Akiva Orr, co-founder of Matzpen, passes away

Matzpen co-founder Akiva Orr - 1931-2013

Matzpen co-founder Akiva Orr – 1931-2013
(Photo: Sergio Yahni, AIC)

By AIC – Alternative Information Center – 10 Feb 2013

A child in Germany, he immigrated to Palestine with his parents after the Nazis came to power in 1934. Orr wrote that his political education began with the seamens’ strike of 1951 in Haifa, a strike attacked by the labour union Histradut and the ruling party Mapai. Following the strike, he joined the Communist Party of Israel, but quickly became disillusioned with its uncritical stance toward the Soviet Union and its inconsistent attitude toward Zionism and the rights of Palestinians.

In 1961, Orr published his first major work, a seminal book entitled Peace, Peace and there is no Peace. Written with Moshe Machover under the pseudonym, A Israeli, the book uses information from the Israeli press itself to demonstrate how Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion colluded with Britain and France in a colonial war against Egypt and disproves Ben-Gurion’s claims that the 1956 Suez War had been a war fought to save Israel from annihilation. The book is a classic in Israeli leftist writing and remains relevant to this day.

Expelled from the Communist Party in 1962 for his critical attitude and free thinking, Orr – together with Moshe Machover, Oded Pilavsky and Jeremy Kaplan, formed Matzpen – The Socialist Organisation in Israel. Matzpen was critical of Zionism as a colonial project, in which Zionists came to Palestine to expropriate the indigenous Palestinian population, and not simply to exploit them economically as was the model of much of European colonial regimes throughout the world.

In 1964 Orr went to study cosmology in London, where he befriended several of the major figures in the European Left. During this time he began learning and writing about radical direct democracy, which he saw as a political alternative in which decision-making is in the hands of every person.

He returned to Israel in 1990, after which he remained active in writing, lecturing and meeting young people, from Israel, Palestine and abroad. Orr spoke at the AIC several times, in both Jerusalem and Beit Sahour, and retained his keen interest in the development of revolutionary, anti-Zionist thinking and practice.

Eran Turbiner, creator of the film Matzpen in which Orr was a primary figure, noted that “we are all a bit orphaned following the death of Akiva”, to whom he was very close.

Orr’s funeral is scheduled for Monday 11 February. Further details are pending.

The Alternative Information Center will be celebrating the life and thought of Akiva Orr this week with writings, interviews and pictures. We invite you to learn about this remarkable political figure and his revolutionary thinking.

[MORE on Aki Orr in Wikipedia]

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