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News :: International : Organizing
Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
17 Apr 2004
On Friday, April 16, 2004, in response to the devastating US attack upon the Iraqi city of Falluja, about two hundred people gathered for a protest against the US occupation on the Boston Common from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Speakers emphasized that we repeatedly have not been getting the real story. The various reasons given by the Bush administration for the invasion of Iraq, such as seeking to eliminate the Hussein regime’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or bringing democracy to Iraq, are false, as no WMD have been found and the Occupation authorities engage in anti-democratic actions, such as closing down opposition newspapers and imprisoning people without charges or trial. We have also not been getting the full story on Falluja--the armed resistance does not consist of a few malcontents, but has broad popular support, and the US military has targeted not just the armed fighters, but civilians, even during the supposed ceasefire. Two very different organizing strategies were visible at the protest. The organizers, United for Justice with Peace (UJP), a broad Boston-area coalition, emphasized a message of peace, that showed equal concern for the lives of American troops and the Iraqi people, in an effort to create a movement with broad appeal. Various sectarian groups, in addition to attempting to take over the protest, loudly proclaimed their support for the Iraqi armed resistance, a position that, while certainly politically legitimate, is not likely to do much for building a mass movement. What neither UJP nor much of the American peace movement seems to have come to grips with though is that we need to move beyond legal protests to nonviolent direct action if we are going to have any substantial impact on the US government’s policy on Iraq.
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Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
by Matthew Williams


On Friday, April 16, 2004, in response to the devastating US attack upon the Iraqi city of Falluja, about two hundred people gathered for a protest against the US occupation on the Boston Common from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Speakers emphasized that we repeatedly have not been getting the real story. The various reasons given by the Bush administration for the invasion of Iraq, such as seeking to eliminate the Hussein regime’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or bringing democracy to Iraq, are false, as no WMD have been found and the Occupation authorities engage in anti-democratic actions, such as closing down opposition newspapers and imprisoning people without charges or trial. We have also not been getting the full story on Falluja--the armed resistance does not consist of a few malcontents, but has broad popular support, and the US military has targeted not just the armed fighters, but civilians, even during the supposed ceasefire. Two very different organizing strategies were visible at the protest. The organizers, United for Justice with Peace (UJP), a broad Boston-area coalition, emphasized a message of peace, that showed equal concern for the lives of American troops and the Iraqi people, in an effort to create a movement with broad appeal. Various sectarian groups, in addition to attempting to take over the protest, loudly proclaimed their support for the Iraqi armed resistance, a position that, while certainly politically legitimate, is not likely to do much for building a mass movement. What neither UJP nor much of the American peace movement seems to have come to grips with though is that we need to move beyond legal protests to nonviolent direct action if we are going to have any substantial impact on the US government’s policy on Iraq.

If there was a keynote speaker at the rally, it was renowned leftist historian Howard Zinn. He emphasized that the Bush administration justified this war based on two lies, “lies that are increasingly clear. The first lie is about weapons of mass destruction. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Bush administration didn’t care whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is clear they were determined to invade.” The testimony of Richard Clarke, a long-time conservative anti-terrorism expert, who served several administrations and recently resigned, paints a picture of an administration dominated by ideologues, determined to invade Iraq from the day they got into office. Many CIA researchers have said they were pressured by senior members of the Bush administration to find a reason to invade Iraq, whether evidence of weapons of mass destruction or a connection with the international terrorist group al-Qeada. Testimony by UN experts now makes it clear that the UN weapons inspectors had eliminated all WMD from Iraq by 1996--seven years before the US invasion. As for a link between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the Islamic fundamentalist group al-Qaeda, this is absurd, for Hussein was a secularist whom al-Qaeda had sworn to overthrow. There is also the inconvenient but little reported fact that when Hussein was building his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and engaging in some of his worst atrocities in the 1980s, he was doing so with the support of the Reagan and first Bush administrations, who saw him as an ally because of his invasion of the Islamic theocracy of Iran.

