Israelis Demand Social Justice – But What of the Palestinians?

Below is a statement by the Internationalist Socialist League (ISL) who are a small Trotskyist propaganda group from Israel/Occupied Palestine. The Red Badger is not formally associated with the comrades of the ISL but we are in broad agreement with their central programmatic positions including that on the national question in Palestine. We welcome any comments readers may have on this statement and surrounding issues. 

Israelis Demand Social Justice – But What of the Palestinians? 

A tent city in Tel Aviv set up to draw attention to the high cost of housing in Israel has sparked a mass protest movement across the country. Last weekend over three hundred thousand Israelis marched in protest. “The people,” they chanted, “want social justice!”

Stagnant wages, rising prices and cutbacks in social welfare have indeed been making life unbearable for a growing number of Israelis. A struggle against this is long overdue. However, the current protest movement has limited itself to demanding “social justice” only for Israelis. Meanwhile, right under the protesters’ noses in Israel, not to mention in Gaza, the West Bank and beyond, Palestinians suffer the most terrible deprivation and oppression.

Revolutionary socialists join with today’s protesters in condemning the policies of Netanyahu’s Likud government (as well as those of Labor and Kadima before it), which have ensured that a growing number of Israelis have fallen deeper into poverty while Israel’s capitalist profiteers have laughed all the way to the bank. But we challenge the protesters: if the cost of living is becoming unbearable for Israelis, consider what life is like for Palestinians.

In Jerusalem, for example, the city’s most recent municipal plan, “Jerusalem 2000,” is openly racist, asserting as its goal the maintenance of a Jewish super-majority in the city. Accordingly, in recent years, thousands of Palestinians have had their residency permits revoked and been deported on the basis of technicalities no Jew ever faces. Kilometer after kilometer of land in the city continue to be stolen from Palestinians to make way for new Jewish settlements or private capitalist enterprises. Palestinians’ applications for permits to build or improve their housing are systematically denied, forcing them into poorly constructed buildings whose illegality is then used by the government as an excuse to demolish them, seize the land and expel the residents. Palestinians face similar efforts at ethnic cleansing, both overt and covert, from places like Jaffa and Al-Ludd to the villages of the Negev.

If the more than one and a half million Palestinians living inside Israel endure such conditions of cruel apartheid oppression, what of the stateless millions beyond the Green Line? In Gaza, their access to even the most elementary necessities of life – food and medicine –is subject to an Israeli blockade which can be accurately compared to the Nazis’ genocidal siege of Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. In the West Bank, the Israeli state is not satisfied with the Palestinian Authority’s work in brutally oppressing the masses on its behalf and promotes the theft of more land and more murderous violence by settlers and the Israeli army. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands more Palestinians still languish in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Showing that their desire to return to their homeland remains unbroken, this year on Nakba Day, Palestinian refugees marched peacefully toward its borders, only to be slaughtered by Israeli soldiers.

Despite being appalled, to say the least, by the Israeli protest movement’s chauvinist indifference to the Palestinians’ plight, we revolutionary socialists support the current struggle to defend the living standards of Israeli working-class, poor and young people against capitalism’s attacks. By exposing the Israeli rulers’ lack of loyalty to the poor, the struggle can begin to break down support for the Zionist state and thus also weaken its ability to oppress the Palestinians. Further, the more that Israelis mobilize against their government and capitalist class in order to defend their living standards, the more likely the more class-conscious and democratically inclined will be to begin to surrender their identification with the Zionist state and begin to identify with the Palestinians’ struggle for liberation.

With this perspective, we participate in the struggle first and foremost from the perspective of the most deprived and oppressed victims of this state – the Palestinians. Inside the movement, in addition to fighting for its demands for price controls on housing and other essentials of life, we raise the call for the defense of Palestinians’ lives and livelihoods, starting with the most basic demands:

Stop the Theft and Destruction of Palestinian Homes!

Stop the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, Jaffa, Al-Ludd and the Negev!

Stop the Settlements! Down with the Wall!

Down with Discrimination Against Palestinians in Housing, Employment and Social Services!

Down with the Blockade of Gaza!

CONTRADICTIONS OF THE TWO-STATE LEFT

After weeks of refusing to say anything about Palestinians, the Tent City leadership started to become embarrassed by the movement’s obvious racism. So at their August 6 rally the organizers allowed Uda Basharat of the Communist Party’s electoral front Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) to speak from its platform.

Basharat surprised many by daring to refer to the injustice of housing shortages and demolitions experienced by “Arabs.” At the same time, however, Basharat’s speech made a number of enormous concessions to the chauvinism of the crowd and of wider Israeli society. Perhaps most shocking was the fact that while Zionism has done its best to wipe Palestine off the map, Basharat never once said anything to correct that. Thus he studiously avoided ever referring to the territory of Palestine or its Palestinian people. His repeated reference to “Arabs,” and his failure to mention any place outside the Green Line surely gave many people the impression that he was only concerned with Palestinians inside Israel. Many Palestinians surely not have been impressed by Basharat’s refusal to refer to the ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in East Jerusalem, let alone to the plight of Palestinians in the broader Occupied Territories. Indeed Basharat made no mention of the settlements on the West Bank or the starvation blockade of Gaza or of the Wall that is dividing and trapping Palestinians.[i]

By not challenging the broader Zionist oppression of Palestinians, Hadash have actually helped the Zionist leaders of the protest movement cover up their chauvinism, allowing them to better resist calls by the most left-wing Israeli protesters for stronger demands in defense of the Palestinians.

We have no illusion that any more than a small minority of today’s protest movement will support our demands in defense of the Palestinians. Indeed, it says a lot about the extent to which Zionist chauvinism and racism have saturated the consciousness of Israelis that even today’s protest movement, which is based on the minority of Israeli society that is already more secular, liberal and left-wing, cannot be expected to support such basic demands.

The Histadrut Must Call a General Strike!

Revolutionary socialists don’t wait for the ideal conditions before advocating a way forward for working-class struggle. Instead take as our starting point the current situation and support working-class and poor people defending themselves against the capitalists and state with whatever means are immediately available. Therefore, we advocate a struggle by members of the Histadrut to force the union federation to really mobilize its members for future protests and to call a general strike to win the protest movement’s demands for affordable housing and lower prices for other basic necessities like food and medicine, including an end to the Valued Added Tax.

At the same time, we maintain that the Histadrut is a racist organization that consistently refused to defend Palestinians from layoffs and racist attacks, as well as refusing to organize Palestinian workers both inside and outside of the Green Line. We support raising demands in defense of the Palestinians inside individual unions as part of a struggle to break them, in whole or in part, from the Histadrut so that they may join a movement of genuine unions, independent of the state, in which Palestinian and Jewish workers can fight side by side.

Certainly some of the Israeli activists who have been the movement’s driving force have some concern for the Palestinians. But their privileged position as Israeli citizens, receiving access to land and resources denied to Palestinians, has allowed them the luxury of putting off raising demands on the Palestinians’ behalf. Raising such demands, these activists have reasoned, would provoke a split from the existing movement by its large numbers of mainstream and right-wing Zionists, as well as a backlash from the rest of Israeli society. But if the protest movement against the capitalist attacks inside Israel is to move forward, a split of the pro-Palestinian minority from the pro-Zionist majority is exactly what is needed. The lesson of every working-class struggle and left-wing movement in Israeli history, from the seamen’s strikes of the 1950s and ’60s, through the Black Panther movement of the 1970s, to Peace Now’s rise in the 1980s, is that unless these movements break through the limits of Zionist chauvinism and turn to the Palestinian masses as allies, they will be swept aside as soon as Israel launches a new war or anti-Palestinian atrocity.

If this happens again with the current movement, much responsibility will lie with those organizations which appealed to the most radical protesters with socialist and even revolutionary rhetoric only to make their peace with Zionism. Perhaps the most appalling role has been played by Maavak Sozialisti, the Israeli section of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI).

Maavak has capitulated to the movement’s dominant “social justice for Israelis” chauvinism, never once criticizing the movement’s failure to defend the Palestinians. Its statements on the struggle use vague calls for opposition to racist legislation to avoid taking a specific stand against any particular attack on Palestinians and their rights. Insultingly to Palestinians, whose expropriation is the foundation of the Israeli state, their paper buries opposition to racism amidst a list of other injustices it opposes, like discrimination against people with mental disabilities.

Indeed, while finding space in the special edition of its newspaper for a whole page of discussion about the protests concerning the high price Israelis must pay for cottage cheese, it found no room for a single article devoted to the concerns of Palestinians. Even worse, in their cottage protest articles, Maavak actually calls for protectionism of the Israeli dairy industry against Nethanyahu’s proposal to open the market to imports – showing that Maavak can muster up a defense of specific Israeli capitalists much more easily than it can make such an effort on the part of the Palestinians![ii]

We are reminded of a bus ride back from a Nakba Day demonstration at which Maavak members had advocated their “socialist” two-state solution. On the way home, we almost felt sorry for the Maavak members as Palestinians took the opportunity to quite correctly condemn them as “apartheid socialists.” While we are certain that the Maavak members subjectively abhor apartheid and racism, their capitulation to Zionism, instead of helping them build a “united anti-racist struggle,” only isolates them from the Palestinian masses – the vanguard of any socialist revolution that could ever take place in this land.

A WARNING

The clearest confirmation of the fact that the current protest movement has failed to break with Zionist chauvinism, and a warning of how the movement could actually embolden Israel’s far-right, came when the notorious follower of the late Meir Kahane, fascist settler Baruch Marzel, brought a group of his supporters to join the tent city in Tel Aviv. “When it comes to social issues [for Jews],” Marzel declared, “I’m more Left than Left.” Such rhetoric should not be surprising. The promise of socialism to the members of a privileged oppressor people – “national socialism” – is a defining feature of fascism. The protest movement’s refusal to raise demands in defense of Palestinian interests while calling for justice for Israelis practically invited fascists like Marzel to participate. Some protest organizers actually welcomed the Kahanists’ and settlers’ participation. Many more protesters, however, have opposed their presence, though they cannot point to a single demand of the movement that has taken the side of the Palestinians against Zionist attack and thus precluded the right-wing Zionists’ participation.

If the struggles of workers and poor people in Israel are to grow to challenge the capitalists and their state, they must break with Zionism and side with the Palestinians’ struggle for liberation. The fact that some young Israelis have been positively influenced by the example of the Egyptian revolution and the broader uprising in the Arab world shows that there is reason to expect that growing numbers of Israelis will learn to reject Zionism completely.

Those among today’s protesters truly committed to a struggle against both capitalism’s worsening poverty and Zionism’s racist atrocities will have to come to recognize that the Israeli state in which today’s protesters hope to live with “social justice” is itself, by its very nature, an injustice to the Palestinians. The state of Israel was founded on the ethnic cleansing of 700-900,000 Palestinians from their homeland, and the denial of the rights of those who remained. It can only survive by means of continued apartheid, land theft and war. All Israel is Occupied Territory!

MUBARAK, ASSAD, THE ISRAELI STATE!

Karl Marx famously declared that the working class has nothing to lose but its chains. Because the working class has no fundamental interest in capitalist society, he expected that the workers would rise up against the states that keep them down. While this is true in general, it is not true in the case of Israeli workers who, by virtue of their citizenship, benefit every day from access to land and resources as a result of the Israeli state’s expropriation and oppression of Palestinians. Very many Israeli workers participate directly in this colonialism through regular military service. These experiences fuel Zionist chauvinism and underpin the Israeli working class’s deep sense of loyalty to the state.

