Israel: Histadrut to allow migrants entry under pressure from rival union federation

Histadrut logo

Histadrut, the biggest Israeli trade union federation, has declared that it will be allowing legal migrant workers to become members as early as March 2010. Sources from Kav LaOved claim that this is a result of pressure from competing federation Koach La Ovdim, as the latter gains ground in traditional Histadrut areas and is also starting to make headway into the migrant labor section.

Until now, migrant workers could not be members of Histadrut. As it is the biggest Israeli federation of trade unions, and trade unions in Israel are only acknowledged when they are part of a federation, this meant that they could not legally organize. This gap was covered by a non-profit called Kav LaOved - literally "Worker's Hotline" - which gives free advice and cheap labor representation, both for migrant workers and for others not covered by any of the unions, but does not have the legal protection afforded to actual union organizers.

Then, just three years ago, a new trade union federation came into being. Their name is Koach La Ovdim - literally "Power to the Workers". They started organizing in many heretofore non-unionized jobs, mostly in contract work and temporary employment, such as security workers, baggage handlers, waiting, and even lecture work at Israel's Open University - the only university without a prior collective employment agreement. More relevant to this latest move by Histadrut is reported progress by Koach La Ovdim in their organizational drive among Nepalese care-workers. This, along with increasingly common outbursts of militancy among Chinese construction workers, has probably contributed to Histadrut's policy change.

The ability to join Histadrut may help migrant workers overcome their basic precarity in the Israeli workforce: the fact that they are automatically made illegal as soon as their employer decides to fire them, leaving them with little in terms of practical legal recourse, and with occasional debts to the head-hunters who had brought them, making "illegal" work in Israel their only course of action. But this depends on how Histadrut organizers and lawyers deal with actual disputes as those occur. Moreover, the fact that it will only allow legal workers to join could make its involvement moot, with increased dues being the only benefit. It seems that the second quarter of 2010 may well be interesting, in any case.

Further reading:

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Dec 29 2009 00:36


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Jan 1 2010 17:52

Good to hear about these progressive changes; it's worth putting them in context though; this is crudely an eqivalent of the BNP allowing black members...

Histadrut: Israel's racist "trade union"
Tony Greenstein, The Electronic Intifada, 10 March 2009

Histadrut has always been a strange creature. In most countries one joins a trade union which is affiliated to a national trade union federation. In Israel one first joins Histadrut and then one is allocated to a union. It is only outside Israel that Histadrut is seen as a normal trade union, the Israeli equivalent of the British Trade Union Congress or the American union movement AFL/CIO.

Less well known is the fact that Histadrut, an organization of the settler Jewish working class, was the key Zionist organization responsible for the formation of the Israeli state. As former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir remarked: "Then [1928] I was put on the Histadrut Executive Committee at a time when this big labor union wasn't just a trade union organization. It was a great colonizing agency." [1] Pinhas Lavon, as secretary-general of Histadrut, went so far as to describe it in 1960 as "a general organization to its core. It is not a trade union ..." [2] Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, held that without Histadrut, "I doubt whether we would have had a state." [3]

Jan 2 2010 01:39

No, that article is misleading as to Histadrut's current position. It does not formally discriminate against any Israeli citizens, and is the biggest Israeli union federation. It does have Arab members, and the local Communist party, which is Arab-dominated, has membership in its elected management. So it is a bit more like the AFL-CIO starting to take up immigrants, in terms of overall significance to the migrant workforce, not the BNP (which is a party, and happens to have a limited union? There's a similar union for Likud in Israel, it's marginal).

Jan 4 2010 15:51

According to the Palestinian unions, Histadrut is still a racist organisation:

Today, 11th of February 2007, we, the Palestinian labour federations, vocational and professional trade unions, and the grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, have convened a press conference to announce a call for solidarity with our workers and the Palestinian people endorsed by the General Union of Palestinian Workers, Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, the Coalition of Independent Democratic Trade Unions and other professional unions.
This call addresses the Arab and International Trade Unions and, in particular, the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions, the Arab League, the Arab Labour Organization, the International Labour Organization, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, the Palestinian people and the international community.
We call upon all the above to:
• Boycott and divest from Israel
• Work towards sanctions upon Israel
Until Israel stops its crimes against our people and implements international law safeguarding human rights for all.
This call from the Palestinian workers movement is part of our struggle against the Occupation and for Freedom, Self-determination, the Right of Return, Social Justice and a Palestinian independent state with its capital as Jerusalem and to end the racism against our people inside the Green Line.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and next year will mark 60 years from the Nakba. In the meanwhile, the Palestinian people still yearn for their right to live free in their homeland, and 6.8 million refugees scattered all over the world strive for their right (as enshrined in international law, including UN resolutions) to
return to their homes, villages and cities.
It is imperative to recognize that since its inception, the Histadrut has supported the Occupation and enacted racist policies against our workers, denying them their rights. It has kept silent in front of Israel’s crimes against our people throughout the decades of occupation.
We are thus asking the international trade unions to boycott the Histadrut to pressure it to guarantee rights for our workers and to pressure the government to end the occupation and to recognize the full rights of the Palestinian people.
Since July 2002, the Occupation is creating a new reality on the ground via construction of the Apartheid Wall. It turns the West Bank into ghettos, escalates the confiscation and isolation of our lands and water and increases racist policies against our people, eventually destroying the dream of a Palestinian state. On top of this, the Occupation continues with the policies of “targeted assassinations”, home demolitions, expulsion of non-Jews from Jerusalem and destruction of homes and historical monuments there, attacks on holy sites, and destroying our industries and entire economy then exploiting our workers, starving our people in order to force the Occupation’s projects upon us so that we will eventually surrender.
Today, we initiate as the Palestinian Labour Movement a Workers’ Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to build upon the United Palestinian Call for BDS against Israel to the International Community. This call has been signed by more than 170 Palestinian organizations and political parties from the West Bank, Gaza and the Diaspora.
We thank and express our gratitude to the movements, unions and organizations all over the world that in the last two years have taken up the call for boycott and launched campaigns in their countries. They challenged the Zionist lobby and have shown steadfastness in the face of attacks instigated against them.
We thus ask the international trade unions to grant their support to these initiatives in their countries, to organize their own boycott campaigns and to coordinate international efforts to effectively implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions in order to:
1. Stop the crimes committed against our rights, above all occupation and the expulsion
of our people;
2. Tear down the wall of silence built up by the international community in order to finally shun the crimes of the Occupation;
3. Keep the conscience of the world alive and nurture respect for international human rights law while promoting its implementation;
4. Reach a just and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian cause.
Greetings to the Liberation Struggle of our Workers.
Greetings to those around the World Standing in Solidarity and Struggling for the Palestinian Cause.
Eternal Glory to Martyrs for Freedom Everywhere.

General Union of Palestinian workers: Haidar Ibrahim (General Secretary)
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions: Amneh Rimawi / for: Shaher Sa’ad (Steering committee)
Coalition of Independent Democratic Trade Unions: Muhammad al Arouri (Coordinator)
General Union of Palestine Labor Vocational Associations: Hassan Sharake (General Secretary)
Palestinian Farmers Union: Adel Abu Ne’meh (General Secretary)

Refusing membership to undocumented workers is still racist.
What is misleading about Tony Greensteins article in relation to the roll of the Histradut today?
I'm also not happy with the term "Legal Migrant Workers". It is accurate to say "Migrant Workers with Papers" because international law gives everyone the theoretical right to cross borders; No one Is Illegal.

Jan 4 2010 16:13

It still doesn't provide any details about its current position. Didn't the AFL-CIO or its forebears enact racist policies against black workers?
You may not be happy with "Legal Migrant Workers", but I use it as an entirely neutral term - they are legal according to Israeli law, that is, they have valid working visas. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with this international law you speak of; it is my understanding that international law actually allows states complete discretion in establishing limits and tests for immigration and tourism. The only exception is for people requesting refugee status.
I'm suspecting that we might be talking at cross-purposes here. It is not my position to defend Histadrut as the paragon of internationalist working-class organization - far from it. Nevertheless, it is the biggest trade union federation in Israel, it does service the Arab populace as well, and the fact that it has been pushed into accepting migrant workers by a rival federation seems significant to working-class struggle in Israel.

