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WARSCHAWSKI, Michael. A Word of Praise for the Work of the Anarchists Against the Wall

Sunday 9 September 2007, by ps

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One of the sole positive achievements in the past years in what is termed the Israeli Left/anti-occupation camp, is the appearance of the Anarchists Against the Wall. Apart from the Women’s Coalition, which is expending great efforts to keep its head above water, all of the other movements have practically ceased to exist (such as Gush Shalom and Ta’ayush), or in the best case, have simply lost the dynamic force that characterized them four years ago. I am of course referring to movements, and not to political parties or NGOs, which deserve a separate discussion.

The Anarchists Against the Wall is a young movement, one advantage, and an active movement, a second advantage, which succeeds in leading, through its weekly initiatives and actions near the Segregation Wall, the remainder of the other groups and their “refugees.” What do these Anarchists Against the Wall have that transform them into the combative and energetic factor that we know? Firstly, a very healthy sense of what is good and what is bad; a sense that allowed them, much before the others, to identify the Wall as a symbol of the evil of the occupation, and in general, the evil of the global era built on walls and apartheid. Secondly, a willingness to sacrifice and the ability to overcome their fears (including a fear of our slanderers and detractors), which at times paralyze us. Thirdly, a direct relationship with Palestinian youth of their own age, which permits a much more “flowing” cooperation than what we knew from the previous generation, when Palestinian-Israeli cooperation required long days of discussion and political agreements.

The claim that “they have no ideology” is heard amongst members of the old Left, in addition to “they don’t even know what Anarchism is!” Quite possibly. However, instead of adopting a patronizing attitude, these same activists should instead turn the questions on themselves (in fact—toward ourselves—for I certainly belong to this generational-political category): why didn’t the old Left have the capacity to provide an answer and an ideological framework for the generation following it? Why does the generation of the Anarchists Against the Wall not view itself, for the most part, as a continuation of what was before?

This generation gap is not unique to Israel, and it is possible to find the characteristics of the new generation of Israeli political activists in all corners of the world. Yet there is one significant difference: in other parts of the world, or at least in most of them, the more veteran generation has learned to give a central space for the younger generation of women and men activists.

This is not so with us. In the wake of the central demonstration against last summer’s war against Lebanon, one year ago exactly, I commented both to the coalition of organizations against the war and in public articles, about the ridiculous and sad fact that on the stage, veteran activists stood and gave speeches against the first Lebanon war, instead of representatives of the activists standing at the forefront of today’s struggles against the war and the occupation. Instead of the refuseniks from the second war against Lebanon, for example, one of the leaders of Yesh Gvul from 1982 stood on the stage! Those people refuse to clear the front of the stage—I write front of the stage and not the entire stage, as they/we still have much to contribute, as simple soldiers or, sometimes, as those possessing rich and even magnificent experience.

Factors that deepen the break with this young generation, which the Anarchists Against the Wall symbolize so well: in contrast to their predecessors, they do not take offense or attempt to fight for their legitimate place on these same stages or the never-ending coordination meetings, but prefer to distance themselves, as a movement, from the “politics of the old men” and to conduct their campaigns by themselves, without an organic or ideological connection with the overall movement.

A shame, a real shame, but we cannot complain about them but only about ourselves. There are two things we should attempt to learn: firstly, the new politics of the generation of Seattle and Bil’in. This is not similar to our politics, not in its forms nor in its motivations; it does not rely on tradition and what was dubbed accumulated vertical experience, but on international horizontal experience; it is not derived from a codex that was created over 150 years, which determined its borders between good and bad, just and unjust from the battles of the French Revolution, the Paris Commune, the revolutions of the 20th Century, and the struggle against Fascism, but from deep personal feelings which generally do not miss their target. They protest because conscience requires protest, and this same compass of conscience is the almost sole compass that directs their action.

It also does not take into consideration thoughts of “swaying public opinion.” Not only does the politics of our anarchists not have a taboo in determining slogans (with what ease they shout “we will not kill or die on the altar of Zionism!”), and they also do not take into consideration the taboo of their partners in the struggle, who, unlike them, are fearful of what will be reported in the press (which in any case reports less and less) or what Knesset members from Meretz or the refugees from Peace Now will think…who, anyway, have no choice but to demonstrate with these same anarchists.

I do not know if all of these characteristics of the politics of the new generation are good for our struggle, and if this same historical experience, to which they do not pay any attention, can be used to improve our struggle. On the other hand, I know absolutely that it does not interest them, and they conduct their struggles completely without it.

And from here, there is second lesson that we must learn: more modesty and less patronizing attitude will help us learn not only why we did not manage to “pass the torch” to the generation coming after us, which is forced to reinvent the fire itself, but also what is the militant world of the 21st Century, and before which challenges is standing the social movement that we all wish will be strengthened and succeed.

Is this not the goal of the various social forums—from the World Social Forum, the thematic forums, the regional forums and the local forums—which succeeded in creating platforms for horizontal discussions and strategizing, platforms that are multidisciplinary, but also multi-generational? The success of the social forums was made possible solely because of a cultural revolution of the deepest kind, of an older generation, and this generation’s willingness to learn a new praxis of democracy, both in action and in discussion. Without this revolution, it is most doubtful if the Seattle and Genoa of the youth would have succeeded in creating the anti-Davos and Porto Allegre of us all.

Here in Israel, this cultural revolution is still ahead of us. And until it occurs, we must learn modesty and the ability to listen, to show up in Bil’in and Kfar Shalem, at the A-Ram checkpoint and in Abu Dis, behind the anarchists who cry out “after me” and pave the way to a new struggle against the occupation and for real partnership between the peoples of this land.

View online : Source: The Alternative Information Center Palestine/Israel