Sunday, November 02, 2008


One of the terms that is gaining wide-spread currency among those who support Israel is 'Anarcho-Zionism'. It names one of the more interesting movements, and shows that left-wing ideology need not be slavishly pro-Palestinian, nor witless, gutless, and insane.

Pursuant this concept, I would bring the intellectual heritage of Sam Dolgoff to your attention.

Sam Dolgoff was born in Russia during the Czarist period, and raised and educated in the United States, to which his family moved when he was three. He became politically active in his early twenties. Throughout most of his life he was involved in both organizing and formulating the political thought of the Anarchist movements, and represented a more intellectually rigorous approach to political theory than has been evident in recent decades.
As was common for many on the left until fairly recently, he saw national movements of liberation as great advances in human history, and particularly derived inspiration from those struggles which brought about genuine social change, such as the Cuban revolution in its early years until Stalinism took over, and most particularly the Zionist movement, which culminated in the re-birth of the Jewish homeland and the re-assumption by Jews of the rights of nation-hood, which had been in abeyance since Roman times and repressed by all subsequent imperialisms.

It must have been a matter of keen disappointment to so driven a revolutionary that Arab nationalism never acquired a strain of social liberation, becoming instead merely another authoritarian and imperialist ideology - albeit one that allows its adherents great latitude in political expression, due to the rivalries of the various societies in the Middle-East - from Nasserite and Baathist at one extreme to classic Fascism in the style of Hitler or Mussolini at the other - often combining both, and almost always shaped by the personality cults of great opportunists.

Sam Dolgoff, along with other thinkers in progressive circles, felt that Zionism was not only possibly the only counter to the dangerous tendencies in Arab Nationalism, but the best. Zionism represented an ideal which Anarchists could well support - an enlightened social movement, a national liberation movement, and a revolutionary change from the tired ideologies of social and economic control which for millennia kept the population in chains.

To quote from a key tract:
In anarcho- Zionism, Zionism is approached not as a political ideology necessarily but as a system of collective self defense and with the belief that resisting the forces of globalization and capitalism by definition includes resisting the forces of Islamic- empire building. As in all anarchist movements, anarcho-Zionism is opposed to racism, sexism and the intolerance that is often seen in Islamic areas. Islamic empire building cynically uses the religion of Islam as a means of control , both keeping the Moslem population subservient to their capitalist overlords while at the same time providing a philosophical justification for the under classes to submit to institutionalized oppression. "Zionism" provides a necessary protective stage until the Islamic world progresses through the necessary revolutionary stage.
[Nation Building as the means of Social Liberation, Passover 2008]

And to quote Sam Dolgoff himself on this issue:
".... the Israeli comrades are forced, like the other tendencies, to accept the fact that Israel must be defended. The day after the proclamation of the state of Israel (15 May 1948) Assam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, threatened that: "This will be a war of extermination and momentous massacres like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades." In discussion with Israeli anarchists it was emphasized that the unilateral dismantling of the Israeli state would not at all be anarchistic. It would, on the contrary, only reinforce the immense power of the Arab states and actually expedite their plans for the conquest of Israel."

It is interesting to note that anti-Zionism, like all classic bigotries, knows no class or caste, and occurs across the entire spectrum of political action. The Nazis were anti-Semitic, the Stalinists were and are still anti-Semitic, and the Arab Nationalists have always been anti-Semitic. That anti-Semitism reaches its fullest modern expression in anti-Zionism.
That anti-Zionism is a destructive poison which the sympathizers and collaborators of Arab Nationalist Movement on both the left and right, in America, in Europe, and in the third world, have infected the political discourse.

It is time to put paid the corrupting of social movements. To take back the discourse. To weed out the ideology of hate, and to remove anti-Zionists from the causes that they have crippled.

It is time to recognize Zionism as the great movement of social change that it is; one that should serve as an example to all progressives.


Anonymous said...

The indymedia community is intrigued with this concept-both intellectually, and with its practical implications- its been cross-posted at

maybe others, too...


Anonymous said...

Older discussion of anarcho-zionism, including more info on Sam Dolgoff's views

Anonymous said...

It has been said that nationalism is incompatible with anarchism, certainly with the classic formulations of Bakunin. But as we can see, anarchism COUPLED with a social-liberation movement is a logical development; internationalism can only develope in the context of groups that share a common heritage - language, culturee, belief-systems and values, identity. Necessarily then Zionism is one such movement.

And the kibbutzes clearly demonstrated the revolutionary and forward-striving urges which mark all great improvements in human history. As they still do today, as well as Israeli society in general.

Anonymous said...

Someone read you.

Quote and reference.

Zionism is justice.

