The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Issue no. 1007 — March 14 - 28, 2016

Editorial:
Presidential Candidates Disguised as Something New

Mar 14, 2016

At least two and a half million people voted in the Michigan primary – almost a million more than the previous record set 44 years ago. People came out to express their anger against the current political system and “politics as usual.” They did it by voting in large numbers for the so-called “outsiders,” Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump. In crisis-weary Flint, Michigan, following rallies by candidates, voter turnout was twice as high as in previous years.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Donald Trump’s message to what is referred to as the “rust belt” communities, resonated like a bell. In Warren, Michigan, Trump declared that he was “bringing the cars back to Michigan.” In a state that has seen the drastic impoverishment and depopulation of cities like Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw as the auto bosses shuttered plant after plant, is it any surprise that workers would cheer candidates’ promises to “bring all the jobs home”?

Bernie Sanders attacked prior administrations for “sending jobs overseas.” He said, “Today, I proudly stood with hundreds of trade unionists and environmentalists in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership ... a continuation of a series of bad trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent American jobs.”

Trump and Sanders, campaigning in Michigan, both made a big attack on “free trade,” blaming it for job loss, claiming that they would reverse such policies.

In fact, the vast majority of jobs have been lost because of what the big companies have done in this country – forcing much more work out of fewer people, cutting jobs left and right as they do. There is more production going on today in this country than ever before. So why are there fewer jobs? Because the real and devastating cause of job loss is speedup. Both of these “outsiders” cover for what the bosses and Wall Street have done.

Trump is actually playing all the same reactionary cards the Republicans have been dealing for years. The only difference is that he is crass and open with it.

Sanders, like Trump, doesn’t really challenge current government policies – on the wars, on “crime,” on education, he votes 98% with the Democratic Party and in action, is very much a part of the status quo.

Yes, he says tuition at colleges should be free – which certainly got him an enormous vote among students. But he doesn’t challenge public funding levels that don’t provide enough money to give a decent education to the children of working people. Most won’t make it through college – even if it’s free – because they haven’t been given the preparation.

People are voting for so-called “outsiders” today as a way to express anger. But those two “outsiders” will do nothing more than to pull all their voters right back in the system – whether or not they are nominated.

Sanders, in a speech in New Hampshire, closed by saying, “We will need to come together in a few months and unite this party, and this nation because the right-wing Republicans we oppose must not be allowed to gain the presidency.”

While the Republican Party will undoubtedly have more trouble accepting Trump, it is not due to his policies, which echo their own. They have the difficulty of controlling a candidate who is not bankrolled and entrenched in their party.

While the image of something new has worked well for both Trump and Sanders, in the end it’s the same old story. Four more years under a Republican and Democratic government, the same government Trump and Sanders voters are entirely sick of.

Working people need a new party, a working class party that would propose to people to act on their anger, not wait for a politician to do something for them. A party that would lead the fight for jobs and against unemployment – a fight against all those hatreds based on ethnic background. A fight for a decent life for all working class people.

Pages 2-3

Mass Deportations Have Happened Before

Mar 14, 2016

Today Donald Trump loudly says that Mexicans are “taking our jobs” and calls for deporting all “illegals.” Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton denounce Trump, and Clinton calls Trump’s deportation plans “absurd, inhumane and un-American.”

But in fact, Republican and Democratic Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt oversaw a real program of mass deportations. In the 1930s, the United States deported about two million people to Mexico – more than half of whom were U.S. citizens.

Reserve Army of Lower Paid Workers

The U.S. capitalist class has long used Mexico as a source of reserve labor. They bring workers in when needed, then kick them out when they’re not needed.

In the 1910s and 1920s, many Mexican immigrants came to the United States, often fleeing the civil wars that accompanied the Mexican Revolution. Business owners in the U.S. were happy to have these immigrants as workers, since WWI and new restrictions slowed the flow of immigrants from Europe.

In the Midwest some of them worked in steel, meat-packing or auto. Most worked in the fields of Texas and California, moving from camp to camp, living in deplorable conditions. They lacked the most basic necessities, like housing, schools or healthcare

Deportations to Reduce the Workforce

When the U.S. Depression hit, the capitalists no longer needed an expanded work force. In fact, they feared the social problems that unemployment created. The fact that workers came from Mexico gave the capitalists an easy “solution” to a reduced need for labor – deportation. Plus, this was a way to convince other workers that officials were doing something about unemployment. As a Los Angeles official wrote to call for deporting Mexicans: “We need their jobs for needy citizens.”

