citizenship, leaving behind his former life.
It is hard to know how many Palestinians, male and female, have come to Israel during the 41 years of occupation and become Israeli citizens this way. One government office speaks of twenty thousand, another of more than a hundred thousand. Whatever the number, the Knesset has enacted an (officially “temporary”) law to put an end to this movement.
As usual with us, the pretext was security. After all, the Arabs who are naturalized in Israel could be “terrorists.” True, no statistics have ever been published about such cases – if there are any – but since when did a “security” assertion need evidence to prove it?
Behind the security argument there lurks, of course, a demographic demon. The Arabs now constitute about 20 percent of Israel’s citizens. If the country were to be swamped by a flood of Arab brides and bridegrooms, this percentage might rise to – God forbid! – 22 percent. How would the “Jewish state” look then?
The matter came before the Supreme Court. The petitioners, Jews and Arabs, argued that this measure contradicts our Basic Laws (our substitute for a nonexistent constitution) which guarantee the equality of all citizens. The answer of the Ministry of Justice lawyers let the cat out of the bag. It asserts, for the first time, in unequivocal language: “The state of Israel is at war with the Palestinian people, people against people, collective against collective.”
One should read this sentence several times to appreciate its full impact. This is not a phrase escaping from the mouth of a campaigning politician and disappearing with his breath, but a sentence written by cautious lawyers carefully weighing every letter.
If we are at war with “the Palestinian people,” this means that every Palestinian, wherever he or she may be, is an enemy. That includes the inhabitants of the occupied territories, the refugees scattered throughout the world, as well as the Arab citizens of Israel proper. A mason in Taibeh, Israel, a farmer near Nablus in the West Bank, a policeman of the Palestinian Authority in Jenin, a Hamas fighter in Gaza, a girl in a school in the Mia Mia refugee camp near Sidon, Lebanon, a naturalized American shopkeeper in New York – “collective against collective.”
Of course, the lawyers did not invent this principle. It has been accepted for a long time in daily life, and all arms of the government act accordingly. The army averts its eyes when an “illegal” outpost is established in the West Bank on the land of Palestinians, and sends soldiers to protect the invaders. Israeli courts customarily impose harsher sentences on Arab defendants than on Jews guilty of the same offense. The soldiers of an army unit order T-shirts showing a pregnant Arab woman with a rifle trained on her belly and the words “1 shot, 2 kills” (as exposed in Ha’aretz this week).
These anonymous lawyers should perhaps be thanked for daring to formulate in a judicial document the reality that had previously been hidden in a thousand different ways.
The simple reality is that 127 years after the beginning of the first Jewish wave of immigration, 112 years after the founding of the Zionist movement, 61 years after the establishment of the state of Israel, 41 years after the beginning of the occupation, the Israeli-Palestinian war continues along all the front lines with undiminished vigor.
The inherent aim of the Zionist enterprise was and is to turn the country – at least up to the Jordan River – into a homogeneous Jewish state. Throughout the course of Zionist-Israeli history, this aim has not been forsaken for a moment. Every cell of the Israeli organism contains this genetic code and therefore acts accordingly, without the need for a specific directive.
In my mind I see this process as the urge of a river to reach the sea. A river yearning for the sea does not recognize any law, except for the law of gravity. If the terrain allows it, it will flow in a straight course; if not it will cut a new riverbed, twist like a snake, turn right and left, go around obstacles. If necessary, it will split into rivulets. From time to time, new brooks will join it. And every minute it will strive to reach the sea.
The Palestinian people, of course, oppose this process. They refuse to budge, set up dams, try to push the stream back. True, for more than a hundred years they have been on the retreat, but they have never surrendered. They continue to resist with the same persistence as the advancing river.
ALL THIS has been associated, on the Israeli side, with an obstinate denial, using a thousand and one guises, pretexts, self-serving slogans, and sanctimonious untruths. But from time to time an unexpected flash of light shows what is really going on.
That happened this week, when one of the pre-military preparatory schools, set up to educate future officers, convened a meeting of alumni, most of them on active service or in the reserves, and encouraged them to speak freely about their experiences. Since many of them had just returned from the Gaza War, and the things were burning in their bones (as the Hebrew expression goes), shocking details were disclosed. These quickly found their way to the media and were published at length in newspapers and on television.
To the readers of this column, they would not come as a surprise. I have written about them before, e.g., in my article “The Black Flag Is Waving.” Amira Hass and Gideon Levy have collected eyewitness reports from Gaza inhabitants, telling much the same stories. But there is a difference: this time the facts are disclosed by the soldiers themselves, those who took part in the events or saw them with their own eyes.
The army was Shocked. Surprised. Revolted. The official Army liar, who bears the title of Army spokesperson, had previously denied anything of the kind. Now he promises that the army will investigate every incident “as the case may require.” The military advocate general ordered the investigative arm of the military police to open an inquiry. Since the same advocate general bragged in the past that his officers had been embedded throughout the war in every front-line command post, one would have to be more than naïve to take his statement seriously.
One can rely on the army to ensure that nothing tangible emerges from the investigation. An army investigating itself – like any institution investigating itself – is a farce. In this case it is even more than farcical, since the soldiers must testify under the eyes of their commanders, while their comrades are listening. In the alumni meeting, they spoke freely, believing that only those present would hear. Even so, they needed a lot of courage to speak out. And since each of them could speak only about what had happened in his immediate vicinity, only a few cases were brought up. The army intends to investigate only those.
But the picture is far wider. We have heard about many cases of the same kind, and they clearly were a widespread phenomenon. A woman and her children were evicted by soldiers from their home in the middle of the fighting and immediately afterward shot dead at close range by other soldiers who had orders to shoot everything that moved. Old people and children walking on open ground were shot in cold blood by snipers who saw them clearly through their telescopic sights, who had orders that everybody moving should be considered a “terrorist.” Homes were destroyed for no reason, simply because they were there. Belongings inside apartments were vandalized just for fun, “because they belong to Arabs.” Soldiers slit open sacks of food intended by UN agencies for the hungry population, because they “go to Arabs.”
I know that such things happen in every war. A year after the 1948 war I wrote a book about them called The Other Side of the Coin. Every fighting army has its share of psychopaths, misfits, and sadists, side by side with decent soldiers. But even some of the normal soldiers may go berserk in battle, lose their sense of right and wrong and conform to the “spirit of the unit,” if it is such.
Something has happened to our army. Its commanders never tire of calling it “the Most Moral Army in the World,” and this has become a slogan like “Guinness is Good For You.” But what happened during the Gaza operation testifies to a massive deterioration.
This deterioration is a natural result of the definition of the war as used in the document submitted to the Supreme Court. This document must arouse shock and condemnation and serve as a wake-up call for every person to whom the future of Israel is dear.
This war must be ended. The river must be channeled into a different bed, so that its waters will make the earth fertile – before we become irreversibly bestialized in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world.
AFP/File – A picture taken from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan shows the Al-Aqsa (top R) and the Dome …
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Anti-Arab verbal and physical attacks inside Israel have spiked in the wake of elections held earlier this year in which right-wing parties made major gains, a human rights group said on Sunday.
