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The TRUTH regarding the "banning" of Rabbi Lerner

by Don't believe the hype Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003 at 4:53 AM

David Corn and Marc Cooper of The Nation have launched a campaign against ANSWER for the so-called "banning" of Rabbi Lerner from the speakers podium. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Coalition Statement in response to Michael Lerner & Commentary

by Mitchel Cohen

Dear friends and fellow antiwarriors,

This past week, the Nation ran a denunciation of International ANSWER Coalition, and the petition was posted on CommonDreams website as though its claims were true. In it, various individuals -- without first checking

the facts -- blasted ANSWER for allegedly "banning" Rabbi Michael Lerner from speaking at the San Francisco anti-war rally on Feb. 16 because of his "pro-Israel" position. The petitioners not only stated their position, but

went on to slam ANSWER as "unfit ... to lead mass mobilizations against war in Iraq."

As the media coordinator for the Greens/Green Party USA, which had endorsed ANSWER and organized for ALL the antiwar demonstrations, I immediately became suspicious that something here was AT BEST being taken out of context. When I read that summary -- "unfit to lead mass mobilizations against war in Iraq," that should have been a dead giveaway to most astute activists that there is another agenda being played out here that is not in the best interest of the anti-war movement. Reviewing the names of some of the signees made more even more suspicious; some of those same individuals have disrupted various progressive movements over the years (the movement to take back Pacifica from the corporatizers being prominent among them). In fact, although there are a couple of well-respectedradical signatories to the petition that had been circulating (Howard Zinn, for instance), the list contains and was organized by a veritable stable of liberal Democratic Party manipulators.

The following should set the record straight. It is issued by the Coalition organizing the demo in the Bay Area, which includes United For Peace and Justice, Not In Our Name, Bay Area United Against War, and International ANSWER. (I note parenthetically that only in NYC has there been little success in forging a coalition. Everywhere else in the country there are coalitions that include all the main groups.)

You will see when you read this that the claims pertaining to Lerner have no basis in fact. I will ask:






More on this later. First, the report.

Mitchel Cohen

the Greens/Green Party USA


February 11, 2003 Bert Knorr (510) 644-8071, (415) 307-8028 (cell)







We would like to clarify the misunderstanding regarding Rabbi Michael Lerner's perception that he was "banned" from speaking at the peace rally. His charges are untrue, and we wish to set the record straight.

As the Bush Administration continues its relentless drive toward war, the mass mobilizations in cities around the world on the weekend of Feb. 15-16 have taken on great significance. Millions of people are expected to

demonstrate in cities around the world in what may be the last opportunity to stop a new war on Iraq before it starts.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, four coalitions -- each comprised of many organizations and individuals -- have come together to sponsor a broad and united anti-war march and rally on Sunday, Feb. 16.

The four coalitions -- Bay Area United Against War, Not In Our Name project, United for Peace & Justice, and the International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition -­ have been working together successfully for the last several weeks to maximize the turnout on Feb. 16.

One of the first agreements that was made between the groups organizing the Feb. 16 anti-war protest was that none of the coalitions would propose rally speakers who had publicly attacked or worked to discredit one of the coalition groups. When members of the Tikkun Community, who have actively participated in the organizing meetings for Feb. 16, suggested to Bay Area United for Peace and Justice that it propose Michael Lerner as a speaker, it was explained by members of UFPJ that since he had publicly attacked ANSWER in both the New York Times and Tikkun community email newsletters, his inclusion in the program would violate the agreement among the Feb. 16 organizing groups.

It was this issue -- Michael Lerner's public attacks against one of the anti-war coalitions -- that resulted in his not being formally proposed as a speaker on Feb. 16; his views on Israel and Palestine had nothing to do with it.

Within the anti-war movement, there is a wide spectrum of diverse and opposing views regarding Israel and Palestine, and those views will be heard on Feb. 16. On that day, two rabbis, David Cooper and Pam

Frydman-Baugh, both of whose views are similar to those of Michael Lerner, will be speaking. To reiterate, the fact that Michael Lerner was not invited to speak on Feb. 16 was not the consequence of a veto by the

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition. None of the coalitions have veto power over the Feb. 16 program

We strongly abhor all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism. At the same time, we don¹t believe that criticism of Israeli government policies should be labeled as anti-Semitism any more than criticism of U.S.

government policy should be labeled as anti-American. On the eve of a terrible war, we call upon everyone to join together in making Feb. 15-16 a massive and powerful statement for peace and justice. We're heartened by

the broad range of participation that is developing forFeb. 16, including within the Jewish community, and invite one and all to join with us in our efforts to stop the war on Iraq.

