It has emerged that Mike Israel, the US YPG volunteer who fell fighting ISIS in Rojava on the 24th was a member of the IWW. Initial reports of his killing alongside a German - Anton Leschek - volunteer indicated they may have been the victims of a Turkish airstrike but said they had been killed north of Raqqa where its unlikely Turkish jets would be attacking. The Manbij Military Council has released a statement confirming they were killed in a Turkish attack near Manbij where Turkish jets have carried out dozens of attacks on the SDF. Some reports suggest 10 other people, presumably YPG, were killed in the same airstrike some 15km behind the front lines.
It's reported that another volunteer with them posted "We were taking a small village when we got hit by Turkish jets in the night. Two of my friends, Anton and Michael were killed among many others. I'm staying to finish out my six months. Fuck Erdogan and Fuck Turkey."
A friend wrote on Mike's Facebook page "It's with a heavy heart that I learn today heval Michael Israel has passed away fighting ISIS as a volunteer with the YPG in Rojava. Michael was a man of extremely powerful convictions; an inspiring, idealistic fighter who struggled unlike any other for a better world, not just for a better Kurdistan and a better America.
He spent his whole life fighting systems of injustice that deny peace, and trekked the states spreading awareness against the Iraq war. He conferred his experiences and lessons from both Syria and the states with everyone. He died the very way he lived, and his legacy is an example of how a true revolutionary should be. History will exalt him as one of the greatest of our generation, like many others. He taught me a lot, I'll never forget him.
Rest in power heval."
On the 13th August shortly after retuning to Rojava Mike had posted
"With Manbîc liberated, YPG and YPJ are one step closer to cutting off ISIS from their ability to transporting supplies and people from their support base across the Turkish border. Once this supply route for them has been cut off, ISIS will be completely isolated.
For those of you in the West, this means they will no longer be able to transfer their personal with ease into the European states.
Rojava has taken the lead in making the lives of those of you far beyond their borders safe from these fascists. Please don't forget the sacrifices Rojava has made in fighting back and containing ISIS gangs.
Do what you can to support their struggle and their revolution in Rojava, give what you can. International solidarity is a must for these people who have sacrificed so much to rid the world of these fascists"
Two weeks later he posted
"Nice one US.
After YPG push ISIS out of Manbîc and liberate the area, you stand by while the turkish state makes an incursion into syria and make demands that Rojava's forces now withdraw from all ground they've freed from the enemy.
If the U.S. really had an interest in sealing the fate of ISIS, we would stand by the only democratic force that has successfully put up a fight against these fascists.
The people of rojava made huge sacrifices in liberating ground west of the Euphrates. They deserve our support not abandonment"
He'd announced his return to Rojava in a post on August 10th which read
I am back in Rojava again and will be here for the next several months to do my part in defending the revolution.
The Rojava struggle is the most dynamic and ground breaking revolutionary movement of our time. I am determined that it is the job of leftist allies and internationalists to rally behind this movement, to help build it up and learn from it. Things that we may have only dreamed of in theoretical writing are acted upon in Rojava, modified and adapted to their struggle and made real.
Rojava is doing this all and reorganizing society despite the chaos and destruction of 5 years of civil war. The gains of the revolution under such austere and harsh conditions is truely remarkable.
Now that I am back in Rojava, I know all my needs will be met. Here I will never be in want of basic necessities for lack of money. I, like all others in Rojava, will never go without food and water, clothing or a place to rest my head at night. The movement takes care of people here.
That is not to say though that Rojava and the rest of Syria do not need help though.
I'm calling on all of my friends and comrades to learn about the Rojava revolution and how they have been leading the charge in the war against ISIS fascists. I'm calling on all of you who are able, to do your part in helping or sending donations so that this revolution may become stronger with the aid of the international community.
Recommended organizations to contact or donate to....
- international brigade of rojava.
Raises funds to send emergency medical supplies to YPG/J
- Kobane Reconstruction Board.
Assists in the rebuild of kobane, a city know for its heroic defense against ISIS forces for months. Over 70% of the city was left useless when the fascists were finally driven out.
- Rojava Plan.
Assists villages in crop diversification, reverse desertification and has plans for local and natural fertilizer production, an agricultural necessity due to chemical fertilizers being unavailable because of embargos against Rojava on all fronts.
All groups may be found on FaceBook"
A memorial fund has been set up to help cover the expense of returning his body, from that page "On November 24th, 2016, beloved community organizer Michael Israel was killed serving the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. Michael was from Motherlode California, and was on his second tour in Syria as part of an effort to fight fascist powers there including ISIS- he planned on staying for several months as an international volunteer before returning home. He died alongside fellow international brigade member Anton Leschek and several Kurdish YPG defenders after being targeted by Turkish airstrikes in western Manbij. He was just 27 years old. The community that Michael left behind is a broad one- in addition to his volunteer work in Rojava, Michael was also involved throughout the years in local groups such as the Motherlode Progressives, Occupy Sacramento, Sacramento IWW, the Anti-War Movement, SEIU, and the Democratic Socialists of America. He was a shining example of virtue in his community, and a comrade to many. His friends and family grieve him deeply, and remember him tenderly. Michael was hell-bent on changing the world for the better, and hell-bent on giving back more than he took at the end of the day. Though his time was short, his success is evident in the impact he made on those around him and the causes he was dedicated to. "
Mike is on the left in the top photo and wearing blue in the centre of the bottom photo of an IWW group. The red booklet in his hand is an IWW membership card, the IWW have posted that he was a founding member of the Sacramento IWW. Early reports described Mike as an anarchist but later there was some disagreement over this with someone who was with him in Rojava saying he was more inclined to just identify as a socialist and a US friend then saying he was more inclined to identify with Kroptkin than Marx. Either way we want to remember him here.