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

The Extreme Right in Power

Jan 9, 2023

This article is translated from the January 6 issue #2840 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu finally managed to put together a governing cabinet on December 29 after lengthy negotiations. Half of his cabinet chiefs belong to the religious and nationalist extreme right. Some are openly racist.

The traditional right-wing Likud Party reserved key ministries such as Justice. This matters because Netanyahu himself, who is Likud’s leader, is on trial for three charges of corruption! But he worked hard to win the support of his far-right allies. This was important for his obtaining a majority in Israel’s legislature, the Knesset.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party is accustomed to cabinet dealmaking, as it has shared power with the Labor Party. But its leader was convicted of tax evasion, which meant he couldn’t hold high public office anymore. It required ramming through a new law to allow him to become Minister of the Interior and Health as well as deputy prime minister!

Next to this assortment of old hands in Israeli politics sit elements from a fringe of the far right which until now have been kept away from government responsibility. The leader and legislator from the ultra-religious Noam Party—which is for reducing the rights of women and gay people—was appointed to the newly created post of deputy minister in charge of promoting “Jewish national identity.”

The Religious Zionism Party supports building more Jewish colonies in the West Bank. Its leader lives in one of these colonies. He was appointed defense minister. He will have control over buildings in Area C of the West Bank, a region under Israeli military and civilian control. So, he will be able to support the establishment of Jewish colonies by evicting Palestinians from their land.

Another representative of the settlers, Itamar Ben Gvir of the Jewish Power Party, became head of the national security ministry. This despite the fact that he was convicted of inciting racism and of supporting Jewish terrorist organizations. He says he supports re-populating part of Israel’s Arab population to neighboring countries.

The new government plans to reform the judicial system. It particularly plans to limit the power of Israel’s Supreme Court, which was able to block some measures advocated by the most reactionary extreme right. Courts also could have blocked Jewish settlements. The rights of Israeli Arabs, who are already considered second-class citizens, could be further challenged. But many Israelis rightly fear a general rollback of rights and civil liberties.

The first act of this government on the international level was to bomb the airport of Syria’s capital Damascus on January 2, killing four people. The next day Minister Ben Gvir added a provocation against the Palestinians by touring the Jerusalem Mosque.

With its policy of oppressing Palestinians, the only prospect this government can offer Israelis is of strengthening the extreme right and evolving toward an increasingly authoritarian regime and a permanent state of war.