Class Conflict In Israel
by John Spritzler
April 25, 2007
Israel is ruled by an upper class of Zionist Jews (it was the Zionist movement that called for Jews to immigrate to Palestine.) Zionist leaders lord it over ordinary people, both Arab and Jewish.Some may ask, "What class conflict inside Israel?" Well, follow these links to read about it if you are skeptical.
In February, 2006, a report in Haaretz announced that the combined annual income of the 18 wealthiest families in Israel was $50 billion, equivalent to 77% of Israel’s national budget, and 32% of the country’s revenues. According to Israel’s Labor Party, at least seven of these families are considered Prime Minister Olmert’s close friends.
Read how the upper class is driving down the rest of the people. Read in The Jewish Daily Forward how
"Israel’s growing population of retirees has been reduced to a state of profound economic insecurity in recent years, as self-styled economic reformers have hollowed out the Jewish state’s time-honored system of care for the elderly. Pensions have been frozen. Social security payments, known in Israel as national insurance, have been relentlessly whittled away — cut by 35% in a single decade. Health care and prescription drug coverage have been slashed, along with funds for senior housing and assisted living. It’s part of a deliberate move by Jerusalem policy-makers to modernize Israel’s economy, by which they mean to remodel it along American lines. Determined to bury the socialist ethos of Israel’s founders, successive governments since the mid-1980s have slashed income supports and welfare payments even as they’ve privatized and deregulated industries, opened capital markets to international competition and reduced workers’ job security (they call it “liberalizing labor laws”). Over the past three years, under the economic leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, the reforms have been ramped up to a revolution."The Forward explains the "meteoric rise of the Pensioners' Party" in the April, 2006 election this way: "And then there was the simple, glaring fact of poverty. Too many Israelis had reached the point where their own personal security seemed more precarious than their country’s." Read in the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California about: "Poverty in Israel — Hunger and homelessness surge in the Jewish state" Read how "Recent measures taken by Israel’s government to undermine the welfare state have harmed women first of all, both Arab and Jewish. Of the Jewish, many who in the past had gained a foothold in the middle class find themselves shunted to the margins of society. The income supplements they depended on have been whisked out from under them. The same cuts have worsened the plight of Arab women. Despite the fact that both groups, indeed the lower classes in general on both the Arab and Jewish sides, suffer from an erosion in living-standards – and often for identical reasons – there is an utter lack of dialogue between them." But Israelis are resisting this capitalist attack on their lives, in many different ways: Read Jenny Cohen-Khallas's description of "Penury and Hunger in Israel" and how "vociferous segments of the public are demanding that governmental resources be channeled to welfare and other domestic resources, rather than to strengthening settlements beyond the green line." Read about single mothers, the homeless and the unemployed camping out in front of Israel's Finance Ministry and in Tel Aviv: "The choice of place is no accident," says Israel Twito, 38, a divorcee who is bringing up three daughters alone. "The contrast between our miserable campsite and the neighbourhood’s luxury shops and apartment blocks symbolises the ever-widening abyss between rich and poor." Is it any wonder, then, that one can read how more people are leaving Israel than entering it, and how " Almost half of the country's young people were thinking of leaving the country" because of "dissatisfaction with the government, the education system, a lack of confidence in the political ruling class and concern over the security situation"? Read about the way working class Israelis have been forced to engage in large strikes to protect themselves, not from "the Arabs" but from their Jewish ruling class:
On September 21,  the Israeli General Federation of Labour (Histadrut) held a general strike in protest against the ongoing failure of the government to pay wages to local authorities’ employees. Some 400,000 public sector workers across 265 municipalities came out, bringing the state to a halt. Flights, seaports, railways, post offices, banks and the stock exchange were all shut down, whilst hospitals and the fire service operated on an emergency footing. Schools, day-care centres, kindergartens, and universities were also affected.
The strike also included the Israeli Electrical Corporation, Mekorot National Water Company, oil refineries, public works departments, and the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company. Border crossings were closed, and all government offices including civilian employees in the Israeli Defence Force and at the Negev Nuclear Research Plant were on strike.
Calling the strike was forced upon Histadrut by the depth of opposition and anger amongst workers. Histadrut’s chief and Member of the Knesset Amir Peretz said, “I used to believe in the prime minister, the Knesset, and the courts, yet when I realised there are Israelis hungry for bread, I decided to act.”
“No one, not even the Prime Minister, has the right to set any conditions whatsoever for payment of many months of salaries owed to the workers,” Peretz noted. “The government is turning wages into charity. Wages are not a favour, they are a legal obligation. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu, and Minister of Internal Affairs Avraham Poraz are not enforcing the law. They’re turning Israel into a third world country.”
Postscript December 18, 2015: In Israel Holocaust survivors go hungry
Other articles about Palestine/Israel by John Spritzler
John Spritzler is the author of The People As Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda In World War II, and a (now retired) Senior Research Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health.
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