At the same time, Israeli workers and poor people do have an interest in taking up the cause of Palestinians: of the powerful imperialist countries of the world, Israel has the greatest gap between rich and poor, with 20% of Israelis living below the official “poverty line.” The numbers of Israelis living in poverty has been allowed to rise to the extent that it has because the masses’ nationalist loyalty to the state has encouraged them to tolerate their ruling class’s profiteering and discouraged them from fighting back.

In the long run, Israel will become a death trap for its Jewish citizens as well. Imperialism’s support for Israel stems from the fact that its wars and oppression have served the imperialists’ need to keep the Arab masses down and its oil wealth safe for exploitation. For Israel to fulfill its role as the region’s imperialist policeman, its ruling class has turned the Israelis into oppressors on the one hand and cannon fodder on the other. They demand that Jews kill and be killed serving the interests of the big capitalists and the government. Any struggle against the Israeli capitalists can only be successful if it challenges capitalism and imperialist oppression in the region.

The only way for at least a class-conscious, internationalist minority of the Israeli working class to join the Arab revolution is by joining the Palestinian masses in their struggle to overthrow the Zionist state so that they may enjoy their right to return to their homeland and enjoy equal rights in it. Because that aim is inconceivable without the overthrow of imperialism throughout the region, that means fighting for a Palestinian workers’ state from the river to the sea, as part of a federation of workers’ states in the entire region. Israeli Jews, having surrendered any rights to property seized from Palestinians, will have the right to live in Palestine, without any racial privileges, but free of any form of ethnic or religious discrimination.

It is the duty of revolutionaries to work their hardest to make this perspective a reality. However, despite the fact that we would want to win both Jewish and Palestinian workers and poor people, we must realize that in all likelihood we will not be able to recruit the majority of Israeli Jews to actively support the revolution. Thus our perspective focuses on winning the Palestinian working class and poor, as well as those Jews willing to join with them, to the aim of making the socialist revolution, while at least securing the peaceful acceptance of the revolution from the largest possible number of the rest of the Jewish masses.

Fighting for the Palestinians’ basic rights means fighting for the right of all Palestinians who were expelled from their homeland, and the right of all their descendants as well, to return to it. If the Palestinians’ right of return is realized, they will be the overwhelming majority throughout the land. For this reason, there is no way to consistently advocate the rights of the Palestinians while defending the right of Israeli Jews to maintain a state of their own. Such a state could only survive by means of apartheid rule over the Palestinian population, or by another wave of brutal ethnic cleansing. The perspective of the regional socialist revolution offers a way out of this nightmarish alternative.

Recognizing that the Palestinian masses are not strong enough on their own to overthrow the imperialist-backed Zionist state, we have all along said that the revolutions by the Arab workers’ of the region would come to the support of the Palestinians and aid their coming to power. The revolutionary uprisings that toppled the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt, and continue to challenge the region’s other strongmen, are just the beginning. Imperialist capitalism cannot support democracy in these countries. To secure the democratic freedoms the masses demand, the working class will have to lead the urban poor and peasants in overthrowing capitalism and building workers’ states on the road to socialism. This is the strategy of permanent revolution.

The workers’ state that would be formed out of the regional revolution would allow the return of the refugees, who also suffer from harsh problems in the field of housing, as they were driven off their lands by Israel. With the return of the refugees, the workers’ state would become Palestinian in its national character. However, Jews who join with the Palestinians in a revolutionary struggle, will also become a part of the ruling class – the workers and the poor, Palestinians and Jews alike.

But for all this to become a reality, the exploited and oppressed masses must find an international revolutionary working-class political party capable of leading the struggle to victory. The internationalist strategy outlined in this statement aims to unite the working class based on an uncompromising struggle for the interests of capitalism’s most exploited and oppressed people. It expresses the perspective of authentic working-class Trotskyism, the anti-Stalinist Marxism of our times. We believe the vanguard revolutionary party that workers need must aim to re-create the Fourth International, the Trotskyist World Party of Socialist Revolution.

We invite all those interested to contact us and join in the discussion of how to take the struggle forward.

For Quality and Cheap Government Housing for All, Palestinians and Jews!

Stop the Theft and Destruction of Palestinian Homes!

Stop the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, Jaffa, Al-Ludd and the Negev!

Stop the Settlements! Down with the Wall!

Down with Discrimination Against Palestinians in Housing, Employment and Social Services!

Down with the Blockade of Gaza!

For Jewish Solidarity with the Arab Masses!

For a Socialist Revolution in the Middle East!

For a Palestinian Workers’ State

From the River to the Sea!

[i] The transcript of the speech, “July’s Miracle”, can be found at http://adoomim.wordpress.com/.

[ii] See the special edition in http://maavak.org.il/maavak/pdf/201107.SSM.Tents.pdf, especially the articles “היום שאחרי מחאת הקוטג’: מעלים הילוך!” and “הסערה החברתית מציעה סדר-יום חדש לישראל”.

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36 Comments

Filed under Internationalist Socialist League, Israel/Occupied Palestine

36 responses to “Israelis Demand Social Justice – But What of the Palestinians?

  1. Eddie

    http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/5218

    “The Jewish and Palestinian members of the Socialist Struggle Movement are intervening around the clock in the movement to contribute to it as much as possible, including slogans for solidarity between Jewish and Palestinian workers and youth, and against the occupation and for peace (for example: “the answer to the ’divide and rule’: the occupation must also fall!”).”

    The comments in the article about the CWI are out and out lies. Please read the article above. The CWI is consistently and courageously raising the need for the struggle in Israel around housing to oppose occupation, oppression of the Palestinian people. One of the CWI’s Palestinian members, a trade union activist, spoke at a demonstration of 30,000 in Haifa yesterday. The CWI in Israel has consistently opposed, campaigned, raised and protested the occupation and oppression of Palestine, and the war against Lebanon. Anything that even suggests the contrary is utterly despicable and dishonest nonsense.

    • Eddie,

      Calling the ISL liars is a pretty serious accusation. Are you claiming then that the “special edition”, which is referenced in the second footnote, does contain explicit commentary on the plight of the Palestinians?