Anonymous said...

As a result of modern media bias, many people have come to misunderstand the phrase "Zionism" as a form of government or a national political structure rather the broader use, as political movement of Jewish people towards a homeland, un-defined by form. At its essense, Zionism has been an anarchic movement. Despite various organizations required at different moments of history, it is really the story of a people inspired by a new book (and of course an old book) to engage in political change, without structure, by emigrating to Eretz Yisroal.


Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Anonymous said...

I found your blog via Zword. You write:

“One of the terms that is gaining wide-spread currency among those who support Israel is 'Anarcho-Zionism'.”

What sort of evidence do you have to support this claim? I read a couple interesting things on DC Indymedia last year. But when I attempted to contact “The Friends of Sam Dolgoff” I never received a reply. They said they had collectives all over the world but I was unable to find anyone—-anarchist, Zionist, etc.—-who knew anything about this group. These are people who are activists.

There is really no Anarcho-Zionist presence to speak of on the Internet. Google the term and you’ll see what I mean. There are a few links to Indymedia, a few links to this blog post but that’s about it.

If this term is “gaining widespread currency” I would expect to see it being discussed in many more places. Where I do see it discussed, the general evaluation is negative.

Anon writes:

“The indymedia community is intrigued with this concept-both intellectually, and with its practical implications…”

Intrigued? That’s an interesting way of putting it. The anarchists at the “Indymedia community” are anti-Zionists who view Zionism as colonialism, racism, even fascism.

Anonymous said...

Emma Goldman on Zionism:
(not too relevant, but i thought it was interesting)

"Perhaps my revolutionary education has been sadly neglected, but I have been taught that the land should belong to those who till the soil. With all of his deep-seated sympathies with the Arabs, our comrade cannot possibly deny that the Jews in Palestine have tilled the soil. Tens of thousands of them, young and deeply devout idealists, have flocked to Palestine, there to till the soil under the most trying pioneer conditions. They have reclaimed wastelands and have turned them into fertile fields and blooming gardens. "

Anonymous said...

"They said they had collectives all over the world but I was unable to find anyone—-anarchist, Zionist, etc.—-who knew anything about this group. "

Hmmmm. I am a member of a Friends of Sam Dolgoff collective, and no, we don't have much of a web presence. We haven't been allowed a presence at various Anarchist conventions/Book sales that would have served to increase our visibility.

I was quite surprised to see this posting, in fact.

Some Anarcho-Zionist groups are activist- many are not- instead functioning as study or discussion groups.

Keep in mind this is a minority movement both within anarchy and within Zionism, with both sets of people looking at us with suspicion. Some within the Jewish community view us as the JDL with a different name (we are not) Some within the anarchist community regard us as betraying the ideal of a stateless world.

The general evaluation is negative?
I'm personally not surprised. My personal opinion bears this out.


Anonymous said...

Hello Quentin,

Thanks for posting a comment.I understand why you have been ostracized from anarchist events like book fairs, etc. The anarchists organizing these events despise Zionism and Zionists.

But establishing a web presence is pretty easy these days. I could be wrong but I think a Friends of Sam Dolgoff blog could be launched without much effort. You could post a FAQ, some documents, etc. At least you and other anarcho-Zionists would have something to point to when people have questions.

Do you or any of the Friends of Sam Dolgoff Collectives have any contact info? An email address?

"Keep in mind this is a minority movement both within anarchy and within Zionism, with both sets of people looking at us with suspicion."

That's my understanding as well. That's why I was so surprised to see the author of this blog claim anarcho-Zionism is "gaining wide-spread currency." I certainly don't see it happening among Zionists or anarchists.

All the best,


CJL said...

Fellow Worker Dolgoff just rolled over in his grave!

"Anarcho-zionism" should be grouped with other marginal attempts by other racists to create "anarchism for Whites only."

Zionism was a bitter foe of the revolutionary internationalist working class movement to which Sam Dolgoff participated in. Zionism advocates special rights and privilidges for Jews and reduces gentiles, Palestinians, and other ethnic and religious minorities to second or third class citizenship.

Anarchism is completely incompatible with colonial, racist ideologies such as Zionism.

There is a strand of libertarian socialism in Israel's history that has been completely eradicated and overtaken by the dynamics of ethnic cleansing, capitalism, and authoritarian socialism. The kibbutzim, with rare exception, have become degenerated worker's coops much as most liberal food coops have in the US. The marginal socialist institutions that still survive in Israel can't be described as "anarchist" by any stretch.

The pathological anti Arab and anti Muslim bigotry displayed by these posters, and their desperate attempt to associate themselves with Sam Dolgoff, a man who fought for workers rights and the rights of those who fought to overturn oppressive regimes, is shameful and dishonest.

In his memoir, "Fragments," Dolgoff described a brief portrait of a few Yiddish speaking anarchists in Israel in the mid 1970s. He also criticized "imperialists" who he said wanted to "by force of arms reconquer territories which they claimed belonged to Israel thousand of years ago." He also touched on the anti-Arab racism of "many Israelis," who "look upon the Arabs somewhat like American racists do negroes." (Fragments, pg 154)

Dolgoff also described the reaction of a respected friend:

"Rohr maintained that if Israeli Jews were ever to attain good relations with the Arabs here in Israel, their whole attitude toward them must change." (Fragments, pg 154)

Israeli anarchists are opposed to Zionism, as all anarchists are opposed to racist, colonial, militaristic, state worshiping ideologies as a matter of principle.

Jewish and Israeli anarchists are engaged in direct action and struggle against the state of Israel.

Palestinians are our brothers and sisters in this struggle for equality and freedom in the Middle East.

I am a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, the revolutionary union that Sam Dolgoff was a member of for most of his life. I have been to Israel and am a former Zionist.

CJL said...

Where do you get the idea that Dolgoff was a Zionist? Please cite writings, interviews, etc . . .

Whatever you quoted in 2008 couldn't have been written by him, as he was dead. Using the name of an anarchist to justify support for the racist, militaristic state of Israel is slander.

Anonymous said...

The quote was written in 2008- its from his memoirs- "Fragments"- where he describes his trip to the anarchist communities in Israel

CJL said...

Your misreading of Fellow Worker Dolgoff is extreme. "Anarcho-Zionism" doesn't exist outside of your head. There is nothing liberatory about it, you just adopt the same State worshipping, racist, colonialist, paternalistic shit that other colonial supremacist movements do.

Your ignorance about Dolgoff, and your contempt for his ideals is astounding.

Trogdor said...

Message to clay: piss off, you bourgeois twat.

Anonymous said...

The discussion of anarcho-zionsim has not died

Rachamim Slonim Dwek said...

I am hoping that in the years since you posted this and other comments here that you have outgrown your Leftist ideology. For the record, until Oslo (circa 1994 to 1995) one could be a Leftist AND an ardent Zionist.

Your belief that one cannot be an Anarchist without opposing Zionism is not only 100% incorect but is childishly arrogant to boot. Obviously you never heard of United Kibbutz. The very first Jewish presence in territories liberated in 1967 was an Anarchist kibbutz in Golan! Anarcho-Zionism was an extremely poweful variamt of Zionism.

For you to accuse Israel of Imperialism is just ridiculous. National Liberation movements of indigenous people can never be imperialist. You seem to
Imagine that some Western power created and/or maintains Israel. Jews created Israel and did so in spite of Imperialist powers like Britain and France who did their best to sabotage it.

You claim that not only were you a Zionist in the past but even visisyed Israel. How is it then that you try and refer to an American racial paradigm of "whites" (in your mind Jews) taking the lands of others? If you even stepped foot in Israel for 5 minutes you could not help but know that most Jews in Israel are anything but white complected- let alone culturally anything but.

Lastly? IF Dolgoff actually wrote the portion you paraphrased about Jews wanting to lay claim by force to land conquered by Jews thousands of years ago then he was just as ignorant as you sadly are. Newsflash: Jews have been continuously on the land for at least 3,500 years. At no point since roughly 1,400 BCE has the land bern bereft of Jews except for a 19-year presence by Jordan.

When the very first Arab appeared IN ARABIA in 853 BCE Jews had 800 years on the land, most of it sovereign. When Arabs first INVADED in 636 CE Jews had 2,100 years on the land of which more than 1,200 years were sovereign. In fact, the last sovereign Jewish State on the land prior to the Arab invasion only ceased to exist 6-years beforehand (Sassanian Jewish Commonwealth which fell in 629 CE).

Dolgoff may have been clueless but Jews and Samaritans are the only indigenous people on the land.

If you still adhere to that Leftist clapstrap you were going on about please educate yourself brother.

Rachamim Slonim Dwek said...

Most any Israeli Jew with even of a pittance of an education is well aware lf Anarcho-Zionism. Only in the Post Oslo Era (after say 1995) has Leftism and Zionism become incompatible and only then by propaganda, not ideologically. How ironic that an Anarchist kibbutz was the first Jewish civilain presence in the newly liberated territories in 1967. I love the kid who in 2008 was ranting and raving about how Anarchism and Zionism were mutually exlisive while cherrypickkng from Dolgoff's autobiography. What lunacy.

Rachamim Slonim Dwek

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