Fifty Years of Occupation

Statement of  the Israeli Communist Forum – June 26, 2017


June 5 this year marks the 50th anniversary of the June 1967 war, in the course of which the Israeli army conquered the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, the Syrian Golan Heights, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This so-called "Six-Day War" in fact continues to this day. The ongoing occupations remain a major reason for the absence of peace in the region and for the outbreak of ever-new wars. Also at this moment do we hear of a concrete danger for a new war breaking out.

The June 1967 war was carried out with the support and backing of the United States – as other past wars had broken out with the support of other imperialist powers. Among other things, the war aimed at  bringing down the Nasser regime in Egypt  and other anti-imperialist governments in the region. This aim was not achieved at the time. However, the Israeli establishment did succeed in another major objective, which has characterized it throughout the years – the aim of expanding Israel’s borders as much as possible in any given period. Indeed, vast territories were conquered within a few days – but there was a heavy price to pay. Not only residents of the Occupied Territories pay it – being subject over 50 years to a cruel occupation rule. The burden of paying that price falls also upon the citizens of Israel, in all spheres of life.

Today it is necessary more than ever to put an end to the occupation of all Arab territories occupied since 1967,   including the Syrian Golan Heights, as it was decided in endless resolutions of the UN and the UN Security Council since 1967 till today.

In 1967, the Israeli Communist Party was the only party in Israel to oppose the war from the very moment of its outbreak. On June 5, the day the war broke out, the Knesset convened to approve funding for the war. During these proceedings all the Knesset factions, except for the Communist faction (its official name at that time was "RAKAKH"), expressed enthusiastic support for the war. Joining in support for the war was also Knesset Member Shmuel Mikunis, who had been for many years the Communist Party’s Secretary General. The only two Knesset Members to vote against the war were CPI leaders Meir Vilner and Tawfik Toubi. Meir Vilner's speech was accompanied by incessant heckling of MKs from all other factions.

He said, inter alia:

”This war might bring disaster upon the State of Israel. No enemy could have caused so much damage to Israel as does the present government. You call it a ‘National Unity Government’. We say to the people that, to the contrary, this is an anti-national war government.

The one who starts a war cannot know how it will end. This had already been proven by Israel's own experience.

This war will not resolve any disputed issues between Israel and the Arab states. The war will only further entangle Israel, cause it unimaginable damage in the region and on the international arena”.

In response to the heckling during Meir Vilner's speech, Tawfik Toubi called out:

”You can’t silence the Communist Party. The voice of the Jewish and Arab Communists, the voice of peace will overcome all your shouting!”

And indeed, this voice was never silenced during all the years since then – despite incitement and threats, persecution, arrests, and dismissal from jobs.

Also, the dire warnings made about that war have proven all too true. Peace and security were not achieved. On the contrary: more wars broke out. The occupation also had, and still has, a heavy economic cost. Many billions are spent for military expenses and for maintaining the occupation and the settlements – at the expense of the health, education and welfare budgets. Moral corruption, characteristic of all occupation regimes, has penetrated all parts of the Israeli society.

These trends have further intensified in recent years, accompanied by increased discrimination against the Arab population in all spheres, and an attempt to remove this population’s political leadership from the Knesset and the political arena. At the same time, unprecedented steps are being taken to further reduce democratic freedoms and to silence all criticism on the occupation policy as well as on all other evils committed by the government in other fields.

In this situation, it is more than ever important to increase the activity of the consistent peace and democratic forces – as well as to intensify the Jewish-Arab partnership which is a vital part of such activity.

In this context, the continued existence of the Joint List in the Knesset, and the major role that Hadash plays in this list’s leadership, are of great importance.

In the 50th year of the occupation, there is a special importance for international solidarity with the just struggle of the Palestinian Arab People – against the occupation and for the establishment of its own independent state, along the 1967 lines and alongside the State of Israel. Also needing and deserving international solidarity are the forces of peace and equality in Israel itself.

During the month of June, a number of protests were held to mark the 50th anniversary of the occupation – including a demonstration attended by tens of thousands of people in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Special publications were issued, and there were held various protest vigils, meetings and discussion groups. It is necessary to continue and intensify the protest activities of all kinds, in order to avert the outbreak of another war and to bring about a fundamental change in the policies  of the present government, which is more militaristic than any of its predecessors, and in addition undertaking anti-social and anti-democratic measures more far-reaching than those of any previous government.