County officials, state officials, and federal officials started carrying out raids wherever Mexicans lived. Afterward, the federal government’s own Wickersham Commission called these raids “unconstitutional, tyrannic and oppressive” – but that didn’t stop them.

Big companies like U.S. Steel, Ford Motor Company, Southern Pacific Railroad and others laid off their Mexican workers and told them to leave the country. The unions, like the American Federation of Labor, loudly called for mass deportation of Mexicans, as did the press. All of this contributed to a climate of fear that convinced many Mexicans to leave “voluntarily.”

The deportations started under Herbert Hoover and continued once Roosevelt took office in 1933.

In fact, more than half of those deported were U.S. citizens, born in this country. Some Mexican Americans had been in Texas and California for four generations – but many were deported anyway.

Bringing Mexican Workers Back for WWII

The problem of mass unemployment ended when the U.S. started preparing for World War II in early 1940. As the demand for workers picked up, the deportations slowed.

After the U.S. entered World War II, Roosevelt started a new program to bring Mexican workers into the U.S., not as citizens, only as temporary “guest workers,” called braceros. They were again denied the most basic rights and services, like schools for their children or the right to join a union.

What kind of system is it that uses workers this way? Whether workers are migrants or permanent residents in the U.S., all are a part of the working class. It’s all of our labor together that has built the wealth the U.S. is famous for. We should be joining forces together to fight for a higher quality of life – not buying into the capitalist politicians’ divide and rule games.

Trump Rally Clash in Chicago:
Tearing the Working Class in Two

Mar 14, 2016

Donald Trump held a rally in the middle of Chicago, on the campus of a university where most students are the children of recent immigrants, many from Mexico or of Muslim descent. Earlier in his campaign, he had suggested that Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists. He also called for a ban on Muslim immigration.

Not surprisingly, thousands of young people and others turned out to protest, both inside and outside the arena where Trump was scheduled to speak. When the protesters overwhelmed the rally, Trump’s organization announced that they were cancelling the event, and those who came to hear him left angry. Protesters chanted, “We stopped Trump!” Fistfights broke out inside the arena and the police stepped in to separate the two sides.

The next day, Trump wrote on Twitter: “The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!”

At the same time that he crowed about the “energy” that his own provocation injected into the country, he pretended to be shocked by what it revealed. After the rally, Trump told a news show host: “We have a country that’s so divided that maybe even you don’t understand it. I’ve never seen anything like it. And this has been going on for years. And on one side you have people that haven’t been able – haven’t had a pay increase in ten years frankly, and the businesses are moving out of the country, and they’re upset and they’re angry. And the other side, you have people that feel differently about other elements. And it all comes together, and you see it all over. You see it here. You see it in lots of different locations. And there’s a lot of anger in the country. And it’s very sad to see, actually.”

Trump’s vision has the working class divided up into two sides. He has a political platform that appeals to the most reactionary prejudices in the population in order to explain why they are unemployed, poor, and struggling. He suggests that those who oppose his racism are just thugs who “feel differently” about the terrible economy, as if they are somehow benefitting from what the bosses have done. No doubt he will find a way to spin what happened into support for his policies.

Those who are drawn to Trump have far more in common with the protesters that Trump tells them to “take out,” than with this racist billionaire. While he speaks in a rhetoric that is attractive to the prejudices of many white workers, he is himself a part of the ruling class that exploits us all.

Chicago School Board Feeds Nursing to Corporations

Mar 14, 2016

Chicago Public Schools is moving to hand more nursing care in schools to a big company – defense contractor RCM Technologies. It looks like they are moving to contract all nursing out, supposedly to “save money.” That is, RCM’s profits come at the expense of children’s health.

Chicago Public School officials have claimed for years that there is a “shortage” of nurses. They’ve used this as an excuse to contract some of the nursing in schools out to private corporations, rather than hire people.

The school system handed RCM a 30 million-dollar contract last June. Six months in, there have already been many problems. The biggest one is that the contract nurses rotate schools, and so do not develop necessary relationships to the children in their care. One diabetic student, who didn’t receive an injection, became scared to attend school. There have been problems with basic services, like epi-pen injections.

