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Israeli leftist, anti-Zionist group.

Israel's most vilified anti-Zionist group from 1967 to 1972, Matzpen (Hebrew, "compass," also known as the Israeli Socialist Organization) was the first leftist organization to identify Jewish colonization and Palestinian dispossession as the basis of the ArabIsrael conflict. The group, formed by students in 1962, broke with the Communist Party over its acceptance of the Israeli state. Harassed and often hounded out of jobs, a number of members moved abroad, created a European support network, and established contacts with Palestinian leftists there.

Never more than a few dozen strong, Matzpen came to public attention for protesting Israel's occupation of the West Bank in 1967; this was viewed as treachery by those who saw the occupation as a defensive necessity. Most Matzpen members favored a binational state. In their first dialogues at Bir Zeit University, and in subsequent dialogues with the Palestine Liberation Organization and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine representatives, they argued that Jews should enjoy national rights in a future Palestinian state, whereas their Palestinian interlocutors insisted that Jews should have simply cultural and religious rights.

Matzpen attracted further hostility in Israel in the early 1970s, when it encouraged Black Panther protests in Israel and supported Palestinian resistance in the Territories. Its members were accused of supporting foreign espionage, and in 1972 one of them, Ehud "Udi" Adiv, was arrested and later imprisioned, for contacting Syrian authorities. The group split over ideological affiliation in 1972 and nearly dissolved after the Oslo Accord (1993). But the influence of former membersincluding Moshe Machover, Akiva Orr, Haim Hanegbi, Michel Warschawski, and Leah Tsemelamong leftists engaged in IsraeliPalestinian dialogue and opposed to human rights abuses in the occupied territories grew enormously. By the 1990s, its assertion that Jewish colonization was the primary cause of the IsraelArab conflict was also a common feature of post-Zionism.

see also arabisrael conflict; arabisrael war (1967); israel: military and politics; oslo accord (1993); palestine liberation organization (plo); tsemel, leah; west bank.


Bober, Arie, ed. The Other Israel: The Radical Case against Zionism. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1972.

Matzpen: Anti-Zionist Israelis. Directed by Eran Torbiner. Matar Plus, 2003.

Schnall, David. "Anti-Zionism, Marxism, and Matzpen: Ideology and the Israeli Socialist Organization." Asian Profile 6, no. 4 (1978): 381393.

Sprinzak, Ehud. Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination. New York: Free Press, 1999.

george r. wilkes