[:en]May Day: Music and solidarity work overtime![:]


ג'ס קורן (סקסופון) ומחמד ח'לף (כינור) מאלתרים ביחד. צילום: אורי רובינשטיין
Muhammad Halaf (violin) and Jess Koren (saxophone) improvise together. photo: Uri Rubinstein

Music played the key role in the May 1 celebration held by the Independent Trade Union Centre WAC-MAAN, which brought Palestinian workers from Mishor Adumim together with music and art teachers from Israeli colleges and Arab agricultural workers from the Umm al-Fahm region. The music lifted the spirits of activists and workers’ committee members, and proved it is possible to create a new culture which brings together those who struggle daily for their dignity as workers – whether they speak Hebrew or Arabic – and engenders an amazing and inspiring partnership.

אורית גורי, ועד המורים, מרכז המוסיקה, ראש העין
Orit Guri, fluit, Rosh Haayin Music Center. Photo: Erez Wagner
קובי הגואל, מרכז המוסיקה, ראש העי
Kobi Hagoel, drums, the Rosh Haayin Music Center. Photo: Uri Rubinstein
יוסי מר חיים, פסנתר, מוסררה. צילום: אורי רובינשטיין
Yossi Mar Haim, piano, the Musrara School of Art. Photo: Uri Rubinstein







It was not by chance that music played such a key role in the event, which was held at Beit Hayotzer in Tel Aviv Port on Saturday, April 30: the event marked the collective agreement that WAC reached together with the workers’ committee at the Rosh Ha’ayin Music Centre last January after over two years of struggle, including labor disputes, a strike, a protest concert and a legal battle.

Photo: Erez Wagner

The event was produced by the musicians Yossi Bar-Haim (piano) from Musrara College and Kobi Hagoel (drums) from Rosh Ha’ayin Music Center, assisted by Ruthi Amano, formerly from Beit Bialik (also organized by WAC-MAAN). But even the producers could not have foreseen the event’s climax, when the saxophonist Jess Koren, who played with Kobi Hagoel on drums, invited the violinist Mohammed Mussa Khalaf from Jatt and Pianist Yossi Mar-Haim to improvise with them on stage and create a common musical language.

There was no shortage of excellent music. Orit Guri’s flute, accompanied by Kobi Hagoel on drums , moved the audience deeply; Alt singer Alon Harari and pianist Avichai Yaacobin offered an extract from an opera and a Leonard Cohen song; and Tenor singer Yotam Cohen sang a song by Bertolt Brecht and  Kurt Weill with Mar-Haim on the piano.
Alon Harari (alt) Avihai Yaacobian piano. Photo: Uri Rubinstein
אסף אדיב, מנכ"ל מען. צילום: ארז וגנר
Assaf Adiv, WAC-MAAN director. Photo: Erez Wagner
מוזה גאנם, בשם עובדות החקלאות המאורגנות במען. צילום: אורי רובינשטיין
Moza Ghanem, WAC women and agriculture project. Photo: Uri Rubinstein.


The long struggle for the collective agreement was summarized by workers’ committee activist and flautist Orit Guri, who explained how music teachers in Israel had gradually lost their status as state employees and became agency employees. She noted the reasons for the success of the current struggle:

“The first reason is connected to the social protest movement of 2011, which made the public aware of the plight of the agency workers. Suddenly, we received surprising support, and backup from students, parents and friends. Secondly, the steadfastness of the teachers, which was not an easy thing. Many of the music teachers are new immigrants from Russia, older people ready to work under any conditions and very fearful of dismissal. But we gained their trust and they voted in favor of the struggle. Thirdly, the team leading the negotiations, thanks to their integrity and modesty, and the fact that they did not think only of themselves but strived for what was best for all the teachers. We were realistic and understood the limits of our power, because it is hard to draw music teachers into a battle. For this reason there is a huge difference between what we should be getting and what we in fact get. For example, we agreed to a paid holiday for only half of August, but still, this is a start. And the most important thing was WAC-MAAN’s assistance. The people of MAAN stood by us, hand in hand, and assisted us with every letter, every step. Sometimes, when we were exhausted, they urged us to continue, and they did all this with professionalism and efficiency.”

אסמא אגבאריה-זחאלקה, חנאן מנאדרה ויותם כהן בשירות האינטרנציונל, בעברית ובערבית. צילום אורי רובינשטיין
Asma Aghbaria-Zahalka, Hanan Mandre and Yotam Cohen singing The International. Photo Uri Rubinstein

There were a number of moving moments. One was when Hatem Abu Ziadeh, the Palestinian workers’ committee chair at the Zarfati Garage in Mishor Adumim (Area C, under Israeli occupation), announced that he was returning to work after some 20 months of absence. The employer had dismissed him and leveled false charges against him in the hope of preventing the Palestinian workers from organizing and avoiding a collective agreement. The workers’ huge excitement reflected the enormous efforts they had made, and Hatem was carried on the shoulders of the garage workers in a celebration of their victory.