Will a child die to pad RCM’s bottom line? It happened in Philadelphia, when they removed all school nurses – again to “save money.” CPS is trying to hand even more of its money to profiteers – and it will hurt children to do it.

Chicago Public Schools Standoff

Mar 14, 2016

Forrest Claypool, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, has been threatening for months to impose a 7% pay cut on teachers. Then the Chicago Teachers Union president made it clear that Chicago teachers were ready to strike if that happened – their timeline be damned! The clear counterthreat made the board back off the pay cut, for now. But Claypool came back, announcing three furlough days for everyone in CPS, including one school day. That amounts to a 1.6% pay cut.

The union leadership has said that it is sticking to a plan to have a one day shutdown on April 1st.

Teachers and school workers are right to stand up and fight for Chicago students’ education.

The Rich Live Longer

Mar 14, 2016

Despite all the advances in medicine and safety, despite the decline in smoking and other health risks, the life expectancy for the poorest 10 percent of people in the U.S. has gone up by less than one year over the last 30 years. But for the richest 10 percent, life expectancy has gone up by more than eight years. On average, wealthy people now live more than 13 years longer than poor people!

In this sick capitalist society, all the benefits of technology, of wealth, of medicine, and of education are monopolized by the rich who can afford them.

Pages 4-5

Working to Build a Working Class Party in Michigan, 2016

Mar 14, 2016

Gary Walkowicz, who ran for Congress as an independent in 2014, recently addressed a meeting in Detroit explaining why it is necessary to create a working class party, and specifically, as one aspect of that, to put a working class party on the ballot in Michigan. The following is a transcript of his opening remarks.

First, let me state a political fact: in this country, the bosses have two political parties, the working class has none.

Many of us sitting in this room believe it is important to have working class candidates on the ballot, so that working people can at least express themselves by voting for candidates who speak from the standpoint of the working class. In 2014, with the support of others who believed the same thing, five of us ran for office in this area on that basis.

Tonight, I want to talk about why we believe it is important to try to put a working class party on the ballot in Michigan. We don’t say that by electing working class candidates to office could solve all the problems that working people face. But if we put a working class party on the ballot, we could at least give working people the chance, through their vote, to speak to the problems that working people face and speak to the answers to these problems from the standpoint of working people. By putting a working class party on the ballot in just one state, we could make it easier for workers elsewhere to do the same thing.

Working people are facing a crisis today. And the answers that workers would have to that crisis, no other party will even talk about.

The two existing big parties, Republicans and Democrats, they have no answers; they have no solutions for working people. In point of fact, these two parties are part of the problem.

Who Poisoned the People of Flint? Republicans and Democrats!

Just look at the crises in this state, and who caused them. The people of Flint have been poisoned. Thousands of children have been harmed, their lives and health at risk, many suffering permanent brain damage. Many adults in Flint have suffered health problems, too; some may have died due to the water.

People were poisoned because politicians made decisions to benefit those with money. They decided to get off the Detroit water system and build a new water system, when there was no need to. You better believe that some people benefitted financially in building this new system. Then they decided to take water out of the Flint River, when even GM refused to use this water because it corroded their parts. They ignored the complaints from Flint residents who complained about this water. They ridiculed the doctors and researchers who said there was high lead content in the water. And they did nothing to stop the poisoning until the public outcry became too great. The criminals directly responsible for this are mostly Republicans – Snyder, the state legislature, the emergency managers they appointed. But Democrats made the decisions, decades ago, to build the unneeded water tunnel that set this catastrophe in motion. And the federal Environmental Protection Agency, run by Democrats in Washington, ignored warning signs about the lead poisoning for two years.

Who Condemned Detroit School Children? Democrats and Republicans!

Then there’s the crisis in the Detroit schools. Crumbling school buildings, overcrowded classrooms, children wearing winter coats to stay warm in class, leaking ceilings and some that fall, rodents in the classrooms, schools without the books they need, or even enough toilet paper. Who could learn under these conditions? The lives and future of the children of Detroit are being destroyed, just like the children in Flint. These deplorable conditions came to light only because the Detroit teachers took to the streets, refused to be silenced, and protested day after day.