      • Cillian Gillespie

        In the what we stand for of the column of the article you mention it calls for an end to the occupation and for a free independent palestinian socialist state as well opposing all racist laws which discriminate against Arabs.

        The referance to us as ”apartheid socialists” is also pretty obnoxious. We have always rejected any ”solutions” imposed by Israeli capitalism and imperialism that will mean Palestinians being confined into a truncated Bantustan similar to what existed in Apartheid South Africa. At this point in time we recognise that Israeli Jews to not want to be part of single Palestinian state which is what you call for and they cannot be coerced into accepting this. You need to answer the question how to you get Israeli Jews to accept a one state based on the ”river to the sea” if that clearly is not their wish. Obviously Palestinians represent the oppressed nation in this region we do not dispute that but Israeli Jews who do have an Israeli national consciousness do have a right to self determination.

        On the basis of the overthrow of the Israeli ruling class and the defeat of capitalism and imperialism in this region we would stand for a socialist solution based on independent socialist Palestian state alongside a democratic socialist and secular Israel. Such an arrangement would be based on free open and commonly agreed borders where the full rights of all minorities would be guaranteed including the right of return for Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem being a free open city as a capital of both states.

      • Eddie

        “Maavak has capitulated to the movement’s dominant “social justice for Israelis” chauvinism, never once criticizing the movement’s failure to defend the Palestinians.”

        This is lie. Not a distortion or misinterpretation, it is a lie. Why is it a lie? Because the exact opposite is the case.

        “showing that Maavak can muster up a defense of specific Israeli capitalists much more easily than it can make such an effort on the part of the Palestinians!”

        This both a lie and a distortion. Clearly the opening up of the market will lead to job losses, which should be opposed by socialists – it’s fairly ABC stuff. But of course we don’t stop there and explain how this is inevitable under capitalism and that public ownership of the industry under the control of workers and consumers organisations is necessary. This is part of our overall programme for a socialist plan of production.

        The anecdote from Nakba day can be taken with a very small pinch of salt, there’s even reason to believe that it came entirely from the authors imagination. The idea that we capitulate to Zionism or are isolated from the Palestinian masses, because as they claim, we argue for a “socialist two state solution” is nonsense. In fact, a majority of the population in Gaza and the West Bank support the idea of a two-state solution and have done for many years now.

  2. Cillian,

    Two questions:

    1) Since the exercise of the right of return by all Palestinians would make them a clear majority everywhere in the present territory of Israel, how can you call for any state on any part of that territory that is not a Palestinian state?

    2) A non-Palestinian state in any part of present-day Israel could only exist on the basis of the refusal of the right of return (as it does today), or a new ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from some territory after they have returned, or the apartheid rule of a non-Palestinian minority. If you call for a non-Palestinian state, which of those methods of creating it do you favour?

    • Cillian Gillespie

      Tragically many of the Palestinian villages, where Palestinians were expelled from, have now been destroyed and new towns and houses have been built where Israeli Jews now live. They have done so in some cases for three or four generations. Where those Palestinians refugees live and reside poses two important questions. Firstly and most importantly it requires the socialist transformation of society, by equally sharing and utilising the resources of the region on a planned basis to build these new houses and the services such as free health and education. This would completely transform the question of ‘right of return’.

      Secondly, where Palestinians and Jews live and where the borders are drawn of these two socialist states has to be democratically decided on the basis of discussion and compromise. It is not something that I can decide sitting here in Dublin in 2011 and it’s something that is not easy. On a socialist basis and on the basis of democratic agreement, a solution would be arrived at that certainly would not involve expulsions or ethnic cleansing. Fundamentally we have faith in the common sense of working people ( both Jewish and Arab) and believe that they can arrive at such a solution based on respecting the rights of both nationalities.

      Given that our position means free and open borders, with no restrictions on the right to travel and the rights of either a Palestinian or Jewish minority being guaranteed we think that both Israeli and Arab workers can be won to this position.

      We do not preclude that in the future – on the basis of a socialist transformation of society in the region – you may see the creation of one state where Israeli and Palestinians would live which is what you call for, if this were the desire of both groups. Our position is not an exact blueprint and is open to change if consciousness changes on this issue.

      But you have to recognise that this is not the wish of Israeli Jews, or for that matter Palestinians, at the moment. The latter are undoubtedly suspicious of being part of one state with Jews, given the legacy of the last 60 years. Neither Jews nor Palestinians can be coerced into accepting something that contradicts their national aspirations.

      A key to the fundamental social and national liberation of Palestinian people will be its ability to win over important sections of the Israeli working class to its struggle, by exploiting the very real class divisions within Israeli society. We do not place this as a condition for Palestinians to engage in an immediate struggle for their liberation and we recognise that their are prejudices that exist amongst Jewish workers against Palestinians that have to be challenged (which the CWI in Israel/Palestine skillfully does).

      Like Protestant workers in Northern Ireland most of the left have dismissed Israeli workers as being hopelessly reactionary. But the events of the last weeks show that have they have been affected by the Arab revolutions and some sections of the tent movement have taken up the demands relating to Palestinian rights (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/housing-activists-add-israeli-arab-concerns-to-list-of-demands-1.376834). This gives a rudimentary illustration of how Israeli Jews can be won to the struggle for socialism in the Middle East.

      The Israeli ruling class rests its power on its ability to create a “siege mentality” amongst Israeli Jews, because of the legacy of the holocaust as well as other factors. If a national liberation movement amongst Palestinians – combined with the Arab working class in the Middle East – can make a class appeal to Israeli workers, by guaranteeing their security and national rights, the Israeli capitalist Zionist state that oppresses Palestinians can be defeated.

  3. Eddie,

    You didn’t answer my question regarding the “special edition” of the Maavak publication. Pointing to an article in English that mentions the Palestinians was hardly a way to exonerate your Israeli comrades.

