Israel: Police attack left activists at Tel Aviv May Day rally

CWI members arrested for trying to go to Histadruth festival

Maavak Sotzialisti member
being arrested on Mayday rally

The biggest May Day demonstration in Israel took place in Tel Aviv. It was officially organised by the Histadruth (the Israeli TUC), but very few workers attended an event which its organisers wanted to be a festival of Zionist youth movements.

Attempts by socialists to raise the ideas of socialism and for a workers’ alternative, found an answer in physical attacks orchestrated by the leadership of the demonstration, backed by the police.

After a march of 3,000 people, the organizers, led by the Histadruth’s youth movement, Ha Na Oved, prevented activists from many organizations, including Maavak Sotzialisti (CWI in Israel), and the anarchists, from participating in a rally.

After having been stopped from joining the rally by the police, members of Maavak Sotzialisti co-operated with other excluded activists and called on those at the rally to leave it in an act of protest. When the leadership of the Communist Party, which is part of a coalition inside the Histadruth, tried to split-up the activists by offering an arrangement in which Maavak Sotzialisti could join the rally if its members "stayed quiet", while the anarchists would "stay out", Maavak Sotzialisti members refused. Then most of the Communist Party youth, some members of Hashomer Hatza’ir, another Zionist youth movement and many other participants on the rally, came out in support of the excluded activists.

Ironically, the organisers, who claimed they were protecting the demonstration from becoming violent, asked the special police force to remove activists, to "kick their ass away". When the police saw that many demonstrators were trying to leave the official rally, in solidarity with Maavak Sotzialisti comrades and other activists, the police blocked the exit and launched a brutal attack on the protesters outside.

It seemed the police had been primed in advance to attack Maavak Sotzialisti members during May Day events. They threatened and photographed Maavak Sotzialisti members and other activists. By the end of May Day, fourteen people were arrested and beaten by police. Five are members of Maavak Sotzialisti. After spending a night in a police station, most of those arrested were given ‘house arrest’ for 5 days.

Despite this outrageous harassment and brutality, many people on the May Day demonstration were interested in Maavak Sotzialisti. Some of these people are reconsidering their membership in movements that try to make May Day – the traditional workers’ festival and a time of solidarity, struggle and socialism – into a day of nationalist propaganda that fosters the division of workers, and also into a day of violence.

Maavak Sotzialisti members will keep campaigning for the Israeli working class to build its own mass organizations that will fight against nationalism and the division of the working class. We will keep fighting for internationalism and for workers’ democratic control of their organisations. These are the real values that May Day represents.

We call on all trade unionists and public representatives to send letters of protest to the following address, protesting against this disgraceful treatment socialists and activitsts.

Yoram Bar Kovetz

Spokesperson Ha Noar Ha Oved

Fax Number: +972-3-5125157


Please send copies to:

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May 2005