For a determined and responsible response to the challenge of the raised electoral threshold in Knesset elections – 25/4/2015

The Israeli Communist Forum condemns the raising of the threshold in Knesset elections to 3.25 %. This measure was enacted with the deliberate aim of targeting the Knesset factions representing the Arab population in Israel. Most especially targeted was the joint Jewish-Arab Hadash  (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality). More than any other political formation, it is Hadash which initiators of the increased electoral threshold would like to see excluded from parliamentary representation. This is because already for many years Hadash represents a consistent and determined alternative to the policies of occupation and discrimination enacted by successive Israeli governments, as well as to their anti-social economic policies. Hadash faithfully represents the interests of the Arab population in Israel, while also setting out a comprehensive alternative policy which would benefit Israel’s entire population – whose interests are in stark contrast to the government policies of occupation and oppression and its repressive economic policies. Hadash is a firm proponent of a joint Arab-Jewish struggle, opposing and rejecting tendencies of isolationism and seclusion among the Arab population in Israel.

Hadash faces the new challenge of the increased electoral threshold, under circumstances which are also otherwise far from easy. Especially, in the aftermath of the recent municipal elections , in which Hadash lost municipal power in many Arab localities and villages. A particularly grievous loss were the elections in Nazareth , where the mayoral position – continuously in the hands of Hadash since 1975 – was lost. It is the clear responsibility of the Hadash institutions – national and local – to thoroughly analyze the reasons for what happened.  We believe that in this situation, it is essential to convene the Hadash National Conference, and it should take place as soon as possible.

The elections results, and what led to them, must be thoroughly examined. A specific important point to be looked at is the involvement of the Hadash national institutions in the running of local campaigns – or the lack of such involvement. This is especially needed with regard to localities where the local elections results have a national significance.  Particular attention should also be given to localities where the program and the composition of local lists of candidates were not compatible with the nationwide principles and platform of Hadash. The same for the choice of partners in forming local electoral pacts during municipal elections, and in seeking participation in local municipal coalitions in the aftermath of elections.

Drawing the correct lessons from the municipal elections would be of particular importance in view of the challenge of the raised electoral threshold, to be faced in the next national elections. In this context, we have witnessed an alarming phenomenon of the other political forces active among the Arab population uniting against Hadash. At the local elections in Nazareth, a situation developed that the Islamic Movement , Balad and almost all other political forces in the city – all united against the Hadash mayoral candidate and supported  his rival. Moreover, in order to achieve the defeat of Hadash, these political groupings went as far as joining forces with supporters of the Israeli establishment parties, including even the local adherents of Netanyhau’s Likud Party. In spite of this alarming phenomenon, it should be noted that in national elections to the Knesset the situation is quantitatively  different – when the Arab population needs to preserve its strength in face of an oppressive and discriminatory majority. It is to be hoped that when this situation comes about, all political forces would act in a responsible manner. The needs of the struggle of the Arab population in Israel against government policies, in alliance with the Jewish democratic forces, must prevail over narrow-minded personal interests and hopes for short-range electoral gains.

Hadash is the largest of the political forces representing the Arab population in the Knesset. Being such, in our view Hadash must strive to establish in the next Knesset elections an electoral alliance  with the political forces relatively nearest to its positions  among  the Arab population, as well as among the Jewish peace forces. Such a joint campaign, however, must be conducted  within the framework of an agreed platform – and such a program must not run counter to Hadash’s own basic principles. In particular, there should be no infringement of the struggle against the occupation and for the establishment of a just peace, based on two states in the June 1967 borders, the struggle against the discrimination of the Arab population in Israel, of the ongoing firm opposition to the assault on democratic freedoms in Israel and the violation of workers’ rights.

The political struggles in Israel take place against the background of a kind of "negotiations" about renewal of a so-called "peace process”. The events of recent days have disillusioned even those who still entertained some illusions that the Obama administration – at least on its second term – would conduct in our region a policy different from that of its predecessors. By now, it has become clear for all to see that the US has no intention for doing what is needed to promote a comprehensive and just peace in our region.

Given that situation, it is no wonder that we are witnessing an upsurge in the activities of extreme right-wing forces, including the criminal perpetrators of the so-called  "price tag" attacks – some of which target Muslim and Christian holy sites, while others are directed at random Arabs. Nowadays, such attacks take place not only in the Occupied Territories, but also against Arab communities in Israel  proper. The latest such was the attack on the mosque in Umm al-Fahm on the night of April 18, which included arson and the daubing of racist graffiti. Security forces exhibit an utter helplessness to put an end to such acts – an attitude which must be strongly protested.

Western hypocrisy

On the international arena, the policies of imperialist intervention remain in force. Even in places such as Iran and Syria, where the danger of another military assault had so far been blocked, it is not yet completely off the table.  The U.S. and its allies effected a blunt and hypocritical intervention in Ukraine, where they supported a coup to  overthrow the legally elected President. In the aftermath they embarked on supporting the newly formed government, in which a significant role is played by outspoken pro-Nazi forces. Those forces regard as their role model the Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, such as Stepan Bandera. At the same time pogroms take place, the offices of the Ukrainian Communist Party are set on fire and murderous assault are carried out against the party’s leaders and  activists in Kiev and throughout Western Ukraine. There are accelerated preparations for having the Communist Party officially outlawed and all "Communist propaganda" prohibited. Steps are being taken against all "non-Ukrainians" – primarily, there are ever more restrictions and prohibitions against the Russian-speaking population. A growing number of anti-Semitic assaults are yet another manifestation of Ukraine’s "new democracy". And only supporters of the coup have access to the media.

We sharply protest the campaign of persecution launched against the Ukrainian Communists, and demand its immediate termination. We denounce the hypocrisy of the Western countries, which were supposedly greatly worried about democracy in Ukraine during the term of the previous, democratically-elected President. Nowadays, the same countries ignore the creation of a terrorist dictatorship, which has Pro-Nazi elements at the heart of its leadership, and which allows virtually no freedom of political activity to any who are not among its supporters.

We denounce the hypocrisy of the U.S. and its European allies, who dismantled whole countries in Eastern Europe, in particular breaking up the former Yugoslavia into countless separate states. Nowadays, the same countries are going on endlessly about "The territorial integrity of Ukraine" being the most sacred of principles. We denounce the hypocrisy of those who upheld Kosovo's independence, based on the referendum held there – and who now refuse to recognize the referendum held in the Crimea, where more than 95% of the population expressed their desire to become once again a part of Russia. We express solidarity with all those in Ukraine , especially in its Eastern part, who rightfully refuse to recognize the new government installed by the coup, and who are seeking greater local independence and a closer relationship with Russia. Under the prevailing conditions, these are just demands, designed to secure the most fundamental rights of the residents in these areas.

We believe that in the interests of world peace, support must be extended to the forces which oppose the Ukrainian Nazis and their Western backers. The aim of these backers is to place the entire region under their tutelage, in complete subordination to the interests of the U.S. and its NATO allies. A success of their plot would constitute a further danger, not only to the peoples of that region, but also to the peace of the entire world.

The above position does not preclude the need of an ongoing struggle to set out fundamentally better alternatives for the peoples of Ukraine, Russia and other countries in the region. Nor does it obviate the need to struggle for the creation of an altogether different regime, a Socialist one. Only in such a regime could be expressed to the full the true interests of all peoples in the region, and not those of various groups of local and foreign oligarchs.