International Socialist Alternative’s World To Win podcast spoke to Bayan, a member of Socialist Struggle Movement – ISA’s sister organisation in Israel-Palestine, about the repression and witch hunts facing those opposing the war on Gaza.
“First of all, the political repression is not a new phenomenon, but it has increased since the start of October. There are many attempts to protest against the war within Israel and the Israeli state, and the police are doing everything in their power to stop or prevent it. For example [on 19 October] an anti-war protest in the Palestinian town of Umm al-Fahm was violently dispersed by the police. There were 12 arrests including minors and there are still two people still arrested.
There were also Palestinian protests in Haifa that hadn’t even begun yet before arrests were made and it was dispersed. We have also seen that a Jewish-Palestinian anti-war conference that was organised was also cancelled because it was too risky for them to talk about the war and hold a Jewish-Palestinian conference together.
But also, this repression includes political persecution – we are seeing a witch hunt in workplaces and campuses. For example, there are student unions and university management encouraging students to report on their anti-war colleagues, and to fight what they call “support for terrorism”[…]
More than 100 students have already been summoned to disciplinary hearings and some of them were kicked out of institutions and student dorms without even a hearing while other students were calling for genocide, to “flatten Gaza’’, calls for leftists to kill themselves. They are not being disciplined at all.
Persecution is also seen in the workplace. For example, a Palestinian teaching assistant who was fired for a photo with a Palestinian flag from two years ago. The head of a hospital was fired for an old post with an Islamic flag that people said was “similar to” Hamas’ flag.
Mostly the witch hunt is meant to scare any voice against the war. And it is mainly directed at Palestinians in the 1948 territories who were already facing persecution before the war. Many Jewish civilians from Jewish-Arab towns and cities were threatening their Arab neighbours because they don’t want them to live beside them.
All these persecutions come from a place of insecurity from the Israeli regime. It is worried that the May 2021 events will be repeated, which included a historic uprising within the Arab cities and towns, which was a height of the mass struggle, for instance the ‘Dignity Strike’. But it is also afraid of civil war within the 1948 territories – the regime is afraid to lose control over the situation, so it is cracking down. There’s also a wariness of the political crisis within the Israeli government.
We have been involved in the movement against the witch hunts on campuses and have handed in petitions with hundreds of signatures to the Higher Education Council. There’s a need to organise against the witch hunters and the persecution, directed mostly at the Arab-Palestinian students, which at some universities make up around half of the students…”