Solidarity without Borders: WAC MAAN’s Labor Day in Jerusalem

April 27th: As the crowd gathered in the hall of Beit Mazia in Jerusalem to celebrate May Day it became clear that dozens of Palestinian workers from the Zarfati Garage...

the workers joined with the song Shidu al Hima

April 27th: As the crowd gathered in the hall of Beit Mazia in Jerusalem to celebrate May Day it became clear that dozens of Palestinian workers from the Zarfati Garage are late to arrive. The workers who were the center of the event were held up at a checkpoint in the entrance to Israel. It took an hour until they arrived finally in what could be seen as an educational experience for Israelis, who had tasted what thousands of workers go through each day at the checkpoints. When the Zarfaty workers entered the hall, the crowd greeted them with applause which reflected respect and admiration for their struggle and achievement.

Hanan Zoabi, c0-moderated the event

Palestinian garage and carpentry workers sat in the theatre hall beside art teachers, musicians, agricultural workers and cleaners, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. The evening was led in Hebrew and Arabic by the theatre writer and director, Guy Elhanan and Hanan Manadreh Zoabi, WAC’s Chairwoman, who invited various musicians and speakers onto the stage.

Theatre writer and director Guy Elhanan – co-moderated the event

Elhanan is currently running a play in Arabic which he wrote and directs, on work accidents in the construction industry. The play, produced in collaboration with WAC, is called “Above and Below the Scaffolding.” In her opening speech Hanan Zoabi explained that this Labor Day doesn’t just celebrate solidarity between Palestinian and Israeli workers, but also solidarity with human beings in their struggle for democracy, freedom and human rights. We especially stand by the struggle of the Syrian people against the bloodthirsty regime of Bashar Assad.

The evening began with opera tenor Yotam Cohen, accompanied by pianist Yossi Mar Haim from Musrara College, who offered together a moving rendition of a song from the Threepenny Opera, written by Bertolt Brecht with music by Kurt Weill. (to the youtube)

Rania Salah, WAC’s woman coordinator from East Jerusalem, spoke of her daily work in the struggle against poverty and the exploitation of workers and the unemployed in the city. Erez Wagner, director of WAC’s Jerusalem office, said “In about a month, on 24 May 2017, Jerusalem will mark 50 years to the occupation that was imposed on its Palestinian residents and on the entire West Bank.” He explained that breaking down the walls through joint struggle for workers’ rights, workers’ and an end to poverty is “the way to overcome the violence in which we live, and to finally move from a reality of occupation to a reality of peace, progress and freedom.” He ended by noting the need to recreate the concept of “left” which is often associated these days with support for dictators like Putin or Assad.

Erez Wagner – WAC’s Jerusalem office director

There is great confusion also in Israel, “For us,” Wagner said, “the view of political activists regarding the blod-thirsty Syrian regime as progressive and worthy of support is a distinguishing line – this kind of dogmatic thinking is not and cannot be part of what we believe should be a democratic left today.”

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