The Mossawa Centre for the Rights of Arab Citizens in Israel has documented 250 incidents of aggression against Arab Israelis since the start of the year, compared to 166 in all of 2008, the group said in a report.
“The physical and verbal aggression has increased mainly in cities with mixed Arab-Jewish populations,” the report said.
“The increase in incidents indicating anti-Arab racism is apparently related to the electoral campaign for the February 10 elections in which candidates played the anti-Arab card, almost giving a green light to aggression,” Nidal Hotman, an attorney and spokesman for the group, told AFP.
He was referring mainly to the campaign of Avigdor Lieberman, a tough-talking immigrant from the former Soviet Union who has taken a hard line on Israeli Arabs and been called a “racist” and “fascist” by his critics.
The centerpiece of his campaign was the demand that all Israeli citizens take an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state, a policy derided as racist by many in the Arab Israeli community which makes up 20 percent of Israel’s population.
Lieberman’s party won 15 seats in the 120-member Israeli parliament, or Knesset, and prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has tapped him to become the next foreign minister pending the formation of a new government.
Israel’s 1.2 million Arab citizens are the descendants of the 160,000 Arabs who did not flee or were not driven out of what is now Israel during the 1948 war that followed the creation of the Jewish state.
Lieberman has said Arab population centres in Israel should be transferred to Palestinian control in a final peace settlement in exchange for Israel keeping the main Jewish settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank.
Little Ashimah Abu Sbieh’s life hangs by a thread — or more specifically, an electricity cable that runs from a noisy diesel-powered generator in the family’s backyard. Should the generator’s engine fail, she could die within minutes.
Ashimah suffers from a rare genetic condition that means her brain fails to tell her lungs to work. Without the assistance of an electric inhalator, she would simply stop breathing.
That nearly happened late last year when the generator broke down during the night. Her parents, Siham and Faris, woke to find the 11-month-old’s face blue from a lack of oxygen. They reconnected the inhalator to a set of car batteries and then battled to fix the generator before the two hours of stored power ran out.
The desperate plight of Ashimah’s parents is shared by thousands of other Bedouin families caring for chronically sick relatives who live in communities to which Israel refuses to supply electricity, said Wasim Abas of Physicians for Human Rights in Israel.
The organization’s latest report, titled Sentenced to Darkness, calls the state’s denial of essential services, including running water and electricity, to 83,000 Bedouin in the southern Negev desert, “bureaucratic evil.”
Abas said the lives of Bedouin patients who need a reliable supply of electricity — to refrigerate medicines and special foods, run air-conditioning or power nebulizers and inhalators — are being put in grave danger by official intransigence.
According to the report, 45 Bedouin villages have been denied services as a way to pressure them to renounce their title to ancestral lands and their traditional pastoral way of life. Instead, it is hoped they will move into a handful of deprived and land-starved Bedouin townships specially built by the state.
Concrete homes in the so-called unrecognized villages are under permanent threat of demolition, forcing many residents to live in tin huts and tents, and the national utility companies are barred from connecting them to services.
The Bedouin languish at the bottom of the country’s social and economic indices, with 70 percent of children living in poverty. Israel has also located a chemical waste dump and a massive electricity generating station close to several of the Negev’s unrecognized villages, though it refuses to connect them to the grid.
Abas said the lack of an electricity supply in particular posed a severe threat to the Bedouin community’s health. A fifth of all residents of unrecognized villages suffer from chronic illness, particularly asthma and diabetes, and require a reliable electrical supply to their homes for their treatment. Most must travel long distances, usually over dirt tracks, to reach health clinics and hospitals.
“We found that a lack of electricity contributed to a deterioration in the condition of these patients in about 70 percent of cases, and directly resulted in death in two percent of cases,” Abas said.
Hopes that Israel would be forced to connect the villages to the national grid were dashed in 2005 when the courts ruled against the family of a three-year-old cancer victim, Enas al-Atrash, who was demanding electricity for the family home. Doctors had warned that Enas might die without reliable refrigeration of her medicines and an air-conditioned environment.
Instead, the judges criticized the family for living in an unrecognized village, though they recommended that officials contribute to the family’s large fuel bill so they could continue running a generator.
The Physicians for Human Rights report notes that the enforcement of planning laws in the case of Bedouin villages, most of which predate Israel’s creation in 1948, contrasts strongly with the treatment of the many Jewish communities that have been established illegally under Israeli law.
Dozens of individual ranches in the Negev and at least 100 of what are called settlement “outposts” in the West Bank have been set up without permits from the Israeli authorities but nonetheless have been connected to services by the national utility firms.
Yeela Livnat Raanan, a lecturer in research methods at Sapir College in the Negev town of Sderot who works with a Bedouin lobby group, the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages, called the situation of Bedouin families “intolerable.”
She said a joint health survey conducted by the council with Physicians for Human Rights last year showed high levels of chronic illness among Bedouin children in the unrecognized villages, with 13 percent suffering from severe asthma.
“There are numerous reasons for the high incidence of respiratory problems,” Dr. Raanan said. “There is no trash collection, so garbage has to be burnt. The tin huts many Bedouin are forced to live in offer little protection from the extreme temperature range in the desert. The huts are heated with coal but cannot easily be ventilated, and the electricity generators themselves are polluting.”
Given the traditional large size of Bedouin families, she said, the problems associated with caring for a chronically sick relative afflicted many, if not most, of the Bedouin.
“The suffering of the Bedouin just does not register for most Jews in Israel,” Dr. Ranaan said. “They prefer to trust government officials who tell them that the Bedouin are primitive, stupid and hostile, and that they are trying to take over state land. We have to challenge this racism.”
Ashimah’s family live in the 750-strong community of El Bat, which was finally recognized a year ago as part of a plan to develop more townships for the rapidly growing Bedouin population. Nonetheless, the residents’ chances of being connected to the electricity grid are still far off.
The state is presenting endless delays in approving the planning maps we need,” said Ibrahim Abu Sbieh, Ashimah’s grandfather and the village leader.
“There are no plans to build schools, clinics or roads. We expect things to change very slowly.”
He said the family finally dared to replace their tin hut with a concrete home seven years ago, when notified that recognition was imminent. But they have still been served with a demolition notice and are paying off a series of fines to avert destruction of their house.
Ashimah’s mother, Siham, said she lived with the constant fear of the generator failing and being unable to get her baby daughter to the nearest hospital, 35 km away in Beersheva, in time.
“Israel cuts off the electricity to Gaza and the world is outraged,” Abu Sbieh said. “But we’ve been living like this for decades and no one cares.”
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net.