Zinn continued, “The other lie is that American troops are bringing democracy to Iraq. You do not bring democracy by invading a country, by bombing it, by detaining people without trial, by closing down newspapers in Iraq.” Human rights investigators in Iraq have reported numerous, consistent violations of basic human rights by American troops. These include detaining people for as long as six months with charges or trial--apparently because bewildered American troops often simply detain anyone who looks suspicious. Much of the current unrest in Iraq can be linked by the decision of the Occupation authorities to shut down a newspaper linked with Moqtada Sadr, a popular Shia cleric and vocal opponent of the American occupation. (The Shia are one of the major denominations of Islam, found predominantly in Iran and southern Iraq.) It would seem that neither the right to a fair trial nor freedom of speech are part of democracy in the Bush administration’s eyes. Beyond these violations of human rights, the American invasion and occupation have resulted in the deaths of 685 American soldiers and between 8,875 and 10,725 Iraqi civilians (the latter figures are from Iraq Body Count, http://www.iraqbodycount.net/).

Paul Shannon, an organizer with the American Friends Service Committee, summarized the long-term plans of the Bush administration: “They are creating a peace plan that it is not a peace plan. It is a plan to privatize everything and leave 100,000 American troops in Iraq forever.” Under Hussein’s regime, all major industries were theoretically publicly controlled. Instead of giving Iraqis a chance to decide what to with these public resources in a democratic fashion, the Bush administration has been privatizing most of these major industries, selling them off to transnational corporations based in the US and allied countries. In order to protect this order and to maintain control both of Iraq’s vast oil wealth and its strategic location in the Middle East, the Bush administration has plans to build massive US military bases in Iraq, that will remain there indefinitely, even after sovereignty has supposedly been turned over to a government composed of Iraqis. Given the history of US military intervention in Latin America to depose democratic governments whose policies conflicted with the US elite’s interests, it is questionable how much room a supposedly independent Iraqi government would have to make its own policies with 100,000 American troops already stationed there.

Shakr Mustafa, an Iraqi immigrant and a professor at Boston University, said that based on his conversations with family members in Iraq, “The Iraqis were willing to give the American authorities the benefit of a doubt for months. But when you bomb a major city like Falluja and strafe it with helicopter gunships, you will not win the hearts and minds of Iraqis. Iraqis feel they have been betrayed by the American authorities. This will only perpetuate the cycle of violence. We need to break the cycle of violence. We need the American troops to leave.” The American military’s assault on Falluja, a city that had not previously seen much resistance to the American occupation, was triggered by the murder of four American mercenaries (commonly described in the mainstream press by the bizarre euphemism of “civilian contractors”). The resulting attacks have resulted in the deaths of 62 American soldiers and over 600 Iraqis. In the attack on Falluja, even during the supposed ceasefire, American troops have not targeted only the armed resistance, but civilians as well. American peace activists and progressive journalists on the ground in Falluja report indiscriminate bombing of the city and sniper attacks on women, the elderly, children and ambulances. They all also report that it is pretty clear that the resistance fighters are not the isolated extremists the Bush administration claims, but have the support of most of Falluja’s population.

Despite efforts by UJP to foster diversity, including an Arab-American MC, and an African-American, a Latina and an Arab immigrant speakers, the crowd of two hundred people at the rally was overwhelmingly white. The crowd was certainly not homogenous in its approach to activism though, contributing to some factionalism. Two sectarian groups--the New England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP) and International ANSWER (generally considered a front for Workers World Party [WWP])--attempted to take over the protest at various points. At the start of the rally they got on their bullhorn and began a series of chants. At the end, as the protesters marched from the Boston Common to Government Center and back, the sectarians once again took over, leading chants on their bullhorn, even after a UJP organizer asked them to stop. According to one person I spoke with, some of the sectarians attempted to keep up their chanting even when the official speakers were at the mike. UJP can be faulted for starting half-an-hour late and forgetting their own bullhorn, but this doesn’t excuse the sort of disrespect that NECDP and ANSWER showed for the rally’s organizers. If this was an isolated incident, I probably wouldn’t note it, but both groups have problematic histories. NECDP once picketed a Jewish peace conference because the organizers advocated a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most local organizers who have tried working with WWP and its various fronts will express their frustration at the experience; WWP tends to work in a non-reciprocal manner, using coalitions and other groups for their own ends, without giving back to their supposed coalition partners. (In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I have had such experiences with WWP myself.) There are a number of genuinely dedicated activists in NECDP and ANSWER/WWP who could contribute a lot of constructive energy to the movement. It’s a shame that they seem so wrapped up in their own agendas that they cannot work better with other progressive groups with which they have principled differences.

