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Opportunism, ANSWER and Palestine

by Lana Thursday, Jul. 07, 2005 at 7:52 AM

It is so important that the movement against the war in Iraq draw the connection to all the wars the U.S. government is waging around the world. Inclusion of Palestine is a vital issue and an important part of building solidarity. But solidarity with Palestine should not be used as just a maneuver in an organizational struggle between ANSWER and UFPJ.

Opportunism, ANSWER and Palestine

It is so important that the movement against the war in Iraq draw the connection to all the wars the U.S. government is waging around the world. Inclusion of Palestine is a vital issue and an important part of building solidarity. But solidarity with Palestine should not be used as just a maneuver in an organizational struggle between ANSWER and UFPJ.

I attended a long, painful and vitriolic meeting in Washington DC on Monday, June 27, called by Rev. Graylan Hagler and local community activists to discuss unity in the efforts for Sept 24th demonstration. Mahdi Bray of Muslim American Freedom Foundation co-chaired. About 100 activists turned out. Inclusion of Palestine and support of the Palestinian Right of Return was the dividing line. Politically I agree with this. I don’t support UFPJ’s narrow approach that seeks to exclude the anti-imperialsit wing of the movement and the struggles of oppressed people world wide. But always arrogant Brian Becker of ANSWER turned this into an organizational demand that the whole movement should just get on board a so called coalition for September 24 that is a recreation of the ANSWER steering committee. This isn’t about unity or solidarity with Palestine or unity against the war.

I was further disheartened and then outraged when the very next day after this heated demand for the inclusion of Palestine, I received an e-mail sent out far and wide by ANSWER, analyzing Bush’s speech. It had a big red Donate buttons. But in this whole long message praising ANSWER, analyzing Bush’s speech, the war, and the historic importance of the September 24 demonstration there was not one mention of the centrality of including Palestine. There was no mention of the Palestinian Right of Return. I could not even find the word PALESTINE.

Two days later I received another e-mail from ANSWER - another long fund appeal. But again there was NO mention of even the word Palestine. Where is this central slogan?

ANSWER increasingly has a dual personality. If ANSWER supports the Palestinian struggle and demands its inclusion than they should themselves include Palestine ALL the time, including when they are fundraising.

I just saw ANSWER’s September 24th leaflet. After all the grand polemics on the centrality of Palestine I see that Stop the War on Iraq is in giant 36 or 40 point type while Support the Palestinian Right of Return is in about 6 point type. I needed a magnifying glass. It sure doesn’t look like a central slogan to me.

It was the same thing in all the big demonstrations ANSWER organized before the Iraq war in 2003. Palestine was never mentioned once - not even in the text of one piece of literature or in one slogan. The first time ANSWER included Palestine in ANY anti Iraq war literature was when UFPJ got the jump on ANSWER by calling a demonstration in NY on March 20, 2004, a year after the war. That is when ANSWER opened a struggle to demand that Palestine - and therefore ANSWER - be included in the demonstration. That was an important struggle that so many of us put our hearts into supporting, because we do support Palestine.

This year I called the ANSWER office for bus information to attend the March 19th Demonstration in NYC, which strongly raised Palestine. I was told that ANSWER was organizing buses to attend the UFPJ supported demonstration in Fayetteville NC, which did not mention Palestine or any of the other anti-imperialist struggles. I went to NYC to attend the demonstration that marched from Harlem to Central Park. The majority of speakers raised Palestine. Brian Becker spoke for ANSWER. He did not mention Palestine once.

Palestine should not be picked up and dropped again and again in increasingly cynical maneuvers.

For decades the heroic Palestinian resistance has inspired millions of people around the world. Here in the U.S. it can arouse enthusiasm and educate the movement. But if it is used as a cynical maneuver for short term organizational gains it hurts the Palestinian cause rather than advancing it in a principaled way. It can disrupt and divide the movement and demoralize those who so want to buildt broad anti-imperialist unity.

Why not call ANSWER and ask why they are again dropping support for the Palestinian struggle in their literature while raising Palestine to justify dividing the movement? Ask them to revise their leaflet. Why SHRINK support for Palestine?

ANSWER’s June 28 and June 30 giant e-mails to the movement are listed below. Look for the word Palestine…. It is not there.

A.N.S.W.E.R.'s response to Bush
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Hit the Streets September 24!
A.N.S.W.E.R.'s response to Bush:
Hit the Streets September 24!

Recognizing that the people of the United States have turned dramatically against the war and occupation of Iraq, Bush went on national television tonight to defend his imperial foreign policy. He repeatedly invoked September 11 as a pretext for the criminal and illegal war against Iraq. Bush took to the airwaves tonight because the antiwar movement is growing in strength. Our power poses a major political obstacle to the continuation of the war and occupation. Now Bush has taken on the additional role of Recruiter-in-Chief, urging young people to sign up for military service and replenish the dwindling ranks of the newly enlisted.

Tonight Bush's speech was before a military audience. It comes twenty-five months after he used a military audience as a photo-opportunity. At that time, May 1, 2003, Bush landed aboard the USS aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to announce, under the boldly painted banner, "Mission Accomplished," that major combat operations had ended in Iraq. Now with the blood of 100,000 dead Iraqis and more than 1,700 U.S. soldiers on his hands, and a population that no longer believes his recycled rationales, Bush is compelled to justify the ongoing military conflict and occupation in Iraq. With the old pretexts - that is, the old lies - so completely exposed, Bush tonight resorted to the constant referencing of September 11.

