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

Israeli Arabs, Victims of Official Racism

May 24, 2021

For the first time on a large scale, Palestine’s ongoing clashes broke out in the middle of Israeli territory and between Jews and Arabs sharing the same Israeli nationality.

Extremist Jewish militiamen attacked Arabs outside a mosque and launched punitive operations in the mixed Jewish and Arab towns of Lod and Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv. They killed a 25-year-old man and beat a driver into a coma—a lynching broadcast live on television. Clashes between Jews and Arabs took place in Jaffa and Acre. Police arrested more than 700 Israeli Arabs during the protests.

Israeli Arabs are Palestinians. They are descendants of those Palestinians who managed to stay when Israel was founded in 1948. They now make up 20% of the country’s population. They have the right to vote but they are considered second-class citizens. They are systematically suspected of not being loyal to the state, excluded from military service, and barred from many public positions associated even remotely with national security. On the other hand, they significantly ensure the functioning of health care. Half the country’s pharmacists, one quarter of nurses, and one in five doctors are Arabs. Their numbers are even greater in the lower-skilled and lower-paid jobs in hospitals. Along with Palestinian “border workers” who cross every day from the Occupied Territories, they make up the most exploited part of Israel’s working class. The average wage of Israeli Arabs is only 70% of the country’s average wage. Many are unemployed or underemployed.

This economic situation is made worse by the everyday racism encouraged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. To hold power, he has systematically favored Jewish supremacist and religious fundamentalist parties. So, fascist, racist, violent, and homophobic parties are associated with his government.

In East Jerusalem and the West Bank, all of this strengthens the settlers who occupy land and procure buildings inhabited by Palestinians. The extreme right wing often holds armed marches near Israeli Arab neighborhoods. To flatter the right wing, Netanyahu proclaimed Israel the “National State of the Jewish People” in July 2018 and made Hebrew the only official language of the country—to the detriment of the Arabic language, and making Arabs more into sub-citizens.