Israel/Palestine: the proletarian alternative

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Despite the spiral of nationalist hatred which often paralyses the class struggle in Israel and Palestine, the severe economic privations resulting from a state of permanent war have pushed workers on both sides of the divide to fight for their most basic material interests. In September, tens of thousands of civil servants in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip staged strikes and demonstrations to demand that the Hamas government cough up several months of unpaid wages. Ironically, on November 29, news reported that “A general strike has broken out in the Israeli public sector with airports, ports, government offices, and post offices all being shut down. Histadrut (General Federation of Labour) has called a strike in response to violations in agreements between the union and local and religious authorities. Histadrut is claiming these authorities are in arrears over salaries and employers money due to be paid into pensions funds has disappeared”

Imperialist war means economic ruin. In this case, the bourgeoisie on both sides is increasingly unable even to pay its wage slaves.

Both these struggles were subject to all kinds of political manipulations. In the West Bank and Gaza, the opposition nationalist faction, Fatah, aimed to use the strikes as a means of putting pressure on its Hamas rivals. In Israel, the Histadrut has a long tradition of calling tightly controlled ‘general strikes’ to back particular bourgeois policies and parties. But it is significant that in Israel the Histadrut’s general strike (which was called off almost as soon as it had begun) was preceded by a wave of less well-marshalled strikes among baggage handlers, teachers, lecturers, bank workers and civil servants. Disillusionment with Israel’s military fiasco in the Lebanon has no doubt fuelled this growing discontent.

During the September strike in the Palestinian territories, the Hamas government denounced the civil servants’ action as being against the national interest. And despite all the manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie, the class struggle does fundamentally remain opposed to the national interest and thus opposed to the march towards imperialist war.  Amos  2.12.06