Proposal for a New Law in Apartheid Israel

By Yossi Schwartz
Internationalist Socialist League
RCIT-Section in Occupied Palestine/Israel
18.6.2013 and

Haaretz, the Hebrew-language daily newspaper, writes today (June 18): “If there was anyone hoping that the wave of anti-democratic legislation which characterized the previous Knesset would stop with the end of its term, the decision of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation from the day before yesterday demonstrates that the current government and Knesset apparently intend to outdo all their predecessors in repressing minorities and institutionalizing discrimination against them.“

Hiding behind the seemingly innocuous name State Donors’ Rights Act are a number of Machiavellian and cynical proposals that have been approved by the ministerial committee. In general, these proposals permit the giving of preferential treatment to persons who have served in the IDF (Israel army) in issues relating to: employment in general and specifically employment by the state; salaries paid for the same work; providing services to and receiving orders from state offices and private commercial firms; the allocation of land for building homes; and the provision of day care services at institutions of higher learning. The meaning of the proposed legislation, if passed, is increased discrimination against already disadvantaged and marginalized groups, in particular the Arab population of Israel, but also Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews), the disabled and sick, and others who have received exemptions from service in the IDF.

Legalization of Inequality

There are those who justify the proposed legislation as a means to compensate those who serve or have served in the standing army and in the IDF reserves. However, the proposed law is not really about such compensation, since the state can directly compensation those who in fact perform such service. Furthermore, if passed, the bill will sanction preferential treatment for anyone who served in the IDF for at least 12 months, regardless of whether or not they serve in the reserves. In this way, instead of adopting affirmative action to improve the lot of the disadvantaged and marginalized, the proposed legislation seeks to further improve the lot of the already strongest and best represented groups in Israeli society: Jewish citizens, especially males.

The proposed legislation undermines the idea of equality in that it chooses to discriminate against those whose starting point in society is the worst — the Arab public. In practice, despite the laws against discrimination that are on the books, the Arab public and members of other populations – precisely those who the proposed legislation will hurt – are already discriminated against; they already have less access to employment, land, and government services. If the new bill is approved, it will effectively circumvent all laws prohibiting discrimination by making it legal to give preferential treatment to those who have served in the IDF. If passed, it will be legal to give preference to the hiring of Jews over Arabs; it will be legal to pay more for the same work done by a man who served in the army than to one who did not serve; for example, a physically disabled person who received a medical exemption from army service. It will be legal to allocate more land for building to Jews than Arabs.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, whose legal opinion was presented to the Committee of Ministers, stated that the proposal violates the right to equality enshrined in Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and therefore should be buried quickly. If not, it will be yet another stone in the Israel’s Apartheid Wall.

Liberal Zionist newspaper Haaretz admits that Israel is an ‘Apartheid State’

Of course, what’s new in this story is not the promulgation of yet another racist law or even the hope of Israeli liberals that racist legislation will somehow stop. Rather, for the first time, a liberal Zionist newspaper, Haaretz, has called this country by name: “Apartheid State,” including Israel in its pre-1967 borders; or in other words, an “Apartheid State from the River to the Sea.”

To this proposed law and the reaction of Haaretz, we need only add the recent statements of Naftali Bennett, Minister of Trade and Economic Affairs, from the Judea and Samaria Conference held on Monday of this week (June 17) that “…The attempt to establish a Palestinian state is over. We need to build, build, build…” He then reiterated and explained: “The most important thing today in the Land of Israel is to build and build and build … It is important that Israel be present everywhere. Our main problem remains our leaders’ unwillingness to declare openly and simply that the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel. We must say to ourselves and to the entire world that this country has been ours for 3,000 years… There has never been a Palestinian state here, nor have we ever been occupiers here. This home is ours; we are the legal owners and tenants here; we are not occupiers.” (By Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury: Idea of a two-state solution has reached ‘dead end,’ Bennett says, Haaretz, Jun.17, 2013)

For socialist revolution!

There is, therefore, no denying that the State of Israel is an apartheid state from the river to the sea. Furthermore, there is no credence to any of the hopes or predictions of those who expect that the imperialist powers supporting the State of Israel will eventually force her to give up all or some of the territory she conquered in 1967. There is no solution other than a socialist revolution aimed at establishing a single democratic state from the river to the sea. But the only ones who can establish such a state are the Palestinian workers and that portion of the Jewish working class who will join them in their revolutionary struggle, together with the Palestinian peasants, poor, and lower levels of the petite bourgeoisie. Thus, the class character of this state will be a workers’ state from the river to the sea.

If Israel, as usual, will attack Syria and a regional war will develop in which Israel is defeated, we are likely to see, sooner than generally expected, the opening of a rift that will bring some parts of the Jewish working class to prefer life with the Arabs as equals over the privileges that Israel still gives them as colonial settlers. If we take into account the 185,000 families living in tents and shacks, it is clear that these privileges are rapidly diminishing.

However, a socialist revolution requires building a revolutionary party. We need every man and women who wants to fight for life instead of only the oppression and death that the Zionist state will ultimately bequeath to its residents and citizens, Palestinians and Jews. Having said this, we are prepared to fight in a united front alongside any group or individual who is prepared to struggle, even partially, against national oppression; against racism towards Ethiopians; against the super-exploitation of Palestinian workers and foreign worker; and against the exploitation of Jewish workers — as long as their demands are directed against the exploiters, and not against our Palestinian brothers and sisters; not against migrant workers or Ethiopians. Join the Internationalist Socialist League and the RCIT!

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