There's sometimes a perception that Israeli politics are dominated by right-leaning conservatives, and not only is it more complicated than that, but the international left is in fact alive and well here. Maki, the Communist Party of Israel, held a succession of rallies and protests across the country to mark May 1 -- May Day, otherwise known as International Workers' Day. Knesset Member Dov Khenin, also a member of Maki, told me they were campaigning for social justice, peace, democracy, and the two-state solution.
Under the direction of the Israeli Communist Party, part of the broader left-wing Hadash movement since 1977, demonstrators rallied on Friday evening in Jerusalem, Saturday night in Haifa, and on Sunday in Tel Aviv. In Nazareth, prior to lunch on Saturday, hundreds of people from across the generations and genders spilled out for a march that crossed from a petrol station located near to the Catholic Church of the Annunciation northward toward Mary's Well, where Orthodox Christians believe the Virgin Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel, thus commencing her pregnancy.
Maki's history goes back to the declaration of the Israeli state in 1948, and its roots extend to the Palestinian Communist Party, founded in 1923, mostly by immigrants who brought Europe's burgeoning communist movement with them. Communism around the world has changed dramatically since those early days, when it was a movement of labor unions and chin-stroking intellectuals, and has become more closely associated with the totalitarian regimes of Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot. But the Israeli branch missed most of these changes, and today it's more about farmer communes and worker's unions (and some Israel-specific issues, such as its controversial anti-Zionism).
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