The Housing Protests in Israel (July 2011)

Join the Arab Revolution!

No to the Housing Discrimination against Arabs!

We have gathered here today to protest the increase in the costs of living in Israel in the last decade, which have lately become unbearable. Thus, after years of relative silence the Israelis, led by the middle class, have erupted with the mass protests we see today. However, we must all remember, that while the Israelis enjoy relatively high living standards, their Palestinian neighbors, citizens and non-citizens, face the continued theft of their lands, jobs, and in the case of Gaza especially, are even denied the most essential commodities necessary for life such as food and medicine. Hundreds of thousands remain trapped in refugee camps and face the deadly fire of Israeli machine guns should they try to return to their homeland.

Today, we wish to appeal to our Jewish Israeli brothers and sisters with the ever inconvenient and blunt truth: that without a complete unification of this struggle with the Palestinian and the regional Arab revolutions, every concession the government makes will come directly out of the mouths, and from under the feet, of the Palestinians. This can only fan the flames of nationalism and make peace and security for any of the peoples of the region even harder to achieve than they are today.

We, as working class revolutionaries, obviously sympathize with the Jewish workers and middle class who are today struggling against ever-increasing economic exploitation at the hand of the state. We in no way intend to use our criticisms of the politics of the movement as an excuse for abstaining from it. But we have absolutely no intention to hide these criticisms either, and for good reason: while the Arab world burns with political and social revolution, the mass of Israeli Jews remain faithful to their own state, despite their struggle against this specific government. Indeed, the problem with the Israeli working class has never been an inability to rise up against the government on economic issues or even some political issues; the problem is that most of the Jewish working class in Israel is incapable of joining the struggle against Zionist oppression.

This is not the first time the Israelis have come out en masse to protest government policy. The early years of the state witnessed impressive struggles of the dock workers, which even formed a Soviet of sorts; a struggle against the recession in the 1960s, which many believed was planned by the ruling MAPAI party; and the mass demonstrations against the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982. This last demonstration, even with its dovish-Zionist character, was a thousand times more progressive than the current movement. It at least touched on the question of racist oppression; the current movement ignores the status of Palestinians altogether and indeed avoids “politics” (i.e., the national question) as a matter of policy.

The strength of a working class movement is measured in its ability to break with its ruling class politically. The Israeli masses did not come out to protest the terrible treatment of Palestinians, nor the Lebanon War, nor the massacres in Gaza known in Israel as “Cast Lead”. The movement against various racist laws passed by the Knesset, including the Nakba and Anti-Boycott Laws, was limited to small groups of left-Zionist intellectuals. In this sense, the recent demonstrations expose not the revolutionary potential of the Jewish working class (which, we have no doubt, exists to some extent), but rather its limitations.

Contrast this to the situation in the rest of the Middle East. In places in which the working class is strong like in Egypt and Tunisia, the masses, headed by the working class, managed to overthrow their despots and in Egypt the revolution goes even further. Merely a couple of months ago the masses in Egypt thought that the army stands with the masses, but now they learn that the heads of the military are part of the link between capital and political power. Merely a couple of months ago, they believed that the Muslim Brotherhood stand with them, but now they learn that this movement supports the army. This shows a real advance in working class consciousness and a gradual break with the ruling class.

The cause for this difference is not difficult to comprehend. It is deeply rooted in the privileged status of Jews living in Israel. Even though living standards for Jews in Israel are among the worst in the developed world, they are far better than those of Palestinians in the territories and even inside Israel itself. Cheaper or not, practically every Israeli Jew knows that his housing is available to him primarily due to the driving out of Palestinians by the state during the 1947-8 war. This is just an example of the privileges afforded to Israeli Jews by the state, that weigh like a nightmare on the consciousness of the Jewish working class in Israel.

These privileges are hardly due to the altruism of the Israeli ruling class. Israel receives an enormous amount of financial, political and military support from the richest countries in the world, headed by the US, for it to be able to fulfill the role it was conceived to play – securing their interests in the Middle East. Their main motivation is the two great natural resources of this area – oil and cheap labor. In order for Israel to fulfill its role within the imperialist system’s division of labor, they must turn the Israelis into oppressors on the one hand and cannon fodder on the other. They demand that Jews kill and be killed serving the interests of the big capitalists and the government. Any struggle against the Israeli capitalists can only be successful if it challenges capitalism and imperialist oppression in the region.

We must again emphasize that our criticisms are not meant to be taken as mere moralizing or as an abstract demand for Israeli Jews to repent for past sins. Communists are interested not in moral superiority but in a working class revolution. But the problem remains that a class that cannot come to terms with and renounce the crimes of its ruling class will never make a socialist revolution. Thus, our approach is aimed not to alienate Israeli Jews but instead to reach the best elements of the Jewish working class who are capable of such a break with the ruling class, for only they will be able to join the socialist revolution of the working masses of the region.

We have no doubt that the Palestinian masses would join such a revolution because of their continued oppression over decades. Also, we have no doubt that the Arab masses throughout the Middle East are sympathetic with their Palestinian brothers and their suffering. The way for the Jewish masses to join the Arab revolution is by joining the Palestinian masses in their struggle to create a workers’ state from the river to the sea as part of a workers’ federation in the entire region. It is the duty of revolutionaries to work their hardest to make this perspective a reality; however, we must realize that in all likelihood, we will not be able to recruit the majority of Jews to the revolution, and thus our perspective must focus on the Palestinian working class and those Jews willing to join it, as well as securing the sympathetic neutrality of the rest of the Jewish working class.

The workers’ state that would be formed out of the regional revolution would allow the return of the refugees, who also suffer from harsh problems in the field of housing, as they were driven off their lands by Israel. With the return of the refugees the workers’ state would become Palestinian in its national character. However, Jews who would struggle alongside the Palestinians in a revolutionary struggle, will also become a part of the ruling class – the workers and the poor, Palestinians and Jews alike.

As we have said, the only real way to make any gains in the struggle for economic demands is to link the struggle with the Arab working class revolution and specifically with the Palestinian struggle against the state. In this context, one can hardly appreciate a struggle regarding housing which does not discuss the question of housing for Palestinians. While Jews have a difficult time for housing, Palestinians have a hard time even receiving permits to build houses. Thus, many construction projects have to be undertaken illegally and produce shoddy and unsafe housing. A primary demand of any struggle on housing in Israel which truly wishes to unite all of society behind must be to end this dreadful discrimination in housing – no ifs, ands or buts.

The Zionists are trying to teach Jewish workers day and night that the Arab masses are their enemies, especially the Palestinians, but this is nothing short of a lie they use to keep ruling and fill the pockets of the big capitalists. The Jewish workers’ real enemy is the same as that of any other working class – the capitalist system.


If you agree with our position, please contact and join us:

For quality and cheap government housing for all, Jews and Arabs!

No to the prevention of building permits from Palestinians!

No to the demolition of Palestinian houses and land theft!

For Jewish solidarity with the Arab masses!

For a socialist revolution in the Middle East!

For a Palestinian workers’ state from the river to the sea!

Jewish and Arab revolutionaries together in power!


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