Movement factionalism aside, UJP and the two sectarian groups showed very different approaches to organizing, which raise difficult issues about how to balance a radical analysis with building a large-scale, grassroots movement. UJP has built up an impressive network of community peace groups throughout the Boston area and tries to modulate their message towards building a large-scale movement, while NECDP and ANSWER broadcast a message that may seem more straight-forwardly radical but is also likely to alienate many Americans. This can be seen in their contrasting slogans at the rally: UJP’s was, “End the Occupation, Bring the Troops Home,” while NECDP and ANSWER carried signs saying, “Support the Iraqi Resistance.”

UJP has invested a substantial amount of effort in creating local community groups dedicated to ending the US occupation of Iraq, resulting in a network of over forty such local groups, ranging from those based in wealthy suburbs such as Concord and Newton to poorer, urban neighborhoods such as Dorchester and Jamaica Plain. They are also making a very conscious effort to reach out those with loved ones in the military. One of the speakers at the rally was Mariam Palasios, a Nicaraguan-American and member of Military Families Speak Out--an organization of 1500 military families across the country, dedicated to ending the violence in Iraq and bringing their loved ones home alive. Palasios was moved to join Military Families Speak Out after her cousin Gabriel was killed in combat in January. Given this strategy, UJP speakers were careful to emphasize that they equally recognized the humanity of the American soldiers in Iraq and the people of Iraq, and that they wanted both of them to stop dying, combining it with what was basically an anti-imperialist message (though not named as such) calling for an immediate and total pull out of the US from Iraq.

NECDP and ANSWER’s slogans calling for support for the Iraqi resistance are not likely to reach the bulk of working people. It needs to be remembered that military families are not a small segment of the population--most working class people probably have someone they care about in the military, quite possibly stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan (the other on-going US occupation, which gets less attention). Most people who join the military do so because of the poverty draft--there have no other job opportunities and the military promises not only short-term employment but (often falsely) long-term financing for a college education. Simplistic calls for supporting the Iraqi resistance will sound to many as though we support the death of US troops. None of this is to say that I oppose the popular resistance in Falluja. (The forty or so organized militias operating in Iraq are another story. The vast majority have reactionary ideologies and at least some are using terrorist tactics, such as holding civilians hostage and attacking UN facilities.) It’s a matter of recognizing that as people dedicated to building a large-scale movement against the US occupation of Iraq and ultimately the whole US imperial apparatus, we need to be mindful of how our message sounds to the people we want to join our movement.

This issue should not be confused with a matter of militant radicals versus timid liberals trying to appeal to the middle class. Many of the organizers with UJP are quite radical and at least some privately support the armed resistance in Iraq. They recognize that trumpeting this support is not the way to build a large-scale movement though. It’s not a matter of compromising one’s message--it’s a matter of finding a way too express it that will resonate with people. Unlike establishment liberals who advocate bringing in the UN as a partner to the US in the occupation, UJP advocates a total US pull out. UJP organizers did not necessarily shy away from difficult issues either. Darryl Wright, a speaker from Dorchester People for Peace, connected the war abroad with the cuts in social services at home, while MC Merrie Najimy of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee repeatedly connected the American occupation of Iraq with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While NECDP and ANSWER’s message of supporting the resistance raises important political issues, airing them at public rallies does not seem to me to be the best way to build the sort of movement we will need to reverse the US government’s policy towards Iraq.

Despite all its impressive work, there is one significant fault I can see in the organizing strategy of both UJP and the US peace movement as a whole. Although there have been isolated instances of direct action in places such as San Francisco, in the US as a whole there seems to be no concerted effort at creating a campaign of nonviolent direct action against US foreign policy. For all their fiery rhetoric, groups like NECDP and ANSWER seem perfectly content to stick to legal tactics as well. I remember during the protests against the build up to the invasion, some speakers would say such things, “If there’s enough of us out here, the media and the Bush administration can’t ignore us.” This struck me as naive even at the time. Legal protests did not stop the Bush administration form invading Iraq and they will not force it (or a Kerry administration) to pull out from Iraq either. (A Kerry administration would most likely just bring in the UN as a partner. While this might be something of an improvement, we should have no illusions about the UN. For instance, in UN-occupied Bosnia and Kosovo, responsibility for economic reconstruction was handed over to the World Bank, resulting in the imposition of neoliberal economic systems, just as the Bush administration is currently doing in Iraq.) The Bush administration clearly understands only one language--force. This means that to change its policies, we have to combine legal protest with nonviolent direct action (that is, nonviolent force). We need to use direct action to disrupt the workings of the war machine, while nonviolence is necessary if we are to avoid needlessly alienating large numbers of potential allies in the general population. It was such disruptive actions that ultimately alarmed Wall Street enough that they turned against the Vietnam War (for fear of loosing control of the country) and pushed the White House to begin a pull out from Vietnam. We cannot end the war in Iraq and US imperialism more generally on the basis of legal protest and militant rhetoric--we need a carefully crafted message, a large, grassroots movement that bridges class and racial/ethnic divides, and a strategy that includes militant, nonviolent action.