Issued by: Bay Area United Against War, International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now

to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition, Not In Our Name Project, United for

Peace and Justice



Published on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 by

Let Anti-War Rabbi Michael Lerner Speak

Also See:

The Banning of Rabbi Lerner

by David Corn / The Nation 2/11/02

Rabbi Michael Lerner has been banned from speaking at the antiwar rally in San Francisco this Sunday, February 16. One of the rally organizers, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), has stated that it will not allow a "pro-Israel" speaker to take the stage -- despite the fact that Rabbi Lerner has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policy in the occupied territories, has endorsed ANSWER's antiwar rallies in the past,

has signed the Not in Our Name petition against the war, and is widely known to be among the most progressive of American rabbis. Other coalitions organizing the rally, including Not in Our Name and United for Peace and

Justice, have acceded to ANSWER's opposition to Lerner, on the grounds that they had previously accepted as a condition for participation in the demonstration the agreement that if one of the groups vetoed a speaker that

all would have to agree.

We, the undersigned, protest ANSWER's refusal to let Rabbi Lerner speak at this Sunday's rally. At a time when the antiwar movement needs as broad a platform and as broad an appeal as possible, ANSWER has chosen instead to put the interests of sectarianism ahead of the interests of all those who oppose this foolish and unnecessary war. We believe this is a serious mistake, and that it exemplifies ANSWER's unfitness to lead mass

mobilizations against war in Iraq.

Partial List of Signers:

Greg Goldin, writer

Robert W. McChesney, writer

Jack Newfield, writer

Howard Zinn

Doug Ireland, writer

Ariel Dorfman, writer

Marc Cooper, writer

Michael Berube, Penn State

Candace Falk

Janine Jaquet, Nation Institute

John Powers, writer

Katha Pollitt, writer

Suzi Weissman, professor and author

Eric Alterman, writer

Kateri Butler, writer

Todd Gitlin, writer

Suzy Marks

Wally Marks

Michael Pugliese

Judy Bertelsen

Nelson Lichtenstein

Richard Falk

Tom Christie, writer

Eyal Press, writer

Jon Wiener, historian UCI

Mark Schubb

Lee Smith, writer

Michael Balter, writer

Carl Bromley, Editorial Director, Nation Books

Harold Meyerson, writer

Stew Albert

Judy Albert

Al Wasserman

Anne Wasserman

Celeste Fremon, writer

Matthew Rothschild, Editor, The Progressive

Stanley Aronowitz

Isaac Balbus

David Bensman

Ken Brociner

Shirley Bryant

Chaz Bufe

Leo Casey

Bogdan Denitch

Tom Edminster

Stuart Elliott

Irene Theodore Heinstein

Maurice Isserman

Peter Kosenko

Justin Paulson

Jason Schulman

Timothy Sears

Clifford L. Staples

Luke Weiger

Arthur Wilke

Ian Williams

Ellen Willis

Adam Shatz, writer

Emily Jane Goodman

Sonia Jaffe Robbins

Phyllis Chesler

Richard Healey

Dorothy Healey

Roy Ulrich, attorney

Naomi Glauberman, writer

Judith Long, The Nation

Maurice Zeitlin, author and professor

Bruce Shapiro, writer

Tad Daley, UCLA

Andrew Gumbel, journalist

Dr. Aryeh Cohen, University of Judaism, Los Angeles

Nalini Lasiewicz, Lasiewicz Foundation

Barbara Osborn, Liberty Hill Foundation

Fr. Chris Ponnet, Co-Chair Pax Christi USA, Los Angeles Chapter

Anita Frankel, former Public Affairs Dir. Pacifica Radio

Roane Carey, The Nation

Reverend Ed Bacon, Rector, All Saints Church, Pasadena CA

Prof. Steve Ross, USC

Dr. Lawrence Littwin, CSUN

Kenneth Pomeranz

Ella Taylor, writer

Daniel Sokatch, Executive Director, Progressive Jewish Alliance

Francisco Letelier, writer

Devra Weber

Jules Tygiel, SFSU

Ellen Carol DuBois, UCLA

Mike Davis, UCI

Marla Stone, Occidental College

Terrence McNally

Vicki Ruiz

Peter Dreier, Occidental College

Bobbi Murray, Journalist

Ginger Varney

Kevin B. Anderson, Purdue University

Jody Zonenchin

Robert H. Silk, Attorney

Susan T. Silk. PhD, Biochemist

Frank Smyth, journalist

Laurie Salen

Dave Anderson

Sam Bottone

David Nasaw, CUNY Grad Center

Moshe Machover

Robin Arie-Donch

Amie Potsic

Ana Villa-Lobos

Constance Bernstein

Gretchen Mackler-Lipow

Arthur Lipow

Maggie Helwig, writer

Rabbi Shaya Isenberg, University of Florida

Richard H. Schwartz, College of Staten Island

Marcia Diaz

Howard A. Rodman

Rabbi Rachel Cowan, Nathan Cummings Foundation

Scott Tucker

Daniel Pope, University of Oregon

Jordan Elgrably, Open Tent Middle East Coalition

Don Bustany, host "Middle East in Focus" KPFK

Marge Piercy

Richard Applebaum

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 5 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Lerner and Becker in their own words ziggy Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003 at 6:13 AM
Lerner says people can't support Palestine I do Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003 at 7:08 AM
so mlm Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003 at 2:23 PM
here here! josh Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003 at 7:00 PM
Stalinists do not like opposing voices Diogenes Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003 at 7:22 PM

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