Friday, November 10, 2006

Ellen Willis, democratic socialist and anti-anti-Zionist, 1941-2006

A tribute by Chad Goldberg at the Engage Forum.
--Jeff Weintraub
Ellen Willis 1941-2006
November 10, 2006 11:31:33 PM.

Ellen Willis, the radical American journalist, feminist, and cultural critic, died on November 9, 2006, in New York City at the age of 64. Engage readers will recognize her as a kindred spirit: As a self-described "anti-authoritarian democratic socialist," her obituary notes, she was "leery of extremism" and "took some members of the American left to task for what she saw as anti-Semitism thinly veiled as political animus toward Israel". Read the New York Times obituary HERE.

Her 2003 essay, "Is There Still a Jewish Question? Why I'm an Anti-Anti-Zionist," is a brilliant piece of work that brings insights from psychoanalysis to bear on the phenomenon of contemporary anti-Semitism. The essay can be found HERE. Yesterday, attending a University of Wisconsin Trust Fund meeting to urge the Board of Regents to reject a proposal to divest from Israel, I was reminded how timely Willis's essay still is. This week we have lost a comrade in the struggle to expose and combat anti-Semitism, but as Joe Hill said, don't mourn, organize.

Chad Alan Goldberg
Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin