By Yossi Schwartz, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), 2 May 2021, http://the-isleague.com
Last Friday, 45 people were crushed to death at a Jewish religious festival on Mount Meron. Those people died in an annual pilgrimage that ended in a stampede by large crowds of ultra-Orthodox at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, in the north of the country. It estimated that some 100,000 people attended the event.
It is clear that this was a disaster waiting to happen as the pilgrimage site has been designated as hazardous by state investigators years ago.
The problem is not the fact that it was a religious festival but that too many people entered a very narrow path without a safe exit.
There is a growing debate who is responsible for these deaths. Many Israelis accuse the police, because it allowed people into a cordoned-off area even though it was already extremely crowded and for not opening the exits on either side quickly enough after people started panicking.
But it is not only the police who are responsible for this tragedy; so are the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Internal Security, the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister of Israel.
Here it is important to remind ourselves the law of the contradiction between necessity and chance and what Trotsky wrote on this subject: “The entire historical process is a refraction of historical law through the accidental. In the language of biology, we might say that the historical law is realized through the natural selection of accidents.” (1)
The Zionist State Bought Support by Ultra–Orthodox
The Israelis are unable to understand it, but the Zionist ideology and colonialist practices are the real reasons behind the disaster. The Zionists from the very beginning needed the Jewish religion to claim that Palestine is God promised land to the Jews. Prior to 1967, the ultra-Orthodox were anti-Zionists (not only in words) and had political sympathy for the Palestinians. After 1967, the government of Israel bought the support of the ultra–Orthodox for the racist nationalist policies against the Palestinians by offering them settlements in the West Bank, positions in the state bureaucracy, and the upper layer of this religious community has won multiple benefits from the state administration.
The anti-Netanyahu camp claims that Benjamin Netanyahu has been able to identify the potential of this minority and has managed to form a government with the help of the ultra-orthodox politicians and Rabbis.
But this policy began long before Netanyahu became Prime Minister. The allocations designated for ultra-Orthodox schools and Yeshivas function are, in part, a selective welfare system which assures a minimal standard of living for some of the ultra-Orthodox families in Israel that are unable to obtain a secure social and economic foothold through the state education system and the labor market. The allocations that finance a long school day, hot school lunches, and a modest income for yeshiva students can be viewed in this way. Thus, under state auspices and state financing, ultra-Orthodox organizations operate a welfare system complementary to that set up by statute.
In 1998, the Adva Center wrote: “The Ministry of Religious Affairs' support of ultra-Orthodox schools and yeshivas is ostensibly justified by the fact that they train rabbis, religious judges and other religious functionaries. In fact, however, the Ministry supports private educational institutions belonging to two ultra-Orthodox political parties, Agudath Israel and Shas. In doing so, it functions as a second Ministry of Education -- one that provides special support to only one part of the Israeli educational system. The information provided by the Ministry of Religious Affairs does not indicate how the allocations to ultra-Orthodox schools are actually used. Since they are transferred to institutions that constitute part of ultra-Orthodox bureaucratic edifices, it is reasonable to surmise that at least some of the monies are used to cover costs that are not necessarily educational. Moreover, it appears that the per capita support provided by the Ministry of Religious Affairs to ultra-Orthodox schools and yeshivas is not based on the actual needs of the educational institutions, but rather represents what the ultra-Orthodox parties are able to obtain from the government through political bargaining Between 1980 and 1998 Ministry of Religious Affairs allocations for ultra-Orthodox schools and yeshivas increased more than six-fold. The Ministry of Construction and Housing assists the ultra-Orthodox population in three major ways: By providing ultra-Orthodox families with public housing units. By freeing land for the construction of homes for persons described as "of religious nature," and by including ultra-Orthodox communities in National Priority Areas, whose residents are eligible for special assistance. As a result of the latter two arrangements, in 1997, ultra-Orthodox Jews took advantage of their entitlements to government mortgages at a higher than average rate. This was especially true for those building or purchasing homes in the occupied territories.”
In 1998, the Prime Minister of Israel was Shimon Peres of the Zionist Labor Party, so any claim that this alliance between the Ultra-orthodox and the government began with Netanyahu is simply false. Nor will it end with the replacing of Netanyahu with a government led by Benet, who is to the right of Netanyahu.
Most Zionists, and especially the so-called left Zionists, hate the ultra-Orthodox because many of them do not serve in the army. Their arguments against the ultra-orthodox are the same anti-Semitic arguments that were used in Europe against the Jews. Some left-wing Zionists go as far as claiming that the Haredim (ultra –Orthodox) rule Israel. It is the same "theory" of the protocol of the elders of Zion.
The Zionist State Bought Support by Ultra–Orthodox
If we return to the event the government and the police knew that the place is a death trap and yet the ultra-Orthodox were encouraged to participate in the event for political reasons.
"On Friday night, multiple reports in Hebrew media outlets indicated that there had been immense pressure by religious lawmakers ahead of the festivities to ensure that there would be no limits placed on the number of attendees. Some 100,000 ultra-Orthodox pilgrims ultimately attended the event; a framework drawn up by the Health Ministry, in consultation with other government officials, police and others, would have limited the event to 9,000 participants, but was not implemented." Officials with knowledge of the investigation told Channel 13 that cabinet ministers had pressed police to allow large numbers of people to enter the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, saying this was to compensate for last year’s event being canceled due to coronavirus.” (3)
Thus, what stood behind the tragedy is the need of the Israeli state to encourage religious chauvinism and at the same time to direct the hate of most Israelis not only against the Palestinians but also against the ultra-Orthodox. As long as the Israeli Jews will not break from Zionism such events or similar events will happen again. Israel is not only an oppressive state against the Palestinians but a (quite literal!) death trap for the Jews.
Down with the Netanyahu government! No support for Benet and Shar Coalition!
For a red democratic Palestine with equal rights for Palestinian and Jews!
1) Leon Trotsky: My Life, Penguin 1971, p. 515
2) Dr. Shlomo Swirski, Etty Konor, Yaron Yecheskel: Government Allocations to the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Sector in Israel, August 1998
3) Times of Israel: After tragedy, reports emerge that politicians pressed not to limit Meron event, May 1st 2021
Additional Documents from the RCIT
Yossi Schwartz: The Zionist Wars, RCIT Book, 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-zionist-wars/
Yossi Schwartz: Israel's War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, http://the-isleague.com/1948-war-5-2013/ and https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/israel-s-war-of-1948/
Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, http://the-isleague.com/zionist-oppression-and-permanent-revolution/ and https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/permanent-revolution-in-palestine/