Stop the offensive against the Arab Population and against Democratic Freedoms – March 19, 2016

The Israeli Communist Forum condemns the campaign of incitement being conducted against the Arab population and its elected leaders. In particular, we condemn all the legislative measures whose enactment is now under way, targeting political parties and Knesset Members which represent large sections of the Arab population in Israel. The aim of such legislation is to exclude such parties and personalities from the Knesset and from any access to the Political Arena in Israel. In the long term, such moves may lead to complete exclusion from the Knesset all representatives of the Arab population, as well as of the consistent Jewish democratic forces.

These measures are orchestrated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and are supported by the right-wing parties as well as by various parties of the "center". They are accompanied by an unprecedented campaign of incitement involving all the major communications media, including the TV channels and nearly all of the printed press.

The most far-reaching proposal in this anti-Arab and anti-democratic campaign is the so-called “Suspension Bill" initiated by Netanyahu. If enacted, it would authorize the Knesset (by a three-quarters majority) to oust elected incumbent Parliamentarians. If definitely adopted, this and similar pieces of legislation would constitute an unprecedented step toward the elimination of democratic freedoms. It would significantly reduce the possibility of voicing any substantial criticism of government policies – in fact, such criticism would be rendered virtually impossible.

In such a situation, we must not be deterred; we must not give in to these threats! The right response is to increase the united struggle of all the major political forces in the Arab population, in close cooperation with the Jewish democratic forces. Such a united struggle in no way implies a blurring of the political and ideological differences which exist between the various parties and movements involved.

These days we are marking the 40th anniversary of the first Land Day – March 30, 1976.  The general strike of that date had been called by the National Land Defense Committee, in response to government plans announced at that time for a massive expropriation of land in Arab communities. A key role in initiating and leading the strike was played by the leadership of Maki (Israeli Communist Party), and also by numerous heads of local councils and Arab public figures supported the resolution, and by that led to a landmark historic struggle of the Arab population in Israel – to defend their land and oppose all discrimination against them in all forms. Despite the many achievements made since then, a long road remains to be traveled before peace and equality can be achieved in this country, and we are nowadays faced with serious new threats.

There is a lesson to be drawn from the events of that first Land Day, forty years ago. Then, too, an offensive was launched against the Arab population and against its leadership – which at the time included calls for the Israel Communist Party to be outlawed. That offensive was repulsed through the taking of decisions which were both bold and responsible, through a sober and accurate assessment of the opportunities for political struggle available under the then prevailing conditions. Of the most crucial importance to the success of these struggles were  Jewish-Arab solidarity and ongoing cooperation.  

Taking a sober and responsible view of the experience accumulated over many years of struggle, and in view of existing conditions and new challenges, the Communist Forum calls for the widest possible cooperation in repelling the unprecedented anti-Arab and anti-democratic offensive. At the same time, the struggle for a fundamental change of current government policies in all spheres must be increased and intensified.