Moza Ghanem from Zemer, (Triangel) is a former female agricultural worker and today a cleaner at the Seminar Hakibbutzim College. She spoke about how her life had changed when she stopped being a seasonal worker employed via a subcontractor, and began working in a permanent position via WAC. She also spoke of their joy when the workers went on holiday to Greece with the faculty of the college. She outlined their double struggle: the struggle against government policy which fails to provide jobs for Arab women and even imports Thai workers who take on most agricultural jobs; and the struggle to raise the status of Arab women in their own society and the important role played by employment in this struggle.

Speaking for the teachers at Musrara College, Dr. Yoni Neve thanked WAC, which signed its third collective agreement at the college and has improved the teachers’ status there.

WAC-Maan National Director Assaf Adiv closed the evening:
Hatem Abu Ziadeh celebrating his return to work at the Zarfati Garage in Mishor Adumim with co-workers. Photo: Uri Rubinstein.

“WAC-MAAN is not just another workers’ organization that wants to get better terms for workers. Yes, we struggle for better wages and terms for the Rosh Ha’ayin music teachers, for the drivers at Movilei Dror, for Palestinian workers in Mishor Adumim, and for Arab workers in agriculture. And we do this with professionalism, perseverance and sagacity in order to achieve the best results for the workers we represent.

But at the same time, we are struggling for something much larger. We aim to build a united social force of workers who known how to bravely face down employers, because only a social force of this kind will be sustainable. We create real cooperation based on equality between Jewish and Arab, Israeli and Palestinian workers. We will not tolerate racist worldviews which humiliate a person because of his ethnicity or the color of his skin, because what we have in common is greater than our religious or national differences. We are building a democratic workers’ organization which rejects corruption and personal interests for the sake of a dynamic organization striving for cooperation with other social groups. And above all, WAC supports a just peace and equality among peoples, and opposes the occupation which makes the lives of an entire people hell, causing bloodshed whose end is still not in sight.”

The official program was brought to a close with Yotam Cohen singing the International, accompanied by Hanan Manadra who moderated the event and Asma Agbarieh-Zahalka, who both joined in singing in Arabic. The unofficial program continued with a party, led by the Zarfati Garage workers, who made sure all the audience joined them in their celebration.

Translation: Yonatan Preminger[:]



Fighting for peace and cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli workers in times of war

Following is a talk by Yoav Gal Tamir that was given to the Global Labour Institute School under the headline “Young Union Leaders Imagining International Trade Unionism”. The GLI gathering of 100 activists took place at the end of November near Paris. MAAN’s representative Yoav Gal Tamir talked about the union’s role today, after the October Massacre by Hamas and Israel’s retaliation. Tamir also emphasized MAAN’s unique role as a union that works in Israel, defends and organizes both Israeli and Palestinian workers.

The East Jerusalem Project

Solidarity across borders: residents of East and West Jerusalem work together in crisis and build the foundations of a common future

Jerusalem after October 7 is a city marked by suspicion and fear. The city economy has been hit hard, and many in both the Jewish and Palestinian communities prefer to avoid public spaces. In the immediate days after the war began, checkpoints around the city have been shut, cutting off the Palestinians living in the outskirts of the city. That would be around one third of the city’s residents who are left in a dire economic situation. Amidst this, dozens of organizations – both Jewish and Palestinian – begun working to provide relief. MAAN Workers Association (MAAN) joined the Jerusalem’s civilian Emergency Center, especially the branch set up for the East Jerusalem residents. Together, these organizations in both sides of the city create an enclave of sanity, bringing hope in solidarity.


אנא כתבו את שמכם המלא, טלפון ותיאור קצר של נושא הפנייה, ונציג\ה של מען יחזרו אליכם בהקדם האפשרי.

رجاءً اكتبوا اسمكم الكامل، الهاتف، ووصف قصير حول موضوع توجهكم، ومندوب عن نقابة معًا سيعاود الاتصال بكم لاحقًا

As an organization committed to the rights of workers without distinction of religion, race, nationality, gender, or profession - democracy is our essence. We strongly oppose the authoritarian laws that the extreme government of Netanyahu, Lapid, Bennett, and Smotrich is attempting to impose.

Without democracy, there are no workers' rights, just as a workers' organization cannot exist under dictatorship.

only a victory of the democratic camp will enable a discussion on the Palestinian issue and lead to an alternative solution to occupation and apartheid while ensuring human rights and citizenship for all, Israelis and Palestinians alike. As long as the apartheid regime persists, the democratic camp will not succeed in defeating Israeli extremists. Therefore, we work to involve the Arab and Palestinian society in the protest.

We invite you:

To march with us in protests and to build an alternative, democratic, Jewish-Arab professional union in Israel. Join our quiet WhatsApp group today, "Marching with us in protest."

To join MAAN and unite workers in your workplace. Read here how to join the organization.

To follow MAAN's work on social networks.

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