Middle East Archive  |  Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism

The Other Israel

The Radical Case Against Zionism


This book is the result of five years’ collective effort by a small group of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel to penetrate the dense net of illusion and myth that today dominates the thinking and feeling of most Israelis and, at the same time, largely determines the prevailing image of Israel in the Western world. According to the Zionist fairy tale, the state of Israel is an outpost of democracy, social justice and enlightenment, and a homeland and haven for the persecuted Jews of the world. This outpost, so the story goes, though earnestly seeking peace with its neighbors finds itself in a state of perpetual siege because of the greed of Arab rulers, the inherent “unreasonableness” of the Oriental mind and the innate Gentile proclivity toward hatred of the Jews.

The reality, this book demonstrates, is utterly different. The Zionist state was born in the violent expropriation and expulsion from their country of the Palestinian Arabs, and that process continues today. In open alliance with Western, especially United States, imperialism, and in scarcely hidden collusion with the most reactionary forces in the Arab world, the Zionist state actively sets itself against every step, no matter how faltering, taken by the Arab masses to alleviate the centuries’ old misery imposed on them by colonialism and imperialism. Within the territories occupied since 1967, the Zionist state employs a system of direct military repression to expel Palestinian Arabs from their lands and secure Jewish colonization of them, and to crush every expression of Palestinian resistance. Within its own borders, the Zionist state engages in systematic national oppression of its minority of Arab citizens. The dark-skinned majority of the privileged Jewish community itself increasingly feels the sting of racist discrimination, as economic inequality increases and social conditions deteriorate. Far from offering a haven to the persecuted Jews of the world, the Zionist state is leading new immigrants and old settlers alike toward a new holocaust by mobilizing them in a colonial enterprise and a counterrevolutionary army against the struggle of the Arab masses for national liberation and social emancipation – a struggle that is not only just but will eventually be victorious. This state of affairs is, moreover, in no sense accidental. It was the inevitable outcome of the success of the Zionist project to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. And to change this reality requires not merely a change of government or a modification of one or another specific policy, but a revolutionary transformation of the very foundations of Israeli society.

The collective labor that has gone into making the analysis presented in this book has not been an academic exercise. On the contrary, it is just a part of the continuing effort to develop within Israel a joint struggle by Jews and Arabs against this reactionary Zionist regime. Since 1962, the Israeli Socialist Organization (usually referred to by the name of its Hebrew-language monthly, Matzpen [Compass]) has been in the forefront of this struggle. [1] The goal of ISO, which includes both Arabs and Jews, is a socialist revolution throughout the Arab East. [2] It is explicitly anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist.

The Zionist establishment has been united in its attack upon the ISO, beginning immediately after the Six Day War of June 1967 when the ISO called for immediate withdrawal from the occupied territories. Since the war, however, opposition to Zionist policies has grown within the country and more people are being drawn to the radical position. Aware of this development, Matzpen’s opponents have conducted a campaign of misrepresentation, misquotation and character assassination in the media, the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) and even in the streets. The label “Matzpenik” has been applied to anyone who voices even mild criticism of Israeli policy, and is usually linked with the words “defeatist,” “self-hater” and “traitor.” Even Nahum Goldmann, the venerable president of the World Jewish Congress, was denounced as a “Matzpenik” when he voiced his criticism of the rigidity of Israeli Government policy (about which more later). M. Bar-On, head of the youth department of the Jewish Agency and former chief educational officer of the Israeli Army, declared in the March 31, 1970, issue of Yediot Aharonot:

“Matzpen is nothing more than a gang of traitors ... Matzpen is the same as Fatah ... They are the real initiators and planners of the poisonous Fatah propaganda against Israel ... [that is] distributed in Britain and Europe ... Matzpen doesn’t want peace ... they are traitors and self-haters and their only wish is to destroy Israel and its people and to erase their name from under the sun.”

Vigilante groups have been formed – especially in the universities – which are sworn to “cleanse the nation” of “defeatists.” ISO members are harassed in their jobs, and have often lost them. People passing out leaflets or hawking Matzpen in the universities and on the streets were regularly attacked, and the material has sometimes been burned in ceremonial auto-da-fe. The organization has been forced to defend its meetings against physical attack by organized goons. Typical of these incidents were an attack on Matzpen demonstrators at Tel Aviv University, who were protesting the blowing up of Arab houses, and the unsuccessful assault by the recently founded fascist student organization, the Wolfs Cubs, on an ISO meeting in Jerusalem which was addressed by Daniel Cohn-Bendit. [3]

The witch-hunting campaign has not been limited to attacks by the media or by vigilante groups. It has been accompanied by increasing police harassment of ISO members, especially Arabs. Khalil Toamme served nine months in prison in 1968-69 after a “trial” by a military court. After his release he was confined indefinitely to his village by military decree. Not one of the Arab members of ISO remaining in the country is completely at liberty – all are either under house arrest or area restriction by administrative decree. [4]

Another aspect of the repression is the severe censorship imposed on Matzpen. Not only has the proposed Arabic-language edition, El Nurr (The Light), been prohibited, but whole articles are sometimes censored out of the Hebrew edition under the pretext that “publication of this material may harm the security of the State and the security and welfare of the public.” In one instance, twelve out of sixteen articles submitted to the censor were suppressed in what would have been the December 1969 issue.

But even after the leaflets or the magazine is “cleared” by the censor, the police regularly prevent their distribution. Members of Matzpen are arrested while distributing the leaflets or selling the paper; they are detained for “interrogation” for a few hours or days, and the material is confiscated and never returned. Sometimes they are formally charged with offenses ranging from slandering public officials and inciting to rebellion to littering the streets and disturbing the public peace. But a trial has yet to be held.

As the campaign against dissent gained momentum, official and semi-official spokesmen began to demand that the ISO be outlawed. On June 4, 1970, the parliamentary caucus of the ruling Labor Party discussed a motion to that effect presented by Knesset member Matilda Gez. Prime Minister Golda Meir opposed the step, not from any consideration of democratic principle, but because, as she put it, “Matzpen would be more dangerous underground than it is now.” [5]

Under the headline Action Against Israelis Who Slander the State Abroad Will Be Considered, the July 15, 1970, Ma’ariv reported: “The Foreign and Justice Ministers were invited to a meeting of the coalition leadership to make a final decision on the action to be taken. There was general agreement that this phenomenon must be stopped.” The report continued, “Mr. Y. Klinghoffer [member of the Knesset] said that he will press for a law permitting revocation of the citizenship of Israelis who slander the state abroad.”

An especially lamentable aspect of the witch-hunt campaign against dissenters has been the haste with which many “doves,” ‘liberals” and “radicals” have rushed to disassociate themselves from the ISO in order not to further antagonize the Zionist establishment. Indeed, Moshe Sneh, until his death in 1972, leader of the Zionist faction of the Israeli Communist Party, and Uri Avnery, leader of the New Force Party and publisher of Ha’olam Hazeh, led the attack on the ISO. This tactic, as many liberals in the United States learned to their sorrow during the 19505, does not work. The leaders of the Peace and Security Movement, Siah (the Israeli New Left) and the Peace List learned in 1969 that it is not a successful election tactic.

Oddly enough, this entire campaign has been accompanied by an unending flow of statements to the effect that the ISO is merely a tiny “new left” splinter group, something wholly insignificant, and that outside of a handful of self-haters and beatniks, everyone in Israel totally rejects its views. The question that inevitably arises is why such a vigorous effort is directed against such an allegedly insignificant group. Why the whole campaign?

The answer, of course, is simple: The ISO, while still very small, is not insignificant. It is the only anti-Zionist political group [6] in a situation in which the fundamental political division is between Zionist and non- or anti-Zionist (the division between “right” and “left” Zionist is in reality superficial.) [7] It is not insignificant because the failure of Zionist policies to meet the vital needs of the Israeli people has led to an increasing receptiveness to many of the ISO’s ideas, especially among the youth – both students and young workers.

That the political division among Israelis is in reality primarily between Zionists and non-Zionists is testified to by the fact that since 1948 the whole political spectrum has been constantly shifting to the right. This shift to the right has manifested itself particularly clearly in attitudes and policies toward the Palestinians. The differences among the various Zionist parties have become merely tactical, and the line between “hawks” and “doves” or “extremists” and “moderates” cuts across the division between right and left. This is due to the fact that everything the Zionists achieved in Palestine was the result not of agreement with the Palestinians but of faits accomplis at their expense. These faits accomplis were then secured by brute force, before 1947 primarily with the support of British power, and after the establishment of the state by the Israeli Army supported by US aid.

The logical consequence of this dependence on one or ano6her imperialist power is the consistently pro-imperialist foreign policy which has actually resulted, despite the fact that the government has been in the hands of “socialist” parties.

In the early 1950s, Israel tried to secure a military pact with the United States. It supported the United States in the Korean war; until US policy changed, it opposed the admission of China to the United Nations; in 1956, it attacked Egypt in collaboration with Britain and France; it supported the fascist Secret Army Organization in Algeria and voted repeatedly in the United Nations against Algerian independence; it opposed the independence movements of Morocco,

Tunisia and Indonesia; it works with the CIA in “moderate” African countries – two well-known examples being the training of the Ethiopian Army and police and the training of paratroopers for the Congo’s General Mobotu. Israel endorsed the Eisenhower Doctrine and supported the landing of US and British troops in Lebanon and Jordan in 1958. It has supported King Hussein of Jordan against attempts to overthrow him – most recently in September 1970 – by the simple expedient of hinting broadly that any change in the Jordanian status quo would bring about Israeli military intervention.

The Israeli Government has found various ways to indicate its actual support for the US venture in Vietnam. Dayan visited Vietnam as early as 1967 as a guest of the United States Information Agency. South Vietnamese officials have visited Israel to “study” the methods used to control the Palestinian resistance in the occupied territories. Prime Minister Golda Meir went out of her way to congratulate President Nixon on his November 3, 1969, statement of Vietnam policy and expressed the view that his speech “contains much that encourages and strengthens freedom-loving small nations the world over.”

Israel’s so-called defensive war of 1967 coincided with US imperialist interest in the Middle East. This was admirably summed up immediately after the conflict: “To Washington, the combination of Israeli muscle and US sweet talk had produced eminently satisfactory results. ... As an indirect beneficiary of the Israeli blitz, the US should at least be in a position to neutralize the Middle East, so that its oil can be profitably marketed and its waterways used for the benefit of world commerce.” [8]

There has been no real difference among the parties participating in the “national unity” government regarding foreign policy, defense policy, relations to the United States and relations to world Jewry. Arguments or disagreements between the partners, so far as they have existed at all, have related to minor tactical points – how best to pursue the basic Zionist aims, how, at any given moment, to get away with as much as possible in the unending attempt to impose acceptance of the Zionist state on the Arab, and especially Palestinian, people.

Nor has there been any real difference among the Zionist parties on domestic questions. The “socialist” and liberal secular parties went along with the religious parties in passing laws that have strengthened the religious character of the Israeli state, particularly laws defining “nationality” and eligibility for Israeli citizenship in terms of an archaic racial-religious criterion. The same parties, supposedly representing the workers and those “socialist islands,” the kibbutzim, acceded to the economic policies that profit local and foreign capitalists while freezing wages, reducing workers’ standards of living and curtailing the right to strike. All the major parties, in short, share a fundamental commitment to Zionist goals, and the differences between them are purely tactical in nature.

But the fact that the Israeli Socialist Organization is the only political group that is anti-Zionist in a situation in which the only fundamental political difference is that between Zionism and anti- or non-Zionism does not by itself explain why it has come under such intense attack and has obviously brought consternation to the halls of government. What transforms a small, anti-Zionist organization into such a danger as to merit such an onslaught? The answer to this question lies in the failure of the Zionist state to meet the needs of the Israeli people.

The Jewish state was supposed to become the instrument of the in-gathering of the world’s Jews through which they could be united in a proud and independent nation that could take its place among the nations of the world. In reality, there are now more Jews in New York City than in all of Israel, and in many respects the Israeli-Jewish nation resembles the ghetto that the founding fathers wished so desperately to escape more than it does a sovereign nation. It is regarded by a hostile Arab world as a foreign implantation, and its leaders must periodically inform its people that their security, even their survival, depends on whether or not the United States is prepared to deliver fifty or so Phantom jets.

The Jewish state was also supposed to enable the Jewish people to develop an enlightened and democratic culture. In reality, however, high-school students who today are beginning to question some aspects of Zionist policy and culture find it necessary to form underground groups. Radical youth and other dissenters are viciously attacked by the Zionist establishment’s spokesmen in the media with such epithets as “traitor and Fatah agent” and “beatnik.”

A peace song that became a popular bit was banned from the Armed Forces radio stations. The Queen of the Bath, an anti-war play, was censored, repeatedly attacked in the press, and physically disrupted by right-wing goons. It was finally forced to close, although it was playing to full houses, because the municipality of Tel Aviv threatened to cancel its subsidy to the Kame’ry Theater. The film M.A.S.H. was banned [9], and the draft-card-burning scene in Hair was cut by order of the censor. Ministers of government have seen fit to try to incite a lynch-mob attitude toward opposition groups and ideas, especially those involving political dissenters who are not only non-Zionists, but proclaimed anti-Zionists. Minister without Portfolio [10] Israel Galili has called for “widespread reasoned and downright public condemnation of all poisonous comment which goes beyond the bounds of criticism permissible in a democratic state.” According to a Jerusalem Post report, “In Mr. Galili’s opinion, the condemnation should not be left to the Government alone, but a spontaneous campaign must be waged against it though without, God forbid, being carried away by witch-hunting.” [11] Galili’s appeal to “reason” and his pious disclaimer of any “witch-hunting” cannot hide the fact that he is really calling for mob assault on dissenters.

Police brutality against demonstrators, especially the recently organized Israeli Black Panthers, and the use of the Emergency Regulations and even military courts against workers on strike, have proven once again that a people that oppresses another people cannot itself be free. Instead, in short, of the free and open society Israel was meant to be, the ghost of Joseph McCarthy stalks the land and the specter of dictatorship is becoming visible on the horizon.

Above all, the Jewish state was supposed to secure the physical existence of the Jews, end pogroms forever and fend off a second holocaust. In reality, however, Jews are subject to more physical danger in Israel than anywhere else. And until there is revolutionary change within Israeli society and with regard to its relations to the Arab world, the Israeli-Jews will find themselves in an increasingly perilous position.

This state of affairs did not come about by accident. On the contrary, it is the inevitable outcome of the Zionist project: to establish an exclusively Jewish society in a territory already in possession of a people who had lived and worked there since time immemorial. The Zionist goal required that a “normal” Jewish nation be established. This implied the creation of a Jewish working class, a Jewish peasantry, a Jewish bourgeoisie, perhaps even a Jewish feudal class.

This side of the Zionist aim meant that Zionism had to become a colonizing movement of a specific land. Its character is best seen by comparing it with the “classical” colonialism as practiced, for example, in South Africa.

There, colonialism had a two-fold impact on the indigenous population and on the social, political and economic structure. It first displaced the original inhabitants and disintegrated the traditional society and culture. Subsequently, however, it reintegrated the uprooted inhabitants as workers to be exploited into the new colonial society. In South Africa, the Africans were first thrown off the land, and they were then sent to work as wage laborers in the European-owned mines, factories and farms.

The commitment to a “normalized” Jewish society, however, precluded this kind of colonization in the Zionist undertaking. Rather, the “natives,” the Palestinian Arabs, were displaced, but they were not reintegrated as workers, as all social functions had to be reserved for Jews. In this way, the settlers came into conflict to a lesser or greater degree with all the classes of indigenous Palestinian society. The Palestinian feudalists sold their land to the Jews, thus liquidating themselves as a class, and the peasants were thrown off the land when the Jews bought it The Zionist “Jewish labor only” policy prevented the integration of non-Jewish workers, and the efficient organization of the Zionist colonizers, their ready access to foreign capital and their high level of skills and education made it impossible for would-be Palestinian capitalists to compete with them. Thus they successfully blocked the development of a Palestinian comprador capitalism that might have offered some employment to die expropriated Palestinian peasants. The result was the development of a practically hermetically sealed Jewish society in the middle of a disintegrating Palestinian society. While the nature of “classical” colonialism is primarily to exploit, Zionist colonialism displaces and expels.

The Zionist colonization proceeded under three basic slogans. The first of these is Kibush Hakarka (Conquest of the Land). This means that the holy soil of Palestine is to be made the patrimony of the Jewish people. Jews must work the land, and Jews alone are entitled to do so. During the mandate period, mis slogan justified the Zionist land purchases and the forcible removal of the Palestinian peasants; since the formation of the state, it continues to justify the violent expropriation of Palestinians without any pretense of contractual agreement

The second slogan is Kibush Ha’avoda (Conquest of Labor). In practice, this means that, as far as possible, Jewish enterprises must hire only Jewish workers. It meant that the Histadrut, which virtually excluded Arabs from membership until the mid-igsos, had as its main function before the establishment of the state in 1948 the enforcement of an Arab labor boycott

The third of these slogans is Tozteret Ha’aretz (Produce of the Land). In practice, this slogan meant the maintenance of a strict boycott of Arab-produced goods. Jews were to buy only from Jewish-run farms and stores.

Today, either from tactical considerations or from stirrings of guilty consciences, Zionist spokesmen try to cover up this past – and present To demonstrate that these slogans in fact

represented day-to-day practice of the Zionist colonization, it suffices to quote David Hacohen, a leader of the Mapai Labor Party, which ruled and still rules in Israel Hacohen was a member of the Knesset for many years and chairman of its most important committee, Defense and Foreign Affairs. In a speech to the secretariat of the Mapai in November 1969, Hacohen stated:

I remember being one of the first of our comrades to go to London after the First World War ... There I became a socialist ... When I joined the socialist students – English, Irish, Jewish, Chinese, Indian, African – we found that we were all under English domination or rule. And even here, in these intimate surroundings, I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my trade union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there. ... To pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the markets and smash the Arab eggs they had bought; to praise to the skies the Kereen Kayemet [Jewish Fund] that sent Hanlon to Beirut to buy land from absentee effendi [landlords] and to throw the fellahin [peasants] off the land – to buy dozens of dunams [12] from an Arab is permitted, but to sell, God forbid, one Jewish dunam to an Arab is prohibited; to take Rothschild, the incarnation of capitalism, as a socialist and to name him the “benefactor” – to do all that was not easy. And despite the fact that we did it – maybe we had no choice – I wasn’t happy about it, [13]

Hacohen’s revelation of his feelings is surely sufficient evidence that these slogans constituted day-to-day practice and that Zionism was in fact a colonization of displacement. In addition to the systematic economic and social displacement of the Palestinians, it involved the physical displacement of the population. For example, as Berel Katzenelson, the leader of Mapai before Ben-Gurion, wrote twenty-seven years ago,

“Situations are possible in which the transfer of population will become advisable ... We do not assume the right to force anybody out This is a basic Zionist assumption ... But was not Kibbutz Merhavia built on a transfer? Without many such transfers, the Hashomer Hatzair [14] would not today be sitting in Kibbutz Merhavia, nor in Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emeck, nor in any other places ...” [15]

And R. Weitz, a Zionist leader, for many years the head of die Jewish Agency’s colonization department – die body in charge of the actual organization of the Zionist settlements in Palestine – commented in September 1967 that twenty-seven years earlier he had made the following notation in his diary:

“Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country ... We shall not achieve our goal of being an independent people with the Arabs in this small country. The only solution is a Palestine, at least Western Palestine (west of the Jordan River) without Arabs ... And there is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to die neighboring countries, to transfer all of them: Not one village, not one tribe, should be left ... Only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb the millions of our own brethren. There is no other way out”

Then, this time speaking in the aftermath of the Six Day War, he added,

“From that point of view, the ‘transfer’ solution was discussed at the time, and it was supported by B. Katzenelson, J. Vulkani and M. Ussishkin, and some preliminary preparations were made to translate this theory into practice. Years later, when the UN passed the resolution to partition Palestine into two states, the War of Independence broke out to our great fortune. In this war, a twofold miracle occurred: territorial victory and the flight of the Arabs. In the Six Day War, there was one miracle: a tremendous territorial victory. But the general population of the liberated territories remained ‘stuck’ in their places, and this may destroy the very foundation of our state.” [16]

The state of Israel was the product of the colonization movement. And as Weitz, despite his invocation of “miracles,” indicates, today that state is the instrument of continuing colonization. This fact is testified to not only by Israel’s continued occupation of the Arab lands conquered in 1967 and the expulsion from mem of several hundred thousand Arabs, by the refusal to date, despite US pressure, to withdraw from these territories, and by the confiscation of land in East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Hebron and other West Bank areas to build Jewish settlements and kibbutzim; but it is also evidenced by the very words of the Israeli leaders. Weitz has already been cited; Moshe Dayan, who is still directly in power in Israel, said to a group of American Jewish students on the Golan Heights just a year after the June war,

“During the last 100 years, our people have been in the process of building up the nation, of expansion, of getting additional Jews and settlements in order to expand the borders. Let no Jew say that the process has ended. Let no Jew say we are near the end of the road.” [17]

Another aspect of Zionism relevant to this discussion arises from the effort to implement colonization under the historical conditions prevailing at the end of the nineteenth century and during the twentieth. The “native” population of Palestine had to be displaced, but Palestine, like most of the world, was already under the domination of some world power. The colonization project could thus be carried out only with the co-operation – often strained but nonetheless real – of the dominant power in the area. Max Nordau, Herd’s deputy, formulated the principle of Zionist foreign policy succinctly: “Our aspirations point to Palestine as a compass points to the north. Therefore we must orient ourselves towards those powers under whose influence it happens to be.” Accordingly, the Zionists sought – unsuccessfully – a charter from the Ottoman Empire, ruler of Palestine before the First World War. When it became clear that the “sick man on the Bosporus” was dying and that England would emerge as the dominant power in the Middle East, the Zionists oriented themselves toward London and got as their reward the Balfour Declaration. During the Second World War it became evident that the United States was destined to supplant Great Britain’s role in the Middle East, and the Zionist compass changed direction again, this time toward Washington.

It is easy to see why Zionism had to ally itself with the dominant world power in that region in order to implement its conquest of Palestine. But what did the country in power gain from this alliance? From the beginning, Zionism had certain benefits to offer its guardians. While Theodor Herzl was trying to gain Ottoman support, he wrote in his pamphlet, The Jewish State,

“If His Majesty gthe Sultan were to give us Palestine, we could in return undertake the complete management of the finances of Turkey. We would form there a part of a wall of defense of Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism. We would, as a neutral state, remain in contact with all Europe, which would have to guarantee our existence.”

To the British Empire, the Zionists offered the services of a loyal “European” community which would take the place of many military units. The British clearly perceived the importance of this offer. Sir Ronald Storrs, the first civil governor of Jerusalem under the British Mandate, wrote in his memoirs,

“Enough [Jews] could return, if not to form a Jewish state ... at least to prove that the enterprise was one which blessed him that gave as well as him that took, by forming for England ‘a little loyal Jewish Ulster’ in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism.” [18]

And Lord Melchett who, as an English capitalist and Zionist, represented both sides of die bargain, wrote in a letter,

“The advantages to the British Empire are obvious ... The Suez Canal and air stations, the oil-pipe outlet in Haifa and its harbor, have become vital to our naval strategy in the Mediterranean. The security of the imperial complex of interests can be better assured by a large European population than by the few battalions that can be spared.” [19]

Today, the basis for the alliance between US interests and the Zionist state and movement is easy to discern. The Zionists are seeking to compel acceptance by the Arab world as a foreign colonizing force. This has been expressed many times in many different ways by Zionist spokesmen. Perhaps the most open and honest was Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s statement immediately after the June war,

“If Hussein can’t accept our peace conditions, let the Jordanians look for a new king. And if the Jordanians can’t stand our peace conditions, let them look for another country.” [20]

But every step, no matter how halting, toward the achievement of Arab unity and the basic social transformation of the Arab world jeopardizes this aim. The United States, on the other hand, aims at securing as much as possible its hold on the economies and resources of the region, especially the immense oil reserves. And every step here toward Arab unity and basic Arab social transformation jeopardizes this hold. Here lies the common interest that binds Zionism with the United States and imperialism in general.

Gershom Shoken, editor and publisher of Ha’aretz, Israel’s New York Times, made the matter quite explicit in the early 1950s. He wrote:

The West is none too happy about its relations with the [Arab] states in the Middle East The feudal regimes there have to make such concessions to the nationalist movements, which sometimes have a pronounced socialist-leftist coloring, that they become more and more reluctant to supply Britain and the United States with their natural resources and military bases ... Therefore, strengthening Israel helps the Western powers to maintain equilibrium and stability in the Middle East Israel is to become the watchdog. There is no fear that Israel will undertake any aggressive policy toward the Arab states when this would explicitly contradict the wishes of the US and Britain. But if for any reason the Western powers should sometimes prefer to close their eyes, Israel could be relied on to punish one or several neighboring states whose discourtesy toward the West went beyond the bounds of the permissible. [21]

As a result of this alliance between the Zionists and the United States, the Israeli Jews today stand in a double antagonistic relation to the Arab world. The Zionist state is the direct colonial oppressor of the Palestinians. At the same time, as the junior ally of imperialism in the region, it acts against the aspirations of all the Arab masses for Arab unification, the end of foreign, big-power domination and exploitation, and basic social transformation. The masses of all the Arab countries must therefore combat Zionism as a part of their struggle against the reactionary and debilitating forces and structures in their own countries. They have no other choice if they are not to acquiesce in continuing servitude under their present yoke.

The Palestinians in particular directly confront the Zionist state as their immediate colonial oppressor. They must fight it if they are to resist expulsion from their homeland, and every believer in democracy must unconditionally support their right to conduct this struggle by any possible means. It would be utter hypocrisy for anyone, especially an Israeli Jew – a member of the oppressor nation – to say to the Palestinians: “This you may do; this you may not do,” in the conduct of that struggle. [22] At the same time, this double contradiction explains the extreme peril in which Israeli Jews find themselves today.

Attempts by the great powers to impose a “peaceful” solution cannot succeed in the long run. Their success could only depend on the ability to freeze the status quo: that is, to maintain the Zionist state, perpetuate their domination in the Arab world, and keep the status of the Palestinians one of refugees or, at most, offer them a Bantustan-like “state” in part of, or all of, Jordan. But this status quo contains overwhelming contradictions that cannot long be frozen. The Zionist state on the one hand cannot be purged of its colonizing tendency and imperialism cannot be purged of its tendency to exploit the region ever more intensely. On the other side, the Palestinians have demonstrated that nothing short of the end of national oppression can in the long run end their struggle, nor can the Arab masses tolerate continued domination and exploitation.

If the Jewish masses are not split from their Zionist rulers, if they do not free themselves from Zionist ideology, if they should fight to the end for the Zionist state instead of joining die Arab masses in a common struggle for liberation, then the Jewish people of Israel will eventually fall victim- to the Arab anti-colonial, anti-imperialist struggle directed against the Zionist state.

This analysis also clarifies how the Arab-Israeli conflict can be resolved. The Israeli Jews must themselves eliminate the double contradiction of their position vis-a-vis the Arab world. This is expressed in the demand of the ISO for the de-Zionization of Israel, involving, first of all, the abrogation of all laws and practices that confer special privileges on the Jews at the expense of the Palestinians. This means repeal of the Law of Return and a readiness to accept all Palestinians who wish to return to Israel and compensation for their losses if they do not Secondly, de-Zionization means breaking the ties that bind the Israeli-Jewish nation to imperialism. It means the end of the military, economic and political dependence of Israel on the United States – or any other imperialist power – and the end of Israeli financial dependence on the Jewish community there.

These measures would involve a total break with the Zionist past They would manifest, for the first time, the willingness of the Israeli Jews to live with instead of against and at the expense of the Palestinians and other Arabs. At the same time, given-the class structure of Israel, to accomplish this de-Zionization will require nothing less than a socialist revolution.

Further, a solution will require integrating the Israeli-Jewish nation into a unified, socialist Middle East on the basis of the right to national self-determination.

Exercising this right to self-determination is, of course, subject to restriction: It cannot be contrary to another peoples national rights. That is why Zionism, like any colonial movement, cannot under any circumstances be a legitimate expression of the Israeli-Jewish nation’s right to self-determination. That is why the de-Zionization of Israel is the necessary precondition to the Israeli-Jewish nation’s exercising its right to self-determination.

To recognize the right to self-determination is not to encourage separation and national particularism. If you support liberal divorce laws, it does not follow that you must urge married couples to get divorced. The purpose is to minimize the potential frictions between national communities and thereby to create the basis for voluntary integration and unification. Moreover, the ISO’s concept of self-determination in the context of a unified, socialist Middle East [23] is not only correct in principle, but it is also die only conceivable basis for attracting and mobilizing the Israeli Jews and other non-Arab minorities in the Middle East in a joint struggle with the Arab masses. This is what is decisive for revolutionary socialists.

This program is not Utopian. [24] It is a real, practical perspective; it is a program that can, in time, win the allegiance of the Jewish masses of Israel. Hie reason for this is simply that, as I indicated at the beginning, Zionism has, in its own terms, failed utterly. There is today the beginning of a real opposition, especially among the youth, to Zionist ideology and policies.

It is possible for one incident, in the proper context of events’, to move an entire segment of a nation. In the case of Israel, this occurred after the greatest military victory in the country’s history: the Six Day War. With the support of the United States, the Zionist leaders found their state and its method of confronting its neighbors with faits accomplis further from being accepted than at any previous time. It became increasingly difficult for them to assure die Israelis that things would soon change for the better – the refrain “Just one more war, and then ...” was wearing thin. A new refrain, “Ein Brera” (There is no choice), began to replace the outdated one, but this, too, progressively lost its credibility.

Suddenly, in the spring of 1970, an incident occurred that did more to destroy completely its credibility than any other single event Nahum Goldmann, die seventy-eight-year-old president of the World Jewish Conference, reported to the Israeli Government that he had received an invitation from President Nasser to visit Cairo and conduct informal, exploratory talks on the possibility of normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab states. According to Goldmann, the Egyptians had placed no conditions except that the Jerusalem Government be informed and that the fact of the talks be made public. On April 5, 1970, a government communique from Jerusalem – the first the Israeli public had heard of the invitation – announced that under no circumstances would it sanction such a mission by Goldmann to Cairo.

The effect was electric. A student assembly at Tel Aviv University declared its support for the projected Goldmann visit Otherwise pro-government newspapers harshly denounced the coalition for its refusal In one Jerusalem high school, fifty-six students, including the son of a member of the Knesset, wrote a letter to Golda Meir expressing their doubt as to whether they would be justified in serving in the army after the regime’s refusal to explore the possibilities of peace. Most significant of all were demonstrations involving hundreds of students, who were brutally attacked by the police. Although the demonstrations were organized by Rakah, Siah and Matzpen, participation in them was far broader than the total membership of these organizations.

This reaction enraged and frightened the Zionist establishment, for now it was brought face to face with a phenomenon it had often tried to ignore before – the fact that a substantial part of the country’s youth was being radicalized prior to their military service and was becoming increasingly “unpatriotic.” Before the Goldmann affair smaller numbers of young people had, of course, been involved in various kinds of dissenting activities. They belonged to Peace and Security, Siah and especially Matzpen – which had been recruiting heavily ever since the June war. They had participated in the small demonstrations against the occupation, collective punishment, blowing up of houses, settlement of Jews on confiscated Arab land, etc. Gradually, members of Siah had been drawn into these demonstrations, usually against the will of their leaders. High school students had begun to publish “underground’’ magazines and form groups with such revealing names as Youth for Change and Circle for Free Thought. The establishment had naturally tried to belittle all these small groups, reserving the major portion of its witch-hunting for Matzpen. But after the Goldmann affair stance became impossible to

For example, Davar, the Labor Party daily, wrote that government ministers were becoming more and more concerned with the “internal front,” the credibility gap, radi-calization of the youth, and the growing extreme-left extra-parliamentary opposition. [25] The letter written by the Jerusalem high school students even caused tie normally staid Ha’aretz to lose some of its cool, although it too was critical of the government in the Goldmann affair. Their aims are good,” opined the April 20 editorial, “but their intellectual capabilities are limited. They mix up some slogans and some ideas they apparently got from the Matzpen people ... They don’t know our history in Palestine, and they don’t remember the Holocaust.”

The consternation of the Zionist establishment was not stilled when the high school students, who had been invited to discuss their concerns with Deputy Premier Y. Allon, reported after the interview that they were not satisfied with Allon’s answers to their questions. In a speech before the secretariat of the Histadrut (the federation of labor unions), Golda Meir said, “Our main strength is a united people ... [disunity] will be our most dangerous enemy.” She added that she had been “very upset” by the high school students’ letter. She also found it “incredible” that Jews could demonstrate against a Jewish presence in Hebron. At the same meeting, David Hacohen expressed his concern at “the virus that has entered some people. If Britain at war could lock up Moseley, why do we let the Matzpen people walk around free? [26]

Pinhas Sade, the son of Yitzack Sade, the legendary commander of the Pahnach (the elite unit of the prostate Zionist Army), declared in an article that “the moral basis of being an Israeli was lost” by the government’s handling of Nasser’s feeler to Goldmann. [27] And Assi Dayan, Moshe Dayan’s son, came out in favor of total withdrawal, East Jerusalem included, in exchange for peace. [28]

Such critical sentiments from the sons of Zionism’s greatest heroes were distressing enough. But they were mild compared to what many previously apolitical youth were now saying. A manifesto that appeared in the underground paper Na’ashosh read:

“You, the tired and dead young man, awake! Liberate yourself from the traditions of your father and grandfather. Protest against the stupid leadership that brought us here. Stop agreeing to every word uttered by Dayan and Golda. Go out into the streets, mount the barricades and fight for peace. Don’t say the security situation doesn’t allow this; fight to change the security situation ... The war was not forced upon us, you forced it upon yourself by following your leaders. Do as young people do all over the world. They fight for peace in foreign places, in Vietnam, and you don’t even fight for peace in your own country.” [29]

Another underground publication read by youth, Gaashosh, published a poem seeking the words for the Zionist disaster:

The flood carries away the house and its foundations
The “old ones” sit on the chest that floats on the water
And they send out the children to swim in the rushing waters
To save die remnants of their past
They don’t feel that the flood is going to topple them
They sit comfortably on a couch on die floating chest
And send the children to swim
And sometimes to drown.
Who can resuscitate those drowned in cannon shells? [30]

The underground publications go far beyond mere expressions of the hopelessness of the present situation or manifesto-like calls for sometimes rather indeterminate action. They reflect an effort on the part of many young Israelis to recover their real history, to confront die falsified “official’’ Zionist history with the reality. For example, they reprint old clippings from Israeli papers reporting the methods used to drive out the Palestinians during the 1948 war and later, thus refuting the official myth that the Palestinians left of their own free will And on this basis they expose the hypocrisy of the Zionists who moralize about Palestinian “terrorism” when terror directed against the Palestinians is the historical basis for their state.

The official sages of the Israeli media tried their best to explain away all of this by appealing to “psychological” factors – such as the “rebelliousness” of youth and the “rigidity of the establishment.” Yet it is forced to recognize that the constant state of war, the brunt of which is borne by the young people, has a lot to do with it Amos Elon reported that all the teachers he had interviewed said that “the younger generation is troubled, and they ask pertinent questions. They are not satisfied with the answers they receive.” He quoted a principal of a Tel Aviv high school: “The majority of the students are convinced that Israel is in a blind alley and they are looking desperately for a way out When they think they may have found one – like the Goldmann affair – they rebel.” [31]

One of the most striking testimonies to the depth of die radicalization of die youth – and the apprehension with which the

ruling establishment regards it and the consequent growth of Matzpen – is an interview with Deputy Premier Allon that appeared in the Ha’aretz, May 22, 1970. Allon lamented:

“I knew of the doubts they had, but I hadn’t realized that they questioned our historical rights in Palestine and that they have doubts about their willingness to fight ... The ideological activity of Matzpen is harmful. Luckily, they don’t have a substantial number of youth, but in the face of the difficult period we are in, Matzpen’s ideas are taking hold.”

Perhaps the clearest statement of what is involved in all this is an item in the May 6, 1970, Ha’aretz:

“There is no doubt that a movement like Matzpen attracts the youth. It presents an ideological challenge, supplies rebellious activities, and is associated with revolutionary movements abroad that are fashionable today. Matzpen operates in an educational void. The Zionist youth movements lost their attractiveness a long time ago. They do not present a clear challenge to the youth, and they are confused.”

It was a natural consequence of such a radicalization that in July 1971 four young Israelis stated publicly that for reasons of conscience they were not going to serve in the army. They sent an open letter to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declaring:

“We refuse to participate in the oppression of another people, as was done in the past to our forefathers. We are not willing to serve in an occupying and oppressing army ... Occupation is foreign domination, foreign rule means a resistance movement, resistance movement means oppression ... We were not born free to become oppressors.”

The Zionist establishment responded to this in die only way it knew: quick military trials and sentences in military stockades, accompanied by a campaign in the media which ridiculed the resisters, questioned their mental stability and naturally insisted that they were influenced by Matzpen. Not one newspaper found it necessary to publish their open letter.

But die radicalization has not been limited to the students. At the beginning of 1971, with the increase in immigration to Israel from the West, the Israeli Black Panthers began an organized struggle opposing the social, economic and racial discrimination against Oriental Jews. Their first leaflet was short and to the point: “Enough” was the slogan;

“Enough of unemployment. Enough of watching apartments being built for new immigrants while we have to sleep ten persons in one room. Enough of government promises that are never kept. Enough of police brutality. Enough of exploitation. Enough of discrimination.”

So went the leaflet, ending with the call

“How much longer will this continue while we keep quiet? Alone we can do nothing; united we will succeed.”

The reaction of the government and the entire Zionist establishment was predictable. Members of the Black Panthers were arrested while passing out their leaflets; they did not get a permit to demonstrate [32], and the decision to break up their planned demonstration in Jerusalem by force was made at the highest level

“High government officials approved police action in preventing the Black Panther demonstration ... The decision was taken in a meeting in which the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior and the Police Minister participated ... Mrs. Meir decided that the demonstration should not be allowed to take place and authorized the police to make preventive arrests.” [33]

The official explanation given for this extreme step was that die Panthers had criminal records and were manipulated and incited by Matzpen. Two days before the planned demonstration, the arrests began. The entire Black Panther leadership was detained, along with a few members of Matzpen. A police spokesman declared in a press conference that a prerequisite for granting a permit to a Panther demonstration would be a total break in their ties with Matzpen. He added, “... ties with Matzpen are not against the law, but the law forbids ties having the character of incitement.” [34] Teddy Kollek, the Mayor of Jerusalem, “accused Matzpen members of inciting criminals from the slums to open a struggle to improve the social conditions of the poor ...” [35]

This, then, was the official version: The Panthers were criminals and had ties with Matzpen. And the media all joined in the accusation. But the demonstration took place in spite of the efforts to suppress it Hundreds of people came to the defense of the arrested Panthers and Matzpen members and demonstrated against social discrimination in front of the Municipal Building in Jerusalem. Kollek shouted from his window: “I don’t care why you’re here, but get off the grass and flowers!”

This was just the beginning, for the cry of the Panthers was heard all over Israel; in the slums of the big cities and in the small development towns a wave of solidarity with the Panthers swelled rapidly. Committees were formed to demonstrate their support for them; some of the committees bore such names as Defense for the Bights of Young Couples and Justice and Equality.

The prevailing mood among growing numbers of Oriental Jews was exemplified in an interview with a young mother of four children living in the small town of Yerocham in the Negev. After explaining that her family lived in a one-room apartment, she said,

“I went to Amidar [36], and asked for a two-room apartment that would be large enough for the children we already have, and for those that will come in the future. They told me there were no empty flats, but I saw there were many empty apartments in my neighborhood. When I asked about them, they told me it was for new immigrants ... They give [them] a two-room apartment even when they don’t have children, and we with four have only one room. This is so because we are from Morocco. Last week ... some friends of my husband came over and they talked a lot; they said that we should do the same things in Yerocham that the Panthers did in Jerusalem. They said that we would get justice only by force, and not by begging. I think they are right. You wait and see, well have some action in Yerocham, too.” [37]

The Black Panther movement grew and continued its struggle, in spite of the onslaught in the media, police harassment and repression, and notwithstanding Golda Meir’s pronouncement that “they were not cute.” In demonstration after demonstration their numbers grew. Police brutality intensified, as did the campaign to buy them off, penetrate the organization with provocateurs, bring about splits in the organization, and slander them in the media. The whole process culminated in what became known as “The night of the Panthers.”

On May 18, the Panthers held a public meeting followed by a demonstration. A few hundred people attended the meeting, but afterward, when the demonstration began marching through Jaffa Street, Jerusalem’s central street, their numbers swelled to thousands of people marching peacefully and shouting the Panther slogans for equality and “Teddy Kollek, we’ll not get off the grass”; “Golda, teach us Yiddish” [38] and their old slogan “When will Abouthbul be equal to Faigin?” [39]

When the march reached Zion Square in the center of Jerusalem, the police suddenly appeared; a police officer approached the first ranks of the marchers and ordered them to “disperse in two minutes or well clear the streets.” The march did not disperse, and immediately hundreds of helmeted policemen attacked the marchers. Mounted police and water cannons [40] were used, but the people fought back and were even joined by the onlookers. It quickly developed into a full-scale riot that went on through the night. People defended themselves against the police, shop windows were broken, stones and bottles were used against attacking policemen, and some Molotov cocktails were thrown. [41] Dozens of persons were wounded by the police; over 150 persons were arrested and beaten up in the police stations where they were detained. The police gave “special treatment” to the leaders of the Black Panthers and anyone suspected of being a leftist, including a sixteen-year-old girl. [42]

The Zionist establishment was united in condemning the Black Panthers and their “violence.” Golda Meir repeated that the Panthers “were not cute ...” and went on to “ask”: “How could a Jewish hand throw a Molotov cocktail at a Jewish policeman?” [43]

“The Prime Minister rejected the viewpoint that deprivation and poverty were responsible for pushing these young people [the Panthers] to violence,” reported another newspaper.

“What is needed,” Golda said, “is to love the fatherland in such a way that we will become one nation and one family ... The greatest and most horrible catastrophe possible is to divide the nation. Even Zahal [the Israeli Army] will not be strong enough to stand up against our many enemies if we allow the poison of divisiveness to penetrate ... if we allow demagogues to incite riots and plant the seed of division among us – this endangers our life and our existence.” [44]

Reacting to the widespread hostility and criticism of the special privileges the new immigrants from the West received, the Prime Minister declared: “... Demagogues are trying to appear as defenders of the poor and the deprived, and they criticize the new immigrants, [but] if the state will not do everything in its power for any Jew to come here ... it will not be a Jewish state in my eyes.” The newspaper report came to the “ultimate” argument:

“The Prime Minister hinted openly that behind the Black Panthers stand political elements that are hostile to the state; she said that during the riot in Jerusalem a young Ashkenazi [45] was arrested; he was also arrested previously while demonstrating in front of her house against Jewish settlements in Hebron. “What,’ she demanded, has he to do with the Panthers and their problems?’” [46]

This sentiment was shared by another government spokesman; the Minister of the Interior announced that the government would investigate “the dirty political hands that are mixed up in this ... [and that] the cease-fire is not a green light for social and cultural wars.” [47] In other words, the answer of the Zionist establishment was violence and more repression – its traditional method for dealing with the awakening of the oppressed masses – and to charge them with being “unpatriotic,” endangering the “Jewish existence” and being manipulated by “elements who are hostile to the state” (i.e., Matzpen).

It is true that in the face of this campaign carried out by the government, the media and “responsible critics” and aided by the inevitable appearance of “Uncle Toms” of Oriental origin, this radicalization lost ground; the Black Panthers, especially, suffered a series of inner splits that practically immobilized them. But the problem of the Oriental Jews remains and intensifies. It is impossible to solve it – to make them equal in the context of the capitalist-Zionist structure of Israel today. It is impossible to ignore the fact that two of the main slogans of Zionist ideology contradict each other. Kibbutz Galuyot and Mizug Galuyot [48] are two aims that are incompatible and mutually exclusive.

And when a Black Panther, or anyone else, demands equality and questions the special privileges granted the new Western immigrants, he is attacking the very foundations of the Zionist state, which are based on discrimination – first and foremost against the Palestinian Arabs, but now more and more against the Oriental Jews as well. This is why Golda Meir states that this – i.e., a state without discrimination of any kind – will not be a Jewish state in her eyes. And this is why Matzpen’s intervention in this struggle is “hostile to the state.”

Matzpen reacts to the Black Panthers’ battle cry “When will Abouthbul be equal to Faigin?” by stating that “Abouthbul will be equal to Faigin when Mohammed is equal to Abouthbul!” And more and more Oriental Jews are beginning to understand as a result of their experience and Matzpen’s intervention that their struggle is not isolated from the general class struggle, that it is futile to fight for equality, demand integration and expect the Zionist establishment to “grant” it, that ultimately there must be a total transformation of the socio-economic structure by socialist revolution in order to succeed in gaining their demands for “justice and equality.” One can understand the significance of the ISO’s intervention, its role, and why the Zionist establishment must be hostile to it, try to repress, and slander it and call it a tiny, insignificant group.

The unfolding and intensification of the contradictions within Israeli society have not been limited to the youth and the Oriental Jews. On the most significant front – that of the workers’ struggle – the spring and summer of 1971 brought about a new explosion. Strikes and walkouts are not new phenomena in Israel, but the Israeli proletariat lacks the tools that are necessary for such struggles, for successfully defending itself against exploitation by local and foreign capital It lacks a tradition of workers’ struggles, not only a revolutionary one, but even a real tradition of trade-union action. The majority of the workers are immigrants with a petit-bourgeois background. They have no union, for the Histadrut is not in reality a union but one of the main pillars of the Zionist power structure and the second largest employer in Israel after the government. [49]

Another factor that plays a role in stifling the class struggle in Israel is the colonial character of the state. This brings material privileges to the Israeli-Jewish workers in comparison to the Arabs, and the large inflow of capital that has enabled the Israeli rulers to throw some crumbs to the workers from time to time.

Nonetheless, income differentials have increased [50], and the feeble attempts to integrate the Oriental Jews as equal partners with Western Jews failed. Exploitation of the workers – the majority of them Oriental Jews and Arabs – has increased, while at the same time the state has granted more and more subsidies of one sort or another and pursued other economic policies to assure foreign and local capitalists even greater profits, making Israel more appealing to foreign investors and attracting Jewish immigrants from the West, especially the United States.

The June war and its aftermath accentuated this pattern. Demands on the economy increased enormously, taxes were raised, inflation spiraled, and the wages of the workers were practically frozen – especially those in the lower strata. No one in the government dared consider interfering with the soaring profits and the “good business” everyone was doing [51], everyone, that is, except the workers. With this background in mind, it is easy to see why strikes increased in number and intensity; and why the overwhelming majority of them were “unauthorized” strikes, i.e., without the approval of the Histadrut. In 1970, there was a 60 per cent increase in the number of strikes over 1968. Partial walkouts and slowdowns rose from eight in 1968 to thirty in 1969 and to sixty-four ha 1970. Most of the strikes occurred in the service sector, which is controlled by the government and the Histadrut. This culminated in the spring of 1971 when the strike wave spread over the entire economy.

The government and the Histadrut defined all the strikes as “wildcat, irresponsible and illegal,” proving once again their basically repressive and anti-labor character. A series of anti-labor laws were approved by the Knesset, and the Histadrut went along after making some “responsible” criticism. Special courts were established so that workers who struck “illegally” – i.e., without the Histadrut’s sanction-could be prosecuted and imprisoned like common criminals. The Emergency Regulations were used to break up the strikes of workers and compel them to return to work by “restriction decrees.” [52] The police drove out workers who seized factories. [53] Military courts imposed prison sentences on customs workers in the occupied territories when they went on strike in solidarity with their striking comrades in Ashdod.

The ISO has been able to intervene in this volatile situation with some success. A typical Matzpen leaflet for distribution in front of the work places has lie format of a “Wanted” poster with pictures of Meir, Dayan and Sapir and a text accusing them “of violence against the Panthers and workers ... of robbing poor families and reducing the workers’ standard of living ... of character assassination ... of striking workers and slandering them in the media ... of lying to the people and making a multitude of unkept, election-time promises.” The ISO has also published a pamphlet entitled Theory of the Strike that not only exposes the Histadrut as the anti-labor outfit it is, but also contains concrete discussions of how to organize an action committee, how to build a strike fund, how to conduct all aspects of a successful strike. A central emphasis of all Matzpen literature aimed at workers in their work places is the necessity for their self-organization in action committees as a step toward building a genuine, independent trade-union organization that can defend their elementary economic interests as a class.

