TEL AVIV, ISRAEL, August 12 — Fifteen students and workers organized the first ever PLP Summer Project in Palestine/Israel. Throughout the project we met with students and workers who were fighting house demolitions (see CHALLENGE, 8/17/11); daycare workers fighting sexist exploitation (see CHALLENGE, 11/3/10); and participated in rallies and demonstrations protesting declining living standards of Jewish and Arab workers and students. We received a friendly reception when we distributed PLP literature in Hebrew and Arabic.
The Project not only inspired many of us to continue to fight for one international party but also validated our line: racism hurts all workers. Capitalists can divide workers politically as well as maximize profits by exploiting some sections of the working class and super-exploiting others. Here the Israeli ruling class exploits Jewish workers while super-exploiting Arab workers.
Destroy Arab Workers’ Homes and Then Charge Them for the Demolition!
The government confiscates Israeli citizens’ lands, justifying this by claiming that the Arab residents created extensions to the houses “without the proper permits,” making them “unsafe.” Israeli cops then evict the people and demolish their houses. And then they often charge the former residents for the demolition of their own homes!
This has occurred all over Palestine/Israel, from Jaffa to Lod to the West Bank. According to the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions, since 1967 the Israeli government has demolished nearly 25,000 homes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, besides thousands of other homes in other areas.
Those able to resist demolition are forced to live in miserable conditions, without access to basic food, running water and jobs. In areas where Arabs live near Jewish settlers, the Israeli government is constructing walls to separate the Arab workers from the town centers. Arab workers can only get food and go to work by traveling through a tunnel underground. If there is no Israeli soldier present to unlock the tunnel’s gate, the Arab workers must wait until one gets there (if at all) or else they can’t get to work.
Tent City Demonstrations
While Arab workers in Palestine/Israel definitely face the sharpest attacks from the Israeli ruling class, Jewish workers also suffer from these actions. When we arrived for the Summer Project, young professionals and college students had began pitching tents to protest rising rents and growing inequality here. Within two weeks those six tents turned into demonstrations of over 300,000 Jewish and Arab workers protesting the rising cost of living accompanied by stagnant wages and lack of social services.
These demonstrations are attracting Arab and Jewish workers throughout Israel, making them the largest against the Israeli ruling class in recent history. However, there is little criticism by Jewish workers about the apartheid state that the Israeli government has erected.
According to Avi Shauli from Ynet, Israeli rulers have spent over $50 billion to occupy Gaza and the West Bank (exceeding $700 million annually). In fact, they spend twice as much on the Jewish settlement residents as they do on other Jewish workers (NY Times, 8/3/11).
Fight Against Anti-Arab Racism Crucial to Workers’ Power
These struggles show the strength of PLP’s line on fighting racism. We have always advocated that the fight against racism is the key to uniting the working class and taking state power. Once Jewish workers connect their struggles to those of Arabs living in Palestine, it lays the basis for the working class to move forward towards building for communist revolution. However, Zionist ideas as well as Palestinian nationalism continue to divide the workers.
This is where CHALLENGE plays a big role. In the literature we distributed we cited the importance of Jewish and Arab workers uniting to fight for a worker-run communist state, not fighting for a capitalist one- or two-state “solution.”
We know we have a long way to go in building a communist revolution, but this can happen only if we’re involved in the struggles of the working class. Through this we can win workers to unite and fight for communism. The bosses have created the conditions for this fight. It’s up to us to bring all workers this communist analysis and build PLP in Palestine/Israel.