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A Muted May Day in Israel

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May Day celebrations in Israel were markedly lower-key Monday than in the past — a fact which the Likud faction of the Histadrut labor federation trumpeted in huge media ads as a success for its party.

Most newspapers published, and many factories and offices stayed open as usual, after the Histadrut leadership let it be known that it would not insist on observance of the international workers holiday.

Unlike previous years, there was no major parade through Tel Aviv, although modest public gatherings were organized separately by the Mapam (the United Workers Party of Israel), the Citizens Rights Movement and the Hadash Communists.

Political observers said Histadrut Secretary-General Yisrael Kessar, who is standing for reelection in November, had realized that observance of the day was becoming less and less popular among the people, including workers.

An additional reason for the low-key observance was that May Day this year fell on the eve of Yom Hashoah, which is a national day of remembrance and mourning in Israel.

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