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Revolt in Israel - saying no to neoliberalism
mashriq / arabia / iraq | community struggles | feature Tuesday August 09, 2011 00:27 by Ilan Shalif - Anarchists Against the Wall; Matzpen; A-Infos ilan at shalif dot com Tel Aviv
Increases in rents and cottage cheese spark off a popular revolt
In the first demo, two weeks ago, about 30,000 participated in Tel Aviv; in the second, last week, there were nearly 100,000 in Tel Aviv and about 40,000 in the rest of the country. In the third, this Saturday, there were about 250,000 in Tel Aviv - the largest ever in Israel, and about 70,000 all over the country. Who knows how many will come for next Saturday's demos. The call "Revolution!" was second only to "Social justice!"The main demands are: free education from the age of 3 months, a reduction of sales taxes and an increase in the direct taxes that the rich pay; the provision of low-cost housing to buy and rent by stopping State and municipal speculation on public land and by building small apartments and public housing; an overhaul of the public health system which the doctors' union has been demanding for several months; a stop to the precarization of workers using manpower companies; and the recruitment of 500 inspectors to enforce employer legislation regulating work - especially with regard to minimum wages.
Revolt in Israel - saying no to neoliberalism
Class war within neo-liberal capitalism and the rebellion ignited by the Israeli "middle class"The class war between the capitalist class and the working class within the capitalist system is mainly about the cost of the reproduction of working power. The smaller the cost of the reproduction of working power (wages and social services covered in part by taxes levied on capitalists), the larger the part of the fruits of labour that remain as profits (surplus value) in the coffers of the capitalists.
Within the capitalist system the main struggle between the working class and the capitalist-class employers is about the wages that workers get (actual wages, health insurance and pensions mainly) and in a smaller measure about the taxes that workers pay and the quality of social services.
Lately, due to the gradual constriction of the welfare state under neo-liberalism and the recent austerity measures (including taxes) by States to cover the losses of finance capitalists due to the latest crash, the attention of exploited people has shifted from their employers to the State's activity relating to the constriction of social services and "social wages" (healthcare, education, housing, unemployment support and pensions mainly).
We have seen the mounting struggle by the working class following measures to cover the crash losses in Europe - mainly in Greece and Spain. Now, the struggle has exploded in Israel too, though its financial capital has not suffered serious losses as a result of the crash, and the State has not introduced emergency austerity measures... It started because wages and, even more so, the social wage of the "middle class" strata of the working class have gradually been decimated and become unbearable. The success of the ferocious neo-liberalist form of the piggish capitalism consisting of privatization and diminishing public services, has advanced in Israel more than in other developed countries.
The straw that broke the camel's back, leading to the summer revolt was the successful internet-based consumers' revolt two months ago, following an increase in the cost of cottage cheese by the monopolies.
It exploded this month as the cost of rents has increased significantly over the last few months, due to market failure.
Though most of the activists involved have not put it forward as a factor, most people resent the allocation of a huge part of the State's resources to the settler colonialist project and to the non-productive orthodox community.
It started as an internet call for a tent camp to protest the jump in rent prices. It materialized at first as a dozen participants in a tent camp near the national theater building (on Rothschild boulevard). It took just two weeks to expand to include a few hundred tents along the whole length of the boulevard, with thousands of dwellers and with a wider spectrum of grievances, reaching the point of the mobilization of about 2.5% of the Israeli population for the Saturday 30-7-11 demonstration (150,000 out of about 7 million).
The main demands are: free education from the age of 3 months, a reduction of the sales taxes that all pay and an increase in the direct taxes that the rich pay; the provision of low-cost housing (both to buy and rent) by stopping State and municipal speculation on public land and by building small apartments and public housing; an overhaul of the public health system which the MDs union (mostly hospital doctors) have been demanding for several months with their selective strike; a stop to the precarization of workers using manpower companies (already 10% of the workforce); the recruitment of 500 inspectors to enforce employer legislation regulating work - especially with regard to minimum wages.
It has taken 4 weeks since the tent camp was started by a dozen activists to get to the point where the government has agreed to massive changes, but the bargaining may take its time.
(Some bureaucrats are kicking themselves for not destroying the tent camp on the first day or the seccond, before it collected momentum.)