Jan 5 2010 11:09

I've done a quick search on the theoretical right to cross borders and found the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

In addition to the core protection of non-refoulement, the 1951 Convention prescribes freedom from penalties for illegal entry (article 31),

Einstein discovered that all positions are relative; there is no "neutral".

The AFL "subordinated Black workers into segregated affiliates" but the CIO were always for all workers. They were not started with the intention of expelling the Native Americans from America.

Jan 5 2010 11:24

there may be freedom from penalties, but they can still be deported - there is no right to free movement of people in international law. This of course doesn't mean that I agree with this, but that's the way it is.

Jan 5 2010 15:29
AIW wrote:
I've done a quick search on the theoretical right to cross borders and found the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

(Emphasis mine)
Excuse me for quoting myself, but:

tojiah wrote:
The only exception is for people requesting refugee status.

If international law were as you said it was, all states worldwide would be in breach of it, as every single state in the world poses limits on immigration, which would make it de facto not international law. Whether or not people should be allowed free travel (which I do support) is another thing, but ignoring current law and practice is of no help at all in dealing with the reality we actually live in.

AIW wrote:
Einstein discovered that all positions are relative; there is no "neutral".

No, Einstein found a way of adapting and improving upon Galilean relativity - that is, the way one deals with the laws of physics and physical processes inside a frame which itself is moving at a constant velocity in relation to the frame in which we originally posed a problem - first to a world with a maximal velocity, and then finding a way of including accelerations and gravity into it. That has nothing to do with the fact that "legal migrant workers" is a useful term when discussing the labor situation in Israel, and I'm not going to stop using it unless you give me a very good reason. Say, one that doesn't stem from a complete misunderstanding and misappropriation of one of my favorite 20th Century theoretical physicists.

AIW wrote:
They were not started with the intention of expelling the Native Americans from America.

They didn't have to, as it was a fait accompli by the time they were set up.
Nevertheless, this doesn't matter one bit, because I'm talking about what is happening now in Israel: recent developments, not the Histadrut's tortuous, brutal history.

Jan 6 2010 21:21

Some debate. Anyone have any interesting comments about this? What is the situation in the UK, or the US? Do most unions accept migrant workers, seek them out as members, run organization drives including them, etc?

Jan 6 2010 22:50

In Norway the unions are relatively xenophobic. While they do accept immigrants, they do not seek out to organize e.g. seasonal immigrant labour instead arguing that they are lowering wages and put pressure on the govt. to curtail immigration (I might add, this was the situation a couple of years back, so things might have changed.)

Jan 8 2010 21:45
No One Is Illegal is a phrase first used by Elie Weisel, a Jewish survivor from Nazi Germany, a refugee and a Nobel prize winner. He was speaking in 1985 in Tuscon, Arizona at a national sanctuary conference in the USA in defence of the rights of refugees to live in the USA . The sanctuary movement undertaken by religious communities in the USA (and to a far lesser extent in the UK) in support of those threatened by immigration controls is one of many pieces of resistance to controls. Over the last few years No One Is Illegal groups have been formed throughout Europe and North America — for instance in Germany (Kein Mensch Ist Illegal), Spain (Ninguna Persona Es Ilegal), Sweden (Ingen Manniska Ar Illegal), Poland (Zaden Czlowiek Nie Jest Nielegalny) and Holland (Geen Mens Is Illegaal). In August 1999 anarchists organised a demonstration in Lvov Poland against the deportation of Ukrainian workers under the banner of No One Is Illegal. In France the sans papiers campaign under the slogan personne n’est illegal/e. There have been No One Is Illegal/No Border camps at the joint borders of Germany, Czech Republic and Poland, and No Border camps at Frankfurt, southern Spain and Salzburg. In June 2002 there was a demonstration against war, globalisation and in defence of refugees under the same slogan in Ottawa, Canada. In England groups are emerging calling themselves No Borders. The demand for no controls, rather than being seen as extreme,operates as a rallying call to the undocumented and their supporters.

