The ISA’s popular front politics

The ISL, RCIT section in Israel/Occupied Palestine, 09.04.2023

On March 31 the right-centrist – ISA published an article with the title: “General Strike Wins Postponement, but Government Re-Organizing. No Compromise with the Trampling of Rights!”

From the very beginning of the protest movement against Netanyahu’s government, the Histadrut – the state Zionist Trade Union refused to join the protest. Then on Monday, March 27 all of a sudden, the Head of the Histadrut Bar David decided to start a general strike. Why this change?

“Several reports in Hebrew-language media have claimed that the Prime Minister’s Office coordinated with the Histadrut on Monday when the major labor union announced a general strike throughout the country, a move that played a part in the government’s decision to pause its judicial overhaul legislation to allow talks with the opposition.”… Kan news, citing unnamed sources, reported that Yonatan Urich, an adviser to Netanyahu, coordinated with Histadrut officials throughout the day on the timing and content of press conferences held by Netanyahu and the labor union’s Bar-David. It also said the premier’s wife Sara spoke with officials close to Bar-David, telling them to pressure the government to work towards broad agreements on judicial reform” [1]

The Histadrut chairman Arnon Bar-David said at the Eilat labor conference prior to when the strike started: “In my opinion, everything should be done through dialogue, not in the way it is done today with the crazy statements in the Knesset…”I call on the hawkish parties, before we cross all the borders, let’s talk on the basis of the President’s proposal, and try to find a solution. It is possible. Everyone should lower their ego a little for the sake of the future of the State of Israel. I’m turning to Yariv Levin, my friend, it’s time to see the problems of the other side, Yair Lapid, I’m turning to you as well – come to the talks without preconditions, because only together can we solve the problems that exist in the State of Israel, and you should do it sooner rather than later. I’m also turning to you To Prime Minister Netanyahu, call on everyone to sit down and resolve this situation once and for all, the responsibility is yours to steer the ship” [2]

A large part of the capitalists supported the strike: “Dozens of Israeli tech companies have joined the protest strike against the judicial overhaul announced by Histadrut secretary general Arnon Bar-David this morning. Some of them like Natural Intelligence and Skai (formerly Kenshoo), which were among the first tech companies to protest the judicial overhaul, announced they were joining the strike this morning. Not far behind them were some of Israel’s biggest tech publicly-traded companies and unicorns including Wix, Fiverr, ironSource, Dazz, Redis, Verbit, Papaya Global, Playtika, Perion Network, Kaltura, Forter, Talon and Bookaway.” [3]

Thus, you have to be an imbecile or a right-wing centrist to believe that Netanyahu was afraid of such a strike.

Nevertheless, the ISA writes: “The unprecedented general political strike, which developed after a stormy night of demonstrations as part of the ongoing mass struggle against the “judicial coup”, and against the background of a sharp drop-in support of the government, left Netanyahu with no choice but to carry out a tactical withdrawal, striving to preserve the integrity of his coalition and to re-organize for attack. At the end of a dramatic day, during which Ben Gurion Airport and the ports were shut down, he pressurized the Minister of Justice, Levin, and stitched up a deal with Minister of ‘National Security’ Ben-Gvir, who, despite their determined threats of resignation, realized at the peak that the mass movement was capable of overthrowing the government, which was in a severe crisis of legitimacy.” [4]

” While Netanyahu and the far right are buying time and re-grouping for the summer, the partial retreat of the Netanyahu government and the far right is not being met by an illusion of victory but by well-founded mass suspicion and vigilance ahead of the government’s next moves.” [5]

Yet the ISA has to admit:

“Bar-David made things easier for the government by putting on hold the cost-of-living campaign and by refraining from leading a real struggle over the public sector wage agreement…What the Histadrut bureaucracy claimed with patronizing preaching was impossible, proved practical and effective. Finance Minister Smotrich tried for many hours to appeal to the Labor Court, claiming it was a “wildcat strike,” but even the State Attorney’s Office went on strike and there was no one to represent him” [6]

The ISA has also to admit that the majority of the capitalist class supports the strike!

“The strike in the economy, of course, also harmed the profits of the capitalists and therefore drew opposition from the manufacturers’ association. However, the majority of the capitalist ruling class, in an unusual and hypocritical manner, actually saw this strike as “the lesser evil” for them, as a doomsday weapon against a government that did not comply with their demands to stop the legislation and the threats of flight of capital. In the past three months, wealthy individuals, particularly from banks, commerce, and tech, have intervened alongside elements of the security elite and the state apparatus, and the opposition establishment parties in the knesset. They see the current government as pyromaniacs who threaten the stability of their system, the international relations of Israeli capitalism, the stability of the profit machine, as well as the occupation regime. After the first demonstration was organized at the initiative of the left, they hijacked the initiative and took over the agenda of the movement against the government’s plan which developed as a cross-class movement. The knights of Israeli capitalism and occupation are not the ‘knights of democracy’. There is a fundamental contradiction between the aspirations of the masses in the struggle — to curb attacks on democratic freedoms and the rampage of the extreme right, as well as the mass despair of the current situation, the cost of living, the social crises, the bloody national conflict — and those who have appointed themselves to the position of “protest leaders,” from Bogie Ya’alon to the chairman of the “Presidium of the Israeli Business Sector,” Dubi Amitai, and the CEOs of the banks.” [7]

