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A Chronicle of advanced decomposition

By François Lazar, october 10, 2011

The summer months of 2011 have been marked by an unprecedented social movement that has shaken the State of Israel. Over 150,000 people (mostly Jews) took to the streets in over ten cities on Saturday July 30th with the main slogan: the people want social justice, not charity. On September 3rd, when mobilisation had reached its highest point, there were 400,000 - one Israeli out of 10 – out marching demanding more social justice.

So many comments have been aired on the Israeli Spring!.... Some even compared the present movement to the euphoria of the creation of the State of Israel. Volleys of comparisons have been drawn between the Israeli movement and the revolutionary movement that brought down tyrant Ben Ali in Tunisia, that toppled Mubarak in Egypt, both representatives of hated regimes in the service – just like the Israeli State in a different way – of oil traders and weapon- mongers.

During the first days, the movement first took off against the price hikes of lodgings (a 64% increase in Tel Aviv in 3 years). It progressively expanded into a general protest against price increases, and against the consequences of public deficit reduction pushed by the Netanyahu government. The Yediot Aharonot Daily wrote: Up to now, so many crowds of people have never swamped the streets on social issues

If it was just any capitalist country, that information could have stopped there and be just an element in the long international chain of events that, from Wisconsin to Greece, from Tunisia to Ireland, testifies to the rejection of the dictatorship of the International Monetary Fund and of governments on the banks' payroll.

But can the State of Israel be coined a country like the others? How can the social demands of Jewish populations be mentioned without mentioning the deep segregation that victimises the Palestinian minority on the inside, without recalling m the brutal, cruel colonising of the West Bank, the physical imprisonment of the Gaza Strip residents, the daily repression against Palestinians? Isn't there a relationship between all these phenomena ? In such a framework, the social demands of Jewish middle classes (since they are essentially the ones concerned) living in the State of Israel are apparently expressed without taking realities into account, rejecting anything that might recall the permanent state of war of a society founded on the expropriation of an entire people.

It is worth noting that, during the demonstrations and sit-ins, minority gatherings at times uttered slogans demanding equality. Placards and interviews denounced the subsidies handed to settlers and to colonies in the West Bank as misappropriation of public money, thus naively demanding an impossible self-reform of the State. Very probably, separate individuals - Zionists for instance – may not always be determined by what they think they are. But whether they will or not, what is the Israeli social movement unless it is the movement of privileged colonists? Does this not express the depth of the crisis in which Zionism is mired today, when it used to pretend it would offer to the Jews of the whole world a land without people for a people without land?

The crisis of the Israeli society is just an expression of the depth of the crisis of Zionism.

The poverty rate of Israel's people nearly stands at 24%, but 50% of those poor are from the Arab population which numbers 1.5 million people out of a total 6.5 inhabitants. The rate of poverty reaches 70% of families originating from Ethiopia. The Palestinians from the inside largely boycotted the demonstrations, which they felt no interest in as most of them rejected the essential slogans for equal rights and the end of social and racial segregation.

In 2005, some 34% of Israelis, among whom the Palestinians from inside, earned minimum wages or less; nearly 50% of students dropped their education before graduating. About 40% of the young Israeli Jews live under poverty level. Among those, 70,000 are regular drug users. In the Israeli society, known for being intensely violent, over 25% of the homeless young are women; a great many of them resort to prostitution as their only source of income and survival. An information posted on website, IsraelValley (July 30th) informed that some categories of people, have to spend 40% of their wages in supermarkets. Bank cards with deferred payments are extensively used (.) No household is able to face unexpected expenses and has to run up debts. IsraelValley explains that the top layer of the middle class is the one that shoulders most duties towards society; compulsory military service, three years for boys, two years for girls. Further education that is far from being free of charge and to add to this yearly military periods - mostly one moth or more, mainly for men. That is much too much. Frustration has reached the point of general rejection.

Alongside this phenomenon of social decomposition, the State of Israel ranks world top for military spending per inhabitant, i.e. some 10% of GDP. The reality of Zionism – once again, that is what it is in fact – drives more than one million Israelis to live away from Israel with no intention of returning there in the near future.

[The figures are provided by the data published by Bituch Leumi – the equivalent of social welfare services in the State of Israel – by the Brookdate Institute, by the Israeli government and various institutes often quoted by the Israeli newspapers]

Meanwhile, the building continues on the Wall within the borders of the West Bank territory. On its way, its destroys Palestinian homes, crops, infrastructures... Billions are devoted to the colonisation of the West Bank, to security and repression agendas, which are the key to the dynamism of the Tel Aviv stock exchange.

All this is occurring against a backdrop of unprecedented disputes among the Israeli top officers. A significant number of them affirm that an attack against Iran would be a catastrophe for the security of the State, thus publicly opposing Netanyahu who regularly pushes those prospects to the top of his agenda.

But is an Israeli-Palestinian solution possible within the framework of so-called international right?

Zionism, its territorial expression in Palestine, its being prolonged by warfare for over 60 years, are the result of the determination of the most powerful imperialism, the US, whose vital interests in the region identify with the existence of the State of Israel. The resounding speeches whether ideological or mystical of US presidents on the unalienable right of the Jewish people are rooted in the fierce determination to control the Middle East and its resources. This control is ceaselessly challenged by the resistance of all the peoples of the region, just as by the crisis which is fraying the US elites. It drives the US to constantly readjust its policies. The latest example of this is the fool's game which took place during the recent general assembly of the UN.

Mahmud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority put in an official request for admission of Palestine as a member State to the UN General Assembly. As is shown by several surveys [see the article by Hadar Eid and Joseph Massad published in this issue of Dialogue-Ed.N], the request can only be met within the framework of the interests of the State of Israel ... and of the US political agenda in the Middle East.

The Palestinian people – 70% refugees – have all but completely lost their illusions in the ability of the UN to bring about any solution whatsoever. It takes just a little thought to realise that, in practise, the UN's part is to have the sacro-sanct international laws abided by when it fits in with US interests. Half the dozens of UN resolutions condemning the State of Israel would have been sufficient in any other case to trigger off the fire of the world's peace keeper. A number of UN resolutions call for the creation of a Palestinian state: resolution 181 which explicitly provided for the institution of that pseudo state on 46% of Palestine's historical territory; resolution 465 adopted in 1980 asking the State of Israel to dismantle the existing colonies in the occupied territories after 1967, while stipulating – as quoted by Ali Abunimah in Foreign Affairs magazine - that all the measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, the composition, the institutional structure or the status of the Palestinian territories or other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem have no legal basis and are blatant violations of international law. The Goldstone report should also be quoted. It establishes that the Israeli army committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip in January 2009. The decision of the International Court of Justice, declaring illegal the Wall which turns the West bank into an open air jail must also be quoted. The UN which permits small nations to have a voice next to the large ones is nothing other, through the Security Council which is its executive body, than the diplomatic version of the political agenda of the world's most powerful imperialism. Most observers have notices the radically pro-Israeli speech by Barack Obama which gives the impression that it is Palestine which occupies Israel. Israeli pacifist Uri Avnery, himself a Zionist, said that the speech was the art of hypocrisy; nearly all the assertions in the speech concerning the Israelo-Palestinian issue were lies. On his side Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, several times used the word peace in his own speech, in front of a half empty hall, while accusing the Palestinians of having consistently refused to negotiate. Hackneyed hot air. As for Abbas, true, he did say that he did not intend to delegitimate Israel but the occupation and the colonisation of the West Bank. However and this can be seen daily quite concretely (and not only since 1967, but since its foundation) can the Hebrew State be defined otherwise than as a colonial type state? During the same ceremony, Sarkozy was proposing that Palestine be recognised as an observer state (like the Vatican!).. on condition it did not seek to bring Israel to the International Court of Justice. That would be a risk then? They all mention resuming the misnamed peace process which has caused nothing other than war, killings, and the theft of Palestinian lands.

Mahmud Abbas, whose prisons are full and who places his operation within the framework of Arab revolutions has never had (nor ever wanted to have) the least leeway with the US State Department. It is worth noting that the Oslo Accords in 1993 never provided for the prospect of a Palestinian State but set up a Palestinian Authority and carved up the West Bank into 3 zones, one exclusively reserved for Israeli colonies. The role of the P.A. - instituted when the Israeli army could no longer cope with the Intifada (the people's uprising) – was to try and contain and then repress the Palestinian democratic demands. Ever since, the concentration of powers in Ramallah has brought about the impoverishment of the international body representing the Palestinian people, the PLO.

It was the road map of George Bush and Sharon which, from the point of view of imperialism, raised the perspective of a “Palestinian State, the strategy-makers of Washington considering that it was the only way to open up the prospect of a Broader Middle East in which the State of Israel would be integrated and recognised normalisation). Abbas, whose political existence is tied to this operation, can only maintain himself because he is able to pay the P.A.'s 160,000 civil servants and he gambles on his own existence and the existence of his fraction. Indeed, if the Broader Middle East in its former guise implied pressure on Israel, in exchange for willing or unwilling integration of Palestinian refugees and for forsaking the right to return while reinforcing the so-called moderate Arab States, the resistance of peoples, the Tunisian revolution and above all the emergence of the Egyptian masses challenging the collaboration agreements, shake the entire scheme to its roots. Pressuring Israel is out of the question. The State of Israel now publicises itself as the only stable prop for imperialism in the region the more so as the Hebrew State is racked, as we have seen, by an unprecedented social collapse and domestic crisis.

Founded with the pretext of affording a shelter for the Jews, the State of Israel has become the last ghetto of history, where a racist apartheid policy towards the Palestinian people has turned the Israelis into prison wardens (mentally for themselves but very real for the Palestinians). This throws a widening strata of the Jewish society into uncertainty and decomposition.

The demands of the Palestinians from inside, for equal rights linked to the demands of Palestinians in refugee camps and across the world for the right to return, i.e. their right to land, their democratic rights, imply putting an end to the partition of Palestine. On a more general level, this orientation implies putting an end to the international order that, for 60 years has strained every nerve to keep and worsen the division contrived to separate peoples and populations, a division which is an element of its political stability. No emancipating solution for the Jewish populations can come into being within this framework.

From DIALOGUE REVIEW ( www.dialogue-review.com )