Who is responsible for the horrific conditions in the Detroit schools? The city of Detroit has been run by and led by Democrats for decades. Today, state funding for the schools is controlled by Republicans in Lansing. But the problem of the Detroit schools did not just start in the last few years. Funding for schools was cut when the Democrat Granholm was governor and when Democrats controlled the legislature. Both parties made decisions to use our tax money to pay the banks and start for-profit charter schools rather than adequately fund public education. The emergency financial managers in Detroit have rolled up big debts for the schools. And who was the first to appoint an emergency financial manager for the Detroit schools? Granholm, the Democrat.

Both parties made decisions to cheat the schools and public services, taking money that should have gone to them in order to give it to the banks, the corporations and the wealthy. Both parties are responsible for the horrors in Flint and Detroit.

Voting for These Two Parties Is a Vote for our Enemies

Now Snyder is saying he will fix Flint, and the Democrats like Duggan, Detroit’s mayor, are saying they will fix the Detroit schools. Why would anyone believe that the parties who caused these crises would fix them? Whatever fix they bring in, it won’t serve our interests!

Today there is no party that speaks for the interests of the working class. Some people tell us that we should vote for the Democrats because they are the lesser of two evils. Some would tell us that we should vote for Bernie Sanders because he is the lesser evil of the lesser of two evils.

Republicans ask for our vote by telling us to blame other exploited workers for our problems. They appeal to some people’s prejudices and hope that some workers are stupid enough to fall for their lies.

Both parties make decisions to benefit the bosses and the wealthy. They pretend that what is good for the corporations and the banks is good for us. But would working class representatives have ever made the decisions that led to the poisoning the people of Flint and the devastation of the schools in Detroit? Of course not! It’s absurd to even ask that question.

Working People Need Our Own Party! Period!

We want to start the work to build a working class party. We want to do it in Michigan this year.

Those of us who were candidates in 2014 and the others who campaigned with us are starting the work to put a Working Class Party on the ballot in Michigan in 2016.

The results we had in 2014 were not bad, even though we were running as independent candidates. Our one candidate for Dearborn school board (Mary Anne Hering) got votes from 20% of those who voted. With the top three elected, she finished 4th. Ken Jannot, our other candidate there, got more than 10%. David Roehrig, our candidate for Wayne Country Community College board, was elected when the other candidate dropped out. And our two candidates for Congress, Sam Johnson and myself, got more than 2% of the vote each, almost 10,000 votes together. The fact that we got 16,000 votes in total, running a campaign with not much money, only a few dozen people campaigning, showed that there are many workers out there who agree with what we say. Putting a party on the ballot would allow us to reach more people.

What would a working class party do? It would propose answers to the problems working people face. The lack of jobs and the low wages for those who do have a job? A working class party would say the truth – that the money is there to provide jobs with decent wages for all who want to work. But just saying those things is not enough. Electing some workers to political office is not enough, in a set up run by and controlled by the wealthy.

It will always take a fight for the working class to gain what it needs. But a working class party can be part of the fight and could help lead that fight. If we had a working class party in Michigan today, it could bring together the protesters in Flint and the teachers, parents and students in Detroit who are making a fight against the same bosses.

A working class party could encourage the fights that any group of workers is making and show how the fight of one group of workers is connected to the needs of all working people.

A working class party could show that workers are the majority in this society and that our interests are different from those of the bosses.

It will not be easy to put this new party on the ballot. It will take a lot of work. State law makes it hard. We will need about 45,000 petition signatures to get the Working Class Party on the ballot. But we have started the work and we are asking people who agree that the workers need their own party to join us in this work.

The bosses have two parties. It’s about time that the working class builds one!

Pages 6-7

Book Review:
The Turner House

Mar 14, 2016

“There ain’t no haints in Detroit.”

Oh, but there might be. One of these mean spirits is seen by Charles “Cha-Cha” Turner, in Angela Flournoy’s book The Turner House. The blue-lit ghost first appears when young Cha-Cha gets his own room in the new Turner house on Detroit’s East Side.

Years later, Cha-Cha is driving a semi-truck, delivering newly built pick-ups from a Detroit factory. The ghost reappears in his cab. Cha-Cha runs off the road. He then starts to confront what is messing with his life.

The creature haunting him doesn’t come back for a long time — long enough to tell the story of the Turner family’s thirteen children. The generations of the Turner family illustrate 75 years of history in black working-class Detroit.

