Last Thursday, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network [IJAN] was launched together with the Charter [also in Spanish] and Call-to-Action, at a press conference in London. The launch was chaired by Selma James together with Michael Kalmanovitz of the Payday Network and social activist and founding members of Matzpen, Prof Moshe Machover. The launch of IJAN is the culmination of 2 years of intensive work by anti-Zionists across the world.
What is different about the IJAN? Unlike other Jewish organisations such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians Anti-Zionist and unequivocally committed
to the dismantling of Israeli apartheid, the return of Palestinian refugees, and the ending of the Israeli colonization of historic Palestine.
I really felt I was witnessing something different in the launch of IJAN and saw it as a very important development in the fight against world racism, imperialism and capitalist oppression because for the first time I was hearing Jewish people standing up against the state of Israel and the ideology which seeks to legitimise the oppression and genocide of Palestinians. IJAN represents a network of Jewish people who do not want to be associated with Zionism and Israel, support the right of return of all Palestinians and oppose the Jewish homeland and the reject the right of all Jews to live in Israel.
Zionism is racist. It demands political, legal and economic power for Jews and European people and cultures over indigenous people and cultures. Zionism is not just racist but anti-Semitic. It endorses the sexist European anti-Semitic imagery of the effeminate and weak “diaspora Jew” and counters it with a violent and militarist “new Jew,” one who is a perpetrator rather than a victim of racialized violence.
IJAN also speaks to the hidden truths and myths of Israeli democracy and rejects the continued colonial expansionism of Zionism and is a call for action
The moment when the Zionist movement decided to build a Jewish State in Palestine, it became a movement of conquest. Like the imperial conquest and genocidal ideologies of the Americas or Africa, Zionism depends on the segregation of people and the confiscation of land that produces ethnic cleansing and depends on unrelenting military violence.
Zionists worked hand in hand with the British colonial administration against the indigenous people of the region and their legitimate hopes for liberty and self-determination. The Zionist imagining of Palestine as “empty” and desolate justified the destruction of Palestinian life in the same way that such racism justified the extermination of Native Americans, the Atlantic slave trade, and many other atrocities.
The connection IJAN make with global racism is important as we celebrate Black History Month. The marginalisation, economic exploitation and racism towards North African and Ethiopian Jews (Mizrahi Jews of African and Asian descent) requires us as Black people to take action against Israel. The Mizrahi Black Panther Party [See here also and here] founded in the 1970s continues to fight for equality in Israel as well as work in solidarity with Palestinians many of whom are of African descent living mainly in East Jerusalem. Palestinians of African descent have a long history and also face discrimination and marginalisation along with the Mizrahi Jews, in Israel as well as Palestine. For example those living in the West Bank are refused Jordanian citizenship whilst those in East Jerusalem have no option but to obtain Israeli travel documents.
We must all choose where we stand. The IJAN is a movement of resistance and has chosen to stand for resistance to Zionism, imperialism, colonialism and racism wherever it takes place.
We are partners in the vibrant popular resistance movements of our time that defend and cherish the lives of all people and of the planet itself. We are partners in movements that are led by those most impacted by imperial conquest, occupation, racism and the global control and exploitation of people and resources. We stand for the protection of the natural world. We stand by the rights of indigenous peoples to their land and sovereignty. We stand by the rights of migrant peoples and people who are refugees to move freely and safely across borders. We stand by the rights of working people – including migrant workers brought to Israel to replace both Palestinian and Mizrahi labor – to economic justice and self-determination. We stand by rights to racial equality and cultural expression. We stand by the rights of women and children and all exploited groups to be free from subjugation. And we stand by the universal right to water, food, shelter, education, health-care and freedom from violence — the only basis on which human society can survive and flourish.
The public launch of the IJAN Charter will take place on Friday, 24 October at the Trinity United Reformed Church in Camden, 7-9.30pm, where anti-Zionists will take the next steps in the campaign for BDS. The Charter spells out its aim: ‘to help widen [the] cracks [in Zionism], until the wall comes down and Israel is as isolated as was apartheid South Africa.’