Speaking with Akiva Orr is a humble encounter given the gravity of his experience on the ground in Israel/Palestine. Born in 1930’s Berlin, Orr has lived the entirety of Israel’s existence. From Eric Fried
to Joe Slovo
, Akiva can speak for days about his personal relationships with some of the most interesting revolutionary leaders of the late twentieth century. It is not Akiva’s circle of friends but rather his work on the ground in Israel/Palestine as a founding member of Matzpen which is most fascinating. Last summer, Max Blumenthal and I sat down with Akiva Orr. The topic was the history of Israel’s wars but, as you will see, the current political situation was never far from the conversation. During our interview, Orr gave a detailed analysis of Israel’s relationship to Egypt and discussed the dynamics of Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt and Jordan.
Author and activist Akiva Orr on Israel's wars from Max Blumenthal on Vimeo.
Akiva Orr, along with Oded Pilavsky, Moshe Machover and Haim Hanegbi, started Matzpen in 1962. Matzpen, an anti-Zionist Israeli-Palestinian socialist political party, was one of the first political movements in Israel to engage in direct action against the occupation. The idea of ‘joint struggle’ which has become en vogue with the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement and the Anarchists Against the Wall has some of its historical foundations in the pioneering work of Matzpen activities in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
Unlike current movements on the ground, Matzpen was a political party in addition to being a protest movement. Rooted in Communist and Socialist thinking, the movement became a fixture on the radical left of the Israeli political spectrum in the 1970’s. According to the Matzpen website, “In 1982, members of Matzpen were active in forming the Progressive List for Peace (PLP), which ran for elections to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), and was the first non-Zionist electoral list to break the monopoly of the Israeli Communist Party (ICP) over parliamentary representation of oppositional opinion among the Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel.” Since the 1980’s the party has dissolved but its sprit is continued in Israeli communist parties such as Ma’an, DAM and in protest movements like the Anarchists Against the Wall.
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