No One Is Illegal Manifesto

Jan 8 2010 21:57

Post revolution, there should be nothing barring people from moving wherever they wish, under the obvious constraints such as not to step over others. It is unclear what "legal" and "illegal" would even mean there.
Currently, we should all support fights for free passage and emancipation of immigrants and refugees, if only for the fact that their illegality or secondary legal status pushes down wages for all of us, plus maintaining the atmosphere of segregation which would make it difficult for us to migrate if we wish to or are forced to. In that sense, we perhaps should push for everyone to be declared legal, as in protected from prosecution by the state.
However, the situation is now that many immigrants and refugees are illegal, particularly in Israel, and no amount of pushing fingers into our ears and chanting "No One is Illegal! No One is Illegal!" is going to be of help to anyone. The fact that Histadrut - again, the largest trade union federation in Israel - has announced that it will allow legal migrant workers to join its ranks, under pressure from a fledgling rival federation, is significant in terms of the class struggle in Israel. If you have anything to add to that or with which to argue with that, that doesn't involve random quotations off of the internet taken out of context, and if a significant part of this contribution isn't just such a disconnected quotation repeated verbatim, that would be lovely. Otherwise this "debate" is getting rather pointless, and I'd rather hear more comments such as Khawaga's.

That does seem similar to Histadrut's ongoing policy of simply expressing outrage over the amount of migrant worker visas the state distributes each year. As for xenophobia, I'm not sure how it is in Norway, but the Israeli migrant worker market is basically stratified, with "Philippina" being synonymous with "migrant elderly care worker", "Thai worker" being synonymous with "agricultural worker", etc. This is also true of citizen workers, say, in the building trade, where most wet-work is done by Israeli Arabs/Palestinians, while most Israelis who go into it either do dry-work as a student/temp job or manage other workers as contractors, alongside their wet-work.

Jan 10 2010 13:28

Tony Greenstein wrote:

I think Judas is completely wrong, ignorant and guilty of what we used to call 'economism'. A leopard doesn't change its spots and neither does Histadrut.

The first thing that our leafy friend should ask is what is the nature of Histadrut, what type of organisation. How has it changed, when did it change from the primary colonisatory organisation in Palestine/Israel into a genuine trade union? Was it the Stability Pact and privatisation of its companies that turned it into a genuine trade union federation? Bear in mind that the position of first joining a federation and then a union in itself smacks of a corporatist 'union'.

Histadrut also took the dues off Palestinian workers in the occupied territories in exchange for providing representation that never materialised. It still does, some 1% of the wage packet and it keeps half. I don't see Histadrut as any different and its latest position merely reflects the fact that we have started putting pressure on this scab settler-colonial 'union'. So if Judas wants to relieve the pressure on them fine, because being an Israeli it will no doubt be easy for him to do so but in so doing he is actually aiding what was one of the key elements of the Zionist state.

Histadrut has not changed in any principled way, it has merely become weaker and less important in Israel. But as its importance in Israel declines, not least the competition from other non-racist workers' organisations, so of course it has had to adapt. And one of its roles is to sanitise Israel abroad inside the labour movements of other countries. So this anarchist is in reality helping to legitimise a scab settler union. Even the worst yellow union does what Histadrut does when the chips are down but this but it's nothing to do with precarity or other buzz words that Judas has transplanted from an entirely different situation in Europe.

Does Histadrut still only allow settlers in the West bank to join? Yes. Does Histadrut still campaign for the deportation of migrant workers in order that unemployment can be lowered for Jewish workers in Israel? Yes on a local level. Did Histadrut campaign or indeed say anything about the attempt of Israel rail to replace Arab Israelis with Jews last year? No. Has it ever campaigned against this racist phenomenon or the Wisconsin programme, which is directed almost exclusively against Arab Israeli and Ethiopian workers? No. I attach one article where Histadrut officials actually went on police raids against migrant workers.

So no I don't buy this nonsense. It has nothing to do with anarchism or socialism but to do with adaptation to national chauvinism.

Kav LaOved wrote:

Last month the Histadrut (claiming to be a general federation of trade unions) announced that it was "considering" setting up a trade union for foreign workers employed in Israel. While this is being "considered", it is becoming clear what kind of representation these workers are going to get.
The 13 September 2002 issue of the weekly "Tzafon 1" (= North 1) reports that
during the first weekend of September the Immigration Administration --
which is in fact a deportation police force, recently founded in order to execute the government's decision to deport 50,000 "illegal" migramt workers in one year -- went on a joint operation with the Histadrut in the Western Galilee. Here is how the operation is described in "Tzafon 1".

