The huge wave of demonstrations that is sweeping Israel for the last month and half, including a demonstration of 300,000 protestors in Tel-Aviv on August 6th, presented a very clear message: The Israeli working class in general, and young people in particular, revolts against the soaring prices of housing and basic commodities, and no longer agrees to silently abide to a social system that works against the interest of the vast majority, and for the interests of the few.
This social protest movement, characterized by the setting-up of thousands of protest tents throughout the country, is led by young people, and raises demands that address the needs of the general population, but also specifically the needs of youth and students.
The wave of revolutions in the Arab countries, which saw the unleashing of creative energy, against oppression and poverty, and for democracy and social justice, has long hit Europe, where young people took to the streets in Spain, Greece, and elsewhere. Now, we are now witnessing a similar struggle in Israel: Young people, many of which have been dormant and passive, are now taking interest in politics, mobilizing massively on the streets, and are involved in democratically discussing the strategy and tactics of this movement.
The Young Communist League of Israel (YCLI) has supported this protest movement since its onset, as it expresses the interests of the great majority of young people in Israel, Jews and Arabs alike. Our commitment to social change, and our vast experience in organizing both cadres and masses, means that our Comrades are in the leadership of many local protest encampments, and are also present in the national leadership of the movement.
We have a special responsibility in broadening the scope of the protest movement, bringing it into the periphery of the country, to poor neighborhood inside the big cities, and into small towns, far off from the metropolitan areas. This is most evident in Arab towns and villages, where we are the key player in this recent wave of struggle, leading the initiatives of building protest encampments and organizing demonstrations.
As an integral part of this young, vibrant, dynamic and growing social movement, we raise immediate demands, which include:
– Young married couples cannot afford buying a flat. YCLI demands massive government housing projects, including in Arab towns and villages, and subsidization of mortgages (as was the case until the 1980s, when Neo-Liberal austerity plans were adopted).
– University and College students cannot pay the high rent. YCLI demands municipalities to adopt regulations that place a top limit for rents, to stop them from rising. Furthermore, the government should fund more dormitories in universities and colleges, to allow more students to live near where they study.
– The cost of living is on the rise, but monthly salaries remain constant. As a result, more and more workers, especially young workers who are employed in precarious jobs, cannot make ends meet. YCLI demands the government to intervene and fix prices for basic food commodities, for gas, public transportation, electricity and water, and to pay a monthly cost-of-living allowance to every worker.
– Arab towns and villages face an acute housing crisis, manifested by lack of building permits and confiscation of lands. YCLI demands an immediate stop of land confiscations, and a return of lands confiscated in the past. The regional and local outline plans for the Arab towns and villages should allocate areas for development of housing, and building permits shall be given on an equal basis. The brutal policy of house demolitions, which the government is directing not only against Palestinian in the occupied territories, but also against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, most be abolished, including in the so-called “Unrecognized villages” of Bedouin tribes in the south of Israel.
In addition to these – and other – immediate demands, YCLI contributes to the struggle on the ideological and on the political level.
Ideologically, we state, based on our Marxist-Leninist perspective, that this social struggle, in essence, is between two classes and two world outlooks: On the one hand, there’s Prime Minister Netanyahu’s capitalist world outlook, which is manifested in benefits for the ultra-rich, and in attacks on the rights of workers and students, under the slogans of privatization and “free market economy”; On the other hand, there is our socialist world outlook, that support an egalitarian, peaceful and socially just society, which will respect social, civil and national rights.
Politically, our contribution to this social movement is twofold:
First, we insist on making the connection between the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people, and the enormous social, economic and moral cost that the Israeli society has to pay for marinating it. Our position that the struggle for social justice is intertwined with the struggle for peace, is becoming more accepted as people realize that the hundreds of millions of Shekels that are currently spent on building settlements and increasing the military budget, could have been spent on building kindergartens, schools, hospitals and libraries.
Second, we emphasize that the success of this movement could be achieved only through adoption of a joint Jewish-Arab character. The movement needs to address openly the unique problems of the Arab citizens of in Israel (who comprise more than 20% of its population), and must create a close cooperation, on a massive scale, between Jewish and Arab youth. This kind of cooperation can help consolidate a broad public behind our demand for complete national and civil equality for the Arab-Palestinian minority within Israel.
The protest movement brought into activism a broad layer of young people, Jews and Arabs, contributed to their politicization, and presented them with a perspective of deep social change. As such, it is a most important development that we, as Young Communists, need not only study and analyze, but also immerse ourselves in it, involve our cadre and sympathizers, and help consolidate a clear perspective on how to take the struggle forward. Doing this will contribute to the cause of Peace and Socialism, which we believe is to prevail.
To contact YCLI: firstname.lastname@example.org