****

For more information on the occupation of Iraq, see the Iraq Occupation Watch website, http://www.occupationwatch.org . To get involved with United for Justice with Peace, call them at 617-338-1197 or visit their website at http://www.justicewithpeace.org .

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Comments

Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
17 Apr 2004
it would be nice to hear more about the rally and the actual issues than four huge paragraphs on how the author doesn't like other protest groups. give us a fucking break.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
18 Apr 2004
Give me a break. Of course we must support the Iraqi resistance. Their cause is just!
VICTORY TO THE IRAQI AND PALESTINIAN PEOPLE!
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
18 Apr 2004
matt, even your pictures are boring. your sectarianism is an illness, but you should do your therapy somewhere else. independent media? clearly not.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
18 Apr 2004
Yes, I admit my photography isn't very good. It's why I included only one of the photos I took.

I did include some coverage of what happened at the rally. Honestly, it wasn't that exciting--some speeches (which I quoted) and a march. There wasn't any drumming or street theater or anything like that. Well, a cellist played at the opening. Perhaps I should have said something about that.

I also discussed some of the issues when I discussed what happened at the rally. There's only so much you can say in a brief report.

There are other issues besides the US government's policy though. It was those issues I was trying to address in the second part of my article. My goal was not to be sectarian. I was try to raise some important questions about the way we organize. This is something we should talk about on the left. The rally presented an interesting contrast in organizing styles, so I took the opportunity to raise the issue. I tried to give credit to NECDP and ANSWER where credit was due--a lot of genuine concern and raising the issue of the difficult armed resistance in Iraq--and I did engage in some criticism of UJP. Clearly, I think UJP's strategy makes more sense, but I don't see how you can discuss these issues without taking sides. I did criticize some of NECDP and ANSWER's behavior at the protest in way that their members might not like, but they have a history of this and someone needs to call them out. If you haven't tried working with ANSWER/WWP in the past, I can see how this might seem petty, but a lot of organizers have gotten rather frustrated with them. I don't think they're bad people--I think they're too wrapped up in their own agenda.

I didn't say we should not support the Iraqi resistance. (I think it's worth thinking about which Iraqi resistance though. The Islamic fundamentalists who hold civilians hostage? Is that the resistance we support? A grassroots armed struggle, as in Falluja? The Iraqi labor movement, working not just to expell the American military but to create a better society? There is not a unified Iraqi resistance movement.) I was saying that we need to think about how we address people we want to join our movement. I'm not going to repeat what I already said in the article.

Now, instead of telling me what a jerk I am, can we discuss the issues around organizing I was trying to raise?
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
18 Apr 2004
This is not news. This is nothing more than an attack piece on ANSWER - who definitely deserves it - and NECDP - which definitely does not. At any rate, it's obvious and blatantly not news. This violates the center-column guidelines that were set by the collective itself. I don't personally agree with those guideleines, but Matt, you were one of the people who was so adamant about them, so it is very odd that you are now violating them.

As for sectarianism, Matt, I have three words for you: Pot. Kettle. Black.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
18 Apr 2004
?

i was one of the "sectarian" people chanting in the UJP march. there was no takeover of the march, we weren't leading it anywhere or in the front controlling it. everyone in the march was chanting. everyone in the march wanted to chant. i'm not sure how this consitutes some huge sectarian act.

also, there seems to be this painting of the NECDP and answer being the same group, or the NECDP being some kind of WWP front group. it is not, in any way, shape, or form.

a large scale movement doesn't really need to be built, as answer or ujp proclaim. we already have hundreds of thousands of people descending on new york city and washington DC to protest the war. the movement is already built, it's just a matter of where the movement heads from here. it should be a movement with a SOLID political message, and not a bunch of authoritarian organizers who get offended by a chant that calls the US a terrorist state.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
18 Apr 2004
I came to the demo, I'm not in ANSWER or NECDP, only the Green-Rainbow. For me the chants were what made the march work. I don't think the general public notices the differing slogans very much. I have loved ones in the occupation forces and want them home unharmed. Still, the ones who are really fighting the empire now is the resistance, and Iraqis are being smashed by OUR army. People who chanted 'Support our troops, bring them home' should have made more noise of their own rather than trying to keep others from making noise. After all, do we mean it, or don't we? Also I'm sure there were more than 200 people.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
18 Apr 2004
So no one wants to deal with issues around organizing?