The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), which has organized the largest mass antiwar demonstrations in Washington DC during the last four years, was formed on September 14, 2001. A.N.S.W.E.R. represented the convergence of those organizations and individuals around the country (numbering in the tens of thousands) who immediately took to the streets to expose Bush's manipulation of September 11 and oppose the slogan of "war on terrorism." This mobilization took place at a time when there was great pressure within the U.S. peace movement to be silent and not speak out against the coming imperialist war drive. All those who stood together in those early days of September have since reached out to their friends, families, neighbors, classmates and co-workers to successfully educate others, to broaden and expand this mass antiwar movement. Now we are ready to take the next step.

On September 24 in Washington DC there will be a mass mobilization at the White House. There will be coordinated actions at the same time in San Francisco and Los Angeles. This demonstration, initiated by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and now joined by thousands across the country, is coming together at the critical moment for our movement. Waiting for the politicians is a dead end. The people must act and deepen the popular antiwar sentiment until it becomes the most potent force in the current political equation.

The September 24 demonstration will have its place in history not only as an expression of the changing political climate in the U.S. but also as an expression of great unity. Marching together and sharing leadership on September 24 will be Arab-American and Muslim communities, unions, military families, veterans, students and youth, and antiwar, social justice and civil rights groups. The September 24 National Coalition has formed to work together in solidarity and support for this important demonstration. Urge your friends to join in this important united effort and show the world the power of our rapidly developing peoples' movement. Rejecting the right-wing's efforts at division, the people can become the most powerful political force - and that is Bush's greatest fear.

What you can do right now:
Six ways to get involved
& make a difference

1) Send this email to your friends and families. Ask them to endorse the demonstration and join with millions of others in the U.S. who now oppose the war in Iraq and want it to be brought to an end. Sign up to get critical email updates on the mobilization and how you can plug in.

2) Start organizing people to come with you to Washington DC on September 24. Help spread the word to others about transportation options from your city by filling out the Transportation Form on the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition website.

3) Contact the A.N.S.W.E.R. office for a free packet of organizing materials - flyers, posters, stickers and more - so you can start handing them out, leaving stacks, and posting them wherever you can: on bulletin boards, at school, at work, in the supermarket, your local cafe, your church, mosque or synagogue. Download flyers from the A.N.S.W.E.R. website.

4) Join a street outreach team this weekend or organize one in your town. In Washington DC email dc@internationalanswer.org or call 202-544-3389, in New York City email nyc@internationalanswer.org or call 212-533-0417, in San Francisco email sf@internationalanswer.org or call 415-821-6545, and in Los Angeles email la@internationalanswer.org or call 323-464-1636. If you live in another city, email info@internationalanswer.org for details and tips on how to get started.

5) Please make a donation today - we urgently need your help to bring this war to an end. The Bush administration has billions of dollars that they have taken from us to fund their war and line the pockets of war profiteers. It is up to us to fund the fight for true justice and peace. Please take a moment and make a donation through our secure server, where you can also obtain information to write a check.

6) September 24 - 12 noon - White House - BE THERE!
The leadership of the September 24 National Coalition includes the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition, National Council of Arab-Americans (NCA), Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation, Haiti Support Network, Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines, National Lawyers Guild, Al Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Mexicanos Sin Fronteras / Mexicans Without Borders, Women's Anti-Imperialist League (WAIL), and A.N.S.W.E.R. Youth and Student National Coalition.

Get Involved
• Read the Call to Action
• Demands of the demonstration
• Press Coverage
• Endorse
• View Endorsers
• List Transportation
• Spread the word - Downloadable flyers
• Donate
• More information


The September 24 mobilization is taking off
Thursday, June 30, 2005
The antiwar movement needs your help
The antiwar movement needs your help!

The outpouring of support for the September 24 demonstration has made it obvious to us that the anti-war movement has a limitless potential to grow. This will be the largest demonstration since the November elections and this mobilization poses the biggest political threat to the Bush administration's war against Iraq and its program of torture, death and devastation.

We urgently need to raise tens of thousands of dollars in the next few weeks to fund this huge undertaking. If you have donated before we urge you to donate again. If you have never made a contribution, now is the time that it is most needed.

Printing hundreds of thousands of leaflets and posters, renting buses, helping to set up organizing centers around the country, doing massive street outreach, as well all of the logistical and set up functions - stage, sound, first aid etc. -- is an enormous expense. Hundreds of committed volunteers and organizers devote endless hours to make the work go on but we can't do it without sufficient funds.

If you are outraged by the arrogance of the Bush White House and the Pentagon and the danger they pose, please make a contribution today to support the September 24 March on Washington.

Please consider taking a moment right now to:
• Make an online donation by credit card through our secure server by clicking here.
• Send a check or money order to:
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
611 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, #430
Washington DC 20003-4303
• Call (202) 544-3389 to make a credit card donation by phone
We have the momentum: the political climate and popular opinion in the U.S. is turning dramatically against the war and the Bush administration is on the defensive. At this critical moment your support is what will make the difference.

Get Involved
• Read the Call to Action
• Demands of the demonstration
• Press Coverage
• Endorse
• View Endorsers
• List Transportation
• Spread the word - Downloadable flyers
• Donate
• More information

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-533-0417
Los Angeles: 323-464-1636
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
For media inquiries, call 202-544-3389.
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A Pointless debate :-( Thursday, Jul. 07, 2005 at 1:35 PM
Ms Allison Wednesday, Aug. 03, 2005 at 5:42 PM
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