[Marxism] Main Anti-war Group Plans Rally Against Israeli Policies

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 4 18:26:57 MST 2007

An outstanding initiative by this thoroughly progressive body.
Taking such a strong public stand in the face of the offensive 
all criticism of Israel, and the sub-offensive on the political 
left attacking Mearshimer and Walt over one formulation or other 
shouldn't obscure the thoroughly positive nature of this call by
UFPJ. It's certainly going to put the Democrats on notice that it 
won't be possible to assume silence on behalf of broad anti-war 
forces when it comes to Israel's brutal oppression of the people of

We can should, furthermore clearly understand the particularly 
positive role which President Carter has played in opening up this 
space in the political life of the United States. I don't know if 
he'll be invited to speak, but it would be wonderful if he were and 
even more wonderful if he would. 

Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid!

Now there's a thoroughly progessive slogan if I ever heard one!

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Main Anti-war Group Plans Rally Against Israeli Policies
Daniel Treiman | Fri. Feb 02, 2007

The anti-war group behind the recent demonstration that brought tens
of thousands to Washington to protest the Iraq War already has plans
for another mass rally in the nation's capital. This time, though,
the target of the protesters' ire will be Israel.

United for Peace and Justice, the convener of the January 27 march,
is joining with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation to
co-sponsor a two-day "mobilization" in June, titled "The World Says
No to Israeli Occupation." The event will include a mass rally, a
"teach-in" and lobbying. It will mark the 40th year since Israel's
capture of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in June 1967.

"The purpose of the event is to hopefully call greater attention both
to the ongoing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, but
also to call attention to the role that the U.S. plays in supporting
that, and specifically the financial role, of course," said UFPJ's
national coordinator, Leslie Cagan.

The Jewish community has had an uneasy relationship with the anti-war
movement. While polls show that solid majorities of American Jews now
disapprove of the decision to go to war in Iraq, most major Jewish
groups have been quiet on the issue. Many supporters of Israel have
been concerned that the anti-war movement has become a vehicle for
promoting the Palestinian cause to a larger audience.

Josh Ruebner, grass-roots advocacy coordinator for the U.S. Campaign
to End the Israeli Occupation, called UFPJ's co-sponsorship of the
June 10-11 mobilization "very significant."

"The scale of what both of our coalitions are attempting, I think,
has never been attempted before on the issue of Palestinian human
rights in this country," he said.

But not all Iraq War critics are pleased by UFPJ's activism on the
Palestinian issue. Informed of the group's plans for a rally
criticizing Israel, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who appeared onstage at this
weekend's demonstration along with several other members of Congress,
said he was "very upset."

"I totally disagree with them on their view," the New York Democrat
said. "I obviously don't think the major problem is the Israeli
occupation, which would have ended long ago if it weren't for the
major problem, which is the refusal of Hamas and the Palestinian
leadership generally to agree with the existence of Israel."

Nadler said that most of those who participated in this past
weekend's rally showed up because they oppose the Iraq War, not
because of UFPJ's other political agendas.

"This group is a group with its own opinions, and they have one
opinion that a lot of people share, and they've done a good job in
mobilizing and getting out front," he said, referring to UFPJ's
opposition to the Iraq War. "One can wish that someone else had done
it, but nobody else did. They did the organizing, etc. Now they are
going to try to exploit that for their other points. They will not
have much success with that."

UFPJ is a coalition of about 1,400 local and national groups. It has
successfully organized demonstrations that have brought hundreds of
thousands to the streets to protest the Iraq War. Formed in 2002,
UFPJ was regarded within the nascent peace movement as an alternative
to the then-dominant anti-war coalition, International Answer, which
many believed was controlled by the Workers World Party, a fringe
Marxist sect. Jewish groups, in particular, were alarmed by
International Answer's fervid anti-Israel rhetoric.

But UFPJ also has drawn accusations of extremism. National
coordinator Cagan, a veteran left-wing activist, has been a
particular lightning rod for critics, who have accused her of being
sympathetic to Cuba's communist regime and of equivocating about the
Iraqi insurgency. In a 2003 interview with the Forward, Cagan, former
director of the Cuba Information Project, called Fidel Castro "a very
smart man who has worked very hard to help organize his country in a
way that he thinks is valuable and positive." Asked in the same
interview about the then months-old Iraqi insurgency, she said that
UFPJ "doesn't have a position on that, and personally I'm neither
condemning them nor applauding them."

The June mobilization will not be UFPJ's first foray into the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. UFPJ has criticized Israeli actions
repeatedly, adopting the slogan "Occupation: Wrong in Iraq, Wrong in
Palestine." In 2004, UFPJ coordinated a national day of protests
against Israel's West Bank security barrier.

"I believe that historically the issue of Israel-Palestine has been
relegated to the sidelines or not discussed at all by the larger
peace and justice movement in this country," Ruebner said. "I think
that that attitude and mind-set has changed a great deal over the
past five years, and that UFPJ has played a role in bringing the
issue of Palestine and Palestinian human rights and U.S. support for
Israeli occupation into the mainstream of the discourse of the peace
and justice movement."

Cagan said that the June rally will likely be UFPJ's largest action
so far relating to Israel. She said, however, that it would not be an
anti-Israel event but rather a protest against Israeli policies. She
said that UFPJ supports Israel's right to exist, although the
coalition's Palestine/Israel Just Peace Working Group has stated that
it "will not endorse a particular solution [for peace], such as two
states, one state, the Geneva Initiative, the road map, etc.," since
its member groups have differing views on this issue.

Fri. Feb 02, 2007

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