[Marxism] Palestinian general strike in Israel, 1 Oct.

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Tue Sep 29 15:04:07 MDT 2009

A one-day general strike of Palestinians inside of Israel has been called
by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel (or according to a
different source, the High Follow-up Committee of the Palestinian Minority
in Israel) to protest a number of measures and deteriorating outlook facing
"Israeli Arabs." I'm surprised that I haven't seen much about the strike
action planned for this Thursday, even on this list, although Dennis Brasky
had posted a link to the article by Jonathan Cook which I have reproduced
in full below. A related article is on Kawther Salam's blog at:

in full below. A related article is on Kawther Salam's blog at:


On Thursday we plan a solidarity picket in front of the Israeli embassy in
The Hague. 


Israel’s Arab Citizens Call General Strike

by Jonathan Cook / September 9th, 2009

The increasingly harsh political climate in Israel under Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government has prompted the leadership of
the country’s 1.3 million Arab citizens to call the first general strike in
several years.

The one-day stoppage is due to take place on October 1, a date heavy with
symbolism because it marks the anniversary of another general strike, in
2000 at the start of the second intifada, when 13 Arab demonstrators were
shot dead by Israeli police.

The Arab leadership said it was responding to a string of what it called
“racist” government measures that cast the Arab minority, a fifth of the
population, as enemies of the state.

“In recent months, there has been a parallel situation of racist policies
in the parliament and greater condoning of violence towards Arab citizens
by the police and courts,” said Jafar Farah, the head of Mossawa, an Arab
advocacy group in Israel. “This attitude is feeding down to the streets.”

Confrontations between the country’s Arab minority and Mr Netanyahu’s
coalition, formed in the spring, surfaced almost immediately over a set of
controversial legal measures.

The proposed bills outlawed the commemoration of the “nakba”, or
catastrophe, the word used by Palestinians for their dispossession in 1948;
required citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a Zionist state; and banned
political demands for ending Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Following
widespread outcries, the bills were either watered down or dropped.

But simmering tensions came to a boil again late last month when the
education minister, Gideon Saar, presented educational reforms to mark the
start of the new school year.

He confirmed plans to drop the word “nakba” from Arabic textbooks and
announced his intention to launch classes on Jewish heritage and Zionism.
He also said he would tie future budgets for schools to their success in
persuading pupils to perform military or national service.

Arab citizens are generally exempted from military service, although
officials have recently been trying to push civilian national service in
its place.

Mohammed Barakeh, an Arab member of the parliament, denounced the linking
of budgets to national service, saying that Mr Saar “must understand that
he is the education minister, not the defence minister”.

The separate Arab education system is in need of thousands of more
classrooms and is massively underfunded – up to nine times more is spent on
a Jewish pupil than an Arab one, according to surveys. Research published
by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem last month showed that Jewish schools
received five times more than Arab schools for special education classes.

Mr Netanyau, who accompanied Mr Saar on a tour of schools last week,
appeared to give his approval to the proposed reforms: “We advocate
education that stresses values, Zionism and a love of the land.”

Mr Barakeh also accused government ministers of competing to promote
measures hostile to the Arab minority. “Anyone seeking fame finds it in
racist whims against Arabs – the ministers of infrastructure, education,
transportation, whoever.”

Mr Barakeh was referring to a raft of recent proposals.

Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister and leader of the far-right Yisrael
Beiteinu party, announced last month that training for the diplomatic
service would be open only to candidates who had completed national service.

Of the foreign ministry’s 980 employees only 15 are Arab, a pattern
reflected across the civil service sector according to Sikkuy, a rights and
coexistence organisation.

The housing minister, Ariel Atias, has demanded communal segregation
between Jewish and Arab citizens and instituted a drive to make the
Galilee, where most Arab citizens live, “more Jewish”.

The interior minister, Eli Yishai, has approved a wave of house
demolitions, most controversially in the Arab town of Umm al Fahm in Wadi
Ara, where a commercial district has been twice bulldozed in recent weeks.

The transport minister, Israel Katz, has insisted that road signs include
placenames only as they are spelt in Hebrew, thereby erasing the Arabic
names of communities such as Jerusalem, Jaffa and Nazareth.

Arab legislators have come under repeated verbal attack from members of the
government. Last month, the infrastructures minister, Uzi Landau, refused
to meet Taleb al Sana, the head of the United Arab List party, on
parliamentary business, justifying the decision on the grounds that Arab
MPs were “working constantly here and abroad to delegitimise Israel as a
Jewish state”.

Shortly afterwards, Mr al Sana and his colleague Ahmed Tibi, the deputy
speaker of parliament, attended Fatah’s congress in Bethlehem, prompting Mr
Lieberman to declare: “Our central problem is not the Palestinians, but
Ahmed Tibi and his ilk – they are more dangerous than Hamas and [Islamic]
Jihad combined.”

Mr Tibi responded: “When Lieberman, the foreign minister, says that,
ordinary Israelis understand that he is calling for me to be killed as a
terrorist. It is the most dangerous incitement.”

Israel’s annual Democracy Index poll, published last month, showed that 53
per cent of Israeli Jews supported moves to encourage Arab citizens to leave.

Mr Farah said the strike date had been selected to coincide with the
anniversary of the deaths of 13 Arab citizens in October 2000 to highlight
both the failure to prosecute any of the policemen involved and the
continuing official condoning of violence against Arab citizens by police
and Jewish citizens.

Some 27 Arab citizens have been killed by the police in unexplained
circumstances since the October deaths, Mr Farah said, with only one
conviction. Last week, Shahar Mizrahi, an undercover officer, was given a
15-month sentence for shooting Mahmoud Ghanaim in the head from point-blank
range. The judge called Mizrahi’s actions “reckless”.

This week, in another controversial case, Shai Dromi, a Negev rancher,
received six months community service after shooting dead a Bedouin
intruder, Khaled al Atrash, as the latter fled.

Mr Farah said the regard in which Arab citizens were held by the government
was illustrated by a comment from the public security minister, Yitzhak
Aharonovitch, in June. During an inspection of police officers working
undercover as drug addicts, the minister praised one for looking like a
“real dirty Arab”.

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