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Anarchism in Israel

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Anarchism in Israel

Anarchism has been an undercurrent in the politics of Palestine and Israel for over a century.

Early Kibbutz movement

The Joseph Trumpeldor, who later became a hero of the Israeli right, was very close to anarcho-syndicalism and even declared himself an anarcho-communist. Anarchism has also had some influence on the constitution of socio-political movements such as Poalei Zion, Tzeirei Zion, HeHalutz, and Gdud HaAvoda. The early kibbutz movement was libertarian socialist in nature. At that time, many Left Zionists rejected the idea of establishing a Jewish nation-state and promoted Jewish-Arab solidarity.[1][2]

The anarchists in Palestine at the beginning of the century, nearly all coming from Eastern Europe, did not have connections with the powerful Yiddish anarchist movement and had adopted the Hebrew language, which was unpopular among the European Jewish anarchists, many of whom opposed all forms of Zionism and supported the grassroots Yiddish culture of the Ashkenazi Jewry. In the 1920s and '30s all lived on the kibbutz: for example, the famous anarchist Aharon Shidlovsky was one of the founders of the kibbutz Kvutzat Kinneret.

During the Spanish revolution many anarchists of Palestine rushed to Spain in order to fight against Franco and fascism in the ranks of the libertarian CNT-FAI militia.

The Austrian-Jewish anti-authoritarian philosopher Martin Buber settled in Jerusalem in 1938. Buber considered himself a "cultural Zionist". He rejected the idea of Jewish nationalism and was a staunch supporter of a bi-national solution in Palestine.

While many Jewish anarchists were irreligious or sometimes vehemently anti-religious, there were also a few religious anarchists and pro-anarchist thinkers, who combined contemporary radical ideas with the traditional anarchistic trends in Kabbalah and Hasidism (see Anarchism and Orthodox Judaism. The Orthodox Kabbalist rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, who moved to Palestine in 1921, believed in voluntary communism, based on the principles of Kabbalah. Ashlag supported the Kibbutz movement and preached to establish a network of self-ruled internationalist communes, who would eventually annul the brute-force regime completely, for “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”, because there is nothing more humiliating and degrading for a person than being under the brute-force government [1]. However, most of the contemporary followers of Ashlagian Kabbalah seem to ignore the radical teachings of their rebbe.

Anarchism in the State of Israel

Abba Gordin

Until the 1940s, there were no anarchist organizations in Israel. A little before and immediately after the constitution of the Anarchist Federation of Moscow (1918). From 1925, he lived in New York, where he had emigrated and where he published a literary philosophical review, Yiddishe Shriften (1936-1957), as well as being a habitual contributor to the most long-lived anarchist periodical in the Yiddish language, the Freie Arbeiter Stimme (1890-1977).

In 1958, Abba Gordin moved to Israel, and in Tel Aviv, founded a Yiddish anarchist circle, "Agudath Schochrei Chofesh" (ASHUACH), with a library of classic anarchist works in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Polish, and with a large hall for meetings and conferences. He also began to publish a bilingual monthly review (in Yiddish and Hebrew), Problemen/Problemot, which he directed from 1959 to 1964. During this period, ASHUACH had approximately 150 members and drew hundred of people to conferences on the philosophy of anarchism. Among the more debated topics: the spiritual roots of anarchism and the connections between anarchism, the Book of the Prophets (Neviim), and the Kabbalah. Problemen published stories and articles on the history of anarchism, Hasidic legends, medieval Jewish literature and the current problems of Yiddish literature.

After the death of Abba Gordin, from 1964 to 1971 the review was directed by Shmuel Abarbanel. In 1971, Joseph Luden (born in Warsaw, 1908) took his place and affiliated the review with a publishing house that published fifteen or so books and pamphlets of fiction and poetry, all in Yiddish. Therefore, since Problemen came to be solely in Yiddish, it lost the Hebrew half of its title. The number of pages went from 24 to 36.

ASHUACH and Problemen were in permanent contact with the Yiddish anarchist movement and in particular with Freie Arbeiter Stimme of New York and Dos Freie Wort of Buenos Aires. In the meantime Problemen was becoming less philosophical and more literary. The readers of the review belonged to every field of the Israeli society. The writer Leonid Podrydchik defined Problemen as the best Israeli publication in Yiddish language.

ASHUACH came to a halt in the 1980s. The old anarchists died one after the other and none of the young ones knew Yiddish. The last issue of Problemen was published in December 1989 (it was the one-hundred-and-sixty-fifth issue). Subsequently Joseph Luden tried to share with one new review, Freie Stimme, in order to continue the tradition of Problemen, but only printed a single issue in September, 1991. This was the last Yiddish anarchist periodical publication in the world.

Contemporary anarchist movement

The contemporary anarchist movement in Israel is small, but sectors of it are very active. A good proportion of these anarchists actively participate in Palestinian solidarity, peace and environmentalist movements.

Uri Gordon, the Israeli activist, lecturer and author of Anarchy Alive: Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory (Pluto Press), has written a supportive article on Israeli anarchists in The Jerusalem Post, Right of Reply: Anarchy in the Holy Land!, published June 12, 2007, in response to an anti-anarchist item by Jerusalem Post writer Elliot Jaeger, Power and Politics: Anarchy has its place, published on May 23, 2007.

One Struggle (Ma'avak Ehad) [2] is a social anarchist affinity group in Israel.[4]

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Watzal, Ludwig;  
  3. ^ Eliezer Hirschauge [3] Eliezer Herszauge
  4. ^ para.7

The History portion up to the 1980s is based on The Yiddish anarchist press in Israel written by Moshe Goncharok and translated by Jesse Cohn from Archivio G. Pinelli, Bollettino 15.


  • Joseph Nedava, "Abba Gordin: A portrait of a Jewish anarchist", Soviet Jewish Affairs, 4.3 (1972), 73–79.

External links

  • [4] An article on Israeli anarchism today by Uri Gordon
  • It's All Lies - Israel anarchist and radical scene
  • 38, Summer 2000Kibbutz TrendsAnarchism in the Kibbutz Movement by Yaacov Oved.
  • , August 24, 1999Znet CommetnariesAnarchism Eight Questions on Kibbituzim - Answers from Noam Chomsky, Questions from Nikos Raptis, from
  • Yiddish Anarchist Bibliography at Kate Sharpley Library
  • Les Anarchistes, le sionisme et la naissance de l'État d'Israël, by Sylvain Boulouque
  • Indymedia in Israel
  • East Mediterranean Libertarians
  • articleJerusalem Post
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