Call for unity of antiwar movement (from Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition)

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Jul 13 10:38:52 MDT 2003

Dear Friends:

The statement below was adopted at last night's [July 8] meeting of
the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC). We would greatly
appreciate any help you can give in disseminating it as widely as
possible to anti-war groups.

In solidarity,

Jerry Gordon
Member, NOAC Coordinating Committee


A Call for Unity of the U.S. Anti-War Movement

To: Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER)
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)
United States Labor Against the War (USLAW)

The Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC) was established in
October, 2002 to unify antiwar forces in Northeast Ohio in an open,
democratic coalition with the objective of helping prevent the
threatened U.S. war against Iraq. In the aftermath of the
conventional phase of that war, we decided to retain our coalition
and to continue building demonstrations around such demands as "Bring
the Troops Home Now! End the Occupation of Iraq!"

We have for the entire period of our existence set as an objective
the unifying of the anti-war movement, not only locally but also
nationally. Accordingly, NOAC sent a delegate to the June, 2003
conference of UFPJ to promote a proposal we submitted calling for the
cosponsorship by ANSWER, UFPJ and USLAW of the September 27
demonstrations called by ANSWER. In response to the written question
put by UFPJ organizers of the conference "Which constituencies would
this campaign help us bring into the movement or develop strategic
alliances with?" we answered:

"Many, the most important of which as proposed are labor with USLAW
in the umbrella and people of color with the involvement of ANSWER.
The labor movement is critical for developing the most powerful
anti-war movement possible. Labor organizations which have passed
anti-war resolutions are far more likely to endorse and participate
in a national action if it is a united action. . . . The same holds
true for international anti-war forces. They will much more readily
respond to a call for an action sponsored by a united anti-war
movement than only by a section of that movement. All of this must
happen to maximize the ability of the anti-war movement to mobilize
the greatest number of diverse people and constituencies to present a
united front against U.S. plans for continued occupation, warplanning
and diversion of resources to meet basic needs."

Although we were told that the spirit of the NOAC resolution was
warmly received at the UFPJ conference, the proposal was rejected
because the proposed date for the action -- September 27 -- is a
Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah.

UFPJ did agree to form a liaison committee to work with ANSWER and
other anti-war groups in the interest of promoting unity in the
movement. Since the June conference, however, it is our understanding
that representatives of UFPJ and ANSWER have yet to meet. Moreover,
ANSWER has now called national demonstrations for October 25 which
conflicts with the October 24-25 conference USLAW previously called
to be held in Chicago.

What is urgently needed and still lacking at the present time are
plans for united mass demonstrations in the Fall cosponsored by the
three groups. This in a period when the U.S. continues its brutal
colonial occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, with rising anger and
opposition demonstrated by the peoples of both countries, a growing
number of resisters to those occupations being murdered by U.S.
forces, and the peoples of the occupied countries lacking adequate
water, food, electricity and other basic necessities of life. At the
same time, U.S. soldiers stationed in the occupied countries are
themselves victims of the occupations, as more and more lose their
lives while demoralization deepens.

Under such circumstances, leaders of the two major anti-war
coalitions have a responsibility to put aside whatever differences
stand in the way of unity and join together in the streets to
organize as large an action as possible this fall to challenge the
government's escalating drive for empire and world domination. And we
believe they should do so together with USLAW.

Unifying the anti-war movement in this country has long been a
difficult and challenging proposition. We can recall successes and
failures in this regard. One success was the coming together of the
entire movement, divided though it was, to sponsor and build the
April 24, 1971 demonstration against the Vietnam war, which turned
out to be one of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history. When
unity of the two major coalitions was not quickly attained to support
that action, activists spoke out without mincing words. For example,
in a letter to both coalitions dated January 26, 1971, the Lower East
Side Mobilization for Action (N.Y.) wrote, "Can any of you seriously
argue that these [differences] are overriding in the face of the
urgency of united action? What madness has brought this upon our
movement? ... We therefore plead -- we urge -- we demand -- we shout
to you: Halt this headlong drift towards division, towards
splintering, towards tragedy. Join together -- it is not too late --
to deal President Nixon and his war policy a mighty blow, and
accelerate the drive towards peace in Vietnam." Expressions such as
this were a key factor in forging the resulting unity.

On the other hand, we vividly recall what happened at the very
beginning of Persian Gulf War I, when the situation cried out for
unity of the anti-war movement but resulted in separate
demonstrations a week apart in Washington D.C. The scars of that
divisiveness have yet to heal.

With respect to the immediate situation, we have two suggestions. The
first is that ANSWER establish its own liaison committee and that
representatives of both coalitions meet as quickly as possible. The
second is that in the future, before setting dates for major national
demonstrations which are designed to mobilize the largest possible
number of people, each coalition explore with the other and with
USLAW the possibility of making the proposed actions jointly

We have no illusions that organizational steps alone will result in
united actions involving the various components of the U.S. antiwar
movement. For that to happen will require leadership on all sides
keenly aware of the responsibilities that go with that leadership and
willing to commit themselves to the overriding need to forge unity --
subordinating turf concerns in the interest of achieving that
objective. We earnestly hope that such leadership will be forthcoming
in the weeks, months and years ahead.

For our part, we intend to disseminate this statement as widely as
possible throughout the movement in hopes that other anti-war groups
will also speak out to both major coalitions and remind them of the
responsibility we all share to curb U.S. military expansionism and
support the right of self-determination of occupied and oppressed
peoples around the globe, a responsibility that can most effectively
be discharged through unity in action.

Submitted by the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC)
c/o American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
513 W. Exchange St.
Akron, OH 44302
Phone: 216-736-4716
Email: NOACinfo at

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