A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.
link Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 17 March 2009
Israel has been convincing its allies to boycott the upcoming anti-racism conference, which in the past has criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)
More and more Western countries are either announcing their boycott or are threatening to boycott Durban II, a United Nations conference scheduled for April to review progress made since the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) held in Durban, South Africa in 2001, nicknamed Durban I. Earlier this month, Italy became the first EU member to withdraw from the event, stating that it could not endorse a draft agenda that criticizes Israel. Italy followed in the footsteps of Israel, Canada and the United States. France and the Netherlands are threatening their own boycotts. Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch foreign minister, recently explained that “The Netherlands will not be party to a propaganda circus.” In December 2008, Verhagen claimed that the 2001 summit was an “anti-Semitic witch-hunt.”
Perhaps in September 2001, the world was not yet ready to accept the notion that Israel is in fact practicing apartheid. But ever more observers are coming to precisely that conclusion. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman warned four years ago that “if Israel does not relinquish the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians will soon outnumber the Jews and Israel will become either an apartheid state or a non-Jewish state.”
Four years later, Friedman wrote, “Well, having taken a little drive through part of the West Bank, as I always do when I visit, it strikes me more than ever that it’s not only five after midnight, it’s five after midnight and a whole week later.”
The Israeli organization Peace Now stated early in March that Israel’s housing ministry has plans that would nearly double the number of settlers in the West Bank, rendering a two-state solution impossible. Israel has planned 73,000 new housing units in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli group stated, of which 15,000 have already received approval. Moreover, Israel’s prime minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu announced that a government he leads will expand settlements.
Israel worked hard to influence its allies to stay away from the forthcoming review conference. However, this is not the first time that it has done so. The first two conferences of 1978 and 1983 took strong positions against apartheid and are credited by observers as having contributed greatly to end apartheid in South Africa. In 1978 the US led a boycott of the WCAR and was followed by a number of European countries, because the document of that conference, which referred to apartheid-era South Africa, also included a condemnation of Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights. In 1983, the WCAR declared that “apartheid as an institutionalized form of racism is a deliberate and totally abhorrent affront to the conscience and dignity of mankind, a crime against humanity and a threat to international peace and security.” In September 2001, the US and Israel walked out of Durban I. In that year, preceding the UN conference, the African National Congress (ANC) stated that having defeated apartheid, South Africans had a direct stake in the eradication of apartheid practices on a global scale and particularly in relation to the plight of the Palestinian people.
Since Durban I, an increasing number of respected observers have borne witness to the reality of Palestinian life under occupation. Most prominently this includes Nobel Peace laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter as well as veterans of the ANC anti-Apartheid struggle.
Even Israel’s outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert admitted to the truth of the apartheid analogy, albeit without endorsing it, when he warned in November 2007 that Palestinians, already equal in number to Israeli Jews within the borders of historic Palestine, could soon demand political rights in a single state. Olmert warned that Israel would “face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” More recently, Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Yisrael Beitenu, proposed that hundreds of thousand Palestinians in towns in northern Israel be stripped of their Israeli citizenship and transferred to a future Palestinian entity.
Last year, UN General Assembly President, Ambassador Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, stated that “although different, what is being done against the Palestinian people seems to me like a version of the hideous policy of apartheid. That cannot, should not, be allowed to continue.”
It may take time for these hard truths to be fully absorbed but ever more individuals who make an effort to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and look for creative solutions are convinced that the occupation must end and that peoples need to live in freedom and be respected on the basis of full equality no matter where they live.
Arjan El Fassed is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and the author of Niet iedereen kan stenen gooien (Uitgeverij Nieuwland, 2008). In 2001 he was part of the Palestinian non-governmental delegation to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
“May the Holy Name visit retribution on the Arabs’ heads, and cause their seed to be lost, and annihilate them, and cause them to be vanquished and cause them to be cast from the world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them, you must give them missiles, with relish – annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones.” – Ultra-Orthodox Shas Party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in a sermon, 8 April 2001. He has also called Arabs “snakes” whom “God regrets having created”.
Terrorist Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
“ We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel… Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Occupation Forces – Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983
Nazi Rafael Eitan
”[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.” Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, ‘Begin and the “Beasts”‘, New Statesman, 25 June 1982
Terrorist Menachem Begin
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s infamous quote: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian.”
Nazi Golda Meir
Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of his memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979. His description of the conquest of Lydda after Plan Dalet: “We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters.”
Nazi Yitzhak Rabin
“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.” Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, at a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
Murdere and Israeli Gestapo Ariel Sharon
”When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” – Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Occupation Forces, New York Times, 14 April 1983
“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” Israel Koenig, “The Koenig Memorandum”
And these barbarians and thugs think that God is on their side?
Zionist influx into Palestine started in 1882. There were 6 waves of Jewish mmigration between 1882 and 1948. As a result of these waves, the number of Jews living in Palestine increased to about 650,000.
During the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the Zionists asked for the creation of a state in the territory that includes all of Mandate Palestine, Southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, the Golan Heights and part of Western Jordan along a line parallel to the Hijaz railway and ends in Aqaba. From there, the line goes northwest to Al Arish in Egypt. (David McDowall, Palestine and Israel: The uprising and Beyond, Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989, p. 20. See also: Simha Flappan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, New York: 1987, p. 17)
In 1948, Ben-Gurion considered acceptance of a Jewish state in part of Palestine as a bridgehead for future expansion whenever the time was right. His vision was spelled out in a letter to his son, Amos, stating that “A partial Jewish State is not the end, but only the beginning… We shall bring into the state all the Jews it is possible to bring… We shall organize a modern defense force, a select army…and then I am certain that we will not be prevented from settling in the other parts of the country, either by mutual agreement with our Arab neighbors or by some other means. Our ability to penetrate the country will increase if there is a state…” (Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion: A Biography. New York: Delacorte Press, 1977, pp. 91 – 92)
In a round table meeting with the French at the Sévres Conference, Ben-Gurion proposed a plan for settling all the issues in the Middle East. The plan included eliminating Nasser in Egypt and partition of Jordan, with the West Bank going to Israel and the East Bank to Iraq. In exchange, Iraq would sign a peace treaty with Israel and undertake to absorb the Palestinian refugees. Moreover, Ben-Gurion requested that Israel would annex southern Lebanon up to the Litani , with a Christian state established in the rest of the country. Ben-Gurion added that the Suez Canal would enjoy international status, that the Straits of Tiran would be under Israeli control, and that Syria should be placed under a pro-Western ruler in order to stabilize the Syrian regime. Official confirmation of the Sévres protocol was received by Ben-Gurion on 26 October and was warmly congratulated by Menachem Begin. (Ibid, pp. 236-244)
Golda Meir even denied the mere existence of the Palestinians by stating that there is no such thing as the Palestinians.
Within 5 decades, the Zionist dream began to evaporate.
In spite of all the Zionist atrocities aimed at Ethnic Cleansing, Palestinian Arabs living within the borders of Mandate Palestine are approximately 4.5 million. Within ten to fifteen years, Arabs living in Palestine would become the majority even if the Palestinian Refugees living outside Palestine were not allowed to return to the homes and lands that were usurped from them.
In spite of having a large army equipped with all the high-tech weaponry provided by the U.S., Israel failed to deter or stop Arab resistance.
In March, 1968, Israel attacked the village of Karama on the East Bank of the Jordan and faced a bloody and heroic stand by the Palestinians. This battle gave the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) a psychological boost and increased its influence.
On 24 May 2000, Israel was obliged to withdraw from Southern Lebanon, which was occupied since 1978.
On 12 July 2006, Israel started an ‘open war’ against Lebanon. The war stopped on 14 August 2006. During this war, another massacre was committed in Kana, about 54 innocent civilians, including about 37 children, were killed in an air raid, and there was a lot of damage and destruction. However, Israel failed in achieving its goal of ending Hizbullah.
On 27 December 2008, Israel launched ‘Operation Cast Lead’ against the Gaza Strip and committed a massacre killing more than 1300 men, women and children and injuring more that 5500. The war was ended on 18 January 2009 without achieving Israel’s goal of ending Hamas.
The game is over. The Zionist lie of a ‘land without a people for a people without a land’ did not fool any one. What we are witnessing these days is the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end, which will not take long: 5 – 20 years…
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Head of Islamic movement in Palestine 1948 – southern branch, Abdullah Sarsur has expressed surprise at the Israeli government’s obstinate stand in refusing Hamas’s demand to release Israeli captured soldier Gilad Shalit.
Sarsur, who is a member in the Israeli parliament, questioned Israel’s procrastination in delaying the exchange deal as opposed to the majority of the Israeli public opinion that rallies for the release of Shalit in return for any price.
He said in a press release on Tuesday that outgoing premier Ehud Olmert would not adopt any decision in this regard and would leave the matter to the incoming government largely expected to be led by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
The leader of the united Arab list said that Israel should know well that the only solution to this issue was accepting Hamas’s demands.
Sarsur hoped that Hamas’s list of names would include Palestinian prisoners of the 1948 lands, who have Israeli nationality and who have been more than two decades in jails.
He underlined that Israel would pay a heavier price if it continued to delay conclusion of the swap deal, opining that Hamas would never give up on its demands.
Israel’s ’Rising Political Star’ tries to convince the West that he ’shares their values’
INTRODUCTION: BACKGROUND ON ISRAELI ELECTIONS
Israel’s February 10th National Election results confirmed the country’s worrying rightward political shift. The election results were basically a tie between Tzipi Livni of Kadima with 28 seats in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud with 27 seats. Coming in third was Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu, an extremely nationalist and right-wing party. Because of Israel’s political shift to the far right, he was the deciding factor in Likud’s being granted the opportunity to lead the new government—earning him the nickname “kingmaker”.
WHO IS AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN?
Lieberman was born in Ishinev, Soviet Union (now Moldova). He studied at an agricultural institute and after finishing he worked as a nightclub bouncer and broadcaster in Baku, Azerbaijan. He moved with his parents to Israel in 1978, served in the army and studied social sciences at university before starting his career in politics.
He created Yisrael Beitenu in 1999 and was elected to the Knesset the same year. According to the New Republic’s Martin Peretz, Lieberman is a “neo-fascist…a certified gangster.” Yisrael Beitenu is the product of mass emigration from former soviet countries and is ultra-nationalist—earning him another nickname: ‘the Israeli Putin’.
WHAT DOES YISRAEL BEITENU STAND FOR?
The three main goals of the party according to its website are Aliyah (immigration of Jewish people around the world to Israel), increasing (illegal) settlements, and defense. Lieberman describes Israel’s main enemies as the non-Jewish Arab minority living inside Israel and the state of Iran.
Lieberman will combat the ‘enemy within’—a name referring to the non-Jewish Arab Israeli minority living in Israel in three main ways: Forced Land Transfers (i.e. ethnic cleansing), a mandatory oath of loyalty to the Jewish state of Israel, and the banning of Arab political parties.
PR CAMPAIGN: YISRAEL BEITENU IN LINE WITH U.S. SENSIBILITIES?
With all this in mind, it is easy to see why Lieberman might be worried about his ‘image’ in the West. In order to combat any negative portrayals of him or his party in the media, he is launching a “global charm offensive” focused mainly on Europe and the U.S.—the places where his ultra nationalist and racist policies should offend the most people. In Yisrael Beitenu’s PR campaign, they will try to show how the party’s platform is actually in line with Western sensibilities.
Leading the campaign in the U.S. is Daniel Ayalon, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. He will be meeting with senators and congressmen in Washington, D.C. and New York City as well as State Department officials, heads of Jewish organizations, and the media. He will try to explain to them how the forced land and population transfers—which sound a little too much like ethnic cleansing, and the mandatory loyalty oath for non-Jewish Arabs is “not intended to harm the Arab population”.
Ayalon’s main goal during the ‘charm offensive’ is to make people in the West understand that “Lieberman is not a monster” and to show how Lieberman’s policies are actually in line with Western sensibilities. Hopefully the American people will think critically enough to make that difficult for him.
Ayalon says that “in many ways we represent issues that are close to Americans, such as a constitution, a presidential system, and an oath of allegiance to the country.” First of all, Israel has no written constitution and is definitely not in line with American ideals concerning the separation of church and state. Israel’s presidential system is similar to the U.S., but cannot be described as something that makes America, America.
Most Americans would agree that the most important American ideals include freedom of speech, diversity, and equality of social and political rights regardless of race, religion, or gender. Although Israel’s Declaration of Independence is similar to the U.S.’s in that it espouses these ideals, none of them can be found in practice in Israel with respect to the non-Jewish Arab Israeli minority. They have continually been discriminated against in many ways since the inception of Israel.
MANDATORY OATH OF LOYALTY:
The first way Lieberman will try to combat the enemy within and strip non-Jewish Arab Israelis of their citizenship is the mandatory oath of loyalty. If this is approved, non-Jewish Arabs will be forced to take an oath of loyalty to the “Jewish State of Israel” along with all of its Jewish symbols.
This will only affect the non-Jewish Arabs, the Jewish Israelis will not have to take the oath. This has prompted many people to call Lieberman and his policies racist and xenophobic, and has caused an outcry from the Arab minority within Israel. According to Azmi Bishara, a former Arab member of the Knesset:
“The people who stayed here did not immigrate here, this is our country. This state came here and was enforced on the ruins of my nation. I accepted citizenship to be able to live here, and I will not do anything, security wise, against the state. I am not going to conspire against the state, but you cannot ask me every day if I am loyal to the State. Citizenship demands from me to be loyal to the law, but not to the values or ideologies of the state. It is enough to be loyal to the law.”
To Azmi and other Arab members of the Knesset, Lieberman has this response; “a new administration will be established and then we will take care of you.” This is a frightening threat coming from the ‘Israeli Putin’, especially in the context of a previous suggestion he had for Arab political prisoners who were being released from jail:
“It would be better to drown these prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.”
With Lieberman in a position of influence, Israel’s policies will be ultra-nationalist, xenophobic, and aggressive towards Iran and towards the Arab minority within Israel.
IS THIS IN LINE WITH ‘AMERICAN SENSIBILITIES’?
As American children begin their school day, in most schools they start by saying the pledge of allegiance.
