Sara Kershnar founder of the International Jewish Anti Zionist Network (IJAN) speaks in London at the invitation of the Global Women’s Strike and IJAN UK. She joins other distinguished and dedicated activists speaking on Iraq, Haiti, Palestine – Occupation is the Crime (Sunday 1 February), part of an International Gathering bringing together grassroots women and men from over a dozen countries. On Wednesday 4 February IJAN London will host a Meeting with founders of Matzpen and IJAN at which Ms Kershnar will be a guest speaker together with Professor Moshe Machover.
Ms Kershnar, based in San Francisco, co-founded IJAN in 2008. It is an international network in 10 countries of Jewish people who are uncompromisingly committed to struggles for human emancipation, of which the liberation of the Palestinian people and land is an indispensable part. It is committed to the dismantling of Israeli apartheid, the return of Palestinian refugees, and the ending of the Israeli colonisation of historic Palestine. It challenges the false claim that Israel and Zionism speak for all Jewish people and lends a strategic voice that challenges the allegations of anti-Semitism lobbied at anyone who criticizes Israel.
JAN in London has had a constant presence at the recent Gaza protests including a Women’s Vigil jointly organised with the Islamic Human Rights Commission outside the BBC protesting their biased coverage (before the present controversy on DEC). Internationally, it has occupying the Israeli consulates in Toronto and Los Angeles and shut it down in San Francisco in a joint action with Palestinians and other activists. IJAN in San Francisco is organising as part of a joint call put out nationally with the US Palestine Community Network; organizing civil disobedience and educational events for grassroots organisations and the broader public. It is preparing to launch a consumer boycott of Israeli goods.
Ms Kershnar is from a Jewish family which emigrated to New York City at the beginning of the last century in flight from the pogroms of Eastern Europe and after generations of flight starting with the Spanish inquisition. She founded IJAN because Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and colonisation of their land was contrary to what she understood to be the Jewish values she grew up with and to her understanding of Jewish participation in social justice that she was taught. She initially joined a local organisation in San Francisco (‘Jews for a free Palestine’) but on travelling to Palestine in 2004 felt that local actions were not enough and that something was needed to rival the international scale of Zionism.
With the election of Barack Obama she expects his administration to participate in discussions about the US role in Israeli racism and genocide; to open questions up about the relationship between the US and Israel that have previously been censored.
Ms Kershnar is a distinguished organizer with a long track record of grassroots activism. She started organising with ACT-UP in San Francisco when her father tested positive for HIV. She is also co-founder of the Harm Reduction Coalition – founded to build a movement to reduce drug-related harm and to confront and transform the racism and class oppression that is at the root of harmful drug use; and also a co-founder of Generation FIVE, an organisation that works to end child sexual abuse in a liberatory rather than reactionary way. It organises in several locations across the United States and affiliates are being built in Japan, Iran and Puerto Rico.
Ms Kershnar will be available for interviews and for meetings until 6 February. In the UK, contact IJAN at 07816251377 www.ijsn.net or Global Women’s Strike press office: 0207 482 2496. www.globalwomenstrike.net
(www.globalwomenstrike.net / 18.08.2011)