Riva Joffe, rest in power
14 October, 2021
• THANKS to Andrew Feinstein for his important and revealing obituary of our friend and colleague Riva Joffe, who was a founder member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-UK.
A Jewish woman, a life-long grassroots anti-apartheid campaigner – that is, anti-South African as well as anti-Israeli apartheid, she was persecuted by Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party that had gone, as she said “full McCarthy”, accused, as so many Jewish members are, of anti-Semitism.
Jewish people have a long history of anti-racist, working class struggle. As Marek Edelman, a leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising said: “To be a Jew means always being with the oppressed, never with the oppressors”.
Earlier this year, a survey of Jewish people in the US, commissioned by the Jewish Electorate Institute, found that a third of under-40s agreed that “Israel is an apartheid state” and a third also agreed that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.”
It seems that the younger generation of Jews are moving back towards Edelman’s Jewish self-definition.
Starmer says he “supports Zionism without qualification”. Does that explain why he has been silent on bombing civilians, starving Gaza, apartheid in Israel, the arrest and abuse of Palestinian children…?
It certainly explains his attack on anti-Zionist, anti-apartheid campaigners like Riva.
Riva fought back: “Can it really be our views about Palestine that terrify you? Yes, we oppose most strongly Israel’s government’s oppression of the Palestinians, but then we campaign for justice for all minoritised people. We also want urgent action on climate change. We oppose the arms trade and consequent ‘foreign wars’.
“We are working for a safer, greener, and more peaceful world.”
Riva Joffe, rest in power.
SELMA JAMES, MICHAEL KALMANOVITZ, SAM WEINSTEIN
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK