Akiva Orr, founder of Matzpen, died yesterday. Here's +972:
Akiva Orr, co-founder of the Israeli anti-Zionist group ‘Matzpen’ and one of the most well-known-figures in the radical left, passed away this weekend. Matzpen was a radical and controversial Jewish-Palestinian group that opposed Zionism and called for an alliance between Israelis and Palestinians. The group was also very active on socioeconomic issues, and was the first left-wing party to join the Mizrahi “Black Panthers” protests in the early seventies.
Orr was born in Berlin in 1931. His parents left to Palestine when he was three years old after the Nazis rise to power. Orr grew up in Tel Aviv, and was drafted into the Haganah and later on the Israeli Navy during the 1948 war. He served in the navy until 1950, and then joined the merchant navy, where he participated in the Israeli Seamen’s Strike of 1951, an event which left Orr highly politicized as a result of being beaten by the Israeli Police. In the same year he joined the Israeli Communist Party (ICP).
Orr, along with three other party members, broke off from the ICP and formed Matzpen in 1962. The organization committed itself to a socialist revolution, opposed Zionism and called for recognition of the Palestinian people’s national rights. Matzpen remained on the margins of Israeli politics throughout its existence, never gaining more than a few dozen members. The group began to receive attention in the Israeli press after openly opposing the 1967 war and the Israeli occupation.
Orr moved to London in the 1960s, where he remained until his return to Israel in 1990. He was invited to speak at the 2011 Israeli tent protests on Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv, where he delivered lectures on the Seamen’s Strike of 1951 and on direct democracy.