Not in Anybody's Pocket Any More!
by Wafah Tayara
What motivates a farm worker like me, after a hard day's work in the sun, to go out and wage an election campaign that demands much time and energy? The answer is that the belief in what I'm doing causes the weariness to disappear.
I became acquainted with ODA through WAC that helped me find an organized job in agriculture. (By "organized" I mean legal, with a pay slip and social benefits.) That was a turning point in my life. Before that I'd worked with manpower companies. I went from a system based on exploitation to another that defends my rights and dignity. This change in my life enabled me to find what I'd been looking for: a political framework that suits me both as a woman and as a worker.
The decisive question for me was this: What have the other parties, Jewish or Arab, done for the workers? I see in ODA a party that works all year round against poverty and for human dignity. ODA respects me as a worker.
Another factor, no less important, is the party's attitude toward women. This is the first time I've found a party that treats a woman as an independent person, capable of making her own decision about whom to vote for.
The fact that a woman heads the party list is for me and my friends a qualitative leap forward in the political arena. It was one of the things that inspired me to act without fatigue.
You might want to know what the day's routine is like for a woman who is a laborer and a mother of four and who is active in ODA?
On the heels of the campaign kickoff on February 11 in Haifa, I started to work. My co-workers and I would come home from the farm, do housework, and then go to ODA headquarters in the village. There we would organize visits and home gatherings. The home gatherings were crucial in the mobilization of working women. We asked women to invite their neighbors to their homes, and the number kept growing. There were between 25 and 40 women at every gathering.
We worked together in a friendly atmosphere of respect and optimism. Religious and ethnic differences became completely unimportant, and our identity was that of workers, period. Our purpose was single and clear: to bring in workers who did not yet know us, and to build the power of workers who would be organized and conscious of their interests.
The campaign was difficult, the tasks enormous. It was up to us to inspire hundreds of workers' families with faith in the importance of the idea: to establish a party what would represent the working class. The slogan was, "Yes to building a force of organized workers aware of their rights and their interests. Yes to ODA as a political address for defending workers' rights."
Despite the fact that, as expected, the election results did not put us over the threshold, we shall continue. The message of our election broadcast remains in force: "If you're a worker, you're ODA." The new thing is that we managed to break into the public consciousness. Today we are known and appreciated.
We feel that we're not in anybody's pocket any more! We have our own party.
Wafah Tayara was a candidate on the ODA list for the 17th Knesset.