[Marxism] UFPJ/ANSWER an outside perspective

Nigel Irritable nigel_irritable at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 3 13:05:41 MDT 2005

This is an interesting debate although one which seems
a little strange from an Irish or British perspective.

In both of the countries where I've been involved in
the anti-war movement there has been basically one
coalition. In England and Wales that means the Stop
the War Coalition (StWC) and in southern Ireland that
meant the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM). There were
different coalitions in Scotland and Northern Ireland
but I don't have first hand experience of either. 

Neither the StWC nor the IAWM were perfect. I could go
on all day about the serious problems with internal
democracy and anti-war strategy in both. But for the
purposes of this discussion the important thing is
that both became more or less the central body which
called the big protests in their respective countries.
They attracted the formal affiliations of significant
numbers of organisations and the active support and
involvement of some. At most stages they weren't
involved in the kind of ongoing rivalries with other
major coalitions which have afflicted the movement in
the US.

The politics of the StWC and the IAWM were very
straightforward and basic. However in both cases it is
worth noting that the coalitions did in fact
prominently feature demands focused on Palestine.

When Louis asks a question about why there have been
no complaints about the StWC avoiding
Palestine-related demands, the answer is simple. The
StWC has in fact prominently featured the slogan
"Freedom for Palestine" throughout its existence. For
instance the enormous march of September 28 2002 had
two slogans - "Don't Attack Iraq" and "Freedom for
Palestine". The forthcoming national demonstration on
September 27 has three slogans - "End the Occupation
of Iraq", "Freedom for Palestine" and "No More War


The IAWM similarly feature the demand "Freedom for
Palestine" prominently in the material calling the
major anti-war demonstrations here.

What does that tell us about the wisdom or otherwise
of sections of the anti-war movement in the US putting
a focus on Palestine? I'm not really sure. The
situation in the US is different. I would guess that
there is probably less pro-Palestinian sentiment over
there and certainly a lot more actively
anti-Palestinian sentiment. Even in Ireland and
Britain, while the raising of the Palestine issue
didn't drive people away from the movement, I can't
say that it was the issue which actually mobilised
many. In fact the closest I can come to a "lesson"
from the British or Irish experiences on this matter
is that it didn't seem to make that much difference
either way.

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