“We pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America. And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, [under God] indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
This is the only ‘oath of loyalty’ that Americans have to make—unless they are immigrants coming to America and applying for citizenship. Americans who are born and live in America are not forced to take an oath of loyalty to the government or any of its symbols. If one chooses not to pledge allegiance, they may draw some stares, but there is no prescribed punishment.
In Israel, Lieberman is trying to impose a mandatory ‘oath of loyalty’ to the Jewish state of Israel. This differs from any pledge of allegiance Americans have to make in that it is pledging loyalty to a religious state.
In the U.S., that would never happen because the highest ideals in America and the basis of its creation were freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. In Israel, no such concept of separation of church and state exists. It is a self-described Jewish state in the same sense that Iran is a self-described Muslim State. Neither form of religious politics is acceptable in American political tradition.
Discrimination based on religious creed, gender, or ethnicity is a very un-American concept, yet Lieberman’s PR campaign in the U.S. and Europe is trying to show how the mandatory oath of loyalty is in line with Western ideals. Hopefully, people will see through his ploy and recognize that this policy as racist and retrogressive.
ON ETHNIC CLEANSING—FORCED LAND TRANSFERS
The other method of stripping non-Jewish Arabs of their citizenship and thus preserving the ‘Jewish character’ of the state is Lieberman’s planned land transfers which equates to the ethnic cleansing of non-Jewish Arab Israelis. His plan is to re-draw the borders of the West Bank to include an area north of the territory called the ‘Arab Triangle’. It is an area with a majority Arab Israeli population and Lieberman is proposing to make it part of the West Bank in exchange for illegal settlements blocs.
One of the biggest problems with this idea is that the Arab Israelis do not want to lose their Israeli citizenship—which is exactly what would happen if they were forcibly removed from Israel by this land transfer. It is easy to see why they would want to keep their Israeli citizenship despite all of the discrimination when you realize that once they become a citizen of the West Bank, they will face a much harder life.
Through these forced land transfers, Lieberman is going against Western pluralist sensibilities. He is trying to make Israel’s population completely Jewish by targeting the non-Jewish minority through the mandatory oath of loyalty and the ethnic cleansing.
It is easy to see why Arab Israelis are opposed to the idea of the land transfers; however, although Israel professes itself to be a democracy, Lieberman’s plans will likely go ahead despite their protests if he can convince the Western world to support him.
Ayalon said in the beginning of the PR campaign that “in many ways [Yisrael Beitenu] represents issues that are close to Americans.” Ethnic cleansing is not in line with American or Western values—every American and European would agree that it is probably the furthest thing from Western values. Again, this plan shows Lieberman and his party for what they are—discriminatory and racist against the non-Jewish Arab Israelis.
ON THE BANNING OF ARAB ISRAELI POLITICAL PARTIES
The most important way that America and the West relates to Israel is the fact that Israel is supposed to be the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ and in that way is valuable to and protected by the West.
The banning of political parties based on race or religion is not democratic by Western standards—in fact it opposes the basic meaning of democracy. However, Israel has—on multiple occasions—banned or tried to ban non-Jewish Arab Israeli political parties. The most recent example was in January 2009 before the parliamentary elections where two Arab parties, United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad, were banned from participating in the elections.
Who was the impetus behind this Supreme Court decision? Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu and another ultra-right wing Israeli political party, of course. Lieberman says that Israel cannot remain a ‘democratic state’ unless all those who oppose the Zionist political viewpoints are expelled.
Does this sound democratic? Is this in line with Western ideals? Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek commented that “no liberal democracy that I know of since World War II has disenfranchised or expelled its own citizens.”
This decision was called a “political trial led by a group of fascists and racists who are willing to see the Knesset without Arabs and want to see the country without Arabs” by Ahmed Tibi, an Arab-Israeli lawmaker.
Ayalon will tour Europe and America and try to explain how Yisrael Beitenu has similar values to the west soon. But how is banning political parties based on race and religion democratic? Democracy implies pluralism—a true democratic political system represents all of the citizens of a state. In Israel, one fifth of the population is non-Jewish Arab Israelis—in a true democracy, they would be allowed representation. In Israel, they are banned. Israel is not a true democracy and is not in line with Western values.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PALESTINIANS AND IRAN:
According to Lieberman, “continuing with the Road Map [to peace] will only lead to new clashes.” Lierberman’s only method of dealing with ‘terror’ activity that is halting the peace process is more violence.
In an ultimatum to the Palestinians during the second Intifada, he said “if it were up to me I would notify the Palestinian Authority that tomorrow at 10 AM we would bomb all their places of business in Ramallah, for example.”
And to combat Hamas today, Lieberman invokes one of the bloodiest massacres in history to be the fate of the Gazans. In January 2009 he said that Israel “must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary.”
This is a man whose concept of peace depends on ethnic cleansing, discrimination, racism and extreme violence. He will not only halt the peace process with the Palestinians, but will endanger the possibility of a peaceful resolution in the future.
The second most important threat, besides the Israeli Arab minority, according to Lieberman is Iran. With respect to defending Israel against Iran, Lieberman’s most likely strategy would be war—with or without the support of the United States. According to Lieberman;
“The day after the new government is elected, it needs to say to the international community, that for now we are not talking about the Syrians or about the Palestinians. All of you together can just go stick it. Until there’s a solution to the Iranian problem, we’re not dealing with the settlements or with the settlers or with anything else. Only after the source of the problem- Iran- is resolved will it be possible to discuss the symptoms of the [other] problems.” – PM emphasis
What this statement implies is that there will be no continuation of the peace process or continuation of the Road Map to Peace by removing illegal settlements until the “Iran problem” is dealt with.
Considering the enormity of the Iranian problem, according to Lieberman, it can be safely assumed that the peace process and removal of illegal settlements will not be continued while he is in a position of power.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE U.S.:
The implications for the U.S. if Lieberman decides to go to war with Iran are huge. In one scenario, the U.S. would support Israel’s assault on Iran financially and militarily by supplying the Israeli military with weapons and American soldiers. This would that the U.S. would be waging three wars simultaneously in the Middle East. It would endanger the lives of many American soldiers unnecessarily and would further strain the American economy.
The second scenario is even more frightening. If the U.S. says no to supporting an Israeli war on Iran, and does not support it financially or militarily, Israel would be forced to wage the war alone. Waging a full scale war on Iran would leave the state of Israel with very little security at home, and would make it susceptible to attacks from other countries in the area.
A war in Iran would be catastrophic for everyone involved and unnecessary as the diplomatic process between Israel, the U.S., and Iran has not been exhausted yet. But Lieberman is not interested in any peaceful means; he is interested in defense—which to him means war.
With Lieberman in power in Israel, the Middle East will only become more volatile. The peace process with the Palestinians will be halted and any hope of a two-state solution destroyed. If he gets his way, Israel will invade Iran—most likely with American support.
A war in Iran would not make Israel or its citizens more secure—in fact it would put them at an even greater risk. So far, Iran has only threatened Israel; but if Israel invades Iran it will do everything in its power to follow through on those threats.
