Israeli citizens have poured into the streets of several major cities to demonstrate against worsening economic and social inequalities, price hikes and reduced living standards.
Prior to this latest street protest, thousands of people gathered in and around Tel Aviv's Habima Square on June 23 with some 85 reportedly arrested. Protesters were shouting, “The nation is after social justice and democracy” and chanted slogans against Tel Aviv's Mayor Ron Huldai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Press TV has conducted an interview with author of the Hidden History of Zionism, Ralph Schoenman from Berkeley to further discuss the issue.
The program also provides opinions of two additional guests: writer and radio host, Stephen Lendman from Chicago and Mofeed Jaber with the Center for ME Studies and Public Relations. The following is a rough transcript of the interview.
Press TV: What is your take on all of this? We have heard different perspectives, but is it that Israel has set up an elitist society and that the benefits are just going to a certain percentage of the masses or how do you see the problems that they are facing right now from economic perspective?
Schoenman: Well, in the first place we have to understand the parasitic nature of the Zionist state, which is essentially an extension of the US imperialism and its shock troops subsidized and sustained in that way for a very long period of time, a hundred billion dollars in just the last forty years and that is just the official aid number.
The numbers in reality are far greater than that because these so-called loans are never called in and the banking structure with respect to the Zionist State utilizes Israeli-controlled banks at far lower interest rates for the funds of the major states such as California.
So the Israeli state is an apparatus designed by imperialism to function as its shock troops in the region. Within that context of course as you have been describing, the structure of power in Israel is a parot or image of the nature of the corporate capitalism in the stage of terminal decay.
There is a huge concentration of power in the hands of a tiny oligarchy, largely tied to the profiteering from military production for the imperia, but for the most part, the privileged in Israel are increasingly shrinking to a handful.
According to the report in Agence France Presse today, the demands of the protesters in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Haifa focused on not only what you quoted, "the only solution to privatization is revolution", but power from this money is an underworld.
They are labeling this oligarchy as gangsters, as a criminal class that is exploiting the rest of the population and of course within that structure, with the colonial-settler states such as Israel, yes the Ashkenazim, the European Jews have always had a hegemony within the Jewish population.
The so-called Arab Jews - the Mizrahim, are a highly exploited sector of the population, but a quarter-step of the condition of the wholly exploited and dominated Palestinian people, the tormented Palestinian people whose land has been taken and usurped from them and who are, by the Zionist intent, to be removed not only from their land, but from history.
This protest is a mirror of the generalized uprising against capital that is taking place in the Occupy movement, in the rank and files workers movement in the United States, replicated across Europe where there is terminal crisis there.
In Israel as the report today says, this Israeli social movement has erupted with youth angry at the cost of housing and the cost of living, pitching tents in Tel Aviv in the Middle of Rothschild Boulevard. Tent process, mushrooming with dozens of similar encampments spreading ….
Press TV: Do you think that perhaps there would be more empathy and that perhaps the Palestinians and some of the Jewish Israelis that actually could perhaps form some type of alliance to put more pressure on Tel Aviv? Or how do you see it?
Schoenman: Well, in the first place I want to emphasize that in the mass demonstrations that unfolded on August 13th 2011, there were joint demonstrations of Palestinians and Israelis in Haifa and large numbers of Palestinians participated in the economic protests; they were carrying banners of support, I mean not only the Palestinians, but the Israeli protesters as well, banners of support for Tahrir Square and for the uprising against Mubarak.
And I should point out that the mass hunger strike that is unfolding in Israel as we speak amongst the Palestinians who are being tormented in the message of punishment, nothing short of torture, has a profound impact on the population of at large.
There is a large solidarity movement amongst the Israelis for the Palestinian people, protesting the occupation in the West Bank, protesting the continued building of the settlements, protesting the imprisonment of thousands of political prisoners of the Palestinian militants and activists and fighters for Palestinian self determination.
All of this coincides with the general economic crisis of the capital that is afflicting particularly, a garrison state like Israel and what is emerging here, first and foremost is that the Palestinian people and the Israelis are sick of these permanent wars and there is a movement and a space for a non-Zionist, the de-Zionization of the State.
That is the gravamen (grievance) of this protest, the economy, the oligarchy, the torment of the Palestinians, the condition of permanent war, the subordination to imperialism and the dead-end of the capitalism across the planet, no less in Israel than anywhere else.
Press TV: So are you saying that the Palestinians and the Israelis can actually come together on this issue and put more pressure on Tel Aviv and perhaps bring some types of changes or what exactly are you saying?
Schoenman: I am saying that the existing Zionist political parties can not give voice to the aspirations of the population at large, including the settler population. As we saw in South Africa, with the struggle against apartheid, it is emerging in Israel too.
The radicalization around the nature of the economy and exploitation makes allies of the victim people, the Palestinian people and the Israelis who aspire to a different future and that future can only lie in the struggle against the Zionist nature of the state for a democratic and secular Palestine in which rights flow not from ethnicity or religious origin, but from citizenship as such.
That is what animates this movement, that is what is radicalizing the population and that is what is bringing the Jews themselves to the realization that
Zionism is at the dead-end and traps them in a condition of permanent war, permanent occupation, permanent subjugation and pits them against the aspirations of people around the world. They are sick of that syndrome; they are aligning themselves with the people who are struggling …..
Press TV: What do you think will come out of this?
Schoenman: I think what we have been listening to is a little bit mechanical. Naim Giladi, who was the founder of the Black Panther movement amongst the Mizrahim, a quarter of a century ago, expressed the reality that there is a huge exploitation of the Mizrahim and they have made common cause with the Palestinian people on many concrete instances that is growing.
There is a shared reality, the political parties that our associate in Beirut is describing, correspond to the monopoly of political power in the United States by the Democrats and the Republicans to another society; yes these political parties are the parties of a tiny Zionist oligarchy apparatus, there is no political organization as such.