"Last Thursday morning, the Immigration Administration unit, headed by
Chief Inspectors Benny Fein and Yuval Knafo, raided the Tzinorot
Darom factory in the (Acre) industrial park and detained for questioning 11
foreign workers suspected of being in this country without valid visas.
Following questioning it transpired that six of them have no work permits
and are illegally employed. Later on, members of the unit raided
Hammefattel factory and detained nine more workers who did not possess the
required visas. All the workers apprehended were transferred to Ma'asiyahu
Prison in Ramleh and deportation procedure against them has been put in
And what did the Histadrut people do? Did they at least see to it that
before being deported the detained workers would receive their pay and all
other benefits owed to them? "Tzafon 1" reports:
"The Histadrut Chairman in the Western Galilee, Asher Shmueli, said
that this was the beginning of a process of defeating the phenomenon
whereby foreign workers without employment visas are employed in some work
places under most disgraceful slavery conditions, while Israeli workers
are rejected and are unable to find jobs."
If the Histadrut knew about workers being employed in conditions of
slavery, why did it not go into action and help them improve their
conditions of employment?

And what does it intend to do from now on?

"The Immigration Administration in collaboration with the Histadrut will
continue to locate work placed where foreign workers are employed," Shmueli
told "Tzafon 1". "We appeal to all workers who know that there are foreign
workers in their work place to report it to the Histadrut, even
anonymously, so that enforcement operations can be carried out to oust
those workers. In this way Israeli workers would once again be able to be
settled in jobs."

Thus far the report from the north. So, the Histadrut, which claims to
represent workers, volunteers for racist collaboration with the police
(and employers) against the workers; and it goes so far as to ask Israeli
workers to inform on their workmates. In fact, the idea of setting up a trade
union for foreign workers is also racist: if the Histadrut is so keen to
represent these workers, it could simply enlist them into its existing
unions. In fact, it is greedy for their membership fees, millions of
shekels each month, which would be levied by the employers and flow
directly into Histadrut coffers. By setting up a separate trade union for
"foreigners" -- workers in agriculture, construction, health services,
welfare and industry -- the Histadrut is saying that in its view there are
two classes of workers in Israel: Israelis, who are organized by
occupation, and "foreigners" who are organized separately by nationality.
Such an apartheid policy truly befits an organization which is ready to put
itself at the service of the mass deportation policy proclaimed by the
government, and should be exposed and condemned.

PGFTU Executive Committee member Manawel Issa Abdellal wrote:

Histadrut has failed to represent any Palestinian workers inside Israel and the PGFTU is forbidden from defending Arab workers in such areas. It is very painful. We can see, witness, and hear of Israeli brutal exploitation of Arab workers, but we cannot do anything.
Jan 10 2010 13:50

Who is Tony Greenstein? He is more than welcome to come into this thread or send me personal messages in order to argue with me, as I refuse to debate by proxy, especially when it is clear that whatever he's arguing with, he's not arguing with my own points, but a caricature of them.

The rest of your post is, as usual, misleading quotations taken out of context. Your quote from Kav Laoved is from 2002, a point you conveniently omit, and therefore does not address the consequences or ramifications of Histadrut's latest move. The quote from the PGFTU Executive Committee member is undated, but the fact that he is referring to internecine conflict in Gaza and to Dahlan suggests that this is from 2006. It is a very interesting question, whether Histadrut's move towards migrant workers would only show up as a dues income - a point which I raise in the original news update - or whether it may push them to actively represent Palestinian workers in Israel, as well. I suppose that will have less to do with Histadrut and more to do with how its rivals will force it to maneuver about it, or whether this added legitimacy will encourage self-organization by them.

To reiterate: I am not defending Histadrut, as I am fully aware of its turgid history, and certainly have no illusions about the benevolence of its policies - but none of the information you have provided changes the fact that the alleged intention of the main Israeli trade union federation, Histadrut, to take up migrant workers is an interesting development in Israeli working-class politics, as is the fact that this seems to have been prompted by the gains made by a rival trade union federation (Koach LaOvdim), which is lacking in Histadrut's history and colonial interests.

Jan 10 2010 14:24
Who is Tony Greenstein?

He's the author of the Electronic Intifada article you accsed of being "Misleading as to Histadrut's current position."

I think you are defending Histadrut when you argue:

It does have Arab members, and the local Communist party, which is Arab-dominated, has membership in its elected management. So it is a bit more like the AFL-CIO starting to take up immigrants, in terms of overall significance to the migrant workforce

Which Communist Party is this?

Jan 10 2010 16:26

He's not defending Histadrut (as he's already said), he was arguing there that your comparison of Histadrut to the BNP is erroneous.

Jan 10 2010 15:43

Well, he's more than welcome to come over to this thread and argue with me after he's read the entire conversation. I don't think I found anything objectionable about his article, but I did find its use by you misleading in this context, since, like Django said, comparing Histadrut to the BNP union is factually inaccurate, in terms of Histadrut's comparative role in Israeli working-class politics and the significance that this move could have on that.

Edit: I was referring to the Communist Party of Israel.

Jan 10 2010 15:39
AIW wrote:
I think you are defending Histadrut when you argue:

It does have Arab members, and the local Communist party, which is Arab-dominated, has membership in its elected management. So it is a bit more like the AFL-CIO starting to take up immigrants, in terms of overall significance to the migrant workforce

How is that defending histradut. Reads to me like a statement of facts, and then an (admittedly weak comparison to AFL-CIO. Even the news article that Tree wrote is in the spirit of "this is interesting, I wonder what will happen to the union landscape in Israel and what effects it will have on class struggle in Israel". Tree is clearly not a supporter of Histradut and is not trying to improve their image.

AIW, it seems like you're just having a knee-jerk reaction as the news article is not criticizing Israel enough. Are you heavily involved in Palestine solidarity activities?

Rob Ray
Jan 10 2010 15:55
Do most unions accept migrant workers, seek them out as members, run organization drives including them, etc?

Yes and no, certainly British general unions are very pro having migrant workers paying subs, will provide some legal protection and will support initiatives to recruit migrant membership, however the level of support they offer in a more direct sense is often appalling, such as the debacle with Unite and Justice For Cleaners.

Jan 10 2010 17:16
AIW, it seems like you're just having a knee-jerk reaction as the news article is not criticizing Israel enough. Are you heavily involved in Palestine solidarity activities?

My intention was to put Histadrut in context. I'm not convinced that what I am involved in is any of your business.

No, that article is misleading as to Histadrut's current position.

I tought this related to Tony Greenstein's article rather than to my comment.
The Wikipedia page on Maki does not imply that it is "Arab-dominated":

Maki, the original Israeli Communist Party, saw a split between a largely Jewish faction led by Moshe Sneh, which recognized Israel's right to exist and was critical of the Soviet Union's increasingly anti-Israel stance, and a largely Arab faction, which was increasingly anti-Zionist. As a result, the pro-Palestinian faction (including Emile Habibi, Tawfik Toubi and Meir Vilner) left Maki to form a new party, Rakah, which the Soviet Union recognised as the "official" Communist Party. It was reported in the Soviet media that the Mikunis-Sneh group defected to the bourgois-nationalist camp.
Jan 10 2010 17:15
AIW wrote:
My intention was to put Histadrut in context.

Which is fair enough, though your response came off more as a rant than "contextualization". While histadrut has its faults (plenty of them) Histadrut is not the BNP.

Jan 10 2010 17:31
Histadrut is not the BNP.

OK, they're better compared to a more racist and much bigger sister of Solidarity, the BNP union.

Jan 10 2010 17:31

Lol, you're not getting it. Again, no one here is trying to defend histadrut at all or ranking it according to some good to bad scale on unions (you'd find that many folks here very critical of unions, as such). Your so-called contextualizations are not helped at all by comparing it to racist political parties or their affiliated unions. Histadrut is clearly a very different beast than Solidarity

If you'd just said that histadrut is racist for these and these reasons (and you do provide some by proxy), then I think you have a decent argument.

Jan 10 2010 17:35

Are you ever going to bother reading anything you quote thoroughly? Honestly, this is getting quite exasperating.