With respect to Israel as a country; Lieberman is trying to change the borders and the demographics through forced land transfers and racist policies. He is attempting to homogenize the country so that it is 100% Jewish by getting rid of the non-Jewish Arab Israeli minority.
Lieberman’s ideals are not, in any way, similar to the ideals of the West and the U.S. They are, in fact, the antithesis of Western ideals of democracy, pluralism, and equality regardless of race or religion.
He is a dangerous man for Israel itself and for the Middle East. If the U.S. decides to support him and his policies, he will be dangerous to the U.S. as well. Hopefully Western leaders will see through Lieberman’s “charm offensive” and see him for what he really is; a right-wing ultra-nationalist, a racist, and a war monger.
Tony Greenstein, The Electronic Intifada, 10 March 2009
A Zionist poster from the 1930s encourages settlers to buy only watermelons that are produced in Jewish settlements. (Israel MFA)
Histadrut has always been a strange creature. In most countries one joins a trade union which is affiliated to a national trade union federation. In Israel one first joins Histadrut and then one is allocated to a union. It is only outside Israel that Histadrut is seen as a normal trade union, the Israeli equivalent of the British Trade Union Congress or the American union movement AFL/CIO.
Less well known is the fact that Histadrut, an organization of the settler Jewish working class, was the key Zionist organization responsible for the formation of the Israeli state. As former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir remarked: “Then  I was put on the Histadrut Executive Committee at a time when this big labor union wasn’t just a trade union organization. It was a great colonizing agency.”  Pinhas Lavon, as secretary-general of Histadrut, went so far as to describe it in 1960 as “a general organization to its core. It is not a trade union …”  Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, held that without Histadrut, “I doubt whether we would have had a state.” 
Today Histadrut is a shadow of its former self. From a position where it was the second-largest employer, owning 25 percent of Israeli industry, the 1980s and 1990s saw the privatization of nearly all of its industries. The National Health Law of 1995, which severed the ties between Kupat Holim (Israel’s National Health Service) and Histadrut, dealt the final blow. Histadrut membership plummeted from 1.6 million in 1994 to 650,000 in 1996 and its 150,000 Arab members declined to less than 50,000. 
Politically, Histadrut operated as an arm of Israeli and US foreign policy. In 1958, the International Institute for Development, Co-operation and Labor Studies was established as a means of furthering western interests in the third world. Half of its graduates came from Africa and a further 40 percent from Asia.  And in 1960 Histadrut formed the Afro Asian Institute for Labor Studies and Co operation, funded by the CIA through the AFL-CIO. It operated on behalf of the US in African countries such as Zaire and Kenya. 
Even the most right-wing, social democratic trade unions opposed apartheid. Histadrut was unique in actively collaborating with the South African state. Iskoor steel company, 51 percent owned by Histadrut’s Koor Industries and 49 percent by the South African Steel Corporation, manufactured steel for South Africa’s armed forces. Partly finished steel was shipped from Israel to South Africa, enabling the apartheid state to escape tariffs. 
Other Histadrut companies such as Tadiran and Soltam were equally complicit in supplying South Africa with weaponry.  Histadrut also helped build the electronic wall between South Africa/Namibia and neighboring African states in order to keep the guerrillas out.  It was a precursor of Israel’s wall in the West Bank.
As its economic importance has declined, Histadrut’s political role has increased in importance. Histadrut is recognized by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions as the representative of all Israeli workers. It is seen as being on the left of Israeli society, in favor of reconciliation and peace and its delegations abroad always include at least one pliant Arab member. It therefore came as a shock to people that Histadrut supported the attack on Gaza: “Israel had no choice but to respond to the repeated attacks and aggression as an act of justifiable self-defense.” 
Histadrut founded Haganah, the Zionist terrorist group, in 1920, later to become the Israeli armed forces, and Mapai, the Israeli Labor Party, in 1930, an anti-socialist party whose supreme value lay in the needs of the Israeli state.  David Ben-Gurion, Histadrut’s first secretary-general, became in 1935 chairman of the Jewish Agency, the Zionist government-in-waiting, and in 1948 prime minister of the State of Israel.
Histadrut was formed in 1920 as the General Confederation of Hebrew Labor by the two main labor Zionist parties, Hapoel Hatzair (Young Workers) and Achdut Ha’Avodah (Union of Labor). From its inception it excluded Arab labor and thus rejected worker solidarity in favor of national exclusivism.
Histadrut’s primary role was not the defense of its members’ wages and conditions but the colonization of Palestine. In the absence of a Jewish bourgeoisie, it had to become that bourgeoisie. As the late William Frankel, editor of The Jewish Chronicle (London), described it, Histadrut was a capitalist union. 
Its enterprises included Tnuva (dairy products), Solel Boneh (building and construction), Koor (manufacturing), Hamashbir (food co-operative) and Bank Hapoalim. It established a holding company, Hevrat Ovdim, to manage these enterprises and even after 1966, it remained 100 percent Jewish-controlled.
Histadrut: an apartheid union
A Zionist poster from the 1940s reads, “Buy Local Products,” referring to goods produced by Jews. (Israel MFA)
As unemployment grew in the Zionist economy in Palestine in the 1920s, Histadrut launched a campaign to promote Jewish labor (Avodat Ivrit) and Jewish produce (Totzeret Haaretz), which was essentially a boycott of Arab labor and produce. David HaCohen, former managing director of Solel Boneh, described what this meant:
“I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my trade union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they should not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there … to pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the markets and smash Arab eggs they had bought … to buy dozens of dunums [of land] from an Arab is permitted but to sell God forbid one Jewish dunum to an Arab is prohibited; to take Rothschild the incarnation of capitalism as a socialist and to name him the ‘benefactor’ — to do all that was not easy.” 
In 1944, “the mere rumor that a cafe in the exclusively Jewish town of Tel Aviv had taken on a few Arab workers provoked an angry gathering of thousands of demonstrators. … Every member of the Zionist Trade Union Federation — the Histadruth [sic] — had to pay two compulsory levies: (1) ‘For Jewish Labor’ — funds for organizing pickets, etc. against the employment of Arab workers, and (2) ‘For Jewish Produce — for organizing the boycott of Arab produce.’” 
It was Histadrut which mapped the route the Zionist project would take in Palestine. From the start it excluded the Palestinians, first from the economy and later from the land itself. Class struggle was redefined as the struggle against Arab labor, as Ben-Gurion railed against “the evil of mixed labor”  Ben Gurion explained to those who mistook Histadrut’s red flags for socialism that “Nothing is further from the mind of Jewish labor than to engineer disputes with all the material and political loss in their train. For it, the supreme charter of our generation is reconstruction and Aliyah [immigration to Palestine]. … It is a charter meaningless without Jewish labor.”  With typical colonial condescension, Ben-Gurion spoke of Arab workers acquiring “a smattering of culture” through mixing with Jewish workers. 
The role of the working class was a national one, to construct the Jewish state; “Socialism was never an aim in itself but a tool for the advancement of national objectives.”  It was Ben Gurion who “coined the slogan from class to nation … both perspectives saw the role of labor as a nationalist role.” 
