One of the other threads had a side discussion about who was or was not organizing and participating in the anti-war protests. The more conservative posters felt it was all communists and their ilk, while the more liberal posters asserted that it was a broad coalition. Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal editorial page written by someone who would have liked to speak and participate in the anti-war demonstrations but was denied this opportunity. If you have access to the WSJ online, you can click here.
If not, the article is as follows:
The Antiwar Anti-Semites
By MICHAEL LERNER
SAN FRANCISCO -- Imagine my surprise when I found out that I am banned from speaking at a peace rally here this Sunday. As editor of Tikkun, the largest-circulation liberal Jewish magazine in the world, I have been an outspoken critic of the proposed war in Iraq. I have also unequivocally condemned Saddam Hussein's brutality and called for the world community to bring him to justice for crimes against humanity. But we at Tikkun do not believe that this war -- in which thousands of Iraqi civilians are likely to die -- will bring democracy to the Middle East. Instead, it is bound to increase the threat of terrorism to American citizens and provoke more violence. It will also fuel American fantasies of world economic and political domination.
So why was I being blackballed over the peace rally?
My sin was publicly criticizing the way that A.N.S.W.E.R., one of the four groups sponsoring the San Francisco demonstration, has used the anti-war demonstrations to put forward anti-Israel propaganda. An A.N.S.W.E.R. spokesperson, speaking on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC, said that they didn't want a "pro-Israel" speaker at their rally.
The other groups have said that while they disagree with A.N.S.W.E.R., they will honor an agreement giving each group an effective veto on speakers. Yet it is inconceivable that these anti-war coalitions would let A.N.S.W.E.R. ban a speaker if he accused that group of racism, sexism or homophobia. Why should anti-Semitism be treated differently, as the acceptable -ism?
It is outrageous that those of us who wish to protest against what we see as a fundamentally unjust war must be subjected to a barrage of slogans and speeches that are one-sidedly hostile to Israel. That is just as outrageous as some in the Jewish community claiming that our opposition to war makes us champions of Palestinian groups which use terror and violence against Israeli civilians.
There is a huge difference between criticism of Ariel Sharon's repressive treatment of the Palestinian people and a refusal to accept the fundamental legitimacy of Israel's existence. For years, those of us who want democratic rights for Palestinians have been dubbed "self-hating Jews" by right-wingers in the Jewish world. Now, some on the left insist that if we support human rights we must also uncritically support the violence of some Palestinian "freedom fighters" who make no secret of their desire to overthrow the Zionist enterprise.
That's why we recently created a new national organization supporting a "progressive middle path" that is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. We call for an end to the occupation, the creation of a Palestinian state and reparations for Palestinian refugees. But we also call for reparations for Jews who fled Arab states, and for Israel's admission into NATO -- or some other equally powerful military alliance -- to give the Jewish state genuine security.
The most painful thing has been watching other anti-war groups make unprincipled compromises with A.N.S.W.E.R. As a result, there is support on the left for self-determination for every group in the world except the Jewish people. Fellow progressive Jews, some anxious to speak at these rallies, have urged me to keep quiet about anti-Semitism on the left. After all, they say, stopping the war against Iraq is so much more important.
Why should we have to choose? Tikkun will be bringing thousands of our supporters to the demonstration Sunday. But just as we fought against the sexism and homophobia that once infected the left, we will challenge anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing on the left, even as we say "no" to a war with Iraq.
Rabbi Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine and www.tikkun.org, is the author of "Healing Israel/Palestine," to be published in July by North Atlantic Books. He is rabbi of the Beyt Tikkun synagogue in San Francisco.
More comments from me:
In general, there is enough opposition to military intervention in Iraq and enough support for continuing the inspections in Iraq to hold rallies without ANSWER. I don't understand why these other groups allow ANSWER (a group that no one, conservative or liberal, seems to like) to dictate these kinds of terms for a peace rally.
I guess my point is that most of the governments either pro- or anti-intervention seem to have a vested interest. Turkey, Jordan, and many other countries are behind the U.S. because they want U.S. aid, support and military help. France, Germany and Russia support inspections and oppose intervention in Iraq because of business interests with Hussein (again, for monetary reasons). It pisses me off when reasonable people who truly believe in a certain cause allow groups like ANSWER to dictate terms to them and, through this, denigrate a cause that does have support and does have merit. I can deal with governments doing this because, quite frankly, this is how they operate and because I trust any government about as far as I can throw a Buick. Why dedicated, well meaning citizens who have little direct monetary stake in the outcome allow this same type of behavior just baffles me.
EDIT: Sorry about the length. My natural long-windedness and an article is a bad combination. So I'll make it longer by apologizing for its length! Hopefully there's more logic in the rest of this post than in my edit...
Thank you for linking this actually. I stand by what I said that the anti-war protests are a broad coalition and there are many intelligent and learned people involved. However, I also stand by what I said that I and other people in the peace movement have problems with ANSWER. Their completely anti-Jew stance is one problem. I challenge Grimis or Palpatine to go to any peace coalition meeting and still say all peace supporters talk about is Bush is stupid. We are all unified in our dislike for war, but the reasons are extremely varied, and the disagreement is quite apparent.
This is the big reason why I don't go do the protest stuff. The last time I went to one of these things I was absolutely disgusted at the amount of Anti-Jew signs and speakers (although I've heard it's gotten better lately). These guys need to decide whether they want the Jews or the Jew-haters. And frankly, the Jews lend this cause a lot more legitimacy.
It's shame because the stance Michael Lerner (who I can't stand on a lot of issues, but is right on here) articulates regarding the Palestinian/Israeli conflict - and the war in Iraq for the most part - is really the majority opinion among American Jews today, but as Lerner pointed out, we aren't being let in to the broader coalition where we can express this.
Now, what I don't understand is why the hell they are still going to this rally. Now, God bless Liberal American Jews (of which I am a proud member). But they're the only group that's dumb enough to go stand up for a group that won't stand up for them.
It seems that I am - in no particular order - Zack Morris, John Adams, a Siren, Janeane Garofalo, Cheer Bear, Aphrodite, a Chihuahua, Data, Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel, Amy-Wynn Pastor, Hydrogen, Bjork, Spider-Man, Boston, and a Chaotic Good Elvin Bard-Mage.
I think the anti-war protestor skit on Saturday Night Live summed it up nicely. The war appears periphery to most of the protestors concerns, but is an excuse to march and protest. When you listen to these speakers they talk about the plight of the Palestinians, racism, Bush being dumb, freeing Mumia, the evils of capitalism ... not too much on war though. I think the anti-war movement would gain some credibility if they stood up to extremists like ANSWER. Remember this about them: ANSWER is an outgrowth of the Workers World Party, a Marxist-Leninist organization which has supported the Soviet interventions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Chinese government's crackdown in Tiananmen Square. They currently support the regime in North Korea.
"A dope trailer is no place for a kitty!" - quote from Bubbles on the Trailer Park Boys, best Canadian made show ever! (yes, that's not saying much I know)
Unfortunately, political opportunists are not just reserved for the right (*cough* Bill O'Reilly *cough*). Even in smaller communities like mine, protests - that began as people simply getting together to make a statement - are slowly getting overrun by groups and individuals trying to make a name for themselves... as if somehow there would be no anti-war movement if it weren't for them.
It's very frustrating...
Edit: Corrected a grammatical error.
(edited by Leroy on 12.2.03 1327)
"It's hard to be a prophet and still make a profit."
- Da Bush Babees