In 1947-8 and in 1967 the Zionist state turned over one million Palestinians into refugees. After 1967 the Zionist capitalists super-exploited the Palestinian workers in the new occupied territories. However following the outbreak of the popular Intifada in 1987 the Zionists have begun to import super exploited immigrant workers to replace the Palestinian workers who were thrown out of the Zionist capitalist places of exploitation. It was all done in the name of security for the colonialist settlers.
For years the leaders of the Zionist movement have shed crocodile tears over the refugee crisis in Darfur, however when these refugees started knocking on the Zionist state’s door, it initially closed its gates to them. This exposed the fact that the Israeli govt. and the Zionist movement were not motivated by concern for the suffering of the Sudanese, but by their need to spread Islamophobic propaganda.
Around 27,000 refugees from Eritrea and Sudan managed, despite all obstacles, including murder at the hands of the Egyptian Army, to enter Israel. They received a typical welcome to a state established, according to the Zionists, to prevent a new refugee tragedy – they were sent to jails and various other detaining centers with a clear message that the refugees are not welcome in Israel. Today they live a life of poverty and hardship. Since 1951 Israel granted a refugee status to 190 people, all South Vietnamese, supporters of the pro-US regime, while the US abandoned them after South Vietnam was defeated by the North.
Thousands of applications for political asylum were rejected in Israel in the past few years. Very few managed to receive such status. According to recently uncovered data, the committee in charge of political asylum applications has only convened six times in 2008-9 and only 52 out of 3,211 cases brought before it were reviewed.
The Jewish refugee crisis of WW2 and the Zionist movement
The Second World War, the continuation of the first, was an imperialist war. Both the Allies and the Axis powers fought over cheap labor, markets and resources. During the war both imperialist blocs committed horrendous crimes against humanity.
The European Jews were among the victims of a mass global carnage. The gates of the western superpowers were closed to those of them who managed to escape and become war refugees. Thus, western rulers contributed to the mass murder of the Jews by the imperialist German state under the Nazi regime.
The Zionist movement used its influence in the US and the UK and supported imperialist politicians, such as Churchill and Roosevelt, who closed the gates to the Jews. The motivation of Zionist leaders like Weisman, Ben Gurion and Stephen Weis, was the concern that efforts to save the European Jews and opening the gates of immigration for them will undermine the Zionist project of the colonization of Palestine. They also claimed that a campaign to save the European Jews will undermine the Allies’ war effort.
After the war the Zionists demanded support for the establishment of the State of Israel in order to avoid a similar tragedy in the future to befall persecuted war refugees. At the same time Israel created the refugee crisis in Palestine by displacing, for the purpose of ethnic cleansing, more than 700,000 Palestinians.
Israel was one of the first countries to sign and give its support to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, however, it does not fulfill it since its only interest was to capitalize on the tragedy of the Jewish refugees for propaganda purposes to advance the Zionist project.
The global refugee crisis today
According to a UN June 2010 report, there are around 15.2 million refugees around the world. Most of them fled the Southern regions of Sudan, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. The responsibility for their fate, first and foremost, falls upon the US and all other imperialist countries who are involved the aforementioned “3rd world” countries, directly or indirectly, through occupation or steering up armed conflicts with the purpose of taking over natural resources within or around them.
The global economic crisis strikes ferociously at 3rd world countries, the situation of which was dire already before it as a result of imperialist exploitation and local ruler collaborationism. In addition to the aforementioned refugees, over 43 million human beings, mostly from Congo, Somalia, and Pakistan, have become displaced and are seeking food and shelter. According to UN reports, and contrary to popular assumptions, most refugees and DPs immigrated to other 3rd world countries, because the West, who created the problem, closed its gates to them. 12 million more people have become stateless.
Immigrant workers and refugees in Israel
More than 200 thousand immigrant workers reside in Israel. It imported them after the Palestinian popular uprising which began in 1987, when Israel felt compelled to cast out the Palestinian proletariat that lived in the 1967 occupied territories. Half of the immigrant workers in Israel possess legal work permits. All of them occupy positions regarded undesirable by Israelis for their miserable working conditions and pay, especially construction, agriculture, disabled and elderly care. The second half is even more exploited than the first, and not only do they work for under-minimum wages, they are also being persecuted and hunted down by the immigration police.