Zionism was following a well-worn path. All settler colonial projects, e.g. the Boer trek in South Africa and the colonization of America began as collective endeavors. Private capital could only operate once the threat from the indigenous populace was eliminated.
As Arthur Ruppin, the father of land settlement in Palestine and a fervent believer in the racial sciences, explained: “I can say with absolute certainty: those enterprises in Palestine which are most profit-bearing for the businessman are almost the least profitable for the national effort and per contra many enterprises, which are least profitable for the businessman are of high national value.” 
Where exclusively Jewish labor was not possible, as in government employment, Histadrut campaigned, like its South African counterparts, for higher wages for Jewish workers. Although the British refused this demand, in practice four different rates of pay for unskilled labor developed depending on whether the worker was Jewish or Arab.  Ernest Bevin, leader of the British Transport and General Workers’ Union and former British foreign secretary, was emphatic: “No, we would be absolutely against two wages.”  But to Berl Katznelson, Ben-Gurion’s effective deputy in the Labor Zionist hierarchy, equality “was only a whip with which to scourge the concept of Jewish labor.” 
The Union of Railway, Postal and Telegraph Workers (URPTW) was a bastion of the political left with a mixed Arab and Jewish membership. Histadrut sought to incorporate them in order to hive off the Arab workers into a separate national section.  Arab workers who joined this Arab section objected to Histadrut’s Zionism, not least its policy of Jewish labor. At a meeting in Haifa in 1924, union activist Elias Asad described how Arab workers “saw on the membership card the words ‘Federation of Jewish Workers’ and they cannot understand what purpose this serves. I ask all the comrades to remove the word ‘Jewish,’ and I am sure that if they agree there will be a strong bond between us and all the Arabs will join. I would be the first who would not want to join a nationalist labor organization …” 
Ironically, when at the end of 1923, the leaders of the Arab Railway Workers Club filed a request with the British Mandatory Government to establish a workers’ organization, the Palestinian Arab Workers’ Society (PAWS), Histadrut lobbied against its recognition, denounced it for being separatist and exclusionary and thus against the spirit of workers’ solidarity! 
In 1936 Arab workers in Palestine declared a general strike that lasted six months, one of the longest strikes in labor history. This provided Histadrut with the opportunity to replace striking Arab workers with Jewish labor. With the support of the British authorities, the Jewish Agency and Histadrut established Tel Aviv as an alternative port to Jaffa, which was strike-bound. Far from being a trade union, Histadrut was a scab organization.
The leadership of the Histadrut and Labor Zionism portrayed themselves as being lofty idealists, incorruptible. In fact Ben-Gurion and the other leaders lived the life of a labor elite, with foreign holidays and large apartments. Not only were their wages much higher than ordinary workers but they also made large loans to themselves from Histadrut funds which were quietly written off in 1926.  Ben Gurion’s debt equalled an ordinary worker’s annual salary.
Histadrut was run by a self-perpetuating elite that avoided elections. There were four years between the second and third Histadrut conventions, six between the third and fourth and nine years between the fourth and fifth in 1942. As Zalman Aranne, a member of the Histadrut Executive from 1936 to 1947 and later Minister of Education stated, the rule “is not to hold elections for years on end, and even when elections are held, we are not the ones who vote. It is some appointment committee that does the voting.”  Even today, at its seven-year convention, less than 10 percent of the delegates are directly elected. As Frankel noted, the appointment of delegates to the Histadrut Conventions are from party lists, primarily the Zionist parties. They elect the leadership and “in national elections, the voters have no say in the choice of the individuals elected to represent them.” 
Between 1948 and 1966, Palestinians living in Israel were subject to military rule. Due to Histadrut’s close affiliation to the military administration of the Mapai governments, Histadrut was not popular with Arab workers. Arab members to this day are seen as opportunists and collaborators. 
In 1959 the Histadrut Convention decided to admit Arabs as members. They were however confined to an Arab (later disingenuously called the Integration Department) headed by a Jew. In 1966, Histadrut changed its name to the General Confederation of Labor in the Land of Israel. “Land of Israel” is a euphemism for the biblical land of Israel, which includes at least all of historic Palestine. A resolution from Rakah, the Israeli Communist Party, to change the name to General Federation of Labor in Israel was defeated.
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot even join Histadrut, unlike Jewish settlers, even though they inhabit what Israelis consider to be part of the “Land of Israel.”  However, many Palestinians did work for Histadrut’s construction company, Solel Boneh, which built most of the early settlements.  Migrant workers from the Philippines and elsewhere also cannot become members of the Histadrut.
Class struggle was always anathema to Histadrut, before and after Israel was formed. In the seamen’s strike of 1951, strikers were drafted into the army with Histadrut support. Like their predecessors in the Gdud Avodah workers brigades in the 1920s, some of the most militant workers did break from Zionism. Gdud Avodah were starved into submission by Ben-Gurion in the 1920s.  But this was the exception, not the rule. The seamens’ strike was the most violent strike of its kind in Israel, with ships being commandeered and used against the forces of the state.
In the 1969 Ashdod port workers’ strike, the Histadrut accused the Jewish strikers of being equivalent to agents of Fatah, the main faction in the PLO, i.e. “terrorists” and “saboteurs.” But the trial of the militants in a Histadrut tribunal backfired and it was terminated without reaching a verdict.
In February 1976, thousands of Arab citizens of the Galilee demonstrated for their rights to the land and against confiscations. In March 1976, the Arab leadership called for a general strike. In response, Histadrut’s Labor Council in Haifa actively opposed the strike. Six Palestinians were shot and killed by the police and army, an event marked each 30 March by Palestinians as Land Day.
When Histadrut was a major employer, Arabs were not employed in its security industries — i.e. arms, oil, chemical, electronics, aviation, shipping, airlines, electricity, gas, telecommunications — as military service was a condition of employment. They were seen as a “security threat.” This systemic racial discrimination continues to this day.  This was mirrored in the fact that only 0.8 percent of employees of government companies are Arabs and in 2004 only 5.5 percent of Israel’s civil servants were Arabs, 56 percent of whom worked in the health ministry alone. 
The exclusion of Arab workers from whole sections of Israeli industry is tantamount to a color bar. Histadrut consciously did not invest or create factories in Arab towns or villages. Far from being their trade union, Histadrut was one of the primary causes of Arab unemployment and poverty, a situation that continues to this day. According to the National Insurance Institute, 52 percent of Israeli Arab citizens live below the poverty line, as opposed to 16 percent of Jewish Israelis.  Almost half of the Arab employed persons work in the low-wage sectors of manufacturing, construction and retail trade.
In 1985 the government of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Stabilization Plan permitting “flexibility” in the labor market paved the way for globalization as the US and Israel signed a free trade agreement. Koor Industries, a holding company for hundreds of Histadrut companies, was sold off in 1991 to reduce Histadrut’s debt. Haim Ramon’s election as secretary-general in 1994 led to the demise of Hevrat HaOvedim, which owned Histadrut’s industries.  In 1994, Histadrut was renamed New Histadrut.
