Israel's Most Justified General Strike Ever

For the first time in a long time, 'social solidarity' will mean something. No strike is ideal, but some are rooted in idealism.

It was unclear at press time whether it would break out or not. We must hope it will be averted, for convincing reasons, or that if it does start this morning, it will be the most justified general strike ever.

And the most encouraging aspect: For the first time in Israel, workers will be fighting on behalf of other workers, not just themselves. For the first time in a long time, "social solidarity" will mean something. No strike is ideal, but some are rooted in idealism.

Israel social protest.
Daniel Bar-On

And when the strike screws up our daily routine, we will go on supporting it without complaint. Every person must regard himself as if he were a contract worker, or a potential one.

This is because this arrangement is spreading like an ugly stain, and will eventually gather strength and engulf most of the employers in our land. Cheap labor is a temptation that cannot be conquered, and cheapened laborers are easy prey for predator families.

Even when wild boars lose their teeth, they can still bite weaker animals trying to survive with dignity.

It's no longer just mall security guards and cleaners in the Finance Ministry, the university and the hospital. These are always the first in the fast-food chain; but teachers, social workers and many more have joined them.

Already 15,000 teaching positions are outsourced, and that number will grow before the year is out. Ever since privatization gained a vicious foothold in health, education and welfare, man's power was taken away and given to manpower companies. Even higher education affords no immunity from the phenomenon.

We cannot be counted among the followers of Histadrut labor federation Chairman Ofer Eini, and even warned the summer's social protesters against his hostile takeover bid. He is accused of populism, of using the protest movement to secure his position in the union after years of feathering the beds of the big trade unions.

The arguments are apt, albeit untimely. A worthy end does not justify the means, but neither does it examine them too closely. Eini is doing the right thing now, whatever his motives.

The strike will not be long. We can live with hospitals on weekend footing and closed schools and welfare offices, but locking up the airport is going too far. Here's the test for would-be passengers: Keep your cool and say: "We got screwed, but it's all worth it; we took part in a just struggle and contributed to its success."