The most persecuted political party in Israel opens its rank to democratic Jews

Report on the 7th Balad conference

By Boris Hammerschlag, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), June 2016,


Last Thursday we were taken by bus to the conference in Shfa’amr. Comrade Schwarz and myself sat in the audience as delegates of the ISL, along with 10 other Israeli Jews whose memberships in Balad are in their final stages of processing. We were greeted by the leadership in the entrance and all smiled and shook our hands. The conference had contingents from all anti-Zionist Palestinian leaderships inside Israel (Hadash, Islamic movement, mayors and follow up committee) and also a representative of the PLO who is also one of the leaders of the Palestinian communist party AKA the People’s Party of Palestine. A prominent speaker was Omar Baraghouthi – leader of the international BDS movement.


The room was rather big but also full of people, including youths in key organizing positions.


The event was symbolically hosted by a man and a woman. Most of the speakers were Balad leaders including two women – MP Haneen Zoabi and Orly Noy – the most famous of the Jewish section. All spoke mainly about Balad’s vision of democracy, anti-colonial struggle and the fact that it is considered “extremist” and being persecuted by the Zionist state.


Indeed Balad, a Palestinian nationalist petty-bourgeois party, has faced persecution by the Zionist establishment since the very day it was formed. Several attempts have been made in the past to exclude it from participation in parliamentary elections on the grounds of opposing the idea of Israel being a Jewish and democratic state and giving support to Palestinian terrorism. For the Zionists Balad’s vision of a Civil Democratic State and its support for the right of the Palestinian people to engage in armed resistance against the occupation of the West Bank and the siege over Gaza – all sanctioned by international law – are a sound basis for outlawing the party.


Having failed in all legal attempts to outlaw and exclude Balad specifically, the election threshold has been raised to render the 3/120 seat party too small to enter the Israeli Parliament. The reaction to this motion was a historic unification of 4 Palestinian political parties in Israel, who also faced the same danger, to form the Joint List, which entered the Knesset with 13 seats, raising their collective power by 1 seat becoming the second largest opposition faction after the Zionist Camp (Labor and Livni’s party).


Being unable to stop Balad as a collective, individual leaders as well as rank and file members of Balad came under Zionist legal as well as political attacks. The founder of Balad, Dr. Azmi Bishara, was forced into exile by the Zionist establishment that accused him of aiding the enemy during the 2nd Lebanon war in 2006; MP Haneen Zoabi faced legal persecution several times for joining the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, aka in Zionist newspeak as “supporting terrorism”, “incitement against a public servant” for lashing out against Palestinian Zionist policemen, etc. Rank and file members of the party faced legal persecution for contacting Arabs from enemy countries and even Facebook posts. During the past two weeks hundreds of young Balad activists were summoned by Police for interrogation and harassment regarding their political views, affiliations and activities.


Omar and the secretary of Balad, Awad Abd-alFataah spoke for the first time about the importance of Jewish participation in the BDS and in the anti-Apartheid movement in Israel and the world. Awad congratulated the Jewish section of “democratic, leftist Jews”. The audience applauded and cheered when he mentioned Balad opening its ranks to Jewish full membership in the party.


Awad also spoke about the attempts to redivide the Joint List.


In the next two days only full members remained for discussions and internal elections. The Jewish section would have to wait until the next conference since our applications still need to be processed by the party bureaucracy. However, one important decision already made is that 25% of the party elected body would be reserved for women – making Balad the only such party in Israel. While I was writing this report, news came in through the Party’s Hebrew page on Facebook, that this 25% reservation turned out completely unnecessary as 36% of members elected to the party’s central committee were women, including school teacher Niveen Abu Rahmun who came in 1st place.



About RCIT Britain

What the RCIT stands for Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)is a revolutionary combat organisation fighting for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. It has national sections in a number of countries. The working class is composed of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labor power as wage earners to the capitalists. The RCIT stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers’ movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, and exploitation are all part of everyday life under capitalism as are the imperialistic oppression of nations, the national oppression of migrants, and the oppression of women, young people, and homosexuals. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism. The liberation of the working class and all oppressed is possible only in a classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally. Therefore, the RCIT is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world. This revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for only this class has the collective power to bring down the ruling class and build a socialist society. The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because a ruling class never has nor ever will voluntarily surrender its power. By necessity, therefore, the road to liberation includes armed rebellion and civil war against the capitalists. The RCIT is fighting for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in councils democratically elected in rank-and-file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods, and schools. These councils, in turn, elect and control the government and all other statue authorities, and always retain the right to recall them. Authentic socialism and communism have nothing to do with the so-called “socialism” that ruled in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which continues to do so in China and Cuba, for example. In these countries, the proletariat was and is dominated and oppressed by a privileged party bureaucracy. Under capitalism, the RCIT supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of the workers and oppressed, while simultaneously striving to overthrow this system based on economic exploitation of the masses. Towards these ends, we work from within the trade unions where we advocate class struggle, socialism, and workers’ democracy. But trade unions and social democracy are controlled by a bureaucracy perniciously connected with the state and capital via status, high-paying jobs, and other privileges. Thus, the trade union bureaucracy is far from the interests and living conditions of its members, based as it is on the top, privileged layers of the working class – a labor aristocracy which has no real interest in replacing capitalism. Therefore, the true struggle for the liberation of the working class, the toppling of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their “representative” from the upper trade union strata. We also fight for the expropriation of the big land owners as well as for the nationalisation of the land and its distribution to the poor and landless peasants. Towards this goal we struggle for the independent organisation of the rural workers. We support national liberation movements against oppression. We also support the anti-imperialist struggles of oppressed peoples against the great powers. Within these movements we advocate a revolutionary leadership as an alternative to nationalist or reformist forces. While the RCIT strives for unity of action with other organizations, we are acutely aware that the policies of social democrats and pseudo-revolutionary groups are dangerous, and ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class, peasants, and the otherwise oppressed. In wars between imperialist states we take a revolutionary defeatist position: we do not support either side, but rather advocate the transformation of the war into a civil war against the ruling class in each of the warring states. In wars between imperialist powers (or their stooges) and a semi-colonial countries we stand for the defeat of the former and the victory of the oppressed countries. As communists, we maintain that the struggle against national oppression and all types of social oppression (women, youth, sexual minorities etc.) must be lead by the working class, because only the latter is capable of fomenting a revolutionarily change in society . Therefore, we consistently support working class-based revolutionary movements of the socially oppressed, while opposing the leadership of petty-bourgeois forces (feminism, nationalism, Islamism, etc.), who ultimately dance to the tune of the capitalists, and strive to replace them with revolutionary communist leadership. Only with a revolutionary party fighting as its leadership can the working class be victorious in its struggle for liberation. The establishment of such a party and the execution of a successful revolution, as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky remain the models for revolutionary parties and revolutions in the 21st century. For new, revolutionary workers' parties in all countries! For a 5th Workers International to be founded on a revolutionary program! Join the RCIT! No future without socialism! No socialism without revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!
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