In search of poetic justice – The Life of a Jewish anti-Zionist
In search of poetic justice – The Life of a Jewish anti-Zionist
ERIC LEVY – A LIFE DEDICATED TO THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE 1928-2022
Below I’m happy to publish a passionate tribute to Eric Levy, a Jewish anti-Zionist who has just died aged 94, by Abbas Ali on behalf of In Minds, the Human Rights Group.
Eric was very active in many causes. He was active in Revolutionary Communist Group circles and took part in the non-stop picket outside South Africa House during the apartheid era. This was the picket which so annoyed the Met Police that they arrested Jeremy Corbyn. Eric was also a teacher and his photo was plastered on the cover of a tabloid because in class he showed support for the Irish republican movement. Eric was active in the civil rights movement and apparently he was friends with Paul Robeson and Claudia Jones.
A truly remarkable life. Below this is an article which appeared in Camden’s New Journal in January 2021 which details his arrest outside Westminster Magistrates Court because he ‘breached’ COVID regulations. The same regulations that Boris Johnson breached but which the Met refused to investigate until faced with court proceedings and even then didn’t issue him with questionnaires for most of the parties he attended. Thus it ever was.
We are honoured to call Eric Levy our brother, our comrade. We knew him as a passionate campaigner for justice. He played a prominent part in our campaigns since 2014.
As an ardent anti-Zionist Jew he was particularly dedicated to the cause of Palestine. He had visited Palestine and seen first-hand how Israeli apartheid was destroying Palestinian lives, how the indigenous Palestinians were being ethnically cleansed from their land to make way for white European colonists.
He was at the forefront of our campaigns for Palestinian rights, including campaigns against G4S and HP for complicity in torture of children; Addidas and Puma for complicity in ethnic cleansing and illegal settlements; De Beers for peddling Israeli blood diamonds; and the campaign for the release of Palestinian political prisoners tortured in Israeli dungeons.
But he was not limited to one cause. Wherever he saw injustice, he threw himself in to the struggle on the side of the oppressed. He opposed the invasion of Iraq and travelled to Iraq as a ‘Human Shield’. He opposed the Saudi genocidal war in Yemen; and campaigned for the release of Bahraini political prisoners; and for the release of Sheikh Zakzaky caged by the brutal Nigerian regime; and perhaps what he is best remembered for – he ardently campaigned for the release of the journalist Julian Assange in the UK.
Mindful of his age and frailty we purposely didn’t invite him to guerrilla projections, but there was no stopping him attend the Malcolm X remembrance projection in Brixton on a bitterly cold February night. He had particular affinity to the cause of black liberation.
Eric was arrested several times, both for blocking Israeli armaments, and for protesting Assange’s unfair extradition hearings. We were awed and inspired by his bravery, and dedication.
Eric was a person with no ego, his only focus was the struggle. For many years, he wouldn’t even tell us his age, in case it might lead to preferential treatment. Although he was a person of very modest means, yet he would refuse even the smallest of gifts, unless everyone was receiving it. He was a very caring person, always looking out for the more vulnerable members. Eric was particularly mindful that indigenous voices in the struggle were allowed to flourish.
We were truly privileged to have known Eric.
His dream was to continue the struggle for justice till his last breath. In fulfilling his dream, in his death at age 94, he has shown us how to live, how to live a life worth living. An inspiration for generations to come. We will miss you Eric.
THIS extraordinary picture of a little stumbling gaunt-faced elderly man being arrested by several police officers at a demonstration outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court is haunting. On the soundtrack from a mobile video snapped by, presumably, one of the demonstrators one can hear someone shouting: “He is 92… he will die… what are you doing?”
I was not at the demonstration that was held at a bail application by the jailed journalist Julian Assange outside the court on January 6. Assange was refused bail and is still held at the high security jail Belmarsh in south London while lawyers continue to argue for his extradition to the US on the ground that he committed espionage by releasing secret tapes.
I can confirm that the man in the picture is actually 92 and lives in the Camden Town area. I have seen him several times over the years as he is a regular presence at protest meetings and know him as Eric Levy.
He clearly has strong radical views that draw him to various causes. In the Iraq war – 17 years ago – he was among several “peace” campaigners who travelled to Baghdad and set up camp in various public buildings, such as electricity stations, to “warn” off US air attacks. But, surely, there was no need to arrest this frail old man – and the fact that so many police officers could waste their time doing so illustrates poor judgment or an unfair sense of persecution.
Oddly enough, I saw another side to Eric Levy many years ago at one of the regular evening poetry sessions that used to be run in a small community centre in Torriano Avenue, Kentish Town, by the late artist John Rety. These gatherings were usually exotic affairs where someone in the crowded small room would stand up and recite one of their new poems – and very good they often were.
In a crowded room, one session produced new poems by the great poet Dannie Abse and the avant garde poet and publisher John Calder, both of whom had suddenly appeared, to my delight, in the audience.
It was on this particular evening that suddenly Eric Levy, sitting at the back, suddenly stood up and wondered whether he could recite the Ode to Joy by the German poet Friedrich Schiller set to the melody of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.
I wondered what was going to emerge – and, then incredibly, this little man stilled the audience as his rich baritone voice rang out the beautiful poem that sounded so haunting in its native language.
Thus, there are many sides to a person, I discovered. And as I looked at the image of this harmless elderly man being hustled away by police officers, I wondered whether he serenaded them in the cells with the Ode to Joy – it would have given them food for thought.
• According to a Met Police statement issued yesterday (Wednesday), eight people were detained “for breaching coronavirus regulations” outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court on January 6. “They were later reported for consideration of a fixed penalty notice and ordered to leave the area,” said the Met. Presumably Eric Levy was one of them.