On the guidelines: After extensive internal discussion, we recently revised the center column guidelines, which were posted on the newswire. We wanted to find ways to include commentary, but in a way that gave us standards. The article on defending gay marraige in the run up to May 17 is an example of such an article that made it under the new policy. In any case, this article is a mixture of news (read the first half) and commentary, something we've always permitted.

I am aware that NECDP and ANSWER/WWP are two different groups and didn't mean to imply that they were same, although I can now see that it wasn't clear in the article. (It also wasn't clear to some of the people I spoke to at the protest, who thought they were the same group.) I stand by my assertion that they are sectarian. They may not have WWP's history of trying to take over coalitions and the like, but they protested against a Jewish peace conference which advocated a two-state solution instead of NECDP's preferred single, Palestinian (not binational) state solution. If that isn't an example of sectarianism, I don't know what is. Certainly, there's an important debate to be had around these issues, but you would think follow advocates of Palestinian rights could find a better way to do it than protesting against each other.

As for the chanting, I was told by a UJP organizer tahts he had asked the people leading the chants to stop and they refused. This incident in itself is relatively minor--it's WWP's history of this sort of thing that is the problem.

Nor is it about authoritarian organizers getting upset about people calling the US a terrorist state. Most of the UJP organizers I know would probably agree with that. They just don't think shouting it is a useful way to build a movement. A solid political message is important, but so is not alienating potential supporters. You need to find a way to balance the two. Yes, the movement is already big. It needs to get bigger though.

I wonder if I am getting accused of being sectarian because I am critical of some groups' strategies? Folks on the left often seem to want to avoid this issue and just let different groups do their own thing. There was a productive, if not always civil, discussion about tactics and strategy after Seattle, revolving around issues of nonviolence and property destruction. This was healthy. Now people hide behind the phrase "respecting a diversity of tactics" and won't deal with the issue. I think a diversity of tactics was a useful experiment, but when it gets to the point that it shuts down the discussion about tactics, it's a problem. If we don't debate each other on these issues, we're not going to learn from each other and improve our thinking and our strategies.

I have trouble believing that everyone agrees with what I said about organizing strategy. I am still waiting for some constructive disagreement about the points I raised (OK, Gene was doing that, but no one else has yet), as opposed to sniping at me about my supposed sectarianism.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
18 Apr 2004
So what is the problem people see with this article? I was at the rally too, and the first five paragraphs describe it pretty well. Some decent speeches, nothing out of the ordinary, and then a march. There could have been more interviews with people there or passer-bys, but there's some good descriptions.

Then there are six paragraphs of analysis that critique both ANSWER and UJP. It talks about the style of both groups in how they raise issues and how they deal with others, and it criticizes both. Frankly, I thought that the criticisms of both could have been far harsher--It doesn't mention, for instance, that ANSWER's bullhorn siren started wailing briefly while Merrie Najimy, the head of a grassroots Arab-American group, was speaking at the beginning. And it doesn't get into the overwhelmingly suburban membership of the local UJP groups (despite the good work of groups like Dorchester People for Peace).

But none of this makes this article sectarian in my estimation. If it pumped one group or ideology, it could make it. But read then ending. It calls for a certain course of action that ISN'T being pursued by ANY of the groups in question. If that's sectarian, what sect is it promoting?
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
Yes, the Iraqis should wait till we build a strong peace movement in the US that provide direction for them. They are violent and reactionary and attack UN "peaceful missions". The UN only engaged in "peaceful" sanctions against them. whats wrong with these savages!?!

Matthew, you are the one that should be alerted of your disconnect with class and race. You and UJP are no better than Bush.

Jawad
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
The authors right. We're unorganized. The organization that is there, is poor. We have to give up ANSWER, and go and form a new leadership. As long as we follow ANSWER, we will not be taken seriously, which is our goal.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
This piece if full of factual inaccuracies, but it's not worth itemizing or responding to them. It's clear that the author doesn't know very much about the people or the organizations he discusses and didn't bother to check his information. If he had looked into the matter a little, he might have learned that his position about slogans is very close to that of ANSWER. (Readers can check their website and most of their literature since the beginning of the Iraq war, and especially this statement by Brian Becker of the national steering committee: http://www.iacenter.org/troops-hme-why.htm).

