Last Thursday, April 23, was “Yom HaAtzmaut” in Israel (Independence Day), commemorating the founding of the Israeli state in 1948. Annually, this public holiday is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar, and not on May 15th, the day 67 years ago on which the state’s existence went into effect with the termination of the British Mandate over Palestine. As it is a public holiday, most people don’t work on this day, plants and offices of most places of business (except restaurants, etc.) being closed, as are all public institutions. For the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, a counter-tradition to the festivities has developed to commemorate the Nakba on this day, and since 1998 a “March of Return” is organized by the Committee for Internally Displaced Palestinians. “Internally displaced” persons are Palestinian citizens who, based on a draconian law passed by the Knesset in the early 1950s, are not allowed to go back and reclaim their land, homes, and other property inside Israel, because they were allegedly “absent” from these places on an arbitrarily set date when the 1948 war was still raging.
The anti-Zionist NGO Zochrot, launched to document, map, and educate primarily Israeli Jews – but also Arabs – about the villages depopulated and destroyed during and after the Nakba, and to promote the right of return, organizes a chartered bus every year from Tel-Aviv to the site of the “March of Return.” We took advantage of this ride: As in the past, the Internationalist Socialist League (ISL) participated with a contingent in this year’s march, distributing all 200 copies of its bi-lingual (Arabic/Hebrew) statement in a manner of 15–20 minutes. The weather posed some problems: rain had been forecast but instead there were very strong winds which probably caused fewer persons to attend than in previous years. Nevertheless, around 1,000–2,000 people participated in the March and subsequent rally.
Other than our ISL contingent, no other organization belonging to the Israeli “left” participated as a collective. Individual members of Hadash (the front dominated by the Communist Party) came, hiding their regular communist and socialist symbols, apart from an occasional Ché T-shirt. Apparently the organizers think it inappropriate to display partisan symbols during a “national” event. Substantiating this impression was the reaction of people to our leaflet, which proudly displayed our hammer and sickle based logo. When fellow (non-ISL) communists received it, they smiled and revealed their own hammer and sickle symbols as well, covered up under a sleeve, on the red part of a small Palestinian flag, as the motif of a tattoo, etc.
Some of these recipients of our statement asked why we are not members of the Communist Party of Israel. We responded that the CPI wouldn't accept us as members because we don’t support a two-state solution. To this, our questioners responded with a sympathetic nod.
In our statement we expressed solidarity with the Palestinian national liberation struggle and called:
* For the formal establishment of a Joint, Democratic Anti-Zionist political party!
* For the transforming of such a party to a revolutionary workers’ party!
* For the return of all Palestinian refugees!
* For a free, red Palestine in all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea!