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50 Years Ago – Middle East Diary

One of the most recent and rather curious examples to appear on the nationalisation scene, is the Israeli General Zionist (Conservative) Party. They want to nationalise the various Israeli water-schemes, the Health Service and the Labour Exchanges.

Strangely enough the Mapai (Labour) Party, who have been in power since 1948 are bitterly opposed. Through their domination of the Jewish Agency and the Histadrut (roughly analogous to the T.U.C. but also owning and controlling the major part of Israel’s industry) the Mapai control most of Israel’s economy and are extremely loath to give up their political plums!

The General Zionists, on the other hand, want nationalisation measures to break the Mapai Party’s hold on the state machine, all of which we can well understand, sectional struggles amongst the Capitalist class being a regular feature of Capitalism. The tragedy is that Israel workers take sides in this struggle between these parties (both of whom are only interested in perpetuating Capitalism), instead of organising for Socialism.

Two Classes in Israeli Society

In March of last year the Jewish Observer and Middle East Review (25.3.55) informed its readers that

Israel has become divided into two nations . . . an upper crust and a lower layer. The privileged crust is composed of a variety of substantial and mixed elements who enjoy a privileged position in the country. They are made up by the plutocracy of some three hundred families, by the Government ‘aristocracy’ which includes a wide range of officialdom, the Histadrutocracy with its manifold operations, the business pressure groups entrenched in the upper reaches of the General Zionists, the old Kibbutzim, such workers’ organisations as the Dan and Egged Bus Co-operatives, the upper reaches of such institutions, as the Jewish Agency and of the main political parties—Mapai, the General Zionists. . . .”

The four per cent.: These are the people in the swim. They can get things – flats, cars, trips abroad, the comforts and conveniences of life, or the profits of business, or the positions of power, according to the category to which they belong. . . .”

Newcomers since 1948 comprise 60 percent of the population and occupy one percent of all Government posts and virtually none in the high grades.”

The article goes on to point out that the personal consumption budgets of the above mentioned 300 families is “around £50,000 per year per family at a time when the income of the highest official is less than a tenth of this amount”.

All of which was pointed out by the Socialist Party of Great Britain years ago and only goes to prove our contention, that national struggles,whether of the Zionist (Jewish Home) category or otherwise, are not in the interest of the working-class.

(From an article by Jon Keys, Socialist Standard, March 1956)

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