MICHAEL NEUMANN: unprincipled attack on ANSWER

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Sat Nov 9 18:04:18 MST 2002

However one may assess ANSWER/WW's political performance, the following
essay, surprisingly published in Counterpunch, constitutes an unprincipled
attack on ANSWER and the anti-war left, and should receive a vociferous
response. Basically, he argues that ANSWER and other leftists are selling
out the Palestinian struggle with such wasted efforts as getting the U.S.
to stop funding Israel or getting campuses to divest from Israel. Neumann
complains that we just aren't doing enough to stop Israel, which he
attributes, in a nutshell, to racism. Read on...

November 9, 2002
Demonstrating a Genteel Reticence
In March, 2002, A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now To Stop War and Racism) condemned
Israeli oppression of the Palestinians and demanded that the U.S. stop
supporting Israel. In their statement, they called for a demonstration in
Washington on April 20th to protest this. But here's the catch--it wasn't
specifically a demonstration against America's Israel policy. It was a
demonstration against US imperialist and racist policies generally. That
muted the issue quite tastefully. Like a well-trained horse, these radicals
pull right up to the line: don't protest against Israel too loudly, and
don't demand anything too drastic. Tell the US to stop sending money and
arms, then sit back and watch the fun.
What exactly do these people expect to happen? That Israel, deprived of US
aid, will stop its race war? Is that how it usually works? Is that what
they would have advocated in Rwanda? stop the aid, then sit back and watch?
Or do these apostles of political correctness feel that Israel, being white
folks, would not behave with the uncivilized abandon of those dark-skinned
tribesmen down in Africa? Do the marchers realize that Israel, forced to
make do without the convenience of US aid, would immediately destroy the
Palestinians? Afterwards, to be sure, the Israelis would make peace with
the world and thank God for His gift to the chosen people, the whole of
"Judea and Samaria".
Then on October 26th, 2002, this same group sponsored, with others, a very
impressive demonstration against war with Iraq. It was twice as large as
the previous one. No doubt that's because people saw a real chance of
preventing US intervention, of a specific, very valuable and tangible
accomplishment. In other words, the first march was smaller because, even
with its umbrella of causes, it was asking either for things that everyone
knew would not be obtained, like the purification of US foreign policy, or
for things that would change nothing, like stopping US aid to Israel.
So it seems that the organizers of these protests don't want the US to do
anything about Israel. They just want to stand on the sidelines and
complain. Kind of like the left does, in fact. Why is that? It can't be
because the US is too weak to do anything, because these activists never
seem to stop going on about US power.

Michael Neumann is a professor of philosophy at Trent University in
Ontario, Canada. He can be reached at: mneumann at trentu.ca

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