The Turner elders came to Detroit from Arkansas, part of the 1940s migration, looking for wartime jobs in the North. By hard scrabbling and a little luck, the elder Turners bought themselves their house on the East Side. Until the end of the 1970s, life ran along in a livable way for the Turners. They found work (or the army). They kept their heads above water.

Of the thirteen Turner children in the novel, two are hourly workers, in auto and telephone. Another is a retired teacher. One is an office administrator. Four made careers in the army. Four scrape by, catch-as-catch-can. And one is a cop.

But when the auto companies declare “downsizing,” a lot begins to change for the family and for the city. The auto companies closed most of their Detroit factories and fled from their combative, expensive workforce.

With no jobs, no resources, hemmed in by racist barriers in every direction, Detroit decayed rapidly. The Turner House becomes more and more an island in a sea of derelict buildings, besieged by scrappers. The Turner children find it harder and harder to hang on.

Anyone who has lived in Detroit will recognize how accurately the author describes the familiar places and life experiences of Detroiters.

The many slices of real life, told without despair, and with frequent humor, make this book worth reading.

And about that “haint”? As the novel says, “Humans haunt more houses than ghosts do.”

L.A.:
Exide Battery Still Poisoning Neighbors

Mar 14, 2016

In March last year, Exide battery shut their plant in Los Angeles. This plant, located in Vernon, emitted lead-containing substances flying over Commerce, Bell, Huntington Park, East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights for decades. These toxic substances contaminated nearby houses. Air quality officials have said that this lead contamination can cause cancer to roughly 100,000 residents.

Exide agreed to clean up the area affected with their poison. But almost a year later, the State of California has cleaned fewer than 200 properties, although 10,000 properties were affected, according to the Los Angeles Times.

These are all working class communities. One East L.A. resident, Amelia Vallejo, whose five year old son Michael has severe developmental disabilities and is hard of hearing, told the Times: “We’ve been here for years and look at our kids … they’re damaged for life. Why don’t they come here and raise a commotion? Is it because we’re poor? Is it because we don’t speak out? Is it because we’re not white?”

Under the pressure of these working class people, the State of California recently came up with a proposal to spend close to 180 million dollars to test and clean the affected houses. This fund would be allocated from the state budget. The State says they would try to recoup the expense from Exide later. But, the state allowed the company to operate the plant for 30 years, despite repeated air-quality and hazardous-waste violations. So, recouping the cleaning money from the company is just hogwash. That is, the tax payers, the very people affected by this lead contamination, will pick up the bill.

Under Armour Tells Baltimore:
Show Us More Money!

Mar 14, 2016

Under Armour, the second largest sports apparel company in the U.S., asked the city of Baltimore to give its huge new development plan a 535-million-dollar TIF. A TIF, which stands for “tax increment financing,” is a special tax break that allows a company to pay NO property taxes while it pays off bonds the city buys for it – a sort of free loan.

Under Armour, originally located in Baltimore, has been expanding, with sales of four billion dollars a year. The company began buying up hundreds of acres of land in an area that was once industrial waste in south Baltimore. The plan calls for a larger plant for Under Armour and other manufacturers, and proposes to build 7,500 residential units and a million square feet of stores and offices, and put in parks as well.

Does Baltimore have 535 million it can afford to give away? Of course not. It’s a city with a 25% poverty rate, with 86% of children in the public schools qualifying for school lunches, with falling down public housing and 16,000 vacant properties.

Yet city officials have given away hundreds of millions of dollars to developers in the last 15 years. In fact, Under Armour itself got a 35-million-dollar TIF for its older manufacturing site.

Whether Under Armour really wants 535 million dollars or even 53 million – Baltimore City residents have other needs.

Some Baltimore residents in public housing recently protested the 17-million-dollar TIF that went to expand a biopark for a large hospital system. Time for much more of that!

Page 8

China:
A Limping Capitalist “Tiger”

Mar 14, 2016

Less than a year ago, the media were still raving about China – its economy could pull the world out of the crisis. China was supposedly “a tiger.” Well, no more!

In fact, the Chinese economy has been sliding down a slippery slope for a long time. The crunch came in the form of a series of brutal falls on China’s stock market. So far, massive injections of fresh cash by the central bank – equivalent to nearly 142 billion dollars – have failed to stop the meltdown.

