When I became an anti-Zionist as a teenager, there were no role models or indeed any examples that I knew of. Being a Jewish anti-Zionist was a lonely and solitary experience. True when I joined the International Socialists (SWP) there were a number of Jewish members, but anti-Zionism was not a hot topic.
Today the situation has changed out of all recognition. Meetings of hundreds of Jews questioning Israel are now the norm, as the non-Zionist Independent Jewish Voices demonstrate.
And now the explicitly International Jewish anti-Zionist Network has been formed. Jews have not only begun to recognise that the Jewish experience of anti-Semitism is not compatible with supporting the same form of racism when perpetrated by Israel, but that Zionism can only endanger their own position in society.
It was therefore doubly welcome that a packed meeting of IJAN launched the network in Israel tonight in a church hall in north London. Chaired by Selma James there was a large platform of speakers, including Professor Moshe Machover, founder of the Israeli anti-Zionist organisation Matzpen and Ghada Kharmi, a distinguished Palestinian doctor and academic, author of ‘Married to Another Man – Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine’. Messages of support to the meeting and the presence of people like Omar Deghayes, the Libyan refugee who was imprisoned for 5 years in Guantanamo where he was blinded in one eye, emphasised the importance of the occasion. Other speakers included Michael Kalmanovitz.
The meeting took the decision to prioritise the campaign against the openly racist Jewish National Fund, which together with the Israeli Lands Administration, controls 93% of Israeli land, which can only be leased, rented or sold to Jews. Tony Greenstein introduced the discussion on the JNF giving a short history of the JNF’s inglorious history.
A meeting has been arranged for 6th November when further decisions on the JNF campaign will be planned. There are a number of things which will have to be discussed including putting the group on a democratic footing, debating the Charter of IJAN since many of us don’t agree with some of the analysis e.g. on Misrahi/Oriental Jews in Israel.
A couple of Zionist interlopers at the meeting, including Mad Mikey Ezra, were given short shrift especially when Mikey tried to trip me up. Mikey, who only last week at the debate betwen the AWL and CPGB started pushing me and Roland Rance, was apparently left with a sore foot as a result of his attempts to commit another assault. At a previous meeting he deliberately trod on the foot of an anti-Zionist. He and his friend were left in no doubt that their presence, with blackberries texting reports of the meeting to others, were not welcome. Mikey is a strange character who goes around anti-Zionist meetings saying nothing but reporting or recording them. He works with the fascist Kach group in Israel, and their academic supporter one Prof. Steve Plaut of Haifa Universit with whom he bombards the Alef (Academic Left) e-list with fake messages.
This hasn't stopped Mikey claiming that he was the victim of an unprovoked assault claiming he was only sprawling, with his feet adrift in the aisles! Naturally his plight has been taken up by the racist pro-war blog, Harry's Place where David 'necklace' Herman posted his usual advice:
''At the risk of sounding thuggish you should have headbutted the motherfucker.'
What this incident does point to though is the need for more security at anti-Zionist meetings due to the fact that there is a history of attacks by Zionist thugs on people who attend them.