Arnon Bar-David: “I cannot remember such anxiety, such helplessness.” 

Adi Marcus
Dec 10, 2023

In a recent interview with the Israeli radio station Galatz, Arnon Bar-David, Chairman of the Histadrut, was asked to address the Histadrut’s involvement in protests against judicial reforms in the past year and his perspectives on the current war and the post-war landscape in Israel.  

Arnon Bar-David expressed concern over the government’s pursuit of judicial reforms before the recent conflict. He emphasized that there was a prevailing sentiment that the government was prioritizing the unimportant, placing it at the center of its agenda while leaving behind the critical issues that must be addressed to secure the safety of Israelis. Bar-David suggested that warning signs were evident but not heeded. “This is the result” he said.

Arnon Bar-David, notifying the leadership of the Histadrut that Netanyahu re-evaluated his decision to fire the Minister of Defence, on the day of the General Strike on 27 March.

Addressing why the Histadrut did not continue opposing the judicial reforms, Bar-David pointed to the general strike that effectively prevented the dismissal of the Minister of Defence. He explained that the government’s response, proceeding with legislative changes in full force while ignoring public concerns, made it so that the Histadrut had to calculate how it could effectively respond to the following steps the government was taking. The Histadrut, he stated, was preparing a more substantial response, laying the groundwork for impactful actions against the government’s attempts to change the judicial legislation without public consensus. 

Arnon Bar-David expressed deep concern and emotional distress about the traumatic events during the conflict. He remarked on the unprecedented anxiety experienced by the nation. “We are experiencing a trauma. I cannot remember days like this; I cannot remember such anxiety, such helplessness.” Bar-David advocated for a structured and organized approach to rebuilding Israel’s leadership, noting that the current state requires a significant overhaul. He emphasized the collective commitment among the entire Histadrut leadership and union leaders to construct a better future. 

In discussing the future of Israeli politics, Bar-David labeled the recent passage of the 2023 budget as a ‘scandal,’ highlighting the need for a fresh political mandate to address the challenges faced by the nation and stating he supports elections after the war. 

Bar-David highlighted the severe impact of the conflict on local industries, particularly construction and agriculture. When questioned about the return of West Bank Palestinian workers, he responded: “I do not see it returning in the near future.” 

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