The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

From Colonization to Apartheid

May 24, 2021

A settler country—so Israel has sometimes been described by commentators. This label might be inexact, but it captures the permanence of the policies of all of Israel’s administrations following the Six-Day War of 1967, regardless of their political affiliation.

Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office, both the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and the spreading of Jewish families to the eastern area of Jerusalem through driving out Palestinian families by armed force accelerated. But the colonization of Palestinians’ land is the result of a consistent policy of Israel’s governments.

Since 1967, the conquests of Sinai, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem have led to the occupation of these territories by settlements. Pressure from nationalist and religious groups played an important role in this trend. Governments of the Labor Party and its allies, led by Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and then Shimon Peres, encouraged these settlements. Starting with only five, they now number several hundred, officially recognized or otherwise, and include several entire cities. They completely fragment the territory of the West Bank and now make any independent Palestinian state geographically impossible.

Blocking Palestinians from roads, factories, and universities, the settlements form real obstacles within the Palestinian territories. Militant right-wing settlers establish further outposts. They are armed and form militias prepared to suppress the inhabitants of surrounding towns—with the support of Israel’s official army.

This colonialist policy has accelerated since the right-wing Likud party’s rise to power in 1977. Likud generally favored the settlers and the far right. Netanyahu, who has held office since 2009, has played the colonialist card even more, because he needed the help of ultra-nationalist, racist, and religious far-right parties to form a majority in the legislature. With only one exception they supported the spread of armed Jewish settlers onto Palestinian land. Driving out the owners of this land in the West Bank has become a way of providing new possible terrain for settlers.

Netanyahu has struggled for several months now to form a coalition government. He has stepped up this pro-settlement policy even further—if only to try to distract people from the various court cases involving him! His criminal policy is largely responsible for the unbearable plight of millions of residents—Jews and Arabs—increasingly making Israel look like a land of apartheid.