Today the Netanyahu-Yishai-Barak govt. plans to deport 400 immigrant workers for having children who were born in Israel. There is little difference of position regarding immigrant workers and refugees between Barak, leader of the Zionist left, and Netanyahu or Yoshai, leaders of the Zionist right. The Israeli media’s lash against Yishai as a racist is meant to shift public attention from Netanyahu and Barak who share the same policy. Initially the govt. was planning on deporting 1200 immigrant workers, parents to children born in Israel, but it was compelled due to public pressure to narrow down the number of deportees.
Some have raised their voices in Israel against the deportation; some of them are employers whose interests are directly tied with preservation of a cheap and docile workforce; some are concerned with the decline in Israel’s public image around the world; and the smaller portion is occupied by liberals who also protest the humiliation of the Sudanese refugees. However, they do not demand granting immigrant workers who seek it, citizenship status, which proves that they are after the continuation of their exploitation.
The most leftist Zionists, like Meretz, can also be counted among them – they attacked Yishai for being a racist, but in practice this party did not defend them neither by organizing demonstrations, nor by promoting legal reforms in the Knesset to protect them. A search in Hadash Hebrew website or the website of Ma’avak Sozialisti for any mentioning of the suffering of the refugees and immigrant workers would yield nothing but a waste of time. Apparently, they simply do not exist for them.
Similarly, there are hardly any Israelis who demand the return of the Palestinian refugees – a result of the Zionist desire to maintain a Jewish majority in a land stolen from the Palestinians.
The arguments taken by Israel used to be very familiar to the Jewish refugees persecuted in Nazi Germany and faced closed gates in western countries:
-The country must be clear from elements foreign to the nation.
-There is a scarcity of social services, which will be depleted should an influx of foreigners be allowed.
-The foreign immigrants would steal jobs from the workers of the nation.
There is a direct connection between the oppression of the Palestinians and the hatred of immigrant workers. On July 9th this year a religious decree was issued, signed by 25 Rabbis in Tel-Aviv, a city the dilapidated southern neighborhoods of which, have become home to many immigrant workers, which warns against renting apartments to illegal immigrant workers and refugees whom they describe as “infiltrators.”
The refugees and capitalism
Capitalism pushes the workers to struggle against the exploitative mode of production which stands in the way of further development of the forces of production. The racist arguments used by enemies of immigrant workers and refugees have a very clear motive – dividing the working class by means of racial incitement against immigrant workers. This is especially true in times of financial crisis, when an attempt must be made to get rid of workers imported in times of financial boom.
Even though on the surface, namely in the framework of the Zionist state, the capitalist system and the imperialist order has succeeded in creating a deep animosity between the Palestinians and the immigrant workers in the country. The Palestinian workers who were expelled from their places of work by the Zionist employers and their state during the popular Intifada and the immigrant workers who were brought in to replace them, have been pushed into a conflict. However, it is only so from a mechanical reformist and nationalist point of view that worships the existing socio-political order.
In contrast, from a revolutionary point of view, the two seemingly opposing interests can be unified through a revolutionary struggle against the Zionist state and the imperialist order. The enemy of the Palestinian workers and poor are the Zionist capitalists and their state, resting on a settler colonialist society that stole the entire country from the Palestinians.
The Palestinian workers need work and we demand to open the places of work before them. However, in order to gain work in what today is Israel the Palestinian people led by the working class need to overthrow the Zionist state and expropriate the main capitals under workers control as part of a regional and global revolution. In this way they will have not only the jobs but also the political power.
The immigrant workers, who were forced to leave their countries because of the imperialists that robbed them, also need work, but they need to feel safe and not be hunted down by the Zionist immigration police. To gain this freedom they have to support not the Zionist super-exploiters but the revolutionary struggle of the super-exploited Palestinian workers who have been struggling for so many years against oppression and exploitation – a struggle that will establish a Palestinian workers state from the river to the sea as a part of a Socialist Federation of the Middle East.