Histadrut has never supported Arab workers’ fight against racial discrimination, such as the mass layoffs of Arabs that occurred after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000 or a labor dispute of Arab and Jewish employees with the Dead Sea Hotel Nirvana in 2003, when an Arab manager was fired because he refused to forbid his co-workers to speak Arabic in front of tourists, although nominally Arabic is an official language of Israel. Likewise it has done nothing about McDonald’s Israel’s policy decision in 2004 not to allow Arabic to be spoken in the restaurants or the situation at a building site in the Knesset grounds in 2004 when Arab workers’ helmets were marked with a red X, to facilitate assassination by marksmen in case of emergency. 
The occupation, Histadrut and Palestinian workers
The exploitation of Palestinian workers from the occupied territories was institutionalized by an Israeli cabinet decision of October 1970. It provided that the military administration should supervise their employment. Their wages would be distributed by the payments department of the National Employment Service. Histadrut was a partner in this arrangement. National Insurance coverage was permitted in only three areas: work accidents, employer bankruptcy and a grant on the birth of a child in an Israeli hospital. Ten percent of the wages of Palestinian workers went to a special “Equalization Fund,” which was supposed to supply the population in the occupied territories with social and cultural services. In fact, this money was used to finance the occupation. The workers did not receive unemployment and disability benefits, old-age pensions, a monthly child allowance or vocational training.
In addition, each Palestinian worker had to pay one percent of his or her wages as dues to Histadrut. Workers saw nothing in return and now a fraction of this money has been returned, as a propaganda ploy, to the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions. When the Shin Bet intelligence service used work permits as a means to coerce Palestinian workers to collaborate, with those who refused being placed on a blacklist and their work permits cancelled, Histadrut again did nothing. 
In the last decade, new workers’ organizations have arisen in Israel, such as Kav La’Oved (Worker’s Hotline), Commitment, the Center for Aid to Foreign Workers, Sawt el-Amel and Workers Advice Center. It is this sector which can serve as the basis for a new union, accessible to all and not connected with the Zionist establishment.
Tony is a trade union activist, a member of UNISON, Brighton & Hove Trades Council and Secretary of Brighton & Hove Unemployed Workers Centre, where he works as an employment adviser. He runs a socialist, anti-Zionist blog, www.azvsas.blogspot.com.
Endnotes  Observer, 24 January 1971, quoted by Uri Davies, Utopia Incorporated, Zed Press, p.142.  Moed, Histadrut Department of Culture and Education, 1963, p.3, quoted by Arie Bober (ed.), The Other Israel: The Radical Case Against Zionism, p.125.  Moshe Pearlman, Ben-Gurion Looks Back in Talks with Moshe Pearlman, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1965, p.51.  Sawt el-Amel, “Separate and Unequal: The History of Arab Labour in pre-1948 Palestine and Israel,” December 2006, p.16.  Benjamin Beit Hallahmi, The Israeli Connection, I B Tauris & Co. Ltd., p.39.  Haim Hanegebi, Moshe Machover, Akiva Orr, “The Class Nature of Israeli Society,” New Left Review, January-February 1971, Pluto Press, p.11. See also, Confidential US State Department Central Files, PALESTINE-ISRAEL, 1960-January 1963, INTERNAL AFFAIRS Decimal Numbers 784, 784A, 884, 884A, 984, and 984A and FOREIGN AFFAIRS Decimal Numbers 611.84, 611.84A, 684, and 684A Project Coordinator Robert E. Lester Guide Compiled by Blair D. Hydrick, accessed 8 March 2009.  Sunday Times Review 15 April 1984, James Adams, The Unnatural Alliance, Quartet. Extracts from the book were serialized by the Sunday Times.  Jane Hunter, Israeli Foreign Policy, South End Press, 1987, p.62.  Uri Davies, Israel: Utopia Incorporated, Zed Press, p.97.  “Histadrut Statement on the Situation in Southern Israel and Gaza,” 13 January 2009.  Zeev Sternhell, Founding Myths of Zionism, Princeton University Press, 1998, p.180.  William Frankel, Israel Observed, Thames & Hudson, 1980, p.183-186.  David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch, Nation Books, 2003, Second edition, p.185, citing Haaretz, 15 November 1969.  Nathan Weinstock, Zionism: False Messiah, Ink Links LTD, 1979, p.184.  David Ben-Gurion, Rebirth and destiny of Israel, Philosophical Library, 1954, p.74.  Ibid, p. 79.  Ibid, p. 53.  Zeev Sternhell, p.177.  Noah Lucas, Modern History of Israel, Weidenfield & Nicholson, 1975, p.49-50.  Walter Lacquer, A History of Zionism, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, p.151, citing Arthur Ruppin, Building Israel, Selected Essays, 1907-1935, Schocken Books, 1965, p.47-9.  Gabriel Piterberg, The Returns of Zionism, Verso, 2008, p.77.  Josef Gorni, The British Labour Movement & Zionism 1917-48, 1983, Frank Cass, p.95.  Zeev Sternhell, p.157.  Piterberg, p.72-73  Sawt el-Amel citing Zachary Lockman, Comrades and Enemies: Arab and Jewish Workers in Palestine, 1906-1948, University of California Press, 1996, Chapter 3: The Railway Workers of Palestine (I): The Struggle for Arab-Jewish Unity, 1919-1925 ‘Struggling for Unity.’  Ibid.  Sternhell, p.295-7, 295.  Sternhell p.271, 273.  Frankel, p.186.  Sawt el-Amel op. cit. p.19.  Michael Shalev, “The Labor Movement in Israel: Ideology and Political Economy,” in The Social History of Labour in the Middle East, edited by Ellis J. Goldberg, Westview, 1996, p.4: “Membership has never been offered to the non-citizen residents of the occupied territories, even though the majority of the Palestinian working class in the territories, who are employed inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, are legally required to pay the Histadrut for At the same time, within its targeted constituency, the Histadrut is generous to a fault in opening its ranks to non-workers. Surveys of the Jewish adult public suggest that at least half of the self-employed are Histadrut members.”  Jewish Chronicle, 7 January 1983.  Sternhell p.198-216. See also “The Left” in the Gdud Ha’avodah (Labor Brigade) and the Palestine Communist Party until 1928, Anita Shapira, Zionism Vol. 1. , Massada Publishing Co. Ltd., Tel-Aviv University, 1975, p.127-156.  Emmanuel Farjoun, “Class Divisions in Israeli Society,” Khamsin, no. 10, 1983, p.31-35.  Sawt el-Amel citing Sikkuy, “Sikkuy Report 2004-2005.”  Sawt el-Amel, p.2.  Jewish Virtual Library entry, “Hevrat Ha-Ovedim,” accessed 1 March 2009.  Sawt el-Amel, p.21.  B’Tselem, “Poalei Tzion: Violations of the Human Rights of Workers from the Territories in Israel and the Settlements,” 1999 (Hebrew).