    “In fact, a majority of the population in Gaza and the West Bank support the idea of a two-state solution and have done for many years now.” As John McEnroe would say – you cannot be serious.

    • Eddie

      “You didn’t answer my question regarding the “special edition” of the Maavak publication. Pointing to an article in English that mentions the Palestinians was hardly a way to exonerate your Israeli comrades.”

      What is your question exactly? Do we explicitly call for an end to the occupation and oppression of Palestinians in our publication? Well the answer is yes we do. But the idea that the article in English is somehow at odds with the position we put forward in the Israel/ Palestine is complete tripe.

      It’s interesting that the other lies the article spouts is fine with you.

      “In fact, a majority of the population in Gaza and the West Bank support the idea of a two-state solution and have done for many years now.” As John McEnroe would say – you cannot be serious.”

      Of course I’m serious.

      I don’t know what you base your politics on or where you get your information. But we tend to rely on evidence and the experience of our international organisation who play an active role in struggles in the region.

      The following is an interesting survey on the attitudes of Palestinians, which confirms a lot of other information that has come out in recent years.

      http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2010/p35e.pdf

      They find that:
      57% prefer a two-state solution while
      29% prefer a one state solution and
      26% prefer a Palestinian-Israeli confederation

      That’s 83% of Palestinians who are closer to the position of the CWI than the LRP.

      • That would seem accurate from what I can gather at this distance of the consciousness regarding state power in Israel/Palestine today. However this would seem rather irrelevant to what might be the consciousness of the workers’ movement at the time when the establishment of working class state power is a concrete reality.

        To get to that situation will have required a transformation in the existing consciousness, not least in regards to the national question and internationalism in general. Both of you seem to be trying to project your understanding of the existing consciousness on to that socialist future in a rather schematic way.

        The key demand is surely for a Socialist Federation and I think it would be wiser to be more algebraic regarding where exactly the national/regional boundaries within that federation will be drawn and what, if any, ethnicity/nationality may be ascribed to the areas within those boundaries.

      • Eddie,

        My question, which is stated very clearly above, is; are you claiming that the “special edition” of the Maavak newspaper, written and distributed by your Israeli comrades, contains explicit commentary on the plight of the Palestinians? The ISL statement makes the claim that the newspaper does not contain such commentary. Apparently it didn’t have enough room in its 8 page newspaper after discussing the hardship that Israelis currently face, including the rising price of cottage cheese. You are making the claim that the ISL is lying which only leads to the conclusion that you are saying that the newspaper in question DOES contain explicit commentary on the plight of the Palestinians. So I ask you again, does the “special edition” discuss the plight of the Palestinian people? If you admit that it does not then you can retract your previous accusations of lying.

        “Do we explicitly call for an end to the occupation and oppression of Palestinians in our publication? Well the answer is yes we do.”

        The publication in question does not “explicitly call for an end to the occupation and oppression of Palestinians”. Also, since you advocate a two state “solution”, and since all of Israel is occupied territory, I fail to see how you stand for an “end to the occupation”.

        “But the idea that the article in English is somehow at odds with the position we put forward in the Israel/ Palestine is complete tripe.”

        I don’t know where you got this idea from. It certainly wasn’t from me. All I said regarding the article in English that you referenced was that citing such an article, even if it did contain an explicit call for an end to the occupation and oppression of Palestinians, does not change the content of the Maavak publication.

      • Eddie,

        “That’s 83% of Palestinians who are closer to the position of the CWI than the LRP.”

        Surely you mean the ISL?

        Granted from such a distance I can’t speak to the validity of the above survey, but I would suspect that the results are influenced by the fact that many Palestinians are increasingly inclined to give up on their demands for their full right to self-determination, in agreement with the perspective of the CWI, due to ongoing terrorist operations and attempted ethnic cleansing by the Israeli state.

        It’s a bit like claiming that the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 was ratified in conditions conducive to a genuinely democratic outcome that was representative of the Irish people’s national aspirations.

      • Eddie

        “So I ask you again, does the “special edition” discuss the plight of the Palestinian people? If you admit that it does not then you can retract your previous accusations of lying.”

        Firstly, while I don’t speak Hebrew or Arabic I can tell you that the publication in question does explicitly call for an end to the occupation and oppression of Palestinians. Secondly, the publication in question is not the only material that was produced and distributed by the CWI during interventions in the recent demonstrations.

        However, as I’ve already outlined, that is not the only blatant lie that in implied about the CWI.

        Cillian has already dealt quite well with the question of a Marxist approach to the national question, and the position of the CWI above – which is not, as you and the ISL imply, a fixed position of simply demanding two states.

  4. I think the ISL article is pretty good overall but I’m not sure about the “Palestinian workers’ state” slogan.

    I guess this is primarily presented as a polemical point but surely any workers’ state will not be defined by nationality particularly when you have a situation of an intermingled population made up of two distinct national groupings.

    The article argues “With the return of the refugees, the workers’ state would become Palestinian in its national character”. However it is unclear how many of the entire diaspora would want to return. That being said it is very likely that the actual number of returnees would mean the majority in the territory was of Palestinian background but not so much as to make this overwhelming – those of Israeli Jewish background would make up a very significant minority, probably at least 30% up to as much as 40%.

    What possible concrete social content could this slogan therefore have? It almost sounds like the population of Israeli Jewish background would have some kind of second-class status as this would be a workers’ state of/for the Palestinian majority.

    Now I know that the ISL programme is for equal rights for all and this is just a slogan but assessing it at that level of slogan I don’t think it is the best. For instance the IBT uses the “bi-national workers’ state” slogan which I think better recognises the actual reality and is more consistent with the programme of joint class struggle across the national divide.

    I also find the section:

    “Therefore, we advocate a struggle by members of the Histadrut to force the union federation to really mobilize its members for future protests and to call a general strike to win the protest movement’s demands for affordable housing and lower prices for other basic necessities like food and medicine, including an end to the Valued Added Tax.”

    a bit problematic as it implies that it is possible to force the bureaucrats to actually carry out this kind of militant struggle. The call for this kind of militant class struggle, up to and including a general strike, makes sense but that doesn’t need to include this implication which points towards a perspective of passive “pressure” on the bureaucrats as per most “Trotskyists” rather the building of class struggle rank-and-file organisations in political opposition to the bureaucrats which the bureaucrats will have to respond to. I think this distinction between that kind of indirect pressure and a perspective of explicit pressure on the bureaucrats is quite important to get right.

  5. Mark P

    I must offer my condolences to the solitary members of the International Bolshevik Tendency and League for the Fifth International in Ireland. They’ve each spent a couple of years hawking the publications of their bizarre ultra-left sects, looking for a person or two of similar mind to form the, ahem, nucleus of a revolutionary workers party with… and now someone of apparently like mind shows up and they hook up with an even more bizarre ultra-left sectlet abroad instead. Life is just full of these little disappointments.

    Say what you like about the IBT and the L5I (and I will), they do at least have more members than they do letters in their names, as long as you let them count their world wide membership. The League for a Revolutionary Party – Communist Organisation for the Fourth International, on the other hand, have yet to muster as many members worldwide as they have letters in their acronym, a feat only known to have been matched by the snappily named British Section of the Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International. The British section was, of course, the only section.

    Might I suggest that the the three of you form some sort of parity commission representing the Irish sections of your respective internationals? You could give it a suitably grandiose name like “Trilateral Commission of Militants for a Revolutionary Workers Party”. Perhaps you could even come to some sort of timeshare arrangement on a stall.

    Being small does not mean that you are wrong. Being wrong however is a pretty good indication that you are wrong, and the “International Socialist League” (one letter of the acronym per member) have an almost unrivalled record of being wrong. Or more precisely of dishing out completely unreliable sectarian slander about everyone else on the left both locally and internationally. Simply put, you cannot believe a word they say about any other group.. There is something rather funny about the reaction of the blog owner to those lies being pointed out. It is apparently “a pretty serious accusation” to point out that the ISL are peddling falsehoods, says someone who has just posted an article which calls the main revolutionary socialist group in Israel “apartheid socialists”! Not big on irony in these parts apparently.

    The following may be of some interest:
    http://meanwhileatthebar.org/blog/?p=168

    • Your pathetic insults contribute nothing to this discussion. Please refrain from them in future or I’ll delete your comments. Your comrades, despite accusing the ISL of lying, have managed to remain somewhat respectful so far and I suggest you do the same. Oh, and it’s the Internationalist Socialist League not the “International” Socialist League.

      • Mark P

        I suppose it’s not surprising that someone who has just set up a one man (two person?) Irish Section of the One Real World Party of Socialist Revolution doesn’t have much of a sense of humour about themselves. That’s a pity, because you’ll need to appreciate absurdity if you stick at that particular game.

        There is, of course, a political point behind my gentle ribbing. There’s nothing wrong with starting out small. After all, most organisations start out small and none of us can exactly claim to be massive in the greater scheme of things. But there is something seriously wrong with the approach of an organisation which doesn’t just start out as a handful of people, but instead determinedly remains as a handful of people over a period of decade after decade. It is not an accident that Spartoid groups, by which I mean not just the Sparts and their immediate political family, but all of the tiny ultra-doctinaire grouplets which devote much of their energy to “exposing” the crimes of other small left wing groups, are doomed to remain tiny and marginal even by the small standards of the socialist left. It is a question of political method and approach to programme.

        Look at the history of the LRP-COFI. It has been going for 35 years. In that time it has never made a significant intervention into any real political movement. It has never had an impact on anything. It has never grown in any country to be anything more than a grouplet on the fringe of the far left fringe. Why is that? Why have all sorts of other groups, from ultra-lefts to reformists, managed to have at least a sporadic impact on something while the LRP-COFI have not? Why have all sorts of other groups managed at some time or in some place to assemble at least a small but substantial cadre, but the LRP-COFI have not? What is it about that particular grouping that has doomed it everywhere at every time to complete marginality?

        Those are serious questions. If you are serious about politics, you are talking about devoting a significant portion of your time and energy to the ideas and methods of that organisation. It’s not a question of just sneering at them for being small, it’s a question of understanding why they are small: That runt of the litter status is intrinsic to their political approach. And not just their approach. They differ on the finer points of programme with dozens of similar tiny groups worldwide, but they share a broad framework, ultimatist demands completely divorced from current levels of political consciousness combined with a fixation on slightly larger groups. Not just the LRP-COFI but each and every one of these groups shares the same fate. There is not one example, anywhere in the world, of any group of that sort ever growing or ever leading a significant struggle. At some point, you have to stand back and ask why. Well, you don’t have to, and the cadre of those grouplets are normally completely incapable of that kind of introspection, but really, you should.

        Take the example of the article you posted. The politics of the grouplet are in and of themselves incapable of getting an echo. Their approach to a real movement isn’t to intervene and persuade but simply to denounce. And even within that crazed framework they go further and concentrate a wildly disproportionate amount of their energy on denouncing a small group on the fringe of that movement. Think about those priorities for a moment! Spartism as a method was always a bad idea, but to take that bad approach and keep plugging away at it for decade after decade, always expecting a different result, is actual insanity.

      • Mark P

        (Continued from above)

        The insanity, and the programmatic ultra-leftism, of the Spartoids flows in large part from an orientation towards other left wing groups. Programme and demands are not expected to have any resonance for any significant section of the working class (which is just as well) because the core audience is the membership of slightly larger left wing groups. These are almost the only people who share enough of a common framework for the language, ideas and programme to make any sense in the first place. And the core strategy isn’t to win over significant numbers of unaffiliated workers (again, just as well) but to convince the rank and file of the other groups that their group is centrist/reformist/moving to the right/etc.

