One struggle against walls – 50 years ago and today

April 5, 2010

mikado“Sitting on this platform is for me highly symbolic, between Matzpen founder and leader, Moshe Machover, from whom I learned almost everything I know on Zionism and the formation of the State of Israel, and Adar Graiewsky, a leading figure of the young generation of activists who are, today, giving the tone and providing the spirit of the mobilizations against Israeli colonialism. My political generation has been a kind of transition between our founding fathers (and few mothers) and the actual struggle as represented by Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW).”

These were the introductory words of a lecture I gave at a conference organized in SOAS (London) on the topic of “The Palestinian Left, the Left in Palestine“.

Many differences exist between Matzpen and AATW, which reflect the differences between activism in the sixties-seventies, and activism in the twenty-first century. While our generation was politicized by books and has based its activism on 100 years of experiences of the working class struggles and the communist movement and ideologies, the new generation emerged with very limited historical consciousness and limited theoretical background. To make it simple, may be somehow over-simple: while for my generation political theory was the ground on which activism was based, for Adar generation, action is the ground on which theory developed.

There are however two core values which are common to Matzpen and AATW, and differentiate between them and the rest of the political spectrum:

a)     the goal of their respective struggles is the overthrow of the existing political and social order, or, in other words, a revolutionary perspective;

b) Internationalism, and, in the specific context of the Middle East, the centrality of a Palestinian-Israeli strategic alliance.

A revolutionary perspective is based on the understanding that human exploitation, individual and national oppression, environment destruction, wars and occupations are not the result of bad governance, but structural to the existing social and political order. The task of all those who despise the present reality is therefore to work for a radical – in its literal meaning, from the roots – turnover of the existing social order, and to put the foundations for a completely different system where human needs replace individual and corporation’s profits.

Internationalism assumes that humankind is the basic community we belong to, and the duty of solidarity is towards that community and not the national, ethnic or local grouping we were born in or choose to be part of.  Moreover, only world wide, transnational and global cooperation can guarantee a sustainable well being for each human individual.

This is why, for AATW as well as for Matzpen, the political strategy for emancipation is, in its very foundation, a Jewish-Arab, Israeli-Palestinian strategy of joint struggle. In that sense, we should fight the Wall not only because it locks the Palestinian population of the Occupied Territories inside open-sky prisons but also because it is dividing the Israeli-Palestinian front and pushing the activists back inside their respective tribes. Our main task, thus, is to keep breaches open in the wall that threatens to separate us, and to defend the common space of our struggles. This is exactly what Anarchists Against the Wall are doing, as Matzpen was doing it, fifty years ago, at a time when the wall of separation was not made of an eight metre high barrier, but of a total absence of recognition of the very existence of the Palestinian people. Existence is a precondition for co-existence. In order to guarantee Palestinian national existence one needs the joint Palestinian-Israeli struggle.

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