By integrating themselves into the revolutionary struggle, the immigrant workers and the refugees from third world countries will be integrated (after the victory of the revolution) into the new state as part of the revolutionary rule of the working class.
The importance of opposing the Zionist Law of Return
The Zionist law of return is threatening both the Immigrant workers who can be replaced by new Zionist settlers, and the Palestinian masses as the new Jewish settlers join the existing settler-colonialists to fight against Palestinian national liberation. Thus, the interest of the Palestinians and the Immigrant workers is against the law of return. That is why we in the ISL oppose the Zionist reactionary and racist law of return and struggle for the return of the Palestinian refugees.
The importance of workers’ internationalism
The real allies of the Palestinian nation and the immigrant workers in the region are the super-exploited workers of the region. The integration of the Palestinian struggle with the immigrant workers struggle into the regional workers’ revolution is the only way to win the struggle for a Palestinian workers’ state from the river to the sea.
The Palestinians, in spite of their heroic long standing struggle, are too weak to defeat the Zionist imperialist state. The Palestinian workers who used to work in the rich oil states of the Persian Gulf can easily understand that the enemy is the ruling class and not the immigrant workers from Pakistan, for example, who were brought into the rich Arab oil states to replace them after they were thrown out following the Iran-Iraq war in 1981. Based on this experience it is not difficult to understand that the enemy is the foreign Zionist capitalists and their Zionist state and not the “foreign” immigrant workers.
From a strategic point of view it is much easier for the Palestinians people to win over the immigrant workers and thus become stronger, than the Jewish settlers – the Afrikaners of Palestine.
Most Jewish workers in Palestine are racists not only because of false consciousness, but because as settler colonialists they have a material interest in supporting the Zionist state. In their racism they are similar to the white workers in the US as Trotsky wrote in 1933 on the black question:
“But today the white workers in relation to the Negroes [a common expression at that time to refer to blacks – the editor] are the oppressors, scoundrels, who persecute the black and the yellow, hold them in contempt and lynch them. When the Negro workers today unite with their own petty-bourgeois that is because they are not yet sufficiently developed to defend their elementary rights. To the workers in the Southern states the liberal demand for ‘social, political and economic equality’ would undoubtedly mean progress, but the demand for ‘self-determination’ a greater progress. However, with the slogan ‘social, political and economic equality’ they can much easier be Misled according to the law you have this equality.”
Should we have lived in a different country, we would have called upon the working class to struggle for the return of the Palestinian refugees and against immigration restrictions. However, even when the Zionist state is a death-trap for the Israeli Jews, unlike the the super-exploited working class of the region, the Israeli working class cannot develop an internationalist revolutionary consciousness out of wage and working conditions struggles. The Israeli Jewish workers are part of a settler colonialist society similar to the white South African workers.
Only successful proletarian revolutions in other countries and especially Middle Eastern ones can convince a section of the Israeli Jewish working class to support a socialist revolution. This revolution would establish a Palestinian workers’ state from the river to the sea, as a part of a socialist federation of the Middle East. This revolution will allow the Jewish minority (after the return of the Palestinian refugees) to live a safe life, free from ethnic or religious discrimination.
We, the Trotskyists in Israel, who adhere to a movement that demanded opening the western gates before the refugee Jewish masses, bring forth today the following demands:
For the right of the Palestinian refugees and their families to return!
Down with the Zionist law of return!
Open the places of work before the Palestinians from the West-Bank and Gaza and the Palestinian refugees!
Open the gates of the State of Israel without restrictions before immigrant workers and refugees!
Open the gates of all wealthy countries before immigrant workers and refugees granting citizenship status to all immigrants who apply for it!
With the development of the revolutionary working class consciousness in the region out of the class struggle itself, revolutionary workers’ parties will be established fighting until victory for the following demands:
For a Palestinian workers’ state from the river to the sea as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East!
Re-create the Fourth International!