The road to a mass revolutionary movement in Israel will be a long and arduous one. The development of such a mass movement will depend decisively on the intensification of the Arab revolutionary movement for national liberation and social emancipation. [54] But the ISO’s ideas are already taking hold and gaining in influence because the dynamics of the class struggle in Israel are revealing the real alternatives with increasing clarity. The choice is either the present Zionist capitalist structure, with its inherent discrimination, contradictions and oppression, or the revolutionary alternative, the socialist future, of a society freed from discrimination and oppression, a society organized by and for the workers. And the dynamics of this struggle are such that even before arriving at full revolutionary consciousness, all those questioning important aspects of the existing order – the young student questioning oppression of the Palestinians and the endless war; the young Panther or older Oriental Jew questioning privileges granted to new Western immigrants; the worker struggling to defend his right to build a real union to protect him from exploitation – are undermining the foundations of the Israeli Zionist state. Their struggle is leading them toward a revolutionary consciousness and the understanding that it is essential to build an anti-Zionist, revolutionary party to lead a successful anti-imperialist struggle and socialist revolution.

Moshe Dayan said in a speech given on the anniversary of the 1956 Suez war:

“I’m worried when people begin to compare butter to cannons because you cannot make cannons out of butter. It is impossible to raise simultaneously the flag of war and the flag of social reform. Today we are in a bad situation; a flag is raised now in the country – by itself not a bad flag – the flag of social reform, the flag of new apartments for young couples, the flag of solving the problems of the Panthers ... It is impossible to raise both flags at die same time. Israel cannot support two flags – the flag of war and the flag of all those reforms and improvements for the workers and young and not so young Panthers. Those two flags cannot exist together in the State of Israel ... Those flags are contradictory ...” [55]

Of course, Dayan is right The two flags are indeed incompatible, for the flag of imperialist war is the flag of Zionism, and the flag of social change is the flag of socialist revolution. The general goes under his flag; we must go under ours.


Arie Bober
Jerusalem, February 1972

Top of Page


1. Since this book went to print, the ISO has split into two roughly equal groups, one centered in Tel Aviv and the other in Jerusalem. Both groups claim the name ISO and the honorship of the monthly Matzpen. Of the people mentioned here, A. Bober, A. Sa’id, E. Aminov and M. Varshevsky belong to the Jerusalem group; the rest are either independent or close to the Tel Aviv group. The dispute which led to the split did not concern matters discussed in the present volume.

2. The terms “Middle East” and “Arab East” are used interchangeably in this book to refer to that region stretching from the northern and eastern borders of Syria and Iraq across the Arabian Peninsula to the western borders of Egypt. The Arabic-speaking people of this region are socially and culturally clearly demarcated from their Turkish and Iranian neighbors. The demarcation in the west and south is far less clear, and in this book – with its focus on Palestine – there is no discussion of the extremely complex relations between the Arab East so defined and the Arabic-speaking regions southward into the Sudan and westward across North Africa to the Atlantic.

3. These two incidents were reported in Yediot Aharonot on Apr. 3, 1970, and June 1, 1970, respectively.

4. One index of the profoundly racist nature of the Israeli state is the fact that merely being a Jew offers considerable protection from legal harassment. Members of the New Communist Party (Rakah), which is overwhelmingly Arab in composition, have also been subject to intense police and judicial persecution.

5. Ma’ariv, June 5, 1970.

6. This statement requires some qualification in the case of the Communist Party, which is discussed in Chapter 6, The Left in Israel.

7. This is a vital point, which is elaborated on in Chapter 6.

8. Newsweek, June 19, 1967.

9. After the cease-fire, it was allowed to be shown in a heavily censored version.

10. A member of the government without a specific office.

11. Jerusalem Post, May 3, 1971 (italics added).

12. One dunam = 0.23 acres.

13. Ha’aretz, Nov. 15, 1969.

14. The youth movement of Mapam, the extreme left wing of Zionism; see The Left in Israel, Chapter 6.

15. Katzenelson, Writings, Vol.V, pp. naff.

16. Davar, Sept. 29, 1967.

17. Ma’ariv, July 7, 1968.

18. Orientations, London: Nicholson, 1937, p. 404.

19. (London) Daily Telegraph, June 14, 1937.

20. Yediot Aharonot, July 17, 1967.

21. Ha’aretz, Sept 30, 1951.

22. See the ISO statement of March 22, 1968, at the end of this book.

23. See The Case for Hebrew Self-Determination, Chapter 12.

24. See Conclusion for a more detailed discussion of this program.

25. Davar, May 1, 1970.

26. Jerusalem Post, May 8, 1970.

27. Ha’aretz, Apr. 19, 1970.

28. Ha’olam Hazeh, May 20, 1970.

29. Quoted in Ha’aretz, June 12, 1970.

30. Quoted in Ha’aretz, May 6, 1970.

31. Reported in Ha’aretz, June 10-12, 1970.

32. One must have a police permit to demonstrate, under Israeli law.

33. Ha’aretz, Mar. 3, 1971.

34. Ibid.

35. Ha’aretz, Mar. 1, 1971.

36. The government Housing Corporation.

37. It is worth noting that the municipality of Yerocham asked the government for 500 new apartments. They were promised 240, but in Mar. 1971 the Housing Ministry informed them that only 95 would be built, and of these 50 were to be allotted to new immigrants (Ha’aretz, Mar. 26, 1971).

38. This slogan was raised after it was reported that Golda, when meeting with new immigrants from Russia, got carried away and declared that a Jew who does not know Yiddish is not a real Jew.

39. Abouthbul is a common name among Moroccan Jews; Faigin, the Russian immigrant, is one of Israel’s new “heroes.”

40. These are special police vehicles equipped with water hoses to disperse people.

41. Rumors, which were not refuted, circulated that this was the work of police provocateurs.

42. According to the report by the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, Mar. 20, 1971.

43. Ha’aretz, May 20, 1971.

44. Yediot Aharonot, May 20, 1971.

45. A Jew of Western origin.

46. Yediot Aharonot, May 20, 1971.

47. Ha’aretz, May 20, 1971.

48. Kibbutz Galuyot: the In-gathering (to Israel) of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora; Mizug Galuyot: the integration of the different Jewish communities and overcoming the economic and social “gap” between them.

49. See the discussion on the Histadrut in The Left in Israel, Chapter 6, and The Histadrut: Union and Boss, Chapter 7.

50. The gap between the highest wage earners and the lowest increased by 500 per cent since 1950, i.e., the average salary of the top 10 per cent of the salaried workers was 3.2 times of the lowest 10 per cent of the salaried workers in 1950; in 1971, it was 15 times. (Ha’aretz, Mar. 15, 1971). One must remember that this only applies to wage earners; it does not include profits and other incomes from capital.

51. A common statement at the time was, “For every soldier killed at the Suez Canal front, three new millionaires are born in Tel Aviv.”

52. It was the Mapam representative in the government, Mr. Shem-Tov, who signed the “restriction decree” against the medical and non-medical staff of government hospitals.

53. For example, during the strike of me customs officials and clerks, the police opened by force the gates to Ashdod Harbor and attacked the strikers when they defended them. And during the attack on the Rogozine plant in Ashdod the workers seized the plant to prevent toe management from selling the products still in the warehouses.

54. See Conclusion for a discussion of some aspects of the fundamental connection between the revolution in Israel and the Arab revolution.

55. See Yediot Aharonot, Nov. 7, 1971, for the full text of the speech (italics added).


Middle East Archive | Encyclopedia of Trotskyism

Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 19.8.2006