TEL AVIV, ISRAEL, August 6 — In a growing resistance to capitalist inequalities, 300,000 workers and students of all religious and ethnic groups held a mass rally against rising prices in central Tel Aviv. This demonstration was the high point, so far, of the “tent movement” that began two weeks earlier, as it went beyond the initial focus on unaffordable housing to more far-reaching demands that challenged the bosses’ dictatorship.
The backdrop for these protests is the rapidly-rising cost of living and rapidly-deteriorating wages in Israel, as the capitalists’ regime, facing crisis after crisis, tries to milk the last ounce of profit out of the working class. Despite a shortage of decent housing, many real estate developers refrain from developing land they’ve purchased to wait for the price to go up and maximize their profits. And, finally, the workers have had enough.
The protestors’ main slogan was “The People Demand Social Justice,” accompanied by “The People Demand a Welfare State.” Many also denounced the current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his “pig-like capitalism” (as if there could be capitalism which isn’t “pig-like”).
There were, however, far more militant slogans in parts of the rally, especially the bloc of the Power to the Workers union and a group of workers of all ethnic groups from Jaffa. Their predominant slogans were “All power to the workers!”; “A workers’ state – not a slave state!”; “The answer to cutbacks: revolution!”; a nd “The people will overthrow the regime!” While this group’s leadership actually meant “reforms” when it said “revolution,” many of the rank-and-file truly want significant change in Israeli society. Some would like the working class to be in power. All in all, they are very open to new ideas about how and where to lead this fight.
Many of these demonstrators clearly see themselves as part of the working class. For decades, the bosses bribed Israeli workers with a few crumbs from their table and convinced them that they were a “middle class” with different interests than those of blue-collar wage slaves. But as these white-collar workers saw their standard of living decline, they came to understand their exploitation by the tiny capitalist class. Now they see their true place in the class system — under the boot of the bosses and their state.
For the first time in many years, masses of Israeli Arabs and Jews marched together against the capitalist government, refusing to let racism divide them. This unity needs to grow even broader. The way forward is to link rising prices to the bosses’ need to expand fascism in the West Bank and Gaza, where racist Israeli settlements get huge government subsidies.
We in the Progressive Labor Party welcome these militant mass protests by the working class. We believe, however, that a reformed “welfare state” cannot bring true social justice. After all, capitalists are constantly driven to maximize profits, and do so by robbing workers and spilling workers’ blood in wars over resources and markets. Our only solution is a communist revolution by the whole working class, which will smash the bosses’ state apparatus and replace it with a new state for the workers, by the workers and of the workers.