Sik, Toma, 1939-2004

Toma Sik, 1939-2004

A short biography of Israeli-Hungarian activist Toma Sik.

Israeli and Palestinian progressives mourn the death of anti-authoritarian activist, anti-Zionist and grand pacifist Toma Sik (1939-2004), killed in a tragic accident on his farm in his native Hungary, to which he returned from Tel Aviv in 1996. He died on the fields of the pacifist organic commune of "new peasants" he was building.

Toma was an active opponent of Israeli militarism - and the militarisation of Israeli society - for four decades, from his earliest youth as the child of Holocaust survivors.

His non-doctrinaire libertarian socialist politics and strong vegan life style were almost unique in the Israel of the 70s and 80s. Today they are embodied in part in the work of groups like Ma'avak Ehad (‘One Struggle’).

Toma is an acknowledged forerunner of the present-day peace movement, and the fight for an Israel of full equality for all its citizens. A familiar figure at demonstrations in central Israel over many years, he was active in solidarity with the struggle of the Negev Bedouin, the most oppressed segment of Palestinian society inside the Israeli ethnocracy. Though Toma lived in Tel Aviv, he gave unstintingly of his time and energy (and comradely humour) to the Association for the Support and Defence of Bedouin Rights based in Beersheva.

Toma headed the work of the War Resisters International in Israel, where conscientious objection is a "crime." He was the sole active member of the International Movement of Conscientious War Resisters - WRI's section in Israel – for many years, and was an absolute pioneer of the path of today's refuseniks.

The left in Israel missed him over the past eight years as he laboured to realise his dream of a communitarian commune. Toma was heartened that many of the principles that he fought for are increasingly front and centre today among ever more progressives sickened by Israel's militarism and anti-human policies - as reflected in groups like New Profile, Ta'ayush and One Struggle, and the International Solidarity Movement.

Looking back in 1997, some words from Toma:

"I refused military service and counselled conscientious objectors for 30 years in militaristic Israel; I have been an active secular humanist struggler for human and civil rights for both Arabs and Hebrews of any religious denomination; an active anarchist world-citizen denying the right of any and all states to impose themselves on all humans who are all world citizens; a Reichian oriented egalitarian seeking to live in a sustainable agricultural commune - all with a great inherent active sympathy and identification with those who are suffering; because those who cause don't need it: they are self-righteous." Toma wondered about what he called "the greatest puzzle of my life: How has it happened, that so many Jewish kids, including my brother, and adults, who went through the same horrors, suffering, deaths and what not in the Holocaust, had become immediately after it - nationalist, chauvinist, militarist, racist, murderous combatant Zionist; while I, with the same background and experience - became an internationalist mondian universalist anarchist, antimilitarist and pacifist, anti-racist anti-Zionist and even vegan vegetarian. My conclusion from my 5 year old child's experience in ghetto Budapest has been that I didn't wish to afflict such a fate on any 5 year old, younger or older person. Other people concluded: never more to our children; and they have raised children and have sent them to the armies to kill and to be killed..." - From memoir released by Gush Shalom.

Toma's passing was deeply regretted. But his obituary which his comrades wrote stated: "in the words of Joe Hill, Don't mourn, organise!"

Text edited by libcom

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Jun 15 2005 14:19


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