Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Jewish Labour Lives On - On Israel's Railways

Jewish Labour was the cornerstone of the campaign to found the Israeli state. Jewish Labour meant exclusion of Arab Labour. It was no different from the Colour Bar in most British colonies - with one crucial difference. The Colour Bar normally reserved the higher skilled, well paid jobs to the colonial working class. In the pre-state Yishuv, Jewish Labour meant that no Arabs should work in the Jewish sector, i.e. be employed by Jews. It was an apartheid situation that was more apartheid than South Africa, where Blacks did the labouring, unskilled jobs. In Israel no Arabs should work and no Arabs should live. Transfer is the goal of Zionism and its more honest adherents.

Today in Israel this 'problem' has been solved by the simple expedient of importing cheap labour from Asia - Philipenes, Korea etc. Without any rights or trade union representation, they can be deported in an instant. In this sense, Israel is following the practice of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms.

But those who pretend that Zionism is part of the past - and they vary from 'peaceniks' who pretend that Zionism has disappeared and all we need are pragmatic solutions 'idiot Zionists' - to another idiot - the anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon

'The word Zionism is almost meaningless in Israel and within the Israeli discourse it is actually non-existent."

fail to explain why it is that the policies of pre-state Zionism - redemption of land, Jewish labour etc. - still continues. Why the settlement mission of the 1920's is present today on the West Bank and in the Negev.

The following story describes one of the favourite methods of discriminating against Arabs. There is no need to have posters 'Arabs not wanted' or 'Arabs need not applys' when there are more subtle ways of achieving the same objectives.

One of the favourite methods has been to link entitlement to having served in the Army. It's what in Europe is called 'indirect discrimination.' And Israeli is the land of indirect discrimination, except that to its victims, there is little difference.

Indirect discrimination is an ostensibly neutral provision, practice or policy the effect of which is to discriminate against a particular group. Barring those without children from entering a club is another way of saying gays are not welcome. Of course some gays would qualify and many hets would be barred, but the overall effect would be clear. Likewise demanding that everyone do night-work, whilst in theory neutral, bars women in practice from certain jobs.

In Israel, except for the Druze, Arabs don't serve in the army and are not allowed to serve in the army. Hence making places at university or jobs on the railways dependent on army service is a way of saying 'Arabs not wanted'. This was first tried out in an obscure piece of legislation called the 'Discharged Soldiers Amendment Act' of 1969. This Act entitled relatives of soldiers to greater child allowances. The purpose was clear. To encourage Jewish births and to disencourage non-Jewish births.

It had one problem though. The sector of the Jewish population with the greatest birth-rate is the Orthodox Jewish population, whose children also don't, by and large, serve in the Israeli army. What to do? Grant equal child benefits to all mothers, regardless of the status of the fathher or other relatives was a non-starter. After all if babies in Israel started off their lives as equals who knows where it might lead. The answer was found to this conundrum. Give an extra grant to the Ministry of Religion (Jewish of course) and they could hand it out to the Orthodox Jewish community. As you can imagine this caused immense relief to Israel's demographers, like the satanic Professor Arnon Sofer of Haifa University.

But in more mundane areas such as Israel's railways, Arabs are now being fired to make way for Jewish workers. Because this has always been the way - when unemployment rises in Israel it is Arabs who are sacked.
And Histadrut, Israel's racist 'trade union' doesn't lift a solitary figure to defend Arab workers because it pioneered 'Jewish Labour'.

The story below, from Israel's right-wing daily Yediot Aharanot, is about the mass sacking of Arab workers from Israel's railways. Ironic because the first mixed Jewish-Arab union, which Histadrut consciously sought to ethnicise, was the Union of Railway, Postal and Telegraph Workers which was a bastion of the political left with a mixed Arab and Jewish membership.

Israel Railways fires Arab workers
Some 100 employees who did not serve in IDF receive letters stating they will be dismissed on April 1. MK Tibi: Company's name should be changed to 'Yisrael Beiteinu Railways'
Sharon Roffe-Ofir
Published: 03.30.09, 08:33 /

Some 100 Hashmira company workers, who are currently employed in an Israel Railways project, received letters Sunday informing them that their contracts would be terminated due to the fact that they did not serve in the Israel Defense Forces.`We`re okay for checking vehicles in shopping malls,` one of them protested.

`Pursuant to our oral agreement,` the letter said, `your work at the train junction project will end on April 1. You are asked to visit our office for a new work placement.` The project, which began about three years ago following several grave railway accidents, employs 260 workers, about 60% of whom are Arab.

Up to now military service was not a precondition for getting the job, but Israel Railways recently decided to promote IDF veterans – a move which hurt Arabs working as observers or patrolmen.

Although they anticipated this move, the workers were enraged by it. `This is a 100% discriminatory decision,` one of them said. `I know that 40 workers have received letters of dismissals so far, and the rest will get the letters tomorrow at the latest.`

An Israel Railways official said that according to information received from Hashmira company, a total of 100 workers were discharged.

Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta`al), who was approached by the workers, raised the matter for discussion at the Knesset last week. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who was present at the plenum, promised to look into the issue, but in the meantime, the dismissal letters have already been sent.

`This is a racist and discriminatory decision,` said Tibi, who promised to take part in the workers` struggle. `The company`s name should be changed from Israel Railways to `Yisrael Beiteinu Railways,` he added sarcastically.

Israel Railways confirmed the details, saying in a statement that `this year`s tender has a new criterion stating that candidates must have completed military service.`

Nonetheless, we will continue reserving about 30 positions for members of minority groups who have not served in the army, in train junctions where knowledge of the Arab language is needed.` Hashmira company said in response, `Israel Railway`s threshold conditions as part of the new tender state that people employed for supervision services must have, at the least, completed military service in the IDF.`

In accordance with this rule, the company is working to locate candidates who meet these threshold conditions, and will do everything possible in order to continue employing workers who do not meet these demands in other places.`

Israel Railways introduces new policy allowing only ex-soldiers to serve as safety inspectors
Sharon Roffe-Ofir Published: 03.18.09, 19:07 /

Israel Railways has announced that it will require all safety inspectors patrolling its tracks to present a IDF discharge certificate as a condition for employment.
The new policy has provoked deep resentment among Arab employees, who will apparently no longer be able to serve as safety inspectors. The company providing Israel Railways with its safety manpower said the new policy means 60% of current inspectors to lose their jobs.
Assad Salame,from the Arab town of Qalansuwa said 260 employees were currently working for Israel Railways on behalf of the manpower company, including 20 from his town.
"There are 80 observation posts and eight patrol points, and each of these is manned by three guards," said Salame.

At first, he said, the manpower company announced that inspectors' wages would be increased by 15%, but later they had discovered that the raise would only be given to employees who met the new requirements. The others, he said, were to be let go.
Salame said the manpower agency had told the outraged employees that the demand for prior army service had been introduced by the railway company, and that the agency had complied in order to maintain its contract.

"We feel betrayed and discriminated against," he said. "Now that they want to improve the salaries, they remembered that we didn't serve in the army. It's a racist, discriminatory, and outrageous decision. We feel like third-rate citizens."

Kadi Abed al-Karim, another resident of Qalansuwa who is employed as an inspector by the train company, was also incensed at the announcement. "This reeks of racism," he said. "The train company knows very well that most Arabs will not be able to continue to work."

The employees appealed to MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al,) who came to their aid. He sent a letter to Israel Railways CEO Yitzhak Harel, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, charging that the aim of the new policy is "to cleanse the train from its Arab employees."

"Needless to say, this conduct is illegal, discriminatory, and racist," Tibi wrote. "It is an especially grave matter as this is a public company whose operations are meant to benefit all citizens."
The manpower agency said that it would make every effort to employ the guards elsewhere.
Israel Railways said that the new policy was aimed at helping former soldiers to secure employment. In a statement, the train company said would also set aside guarding positions for Israeli Arabs who had not necessarily performed army service.

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