Letter: May Day in Israel

Dear comrades,

This year there were three events of May Day. The first one in Nazareth around 4 thousands people, 99 % Arab Palestinians citizens of Israel. About 3000 of them young people of the YCL most of them under the influence of Hadash leadership led by MP Mohammad Barake. There were about 50 Jews of them 30 or so Jews of the YCL who marched as a small block. There  many red flags and shirts with pictures of Che. There were not too many written slogans. The chanting was focused against Sharon's plan.

The second event was in Tel Aviv. Around 3-4 thousand young people, most of them from the "Hanoar Haavoed" ( Working Youth) -  they have blue shirts with white strings. There were once again not many written slogans and there were many chants against the government's economic policies. This movement is connected to the leadership of the Histadruth. The main line was honor the working man. Pertez, the head of the Histadrth gave a speech. His appearance was against the rule that only young people would speak. At the end of the rally they sang first the Zionist national song following by the Internationale. A few other smaller groups joined them. The YCL sent one bus to this march with around 30 Arabs and 20 young Jews. The third one took place near Jerusalem (Abu Deas) with about 200 people around 50 Jews and the rest from the occupied West Bank.

The demo in Nazareth was about 2/3 smaller than last year. We came with a very nice poster with slogans like: Not a nation against a nation but a class against a classFrom Caracas Venezuela to Faluga-Iraq: the same enemy, the same fight. We were part of the organizers of the Tel-Aviv event and our name was mentioned as such, but we could not convince the other movements to have a joint demo though we argued for it.


May Day in Israel was once a great day of celebration for the workers of the Jewish state. Hundreds of thousands of workers would march under the banner of the workers federation The Histadrut. In the good old days BL, before the Likud came to power and gradually destroyed the rights and relatively good benefits that the Israeli workers enjoyed under the protection of the Histadrut. 

The irony was that it was the very workers who put the "Terrorist" Menhem Begin into power as the head of Israel first right wing reactionary government, who now are crying that they cannot feed their children, have no work, or have work without the normal protection that workers unions afford their members. So how was this years May Day in Israel? Well there were no hundreds and thousands marching through the streets of Tel Aviv. In fact there were only about three thousand, mostly high school kids from the Learning and Working Youth movement who gathered at the plaza in front of the Tel Aviv Museum. 

These nice kids shouted into the microphone in Hebrew and Arabic about the poverty, hunger and injustice that now abounds in the Jewish state. So how was May Day circa 2004 in Israel, sad, very sad. But for me a child of the sixties, it was good to see those boys and girls. After all from only a small seed can grow a mighty oak tree, and that oak will one spawn a whole forest. Accompanying pictures show the banner of the Israeli branch of In Defence of Marxism.

Mordachai Peargut