May Day in Israel calls for change in direction

Charlotte Kates ckates at
Sun May 19 17:00:29 MDT 1996

>X-Sender: ksm at
>Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 21:13:31 -0500
>To: cscpo at (Colin Cavell)
>From: Scott Marshall <scott at>
>Subject: May Day in Israel calls for change in direction
>**May Day in Israel calls for change in direction**
>(Reprinted from the May 18, 1996 issue of the People's
>Weekly World. May be reprinted or reposted with PWW credit.
>For subscription information see below)
>By Hans Lebrecht
>TEL-AVIV - Following the call of the Communist Party of
>Israel (CPI) and the Democratic Hadash Front many thousands,
>Arabs and Jews, celebrated the May Day in the traditional
>manner under red flags held high and shouting working class
>They demanded to do away with the anti-labor policy which
>favors the interests of domestic and foreign big capitalist
>corporations and banking trusts; called for defending
>working masses' social rights; and fighting against the
>government-directed onslaught to lower real wages; as well
>as to struggle for an exchange of militarism for a policy of
>true Israeli-Palestinian peace as the backbone of a just and
>lasting peace in the whole Middle East.
>The central event was a demonstration of many thousands in
>Nazareth, the largest town in Israel with an Arab
>population. The demonstration was opened by a large
>contingent of Young Communists marching under their emblem
>and a forest of red flags, led by a band. Behind them
>marched the leaders of the CPI and the Hadash Front, among
>them CPI General Secretary Muhammad Nafa'a, veteran CPI
>leader Meir Vilner, Knesset Members Hashem Mahameed, Salim
>Salah and Tamar Gozansky, the Mayor of Nazareth, Ramez
>Jereissi, heads of workers councils and trade union
>activists, followed by several rows of other leading figures
>of the CPI and Hadash. After these, thousands of
>demonstrators, men and women, in their midst a large
>delegation of Jewish and Arab comrades from Tel-Aviv
>district, almost all with festive red carnations pinned to
>their collars and sleeves. The demonstration ended with a
>large group of Young Pioneers children carrying cardboard
>peace doves and red stars.
>Other demonstrations took place in Haifa, Tel-Aviv, Ramle,
>Taiybe, Abu-Snaan near Acre, and elsewhere. Since the
>leadership of the Histadrut Trade Union Federation (in which
>are organized almost 80 percent of Israel's workers) stopped
>organizing May Day demonstrations several years ago, and all
>the other "left" parties, such as the United (Mapam)
>Workers' Party and Labor followed suit this year, the Hadash
>May Day events were the only ones in the country. Therefore,
>at all the events slogans protesting the cancellation of May
>Day, as well as folding up such traditional workers' symbols
>as the red flag and the "International" by the Histadrut
>leadership, were raised at all Hadash events.
>The only "May Day" event held by the Histadrut leadership
>was the opening of the new Histadrut headquarters in
>Jerusalem with the moving of the central bodies of the Trade
>Unions from its Tel-Aviv headquarters. The CPI and Hadash
>condemned this move, saying it was dictated by nationalistic
>tendencies to concentrate all important establishments on
>the "re-united Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel and
>Judaism," in spite of the fact that only 8-10 percent of
>Israel's working force lives in Jerusalem, while about 50
>percent reside and work in the greater Tel-Aviv area, and 20
>percent in the Haifa-Acre Bay area. The chair of the
>Histadrut executive, Amir Peretz, told the audience at the
>opening ceremony: "The red flag and the 'International' have
>become obsolete and anachronistic."
>The Na'amat Women's Trade Union leadership, as well as
>several Trade Union leaders, refused to move their central
>bodies to Jerusalem. "If the founding fathers of the 75-
>year-old Histadrut had been here today, they would have
>protested the fact that May Day has been wiped out by the
>new leadership," the only Communist member of the central
>Histadrut leadership, CPI Bureau member Benjamin Gonen,
>stated to the press during the ceremony, when he was barred
>from the floor. "I want to recall that the Histadrut was
>founded in the light of the ideas and struggles which
>brought the workers of the world to declare an international
>solidarity day, the 1st of May," he said.
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