Chatter on the left/right united struggle in the Israeli struggle for social justiceIn and around the present uprising in Israel there has been no shortage of chattering by the ignorant and idiotic... but there has also been plenty of chattering among scholars, all of whom agree that the current uprising is a united front between the right and the left. As proof, they point to the fact that the Kahanist nazi Israeli settlers have joined the tent camp protest in a tactical move.
The struggle in the workplace for wage rises by itself does not challenge the capitalist order, and neither does the current uprising against piggish capitalism and for a return to welfare capitalism in Israel.
The purpose of the struggle for wage rises is for a better distribution of the fruits of labour within the capitalist system, just as the struggle for welfare capitalism is one for the better distribution of the fruits of labour in the capitalist State as a whole.
But in Israel, distribution of the fruits of labour is not just a matter for the local ruling elite/capitalist exploiting class and the working class. In Israel, a large part of the resources are invested in colonialist settlements in the occupied territories, in the army that serves the occupation, and in bribing the orthodox Jewish communities (who are mostly non-Zionist) in order to enlist their support for the continuation of the occupation. Thus, the struggle here is political from day one.
The leftist aspect of the struggle is due to the fact that the struggle against neo-liberalism (like the struggle for wage increases) contributes to the development of anti-capitalism. It is also so among those who previously provided ardent support for investment in Zionist enterprises - such as the Nationalist Right - that increasing numbers from this tendency are refusing to pay so much for any longer. (This is not about black and white, though, but a continuum. Within the Jewish community, there are not many who do not want to pay anything for Zionist enterprises. The rest are along the continuum, between those who are willing to pay almost anything and those willing to pay just a little.)
Many psychological reasons are at work in the minds of those who support the Zionist project but are not willing to pay so much for it any longer, but most of them prefer not to talk about their increasing refusal... For them, it is easier to demand social justice, as if the extreme neo-liberalist model were not essential for recruiting agreement from the top capitalist elite to pay so much for the occupation and settler colonialism.
But even ignoring the degree of willingness to invest in Zionist enterprises still, there is a considerable degree of resistance to the variety of capitalist system present in Israel, which is moving to the right and is nearly as extreme as neo-liberal piggish capitalism in USA.
Thus, the cut-off point between those who support the economic policy of the State and those who oppose it has shifted gradually to the right - even if the "rightists" who join will not admit that it will diminish the funds available for the Zionist project.
Radical activists are disappointed about the "non-political" aspect of the struggle and the absence of a clear refutation of the various aspects of the Zionist project. They do not understand that the politicization of those people who are engaged in social struggle intensifies during the struggle. Just as the "pure" economic struggle in the workplace to raise wages gradually contributes to the rejection of capitalism, so does joining the present struggle within Israel, that is clearly questioning neo-liberalism and demanding change in the allocation of State resources.
The refusal to pay so much for settler colonialism - even if not talked about - will contribute to the questioning and later even a rejection of settler colonialism.
Like in sales psychology, when you refuse to pay for something, the cognitive dissonance will cause a diminishing will to have it. (Like the story about the fox who decided to refrain from sneaking once more into the vineyard through a narrow hole in the fence, claiming that the grapes were sour.)
In the first demo, two weeks ago, about 30,000 participated in Tel Aviv; in the second, last week, there were nearly 100,000 in Tel Aviv and about 40,000 in the rest of the country. In the third, this Saturday, there were about 250,000 in Tel Aviv - the largest ever in Israel, and about 70,000 all over the country. I wonder how many will come for next Saturday's demos. The call "Revolution!" was second only to "Social justice!"
They are afraid. They are really afraid. Miri Regev of the ruling party (Likud) leadership assembled 500 members of the center assembly of the party and demanded (in so many words) the return of the welfare model instead of the present neo-liberalist one the prime minister leads.
