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(en) Chile, FALV-IFA, Contemporary Israeli anarchism (Acracia n79) (ca, it) [machine translation]
Mon, 3 Sep 2018 10:09:23 +0300
Our anonymous interlocutor traces the prehistory and development of contemporary Israeli
anarchism, touching on the origins of punk and the movement for animal rights in Israel
and presenting a critical analysis of the Anarchists' trajectory against the Wall. He
concludes by reflecting on the role of the rhetoric of nonviolence in the conflict between
Israel and Palestine. We strongly recommend this interview to anyone interested in the
conflict between Israel and Palestine or, for that matter, in the strategic challenges of
formulating an anarchist opposition in adverse conditions. ---- Is there any continuity
between the contemporary Israeli anarchist movement and the currents that preceded the
countercultural rise of the early 1990s? ---- None at all, unfortunately. On the other
hand, it may not be so unfortunate.
Over the past hundred years, Israeli anarchists played a role in some successful efforts,
but always at an expensive price: the subjugation of the political to the social, which
was basically BuberSpeak for trying to build new worlds around the existing one, in on its
burning ashes. The kibbutzim (Jewish socialist agricultural settlements) serve as a
warning tale - another story of this kind should be necessary - of anarchists becoming
pawns in authoritarian projects through tentative collaborations based on the "temporary"
commitment of our confrontational and political rejection of the hierarchy.
As strange as it may seem today, many European secular Jews at the beginning of the last
century saw a tacit link between Zionism and anarchism. Ghettoized and excluded from the
national ethos of their own countries, they gravitated towards tendencies that in their
personal lives, if not in the eyes of history, offered opposing magnetic polarities with
which to retreat: anarchism, Marxism and Zionism. Ironically, as documented by anarchist
writers such as Volin in Russia, much of the Jewish ghetto perceived Zionism as the most
insane and utopian of the three.
Thus, in what could be seen as a precursor to the pitfalls of modern identity politics,
the ties that bind the old anarchists to their Jewish identity allowed their Umanità Nova,
their vision of a new humanity, to be bent and replaced. by the vision of Zionism of a new
Jewry, the "muscular Jew" of Israel, ready to replace the scared one of the ghetto. On the
ground, one of the ways this substitution took place was the rapid transformation of
egalitarian kibbutzim communities into strategic colonial instruments at the hands of a
nascent state bent on expelling indigenous populations from the land.
In this sense, it is not surprising that in 1994, the first vinyl record of the first
Israeli anarchist hardcore band was titled, simply, "Renouncing Judaism."
With the establishment of a Jewish state, the anarchists of worker Zionism discovered that
the operation had been successful and that the patient had died; like his contemporaries
in the October revolution, the May 4 Chinese movement and Madero's Mexican uprising - and
perhaps yesterday's Occupation movement - his only reward was having been the forgotten
players in giving birth to the entity that considered them irrelevant.
The end of World War II and the subsequent immigration of more European Jews to the newly
established Israeli state, with some anarchists among them, further galvanized the tension
between the political and the social, between the freely chosen identities and the born
identities, " Anarchists "and" Jews "- a tension nowhere so critical, of course, as within
the borders of a Jewish arche.
Leaving directly from the Polish ghettos, they proved that they did not want or could not
get the ghetto out of themselves, and instead of flying the defiant black flag, they
simply surrounded the wagons; In your defense, however, surviving the Holocaust could do
that to you. They were organized in historical societies, cultural associations,
philosophical discussion circles and literary study groups, communicating mainly in
Yiddish, a choice that strangely resembles that other closed Jewish medium and dressed in
black who turned his back on society - the Jews orthodox jasídicos - and in stark contrast
to the first anarchists of the kibbutzim, who spoke Hebrew.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the Freedom Seekers Association, Israel's main anarchist
group, produced a monthly bilingual publication called Problemen along with several books,
and maintained a library of classical anarchist literature (again, mostly in Yiddish and
Polish). as well as a large room in the center of Tel Aviv, attracting hundreds of
non-threatening conference attendees where anarchy was theorized to death along with
Naturally, introverted and autonomous cultural meetings took place at the expense of
agitation, reach and organization, which reminds us of certain punk rock scenarios that we
know very well. In fact, it does not seem that there has been even an attempt to build an
anarchist political movement.
An anecdote from that era illustrates this perfectly: an agent of Shin Bet (Israel's
internal security service) came to an anarchist meeting one day. "I heard they have been
discussing the possible ramifications of assassinating the prime minister," he said worriedly.
"That's right," came the reply, "but we were talking about the prime minister of Poland."
The agent left and never bothered them again.
I must point out that at that time not everything was so calm on the Middle East front.
The famous sailors' strike, for example, the most radical and violent one in the history
of Israel, which for 40 days paralyzed the country's only commercial port, took place in
1951. By the way, it was run by a young sailor whose grandson would become in a key
organizer of Israeli anarchism from the 90s. In 1962 there were a series of wild attacks
following the devaluation of the Israeli pound. Through all this, serious disturbances
against ethnic discrimination erupted, led by Jews from the Middle East and North African
countries who lived in Ma'abarot, refugee camps. In 1949, during one of those riots,
Furious mobs broke the windows and hinged doors in the temporary building of the Israeli
Parliament; The following year, a leader of similar protests by Yemeni Jews was the first
citizen to be killed by the bullet of an Israeli policeman. This, of course, without
mentioning the various forms of resistance in which the Palestinian Arabs were immersed at
None of the above, as far as I know, provoked the participation or material support of the
exiled anarchists of Israel, who seem to have been more in tune with the Yiddish labor
struggles in the Lower East Side of New York than in their new surroundings.
Leaving aside Zionism and Judaism, another key issue in which the anarchists of the 1990s
separated from the old guard was our blasphemous attitude towards the IDF, the Israeli
"Defense" Forces. The American painter of anarcho-syndicalist houses Sam Dolgoff, who
visited Israel in the early 1970s, captured the prevailing attitude of the veterans (as
well as his own, apparently):
"... Israeli comrades are forced, like other tendencies, to accept the fact that Israel
must be defended. In the discussion with the Israeli anarchists it was emphasized that the
unilateral dismantling of the Israeli State would not be anarchist at all. On the
contrary, it would only reinforce the immense power of the Arab States and accelerate
their plans for the conquest of Israel. The need for Israel's defense - freely recognized
by our comrades - depends on the implementation of the indispensable military, economic,
legislative and social measures to keep Israel in a permanent state of readiness for war.
The Israeli anarchists[...]know very well that restricting the power of the State in such
circumstances offers no real alternative.
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