ANSWER sells out Palestinians?

Part of a statement from al-Awda and other groups, online at NYC Indymedia, Sept. 13:

We believe that it is critical, necessary and essential that the building of the antiwar movement in the United States take place in a manner that emphasizes political unity and political clarity - political unity that links communities and movements in common struggle against US imperialism and political clarity that defines that struggle and its component parts, placing the struggle of the Iraqi and Palestinian people for national liberation at the center of our demands, just as it is in the center of the crosshairs of imperialism and in the center of resistance; as well as the struggles of the people of the Philippines, Colombia, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Cuba, the Sudan, Haiti, Lebanon, Somalia and everywhere else in the world where imperialism is waging war and occupation and people are resisting, organizing and building. Similarly, the struggles of Black, Chicano, Latino, Asian, Arab, Native and other oppressed nations and communities within the US must be central to our work as an antiwar movement that has real meaning for those most directly affected here; for example, the struggle of Katrina victims to rebuild their communities in the face of racism and oppression, and the struggle of undocumented and other immigrants for full equality, legalization, and workers' rights.

Therefore, we believe that in order to continue to build a broad, mass antiwar movement, and to create the unity of movements and communities necessary to do so, these issues and struggles must be brought forth in our central demands in a clear and consistent manner, emphasizing the unity of our common struggles against US imperialism, and explicitly focusing on the inextricable linkage between Iraq and Palestine; the Right to Return for Palestinian refugees; the national liberation movements throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America; the struggle for self determination for the Black and Chicano nations, and against racism, national oppression, and all other forms of oppression within the United States; and the centrality of indigenous struggle.

In this context, we are concerned to note that the national demonstration being organized for September 15, 2007, by the ANSWER Coalition and a number of other groups, features, in a break with the legacy, politics and advocacy of ANSWER, one slogan and one alone - "End the War Now!" While we certainly agree that this demand is key, we cannot help but to note with dismay the absence of other, and stronger, demands. We are deeply surprised to see that the occupation of Palestine and the denial of the Right to Return for six million Palestinian refugees - at the center of ANSWER's principles in the past for antiwar demonstrations, and inextricably linked to the occupation of Iraq - is unmentioned in the literature, slogans and call for the demonstration. In fact, the term "occupation" is unmentioned in the primary slogan of the demonstration, even in regard to Iraq. In addition, the people's struggles against US imperialism in Colombia, the Philippines, Cuba, the Sudan, Venezuela, Haiti, and around the world - as well as the potential threat of war on Iran - are also unmentioned.

How interesting. Maybe there really is some ideological substance to the split between ANSWER and Troops Out Now. ANSWER seems to be within the orbit of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which broke two years ago from the Workers World Party. Troops Out Now remains in the WWP camp. We assumed it was just a turf war. The ostensible reason for the break was the refusal of the folks who formed PSL (primarily the Becker brothers, Brian and Richard) to break ranks with the anyone-but-Bush (=pro-Kerry) line by supporting the WWP's presidential ticket in 2004. But maybe it goes deeper than that—maybe ANSWER/PSL really is tilting to the mainstream, and is willing to throw controversial causes like the Palestinians overboard.

While ANSWER and Troops Out Now have cooperated on joint rallies in the past despite the split, note that this time they will be holding separate rallies in Washington this month less with two weeks apart—ANSWER on the 15th and Troops Out Now on the 29th!

Ironically, deep-sixing the Palestinians is precisely the charge that ANSWER has used in the past against United for Peace & Justice—the only major anti-war conglomeration we consider minimally legitimate. In December 2005, when UFPJ announced it would no longer work with ANSWER (in part, we believe, due to our journalism on the question), WWP accused UFPJ of a "shift to the right" and "dividing the anti-war movement." What goes around comes around, it seems.

UFPJ, for their own part, will be holding a "national mobilization" (including a march on Washington, presumably) on Oct. 27.

This factionalism is pitiful to watch, but we do think it is ultimately salubrious. Real unity can only be built by forcing the debate into the open. UFPJ may be timid, but at least they are not shilling for a sectarian cult. ANSWER now seems to be guilty of both timidity and sectarianism...

See our last post on the politics of the anti-war movement.

ANSWER strikes back

No one, including this statement, says that ANSWER is selling out Palestinians or anyone else. That is not the position of the statement and it is wrong to portray it as such. It continues to say,

"We raise these concerns not because we doubt ANSWER's commitment to an anti-imperialist, anti-racist vision of social justice. In fact, it is precisely because of the strong commitment of those organizers, expressed through years of work and activity that have consistently delineated a broad, anti-imperialist perspective as a leading force in the US antiwar movement, that we must raise these issues for broader discussion and consideration, so that we may work together, arm in arm...
The organizers of September 15 have traditionally been at the forefront of raising these issues...Time after time, the work of community organizations and antiwar coalitions - including the ANSWER Coalition - has proven those arguments incorrect; that real, broad movements are built by linking communities and struggles against common enemies, through community and grassroots organizing....It is time to march on September 15. It is time to march on September 29. These demonstrations must be massive and strong...."

ANSWER may disagree wholeheartedly with the statement, but it does not accuse them of selling out, on the contrary, it comes from a place of respect and overall support for ANSWER.

Excuse you!

"No one" says that ANSWER is selling out "anyone"?

That's an absurd statement. WW4 REPORT has repeatedly argued that by accepting the leadership of WWP/PSL, ANSWER has long since sold out the Bosnian Muslims, Tibetans, Chinese dissidents, Rwandan genocide survivors, Kurdish Halabja survivors, etc. And by refusing to countenance any criticism of the Iraqi "resistance" (just as they refused to countenance any criticism of Saddam Hussein), ANSWER continues to sell out Iraq's legitimate civil resistance—the trade unions, women's rights groups and forces of secularism and co-existence that the jihadis are seeking to exterminate.

We don't speak for al-Awda, and they are free to weigh in here if they feel they have been misrepresented. But please try to refrain from lies and absurdities.