Tue 28 Feb, 12:35
Palestine-Israel, The joint struggle really changed the world* 19:50 Sat 05 Sep 0 comments
The failed arrest of 12 year old child in Nabi Saleh caused a million views storm in the media. This situation and the next Friday of the joint struggle demonstrated again how the involvement of the AATW Israeli Jews prevented in the past and prevent now the extinguishing of the non armed Palestinian struggle with rivers of blood. It was one shooting of Gil Naamati in 2003 in a joint action of the anarchists AATW that caused a real wide media scandal in Israel (which forced the higher commander of the army to visit him at hospital and apologize) that resulted in the change of shooting order about dispersing non armed demonstrations in the occupied lands when Israelis are involved. In addition to our helping to distribute the news, Our main contribution is the supply of "life insurance" to the Palestinians and even to the stone throwers in the demos.... though it is not perfect and along the years about 20 were killed and many more were injured. [Italiano]
Palestine-Israel, The activists participating in the joint struggle get old... but the struggle is s... 14:10 Tue 28 Jul 0 comments
It is hard for many activists when the real meaning of the struggle are not concrete achievable gains, but a global worldwide struggle. This week, the concrete and the global merged when the struggle against the destruction of Susiya village recruited international support and forced Israel to delay or even cancel the demolition of the village. Pressure from the imperial powers on Israel was joined by European warning about approaching sanctions against the Israeli banking system for its involvement in the settlers' projects in the occupied West Bank. It seems the erosion of Israeli immunity from paying for its war crimes is collecting momentum. The Israeli media is full of news about B.D.S. - the joint struggle in which thousands of international activists participate, contributing a lot. The heroic Bil'in, Ni'lin, Nabi Saleh, Qaddum, Ma'sara, and Sheikh Jarrah keep the weekly flame from extinguishing. [Italiano]
Palestine-Israel, the joint struggle which enhance the B.D.S. suffer lately more punishments then ev... 03:57 Tue 02 Jun 0 comments
The non armed joint actions - mainly few Friday demos, do not cause the Israeli armed forces much load. However, the focusing of the media on these, and more so the international activist participating in them who enhance the international struggle when they return home, really worry the Israeli authorities. Their borders screening which succeed to prevent the entry of activists is not much effective. The Israeli ruling elite is not in panic yet, but lately they worry a lot. The president of Israel warn that the development of the B.D.S. must cause a real concern. The threat of the expulsion from the FIFA cause Israel to make concession to prevent the voting and even agreed to a special monitoring comity. The subject of the B.D.S. is more and more in the media and many of the speaker admit their fear from its intensifying. [Italiano]
Palestine-Israel, As the split in the elite, a part of which is already suffering, threatens Prime m... 22:57 Fri 22 May 0 comments
The election which was a response to rebellion in the elite - threatening to restrict his daily newspaper - resulted in a partial defeat. He is dependant now on the support of the center-right party and the orthodox parties,and now he is trying desperately to regain control. The mounting pressure on Israel threatens to take a fast escalation. It is already expressed in the threat to expel Israel from FIFA and of intervention of the Hague Court. The French initiative in the UN security council is approaching. The escalation in transfer actions - both within Israel and the West Bank is an effort to recruit at least the support of orthodox parties and the extreme right. In spite of harsher efforts to repress the Palestinian struggle - both in occupied east Jerusalem and the popular non-armed struggle the struggle continues. The very optimistic activists already feel the approaching victory. [Italiano]
Palestine-Israel, The joint struggle enhance the B.D.S. which intensify the international pressure w... 23:20 Thu 07 May 0 comments
The B.D.S. which intensify the pressure not only worry the Israeli elite - it already caused a split in it. The split expressed in the initiation of law against the Netaniahu daily caused him to dismantle his coalition and call for election. The result was even worse for him. He lost the majority of the hard core right. The 61 (versus 59) coalition was achieved only with Kakhlon center-right that already blocked the main rightist moves and some of the extreme neoliberal tendency. A new power balance in the Israeli elite may result with a near future coalition with the pseudo left party Zionist List or even entirely different coalition without Netaniahu or even without the Licud party. With this back ground, transfer of Palestinians intensify - both citizens of Israel and in the occupy west bank... And the repression and struggle continue in Bil'in, Ni'ilin, Nebi Saleh, Qadoom, Ma'asarah, Sheikh Jarrah, South Hebron Hills and sporadicly in other places. [Italiano]
Palestine-Israel, The joint struggle continues with fresh conviction that it is a fulcrum of the int... 17:56 Sat 18 Apr 0 comments
With the conviction that our main contribution is not so much in changes on the ground but in the spirit of the struggle of the participants and the fulcrum we provide to the international lever. The gradual increase in international pressure which the Israeli high court verdict is that is a criminal act for Israeli to promote causing already much of damages in the economy of occupation and concern of the Zionist-colonialist Israeli ruling Elite. We see here again how small number of activists can initiate a turn in the course of history when it is applied in the ripe cross-road. It started in a small joint camp in Masha 2003 for struggle against the separation fence, after the idea raised half a year earlier in the European People Global Action conference in Leiden - in which activists from the East of the Mediterranean region participated too. The camp initiated struggles in various villages that riped at 2005 in the Bil'in struggle... which expanded and expanded...