In any case, the organizations are not important. The more important questions raised here are the questions of message and strategy affecting the movement as a whole. To put it simply, some of us not only support people who are fighting US occupation, we think that we should be honest and say this, not censor and police ourselves and the rest of the movement.

We also believe that the US anti-war movement takes pride in building what has essentially been rather an "anti-troop deployment movement" that has meant simply a shift in the policies of US imperialism and not its ultimate aims or effects. The past three decades of post-Vietnam US military strategy have in general demonstrated a shift toward a policy that involves high and low intensity air warfare aimed at destroying civilian infra-structure, strangling economic sanctions, and neo-liberal economic policies that deprive peoples of their self-determination without ever putting US troops on the ground. It is not clear--to me at least--that it was even an achievement of the US anti-war movement to bring about troop withdrawal from Vietnam (or at least not clear that it was in any sense a result of the large unity marches under the slogan "Troops out now"), but if so, this is a rather disturbing legacy that the movement hasn't dealt with. It meant that the worst and most devastating US tactical war against Vietnam was waged over the two decades after the troops withdrew, and with near silence in the United States, and that the decade between Bush I and the end of the Clinton regime killed more than a million Iraqis, again with only minimal protest.

I'm including links to two recent articles by members of NECDP that address the question of support for the resistance. The first, "Is the US Anti-war Movement Pro-Resistance?" by Amer Jubran, is a challenge to the anti-war movement as a whole, along its entire ideological spectrum, both in its demands and in its tactics for achieving them. The second, "Support Our Troops or Support the Resistance?," by Marta Rodriguez, is a response specifically to some of the concerns raised here.

Article by Amer Jubran:
http:www.onepalestine.org/antiwar.html

Article by Marta Rodriguez:
http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_6586.shtml

What's striking to me in this debate is that in spite of the author's claim that his narrow --and narrowly policed--message is broad in its appeal, reaches out to working class folks, and engages people from different classes and races, it is in fact the continual refrain of the white middle class peace movement in the US. It doesn't engage most of the people who have any real experience either of US oppression (whether internally or externally), or who have any real experience of fighting it effectively.

On the matter of street tactics, readers who look at the article by Amer Jubran will find there a discussion that I'm sure many in the movement will share: the general pattern of demonstrators collaborating with police in permitted rallies and in scripted "non-violent civil disobedience" has brought us to a point where the movement has achieved the right to express itself in public and not much else.

Locally, the only post-Iraq war instance I personally have seen in which people even slightly pushed the envelope was in the immediate aftermath of the beginning of the bombing campaign. Protestors shut down Mass. Avenue and the Mass. Ave bridge twice on the day after the bombing, and again on the following weekend. These are not highly significant interventions because they do not involve well-chosen, strategic targets (e.g. ports); they are an incremental move beyond the existing script locally. (In SF, people achieved a good deal more, and yet still not very much.)

We would not even have done this much if we had followed the writer's advice and "respected the will of the organizers," who generally want to police everything from chants to tactics, and who in this case wanted to police us out of the streets, onto the sidewalks, and finally onto a large plaza to listen to endless speeches.

If we are going to break the script that involves either large permitted rallies and marches that are essentially a walk in the park on a sunny weekend, or small acts of symbolic civil disobedience in which people get arrested for the sake of getting arrested, we may have to cultivate some respect for spontaneity: there is no way to plan illegal actions with large numbers of people and still catch the police strategically unprepared.

One final point. The main instance the author cites demonstrating that the NECDP is a sectarian group is the protest on November 1st of a conference held at the Park Plaza hotel (site of the Israeli consulate), supposedly because it was organized in support of a two-state solution. Once again, he might have looked into the facts. NECDP did not call the protest because the conference supported a two-state solution, but because a war criminal was giving the keynote address (Amram Mitzna, responsible for the policy of crushing the bones in the hands and arms of Palestinian children for throwing stones at tanks during the first Intifada), and because the conference was generally organized to build support for the Geneva Accords (worse than Oslo) by building alliances between the Israeli Labor and US Democratic Parties on a sham rhetoric of "peace." I invite people to check the statement on the NECDP website and find out for themselves:

http://www.onepalestine.org/conference_protest.html
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
A couple of things: If you're going to have a demonstration where the indigenous people who fight against occupation are demonized as "terrorists," as they were in Howard Zinn's speech, you can't expect others not to take issue with it. As a person who's country is also under *your troops'* occupation, I find that kind of language offensive, insulting and downright racist. When the attacks of September 11 happened, one of the things that often came from UJP's podium was that while the U.S. shouldn't engage in racial profiling, it did "have the right" to "look for the terrorists" and "prosecute them." In fact, your November 3 2002 rally included a speech by actor Tim Robins, (Susan Sarandon's husband,) *supporting the occupation of Afghanistan* on similar grounds. In other words, you people see no problem with the use of *your state's* violence to deal with people that in your eyes "violate" "your borders" to kill your citizens. But somehow, people who are the victims of *your troops,* of *your occupation,* and *your violence* are supposed to cross their arms, allow themselves to be slaughtered, and what else???!!! Wait for the antiwar movement to be done lingering over capuccinos and find the magic rhetoric that will persuade this bloody country to withdraw its troops and give up on the theft of their resources? What makes *"your borders"* and the lives of *your* citizens worthier of defense than those of the Iraqis and Afghans?

It's lovely to hear that some in your coalition "privately support the armed resistance" in Iraq. But *unspoken* "support" ultimately means didley to people who have nothing but sheer will and inadequate weapons to go against a genocidal pirate with hundreds of thousands of troops, B52 bombers, cruise missiles, Apache helicopters, and private armies of mercenaries who give each soldier ten times the weaponry possessed by the resistance. In case you haven't noticed, "telepathy" is not an ability that everyone possesses. If you make *no effort* to confront *your government's* *constant* demonization of that resistance, the American public opinion against it will remain as is, because inconvenient as this hard truth may be, change in perception doesn't happen by osmosis.

Regarding your misgivings about the Iraqi resistance, to the extent that it was *your country* that provoked their actions by invading them,* to the extent that Americans have done nothing to prevent or end the unspeakable horrors *your government* has committed against the Iraqis, you have *no moral right* to criticize what the resistance does to secure an end to the occupation of their country.

Lasly, if you're going to attribute actions to organizations and speak of their "problematic histories" you should take the time and trouble to *know something* about them first. If you had *bothered* to read the leaflet of the New England Committee to Defend Palestine regarding the November 1 conference at the Park Plaza, you would have known that we didn't picket said conference because of the organizers' support for a two state "solution." We picketted it because of their support for the Geneva accords which keep leaving Palestinians with *less than what is owed to them,* and because of their decision to have war criminal Amran Mitzna as their keynote speaker. In case this *also* escaped your notice, Mitzna is responsible for the Israeli military policies that allowed the crushing of the bones of children during the first intifada.

If you're going to "dazzle" us with your "expertise" on ANSWER and NECDP's approach to the resistance and the troops, You should at the very least take the time to read ANSWER's "Bring the troops home" statements, and the articles that some of us in NECDP have written on that question.

Most respectfully,
Marta Rodriguez
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
As someone who is trying hard to work with UJP and is deeply concerned about policies within UJP of censoring email listservs, stiffling open discussions about racism, and putting out calls that are not consistent with the points of unity, etc. it is not surprising to me that a UJP call brings a predominantly white and middle class crowd.

In contrast, I was at an emergency protest against the brutal assisnation of Rantisi in NYC yesterday and there were mostly Arabs and Muslims chanting strong slogans: US is a terror state, Israel is a terror state, Down down with Israel, Victory to the Intifada - and this was all without any NECDP promting... the chants were led by Palestinians for the most part, but there was also a strong Naturi Karta (orthodox anti-Zionist Jews) presence. (NECDP contingent was only a handful of several hundred.) There were also Puerto Rican, First Nations people and people of African Descent in attendence. http://www.stratecomm.net/~fritz/gallery/consulate
This contrast speaks to the fact that in Arab and Muslim communities all across the country, there are those who feel compelled to speak out in strong clear language or else why bother? Or more to the point, why would they support chants and slogans that consider the rights of Iraqis, Palestinians and Muslims only secondarily or, in many cases, not at all? Why would they lend numbers to racism and islamophobia against themselves?

Also, on Friday evening and Saturday, I attended the "Free the Captives" concert and conference on political prisoners at UMASS Boston. Again, the crowd was largely non-white and the speakers were quite strong and direct in their understanding of the fundamental criminality and injustice of the US govt throughout its history and into the present and that armed struggle is one important tactic of many that will be required to end these crimes.

