Much bigger turnout for May Day demonstration in Israel

On May Day this year in Tel-Aviv there was an impressive demonstration which shows that the left is growing. Nobody had expected such a large turnout. On previous May Day demonstrations only a few hundred took part. This year on the streets of Israel's main city 5,000 left activists marched. The column moved from the Tel-Aviv museum to the building of the Histadrut union. The people chanted slogans against Netanyahu's economic plan and Sharon's aggressive policy. The public and many foreign workers from local buildings welcomed the demonstration. There were also a lot of policemen and special service people with cameras. They filmed the demonstration.

The reactionary economic policy of the new finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed new layers to struggle. What is the content of this policy? It is a sever attack on the workers of Israel: NIS 0.5 billion cuts in education, a NIS 0.5 billion health tax, NIS 0.3 billion cuts in public transport, and NIS 0.8 billion cuts in apartment subsidies and benefits to invalids and jobless, and etc. Many workers are going to either lose their jobs or have their pay frozen. But "Bibi" (as Netanyahu is affectionately known by his friends) has not just taken away; he has also generously given… to his billionaire backers of course. NIS 2.5 billion tax reductions for the top 10%, the richest layer of Israeli society, NIS 1.5 billion reductions in social insurance payments for business (this is part of the pension funds) etc. Condoleeza Rice in the USA has already expressed support for this plan! But in Israel the ordinary working people call Netanyahu "Bibi Hood - but who steals from the poor to give to the rich".

This tough anti-working class economic policy has pushed new layers into activity and this could be seen on the May Day demonstration. Even youth from the left Zionist parties like MEREZ or Labour were there. They were present in big numbers on this demonstration. These young people demonstrated a big interest in left and Marxist ideas. We distributed the Hebrew translations of the anti-war texts from the "In Defence of Marxism" web site. Many demonstrators said they know our web site well and they have a big respect for the writings of Alan Woods and Ted Grant. This augurs well for the development of a genuine Marxist tendency also in Israel.