Palestine-Israel, The collapse of the deterrent ability of Israel in the last Gaza war is expressed ... 03:37 Wed 08 Apr 0 comments
The frustrated Israeli state force who do not dare to prevent the weekly non armed popular demonstrations - Joined and purely of Palestinians, resort to shooting on demonstrators with frequent use of live fire by snippers. In the annexed regions of Jerusalem they no more pretend it is not an occupied area and apply there the occupation procedures - both in treatment of detaining children and houses demolition. The "hot" areas of the popular non armed struggle gradually expand but still far away from a general uprising. The international popular struggle worry the Israeli elite but the damages to the Israeli economy is still in the margins. It seems the Zionist settler colonialist elite which bribed the tycoons section of the capitalist elite with extreme neo liberal measures cannot do it any more as other sections of the capitalist elite (backers of Cakhlon) rebelled.
Palestine-Israel, the joint struggle in turbulent times of the fragmentation in the Zionist rilling ... 15:22 Sun 22 Mar 0 comments
The merger between the Zionist leadership and the capitalist elite which started 1948 picked in the Tycoons dominance, at 20010. The "too successful" neo-liberalism was challenged by the social struggle, conflicts within the capitalist elite and threatened by international pressure yielded the diminishing power of the old order when the right lost its absolute power in the parliament depending now on the opponent of the milder Zionist right (Kachlon). It is not sure how fast the retreat in the neo-liberal trend and the defeat of the Tycoons combined with the international pressure will yield also retreat in the advance of the Zionist settler and transfer effort. Mean time the joint struggle continue in Bil'in, Ni'ilin, Nebi Saleh, Kadum, Ma'asarah, Southern Hebron Hills, Sheikh Jarrah, the Bedouins of the south, Dahamsh... with additional locations from time to time. [Italiano]
Palestine-Israel, The joined struggle in a decisive year* 23:42 Mon 09 Mar 0 comments
The minimal pressure of the imperial power on Israel to soften its pressures applied to the would be transfered Palestinians of the 1967 occupied areas have its results (more in the west bank than in the Gaza Ghetto). The about 100.000 Palestinians of the occupied territories are employed by Israelis. Most of the roadblocks were removed. The rebellion of the Palestinians in the west bank is channeled mostly through a small minority of activists in the joint and separate week end activities. People are like holding their breath to see if the culminated crisis in the international arena will yield a significant break throw. Mean time, the persistent week end struggles - though in a diminished intensity in Bil'in, Ma'asara, Ni'ilin, Nabi Saleh, Qaddum, South of Hebron Hills, Sheik Jarrah... with sporadic struggles in other locations. [Italiano]
Palestine-Israel, The joint struggle and the activists of the popular committees continue to contrib... 17:00 Mon 29 Dec 0 comments
The approaching victory in the struggle to block the advance of the Zionist settler colonialist project and even to force it to retreat a bit do not make the real good people to like the enrolling of history. The approaching defeat make the Israeli elite take desperate steps and do its atrocities in the open. The efforts to transfer the Bedouins within 1948 borders and villagers in 1967 occupied territories escalate. The diminishing support of Israel by the imperial power due to changes in the dynamics of the region, world public opinions and economic losses it cause gradually change the power balance within the Israeli capitalist elite that may be expressed in the coming elections. On the ground, the joint struggle in Bil'in, Ni'lin, Ma'sara, Nebi Saleh, Sheikh Jarrah, Qaddum, and South Of Hebron Hills, is gradually expanding to other locations even without the "shield" of Israeli activists. [Italiano]more >>
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