Statement of the Israeli Communist Forum, March, 2023
The Israeli Communist Forum calls for increasing the public struggle against the Netanyahu-Ben Gvir Government which was established on December 29, 2022. This government resulted from the general elections of November 1, 2022, won by Netanyahu’s Likud Party and its partners, the ultra-Orthodox parties and with the bloc of far-right parties led by Smotrich and Ben Gvir, which altogether gained a Knesset majority 64 seats out of 120.This bad result is largely due to the split in the Arab Joint List, with the radical Balad party breaking its alliance with Hadash, contesting the elections separately and failing to pass the “electoral threshold”, and to the Left Zionist Meretz party also failing to pass that threshold. These two parties thus failed to get represented in the Knesset and the votes cast for them – equal to about seven Knesset seats – were totally lost, decimating the opponents of the far-right coalition and giving that coalition a solid Knesset majority. In the whole of Israel’s history, this government is the most right-wing, the most anti-democratic, the most anti-Arab the most anti-worker ever. What were hitherto considered to be marginal far right groupings have gained senior ministerial positions such as National Security,(i.e. Police) the Treasury. An all-out assault is being made on democratic freedoms, intended to establish an authoritarian regime, without any limitations on the power of the Executive. Under Israeli conditions, such a regime might quickly deteriorate and gain distinct Fascist characteristics. Immediately upon being established, the government embarked on a series of reactionary legislative initiatives. Chief among them is the so-called "Reform of the Judicial System" whose goal is the complete subjugation of the judiciary to the government. The government would gain the power to both select the judges and to overturn any court ruling, by the minimal ordinary majority of 61 Knesset Members.One of the goals of this reform and the other anti-democratic measures is to exclude from the political system the main parties representing the Arab population. Until now, this kind of measure was blocked by the Supreme Court; with the court neutralized and powerless, exclusion of the Arab population’s representatives would guarantee Likud and its extreme right-wing partners a very long-lasting term in power. Should such a step be carried out, it would bring Israel – even Israel within the Green Line – significantly closer to becoming openly an Apartheid state.In addition, steps are being taken to significantly weaken the more critical parts of the communications media, while at the same time strengthening the media which serve as Netanyahu's mouthpieces. Among other things, this is expressed in the threat to close the public broadcasting corporation as well as undermining the Second Broadcasting Authority, which is presently responsible for much of the management and supervision of the media.
The current government has set itself the goal of undermining workers' rights and especially their right to organize and struggle for their rights, including by way of strikes. As stated clearly by head of the Histadrut Trade Union Federation, the Histadrut would firmly oppose any threat to workers’ right to organize and strike, or any attempt to diminish their wages and social rights. It is to be hoped that the Histadrut will actually fulfill these pledges, and won't let itself be fobbed off with crumbs of salary increases. Experience shows that such token increases are likely spread over many years, and would in no way compensate the workers and the poorer sections of the population for the recent huge price rises.
It is regrettable that the leadership of the Histadrut is not ready to join the crucial struggle to protect other democratic freedoms which are not directly related to the situation of workers and their trade unions. Ultimately, a fatal damage to democracy will also entail damage to workers' rights and freedoms.
In the short time which it had been in power, the extreme right government already managed to initiate a series of military actions, both is the Occupied Territories and across the border. There are ever more threats made against the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories as well as against countries near and far. Israel's military operations in the territories resulted in a large number of Palestinian casualties. In response, individual Palestinians – motivated by despair and hopelessness – resorted to attacking random Israeli civilians in and around Jerusalem. We condemn the killing of unarmed civilians, while at the same time demanding an end to the killing of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, as well as to collective punishments against civilians in East Jerusalem and all throughout the Occupied Territories. Such killings and collective punishments serve only to increase the feelings of rage and despair, making the chain bloodshed turn ever faster. We of course strongly condemn the criminal pogrom perpetrated by Fascist settlers in the West Bank town of Hawara, and the fact that the security forces stood aside and made it possible. Setting inhabited homes on fire and torching the residents’ property is reminiscent of the darkest periods in the history of the Jewish People and of all humanity. It has been proven countless times that the path of using force and even more force does not bring calm – quite the contrary. The only solution which can stop the bloodshed would be a political settlement, i.e. an end to the occupation, Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem, side by side with Israel in its June 1967 borders. Ongoing developments have proven baseless the assertion – made by PM Netanyahu and others close to him – the Palestinian issue has declinedin importance and gone off the regional and international agenda. To the contrary, it recently gained most prominence. Contrary to Netanyahu’s hopes of the so-called “Abraham Agreements”, no agreements made by Israel with some Arab countries can removed the Palestinian issue from the agenda. A solution of the Palestinian problem remains the indispensable precondition for stopping the cycle of bloodshed in the region and achieving a true and comprehensive peace. Only such a solution would be respected by the countries in the region and by the international community.The Communist Forum welcomes the emergence of a mass multifaceted protest movement, unprecedented in its scope, against the government’s anti-democratic measures. Every week the demonstrations draw hundreds of thousands of participants – in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in many other localities throughout the country – many of whom have never before took part in public protests of this kind. This is in addition to demonstrations and acts of protest by countless sections of the population – labor organizations, high-tech people, economists, lawyers, educators, medical practitioners, students, military veterans and many, many others. Although some members of the ruling Likud Party, such as several mayors who declared their firm opposition to planned changes in the school curriculum with regard to gender relations and LGBTs.
We see considerable importance to the participation of the Arab population in the protest, and we regret that some leaders of the protest movement do not share this opinion. It is regrettable that they do not link the crimes of the occupation with the deterioration of democratic norms within Israel itself. Virtually the only exception are the activists of the militant "Anti-Occupation Bloc" who week after week form a distinct organized group within the mainstream protest demonstrations.
In our view, there must be no faltering in the struggle against the settlements and the occupation and for peace is right, nor in the struggle against the existing discrimination of the Arab population in Israel and against plans for even worse measures against that population.
On the other hand, we completely oppose any idea of boycotting the mass, broad protest movement. Rather, activists should participate in it and try to influence its positions as much as possible.
We believe that Hadash has an important role to play – participating in struggles and influencing them, among the Arab population as well as among the Jewish democratic forces.