So what’s happened to the Chinese “tiger”? Of course, there is the world crisis. A sharp reduction in orders from Western companies caused a wave of bankruptcies and plant closures in China. What is more, China’s ability to export was hampered by protectionist measures introduced by some of the rich countries. The U.S., for instance, China’s biggest export market, slapped a 277% duty on a whole range of its steel products.

But there was another, more vicious factor. After the 2008 collapse, the craze among Western big business was to lend money at extortionate interest rates to “emerging countries.” In China, which was their main target, huge infrastructure projects got off the ground on the back of this massive inflow of speculative capital. Whole new towns were built for a so-called “new middle-class,” which only existed in the dreams of Western speculators. Soon, China was littered with a host of ghost towns and other white elephants.

Having pocketed fat interest payments for a number of years, Western speculators finally decided that China was becoming too dangerous for them. Last year, they pulled out massively, taking about 700 billion dollars out of the country. This left China’s finances in tatters, with a mountain of debt, and caused the meltdown of its stock markets over the past months.

Today, by an ironical twist, it is China’s economic slowdown which is threatening the world economy with a boomerang effect. The reduction in world trade, which, so far, has been partly concealed by China’s ever increasing imports, is coming back with a vengeance. But, in addition, the massive flows of speculative capital roaming the world in search of a quick buck are now inflated by those which have fled China – thereby threatening to destabilize the whole planet’s economy even more brutally.

China:
The Working Class Fights Back

Mar 14, 2016

Just like here, the Chinese working class is on the receiving end of the capitalists’ attempts to preserve their profits against the crisis of their system.

Job cuts in China have been massive. Since 2013, 890,000 jobs have been slashed in the coal industry and 550,000 in steel. And there’s worse to come: Six sectors have been earmarked for a 20% cut in production in 2016, including coal, iron, steel and cement. This could result in up to 3.6 million more workers losing their jobs! But this is still only the tip of the iceberg as countless over-indebted firms have gone bust.

But the Chinese working class hasn’t taken these attacks lying down. In 2015, there were 2,774 strikes recorded, twice as many as the previous year. Among them, 36% were in construction and 32% in manufacturing. Mostly these strikes were over unpaid wages, often when an owner shut down without notice.

Given its resilience, the Chinese working class deserves all the more respect, as it has to face a repressive regime which throws working-class activists in jail as soon as they try to organize any kind of action. And it is this resilience that other workers should keep in mind, when they see union leaders here join the capitalists to blame China for job cuts. The Chinese workers are not the enemies of other workers. They are our best allies. Both working classes have the same common enemy – this capitalist system which has long passed its sell-by date!

Palestinians:
Rifles against Rocks

Mar 14, 2016

For months, there have been almost constant clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s a war going on. Since the beginning of October, there have been 172 Palestinians killed, 26 Israelis and three other nationalities.

On February 15th, Israeli soldiers entered the al-Amari refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, near the city of Ramallah. They were confronted by hundreds of youths throwing stones. The army shot rubber bullets and real bullets, wounding 28.

In the old days, the Zionist leaders explained that the creation of the state of Israel would allow the Jewish people to live safely, in security. But the racist policy of its leaders promoting settlements has not only led to the slaughter and a very hard life for the Palestinians, but also to permanent insecurity for Israelis. And it contributes to maintaining the future of Israel and Palestine in an impasse.

Israeli Opposition Is Threatened

Mar 14, 2016

On February 5th, a thousand people rallied in Tel Aviv to condemn the attempt of the far right and the government to shut down Israeli organizations opposed to the army’s crimes in the occupied territories.

“Breaking the Silence” is the organization under attack. It is made up of army veterans from 2004, who testify about the abuses against the Palestinian population which they both witnessed and took part in themselves.

Since it began, this organization has been the object of far right attacks, but the attacks are getting worse. The far right publicizes the names, addresses and phone numbers of these activists and makes anonymous death threats.

The government hasn’t criticized these far right attacks at all, but instead has prevented the soldiers’ organization from taking part in veterans’ rallies and from talking to high school students. In the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, representatives have tried to outlaw it. Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, demanded in the Knesset that Isaac Herzog, the head of the Labor Party, denounce “Breaking the Silence.” Herzog is against outlawing it, but said he was “disgusted by its opinions.”

The activists and sympathizers of organizations which condemn the warlike policy of the government, and its consequences, can count only on their own determination to continue to be heard.

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