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August 17: The Israeli-Hungarian Anarchist

Lawrence Bush
August 16, 2016

toma-sikToma Sik, a son of Hungarian Holocaust survivors who became a highly visible anarchist and conscientious objector to Israeli militarism -- in a country in which conscientious objection is not recognized -- was born in Budapest on this date in 1939. Sik was an active secular humanist, a defender of Bedouin rights, a proponent for human and civil rights for both Jews and Arabs, and a columnist for Al-Fajr, the English-language Palestinian weekly. A committed internationalist, he was a strong proponent of Esperanto, which he taught to his children, and a pioneer of the modern resisters movement in Israel. According to Haaretz, in 1975, “even before getting his draft notice for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Sik informed the army by letter that he had no intention of serving. He was assigned to alternative civilian service of four years at Kibbutz Tze’elim, in the Negev, but broke the agreement with the Defense Ministry and left.” Sik was active especially in the War Resisters League and Amnesty International. He returned to Hungary in 1996 to build a pacifist, vegan community of “new peasants,” but was killed at 64 in 2004 when he was run over by a tractor while walking through the fields of his farm. For a fuller portrait of this eccentric and zealous activist, click here.

“I refused military service and counseled conscientious objectors for thirty 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 Sik

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.