        This doesn’t work. It never has worked. Small cadre group are absolutely the worst thing in the world to have an orientation towards. Orienting towards mass organisations where they exist is sensible. Orienting on small cadre groups and their periphery is absolutely and utterly futile. The history of the LRP-COFI, the IBT, the Sparts, etc, etc is one long lesson in that regard. A lesson that those groups are incapable of learning, but which those who are moving into left wing activism would be wise to heed.

    • Mark,

      You are like a broken record with your lies about the method of groups who put programmatic clarity, revolutionary honesty and political struggle against revisionism before opportunist growth (what you call “Spartoid” though including the LRP in this nicely exposes your attempt to lump us all together with the Sparts who have in fact long ago rejected this method and thereby tar us with the same brush as their political cultish behaviour).

      The reality is that the tiny propaganda groups like the IBT, IG & LRP actually manage to do a significant amount of practical united front activity which is well documented.

      But of course this diversion about relative size is not actually a serious political critique but rather is all about covering up the concrete reality of the CWI’s reformist opportunism version of “socialism”.

      On the politicalworld forum and my blog I have asked the question “would you please give an alternative explanation of the difference between reformist socialism and revolutionary socialism” – with not even an attempt at an answer.

      Of course attempting to answer such a question is dangerous for SPers because it is difficult (impossible?) to do so without criticising, at least implicitly, the concrete programme and actions of the SP. But perhaps you can give it a try…

      • Mark P

        RP,

        Reformist socialism is the belief that socialism can be achieved by a process of gradual reforms. Nobody in this discussion is an advocate of that point of view, although I realise that imputing such a view to others on the left is a central preoccupation of just about every strand of Spartoid.

        I never did get a coherent answer from you about the perpetual marginality of the IBT and its predecessors. Perhaps you’ll be able to adapt our host’s attempt at providing an apologia for the LRP “someday”. As for pointing out the utter futility of Spartoid political methodology not constituting a “political critique”, I’m not at all surprised that you regard discussion of the practical consequences and utility of your political approach (or lack thereof) to be irrelevant and diversionary.

      • And the concrete programme presented by the SP is exactly that process of gradual reforms.

        Which coincides with you and your comrades’ attacks as abstract ultra-lefts anyone who dares to raise anything about the revolutionary perspective of building working class organisations in opposition to the capitalist state and framework of bourgeois democracy.

        I note you throw in “belief” and find that interesting – as if your concrete reformist programme doesn’t matter because you privately “believe” in revolution.

      • And as regards the supposed irrelevancy of the IBT and other tiny groups with more-or-less the same political method I don’t feel any strong need to defend that political method against the only slightly smaller degree of irrelevancy of the CWI.

        I prefer to judge political organisations on their programme, both in terms of theory and practice. The political record of the CWI is clear and it is one of consistent reformist opportunism – in terms of the political tradition of revolutionary Marxism anyway.

      • So it seems the SP accept that their political programme is reformist in its concrete application.

        But that matters little to them because what is important is their personal belief that they really are “revolutionary” socialists despite spreading reformist bullshit.

        Indeed presenting a reformist programme to the working class seems to be taken as a badge of “revolutionary” honour for the SP if the attacks us “ultra-lefts” is anything to go by…

  6. Eddie,

    “Firstly, while I don’t speak Hebrew or Arabic I can tell you that the publication in question does explicitly call for an end to the occupation and oppression of Palestinians.”

    If that is what your Israeli comrades are telling you then they are lying.

    “However, as I’ve already outlined, that is not the only blatant lie that in implied about the CWI.”

    What are the other “lies”?

    • Eddie

      If that is what your Israeli comrades are telling you then they are lying.

      No. They are not.

      “What are the other “lies”?”

      For the fifth time now, this statement: “Maavak has capitulated to the movement’s dominant “social justice for Israelis” chauvinism, never once criticizing the movement’s failure to defend the Palestinians.” is a lie.

      “Its statements on the struggle use vague calls for opposition to racist legislation to avoid taking a specific stand against any particular attack on Palestinians and their rights.”

      This is also a lie.

      “Insultingly to Palestinians, whose expropriation is the foundation of the Israeli state, their paper buries opposition to racism amidst a list of other injustices it opposes, like discrimination against people with mental disabilities.”

      This is not technically a lie becuase what “buries” means is open to interpretation, although it is untrue to say that there’s anything insulting to Palestinians in our publications, but I suppose that’s also open to interpretation. But making such vague criticisms is an indication of the political (dis)honesty of the ISL.

      “Indeed, while finding space in the special edition of its newspaper for a whole page of discussion about the protests concerning the high price Israelis must pay for cottage cheese, it found no room for a single article devoted to the concerns of Palestinians. Even worse, in their cottage protest articles, Maavak actually calls for protectionism of the Israeli dairy industry against Nethanyahu’s proposal to open the market to imports – showing that Maavak can muster up a defense of specific Israeli capitalists much more easily than it can make such an effort on the part of the Palestinians![ii]”

      This is a cynical distortion of the approach of the CWI in Israel/ Palestine, nothing more. It could only be put forward by an organisation who has nothing to say about the issues that are fueling the mass movements of Israelis Jews against the Israeli government. Which is surely not the way a revolutionary Marxist organisation should operate. If socialists fail to engage with these movements; address the concerns of the participants, offering clear alternatives to the right-wing and socialist policies that can take the movement forward – while consistently raising the issue of the national question and the opporession of the Palestinians – there is the obvious danger of other forces taking the movement in a direction that does not benefit the working class in Israel or the Palestinian people. Of course the movement should be challenged to take up the national question etc, but the ISL go to the other extreme of only raising the national question.

      “We are reminded of a bus ride back from a Nakba Day demonstration at which Maavak members had advocated their “socialist” two-state solution. On the way home, we almost felt sorry for the Maavak members as Palestinians took the opportunity to quite correctly condemn them as “apartheid socialists.””

      There’s no reason to believe that this tale is not a complete fabrication.

      “While we are certain that the Maavak members subjectively abhor apartheid and racism, their capitulation to Zionism, instead of helping them build a “united anti-racist struggle,” only isolates them from the Palestinian masses – the vanguard of any socialist revolution that could ever take place in this land.”

      Again, as I’ve already explained this nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of the ISL.

  7. Mark P,

    We haven’t setup anything except this blog. Maybe I would have more patience with your “gentle ribbing” if it were actually funny and not intended to distract from a discussion in which your organisation (forgive me if I’m wrong in assuming your allegiance to the CWI) has been caught out lying, maybe even to its own membership.

    Your condescending exposition on “Spartoids” is greatly appreciated by us young and naive dullards but, alas, much like your comedy routine it is there to distract from the issue at hand which is the CWI’s lying and capitulation to chauvinism in Israel. So forgive me if I ignore it at this time. A discussion of the history of the LRP (and, indeed, the CWI) might be worth having someday, but not today.

    • Mark P

      [Edit – I asked you nicely to refrain from insulting remarks. Please do so.]

      • Mark P

        Insulting remarks? If you prefer, I can leave your (incorrect) claim that I think you are a “young and naive dullard” to stand?

        To return to the political point, I am not seeking to “distract” you from anything. Eddie and Cillian have already comprehensively addressed the smears contained in the article you posted by an Israeli micro-group. You haven’t provided any substantial response to them, and in the absence of such a response there would hardly be any point in adding a third voice making the same correction.

        Instead, I’ve been concentrating on the underlying aspects of the article, the political method and orientation it reveals. It is an almost perfect example of Spartism: Confronted with a mass movement, their response is to denounce it not persuade. And within that mass movement they concentrate their energies on the views of a larger, but still in the greater scheme of things small, Israeli socialist group. This is an incorrect orientation and incorrect method, and this has consequences in the form of an incorrect programme. You (of course) regard such questions as irrelevant beside the world historic importance of exposing the alleged “capitulation to national chauvinism” of a small left group in a country thousands of miles away. That doesn’t come as a surprise me, after years of dealing with people like Revolutionary Programme above.

      • Mark,

        Without necessarily endorsing the ISL, about whose concrete political practice I know very little, I fail to see how you can interpret their statement as being an example of denouncing rather than persuading.

        It quite clearly states that they “join with today’s protesters in condemning the policies of Netanyahu’s Likud government (as well as those of Labor and Kadima before it)”.

        They go further and say they “support the current struggle to defend the living standards of Israeli working-class, poor and young people against capitalism’s attacks”.

        it is true that this support is not uncritical, indeed they are scathing in what they see as a major weakness in regards to not defending the rights of Palestinians, however it is a long way from “denouncing” – if you want to see real denouncing then have a look at how the real Sparts approach these kind of things.

        Unless of course you are arguing that to make any political criticisms is “denouncing” – perhaps this reflects your political training in the school of the CWI’s tendency to give uncritical support to its latest left-bureaucrat ally in the trade union movement…

      • Mark,
        You said “You haven’t provided any substantial response to them, and in the absence of such a response there would hardly be any point in adding a third voice making the same correction.”
        Would you now care to address the “substantial” evidence provided by the ISL, found here:
        https://theredbadger17.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/facts-against-fictions-–-the-isl-responds-to-cwi-charges-that-it-lied-about-their-israeli-group/

      • Mark P

        No problem. The statement is as bombastic and as tediously long as I would expect from a group which adopted a name with nine times more letters than it has members.

        Having waded through it, it seems that the only substantive charge that they make is that one issue of the Ma’avak paper did not have an article about the Palestinian struggle, although they don’t deny that it expressed solidarity with the Palestinians in its full page “What We Stand For” article. Further, it goes on to admit that Ma’avak have in fact been raising the issue of Palestinian home demolitions in the Israeli protest movement, and indeed provide a link to a video of a Ma’avak member doing just that. Although, as a Spartoid group, they can’t resist couching all of that in vitriol and imputing malign motives to larger groups on the left.

        There is nothing even slightly interesting about the article, except what it reveals about the method of the LRP/COFI Spartoids and the ISL grouplet. Here we have the would be World Party of Socialist Revolution producing a nearly 4,000 (yes, four thousand) word statement on such subjects as (a) some argument in a blog comments section, and (b) what some member of some other socialist group said on facebook. That is complete and utter insanity. It tells you everything you need to know about the priorities, outlook and method of these people.

        There is a thesis to be written on the persistence of Spartoid groupings in the socialist movement, for year after year, decade after decade. Groups, which despite all the accumulated evidence of decades of failure by endless similar groupings around the world, persist in the view that a revolutionary socialist party will be built by a dozen oddballs devoted overwhelmingly to denouncing everyone else on the left. Unfortunately, that thesis may be better written by a mental health professional rather than a political scientist.

      • Come on Mark – be serious.

        On the one hand you point to the ISL article’s even-handed references to some examples of Ma’avak taking actions in support of Palestinians (and it also points to actions by the anarchists) while on the other you claim that the article is an example of groups that are “devoted overwhelmingly to denouncing everyone else on the left”.

        But on the central claims of the original article – which SP comrades denounced as lies – this article clearly proves they were being accurate in their claims.

        It is not a case of just any old single issue of the Ma’avak paper but rather their special supplement specifically produced to intervene in the current protest movement.

        So we have a situation where SP comrades claimed another group were lying but now that other group have proved they were not lying. Instead of a retraction of the claim of lying we have your pathetic little reply which avoids the central issue and instead seeks to justify not having to deal with criticisms from other propaganda groups because those groups are smaller than the CWI and give more emphasis to programmatic clarity and honesty than the CWI.

  8. Pingback: A reply to my tricky question to the SP… « revolutionaryprogramme

  9. Pingback: Facts Against Fictions – The ISL Responds to CWI Charges that it Lied about their Israeli Group | The Red Badger

  10. Yehuda Stern

    We’ll issue a statement on the statehood question soon, which will probably address this letter as well.