“The Marker” (daily business newspaper) explained that “until recently, the Histadrut was waging a struggle against the cost of living. The Histadrut also pointed the accusing finger at some of the heads of the companies who sat with it [on Monday morning] and applauded it.” They realized that they had no better option: “Wiesel [chairman of Fox, an Israeli retail group] and the other companies knew that without the Histadrut, their announcement of a strike would not be effective enough.” [8]

The ISA has also to admit that “According to a report by Kan (Israel Broadcasting Corporation), the messages at the press conference were even coordinated with Netanyahu’s office, as was the timing of the announcement of the strike. It appears that the purpose of the coordination was to reduce the duration of the strike and the extent of the clash with the government to a minimum, when the original assumption was that the very threat or the course of a short strike would extract from Netanyahu an announcement to halt the legislation. “I realized it would be an hour or an hour and a half. We waited for the prime minister’s press conference, which didn’t go ahead,” said Pinhas Idan, chairman of the Airports Authority employees’ committee, a member of the Likud Center, who announced during the press conference that all departures would be stopped” [9]

In the last part of their article, the ISA is calling: Down with Netanyahu—Ben-Gvir Government, and yet they cannot come up with an answer to what instead, knowing very well that the replacement will be Gantz, Lapid and Liberman-another capitalist and racist government. The ISA is left with a call not to compromise with Netanyahu.

“The government is extremely weak and Netanyahu’s authority is at a low point. However, they have not been defeated and are striving to re-organize. They will take advantage of any retreat in the movement on the ground. Now, preparations for the continuation of the fight against government attacks should also include drawing conclusions, while Gantz reaches out to Netanyahu and official negotiations are opened at the president’s residence between government representatives and representatives of ‘Yesh Atid’ and the ‘State Camp’ parties. In recent weeks, the movement on the ground has expressed broad sentiment against compromise on the components of the judicial plan, alongside a desire to expand rights, particularly women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and opposition to nationalist-religious reaction. Financial capital, the security elite, and the establishment parties are open, to one degree or another, to “dialogue” with the Netanyahu government, striving for a “compromise” that will include updating the “constitutional” rules of the game, in order to pave a stabilizing path for the system. Whether or not such a move would include, as a concession, some expansion of legal rights that are not included in Basic Laws, it would not mark a real step forward in solving the burning problems in society that underlie the shaky political crisis of recent years, which has entered a severe phase under the current government. The struggle must now continue against the very legitimacy of the Netanyahu government and the extreme right, and with a call for its removal. However, the bloc of “change” parties are not an alternative. Their last capitalist status quo government ignited crises that helped Netanyahu and the far right, barely, form the current government…The strong working class can bring a socialist and class-based political alternative that is also needed to chart a horizon for a real alternative to the capitalist crisis governments of the establishment parties” [10]

What the ISA cannot do is raise the transitional demand of workers and poor government for a simple reason which is the real world. Israel is an apartheid state and the Jewish working class is Zionist which supports the repression of the Palestinian workers and poor peasants.

Indeed, how can the ISA raise the transitional program in a country where the Jewish working class cannot raise democratic demands and the movement for “democracy” is for Ashkenazi Jewish rule of the apartheid state?

At this time when the struggle of the Palestinians for freedom is on the rise the Zionist block that the ISA supports calls for harsher repression of the Palestinians and for attacking of Al Aqsa: “The leaders of the demonstrations said this morning (Saturday) that the demonstration in Kaplan will be held as a series and in full coordination with the Israel Police. The march planned after the demonstration will not take place at the request of the police” We share in the grief of the families of the murdered and wish a complete and speedy recovery for the injured. The demonstration will take place in a special format, while participating in the grief of the families and supporting the security forces and residents in the conflict areas. The Israeli government is failing in every area, instead of shelving the legislation and dealing with security, its senior officials are informing the public that they will continue their attempts to turn Israel into a dictatorship when the recess ends. Instead of uniting the people, this week the government ministers called for an ascent to the Temple Mount. It is important to note that the event will take place, as do dozens of cultural and sports events, on the Western Wall and the Temple Mount during the coming holidays. Terrorism cannot win” [11]

In this harsh reality, the illusions of a Jewish revolutionary working class with a Zionist consciousness are the illusion of people detached from the real world and living in a fantasy. As they write: “The recent general strike, against the backdrop of a mass struggle, was the most powerful show of force by organized labor in years — certainly compared to the totally symbolic general strikes organized by the leaders of the Histadrut in 2017 (in protest against the layoffs at Teva), and in 2011 and 2012 (against contract employment). This time the genie of class struggle escaped, if but for a moment, out of the bottle, and although some capitalists saw it as a battering ram for their needs against the government, it provided a small but tangible hint of the potentially decisive power of organized labor and the working class in general in society. Another clue, from another direction, was provided less than two years ago by the Palestinian “Dignity Strike” of May 2021, which, among other things, shut down construction sites. It is a power that is potentially capable not only of blocking and reaching achievements when confronting employers and governments but also of bringing about a profound change in society. A socialist and class-based political alternative is also needed to chart a horizon for a real alternative to the capitalist crisis governments of the establishment parties” [12]

 Spreading the illusion that the Jewish working class is a revolutionary class and the protest movement’s fight for democracy serves the image of Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East, in the interest of the Israeli capitalists which a large part stands behind the protest movement.






[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid


[12] Ibid

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