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Thursday, 1 October 2009

Israeli Arab General Strike Against Growing Racism

Tomorrow will see the first ever General Strike by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. The issue of Israeli apartheid against Arabs living within the state is generally ignored, either by design or ignorance. For example you would search in vain for any reference to what is happening on the Socialist Action-controlled Palestine Solidarity Campaign website.

This is not accidental. For many people, support for Palestinian rights and freedom stops at the ‘Green Line’ the invisible line which once demarcated the borders between Jordan and Israel. The question of what happens inside the ‘Jewish State’ is off-limits or to be whispered.

This is the consequence of support for the ‘2 States’ policy. If you support a Palestinian state then in accordance with Oslo and the various road maps you must support a ‘Jewish’ State (even though Oslo didn’t actually mention a Palestinian state).
As it becomes clear to all except the wilfully blind that there will be no Palestinian state, unless one adopts the Netanyahu definition of a state without an army, control of its borders or airspace, this hypocrisy continues apace.

There is a pretence that within Israel racism is an incidental though ugly feature. Lieberman is treated as an aberration, the demographic issue is ignored. Because to pose the question of racism in Israel is to raise the question of Zionism. And once the issue of Zionism is debated the it is clear that for Zionism the minimum borders are those of the former British Mandate.
Hence the slogan ‘death to the Arabs’ (imagine if Arabs shouted in gangs ‘death to the Jews’)?

The barring of Arab children from kindergartens, the systematic underfunding of Arab local authorities (as much as 9 times as little as Jewish equivalents), the apartheid distribution of land (20% of the population owning as little as 3%), the differential welfare benefits based on Army service, the endemic poverty among Israeli Arabs (52%) as opposed to Jews (16%) are treated as one-offs. A product of an ill-defined nationalism rather than a specific political current that achieved its object – a settler colonial state.

The election of a far-right government under Netanyahu, with the active participation of the Israeli Labour Party and the support of Histadrut, has led to the targetting of Israel’s Arab citizens as a fifth column. Just as Jews in the Weimar Republic were singled out with the ‘stab in the back’ legend, so Israeli Arabs are seen as a ‘security threat’. Proposals have been made by Yisrael Beteinu, Liberman’s Party, to criminalise the commemoration of the Naqba, to demand loyalty oaths of Israel’s Arabs and now to allow access to the grounds of Al Aqsa mosque to settlers. There will be a picket of the Israeli Embassy tomorrow and it is to be hoped that the General Strike will be thundering success.

Tony Greenstein


High Follow-up Committee for Arab citizens calls for a general strike on October 1

The High Follow-up Committee for Arab citizens calls for a general strike on October 1, 2009. The strike, which will take the form of a one-day stoppage as well as a march, is to protest the deterioration of conditions faced by Arab citizens and failure of the state to bring justice to the families of the 13 Arab victims that were killed by security forces during the events of October 2000.

The Committee calls on all Arab institutions, movements, organizations and businesses in Israel to participate and to act in solidarity and strike against the demolition of homes in the Triangle area and the Negev, the building of settlements in the Galilee and the Triangle area, racial and political incitement, discrimination in the allocation of resources and intimidation.

The Committee details the motivation behind the call for strike as follows:

§ To protest the continuation and escalation of racism and incitement against Arabs.
§ In defense of the Arab citizens’ right to exist and live in dignity in their historic homeland.
§ To protest against the denial of collective, civil and historical rights of the Arab minority.
§ To protest against the state policy of confiscation and privatization of Arab property and the demolition of Arab houses.
§ Against policies that lead to the impoverishment of Arab localities and contribute to the cycle of violence.
§ For equality for Arab citizens and Arab local councils.
§ Against systematic attempts to intimidate Arab youth from embracing their national identity.
§ In solidarity and national unity with Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In addition to the work stoppage, at 14:00 there will be a march from the Mahmoud Darwish roundabout in the city of Arrabe, that will then head to the municipal market square.

The Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote equality for the Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel. Established in 1997, the Mossawa Center strives to improve the social, economic and political status of the Arab citizens of Israel, while preserving their national and cultural rights as Palestinians.

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