Wikipedia wrote:
Maki (Hebrew: מק"י‎, an acronym for HaMiflega HaKomunistit HaYisraelit (Hebrew: המפלגה הקומוניסטית הישראלית‎, Arabic: الحزب الشيوعي الاسرائيلي‎ Al-Ḥizb ash-Shiū`ī al-'Isrā'īlī, lit. Israeli Communist Party) is a communist political party in Israel and forms part of the political alliance known as Hadash. It was originally known as Rakah (Hebrew: רק"ח‎, an acronym for Reshima Komunistit Hadasha (Hebrew: רשימה קומוניסטית חדשה‎, lit. New Communist List), and is not the same party as the original Maki, from which it broke away in the 1960s.
As a result, the pro-Palestinian faction (including Emile Habibi, Tawfik Toubi and Meir Vilner) left Maki to form a new party, Rakah, which the Soviet Union recognised as the "official" Communist Party.

(Emphasis mine)

Jason Cortez
Jan 11 2010 01:51

AIW you look like your are desperately trying to point score, because you feel that the article was too friendly to Histadrut. Who you clearly feel should be denounced at every opportunity (for valid reasons), but this is clearly an important development and it will be interesting to see how this pans out in reality. You really aren't adding much here and are coming over as defensive and missionary.

Jan 11 2010 12:57

Tony Greenstein wrote:

If you have a look at my Electronic Intifada article from memory it gives the Arab membership at about 50,000. Very substantially down. In some workplaces of course it will be the norm to be a member, possibly even a condition for a job. Though it's also the case that Arab members are increasingly looked on suspiciously. I know the Communist Party used to have representation at all levels of the Histadrut, having made its peace with the organisation following Stalin's volte face at the UN in 1947. Previously Histadrut had co-operated with the British to have members deported!

But none of this changes the nature of Histadrut. The CP incidentally is not an anti-Zionist organisation and although it has always been an Arab dominated group numerically, its leadership was half-Jewish. Again I don't know whether this is still the case.

But I would support efforts to launch joint Jewish-Arab unions and workers associations. Histadrut is an inextricable part of the Zionist establishment and state, a declining component, but a part nonetheless. Why should Marxists and I assume you are to the left of the CP join an organisation which is rotten from the core? It is now, at best a settler union, nothing more. I don't think it's any accident that Amir Peretz, the former Secretary General in whom high hopes were invested, launched the Lebanon War and that Haim Ramon, another ex SG was the most hawklike of the cabinet that launched the Gaza invasion.

Anyway these are my views!

Jan 11 2010 13:09

he's not talking about joining it! Look, I think you've got the wrong end of the stick here, like has been pointed out many times Judas is not defending Histadrut - I think that he like many people on here ultimately thinks that all trade unions are anti-working class organisations.

All people have done, however is point out that your comparisons to things like the BNP union, solidarity, are inaccurate. For starters, solidarity only has about 20 members, and doesn't act like a trade union anywhere, as it is not affiliated to the TUC, has no workplace branches, no recognition agreements, etc, it is actually just a small fascist political group.

Rob Ray
Jan 11 2010 13:37

AIW, just to reiterate all the above points, Tree of Judas, the guy you've been arguing with, is not a supporter of Histradut. You don't need to convince him or anyone else on here that they are a reactionary force.

What he is saying is that they are not the same thing as a far right political party, nor are they the same as a tiny outcrop of that party, even if they have in the past agreed on the issue of immigrant membership. I agree with the pope that environmentalism is important, it doesn't make me a catholic.

The reason this is important is because by comparing them you give random observers the impression that you're one of the "anything I disagree with is the same thing as fascism" wingnuts which infest the left. It's counterproductive in a situation where there are plenty of real things to criticise to keep trying to ratchet up the accusations like that.

Criticise what is, not what you think will shock the most.

Jan 11 2010 15:12

Histradut should not be described as a trade union. It has displaced 3,737,494 registered refugees (UN)

Jan 11 2010 15:45


Jason Cortez
Jan 11 2010 15:46

Could you point out to me where that document says what you claim? No you can't, as it does not even mention Histradut. Basically I think you are trolling!!

It is imperative to recognize that since its inception, the Histadrut has supported the Occupation and enacted racist policies against our workers, denying them their rights. It has kept silent in front of Israel’s crimes against our people throughout the decades of occupation.
We are thus asking the international trade unions to boycott the Histadrut to pressure it to guarantee rights for our workers.

So any moves towards this are good if caused by the boycott, but bad if caused by Hisadrut responding to losing ground to a new union federation.