I agree it is hard to figure out when to criticize, when to do your own thing, when to appeal to people - but if people are going to announce a protest and then think they can ask certain participants to leave because they don't like the chant "US is a terror state" even as the crowd is chanting along, then this "leadership" is little better than the police-state we are trying to dismantle.

If organizations really want to draw a "diverse" crowd, they should have a diverse leadership - and not by finding the right token to tow the liberal-white-consensus line, but by having practices and policies that are inclusive and open to different perspectives. Is it up to white activists to choose which Arab and which African American speaker is "acceptable" and which is not? Attending the events that people of color organize, such as the political prisoners conference, the emergency protest in NYC and typical NECDP actions taken at the initiation of Palestinians, would be a good way to hear what activists in communties of color have to say. People of color, 1st Nations People, People of African Descent, Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims - they are speaking out against the war and against racism - are we who are descendents of European settlers ready to listen? And if so, are we ready to hear that activists among these communities may well appreciate our support, solidarity and efforts, but do not *need* or *want* our *leadership*?

In the end, even if these "wars" were to end tomorrow, the massive degree of devestation that this country visits against people who sincerely resist and reject its dominion will continue apace in one form or another. We are hopefully building a movement that has many currents and many voices - if there can be space at a protest for a mournful cello solo, can there not also be space for some angry and spirited chants? Different things speak to different people - but we have a long battle ahead, so I hope we can learn to sincerely respect that diversity of tactics is deeper than an excuse not to dialog - it also speaks to deep differences in how people understand the root causes of the injustices we unite to oppose. Some people really would call the troops being withdrawn a success, others think reparations are essential, and still others think the world will never be safe with the US as global genocidal hegemon at the helm... these conceptual differences are not about factions and sects. They speak to sincere differences in understanding what the problem is. Let's keep talking about it, Matt. Let's talk about why you don't think we are living in a police state and the 8 Homes not Jails folks arrested last week in Cambridge and large portions or the African American, Latino, Arab, South Asian and Muslim communities would beg to differ. Let's talk about the very different pictures of the world we each see and figure out how to really respect those who have a different experience rather than accusing them of crashing a protest.

for Justice and in hope for solidarity,
Aimee
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
From Matthew: "I didn't say we should not support the Iraqi resistance. (I think it's worth thinking about which Iraqi resistance though. The Islamic fundamentalists who
hold civilians hostage? Is that the resistance we support? A grassroots armed struggle, as in Falluja? The Iraqi labor movement, working not just to expell
the American military but to create a better society?"

With all due respect, who are you as the member of an occupying nation to be determining who in the Iraqi resistance "deserves" support and "doesn't"? If it turns out that the Iraqis tend to favor the Islamic fundamentalists more than other forces, does it mean you don't support their fight to get rid of their occupiers because you don't like the political components of that resistance? What part of *self determination* do you *not* get?

It is quite obvious that you haven't learned anything from the lesson offered by the thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites and Sunnis who sacrificed life and limb to break through the U.S. thugs' blockade of Fallujah to bring aid to their brothers and sisters under siege. Were they conditioning their support to the people of Fallujah to whether they were Islamic fundamentalists, trade unionists, Marxis Leninists, social democrats, Christian revivalists or anything else? No. They saw that those people were in trouble, were fighting for something legitimate and many lost their lives in the effort to extend their help. It's amazing to me that the Iraqis can risk and sacrifice so much to unite in solidarity with their resistance, and the people whose *government* is *guilty* of their occupation can't even muster up enough back bone to *say* that they're right to be defending themselves against the violence of the occupation -- and use as an excuse for their silence their political disagreement with Islamic fundamentalism, hostage taking, or whatever excuse comes along.

You speak of the hostage taking in Iraq as if all of the hostages were illegitimate targets, and as if the Iraqi resistance had arsenals of devices at their disposal to rid themselves of the occupation and still avoid the messy business of hostage taking and blood letting. You *conveniently* forget that the tactic of hostage taking began with the American military thugs' kidnapping of the families of insurgents in order to force them to give themselves up. A lot of the hostages in the possession of the resistance according to the news reports that have thus far come out are military contractors or contractors for the companies that intend to pillage Iraq. They made themselves a target by traveling to that country to enforce the occupation and/or partake of its exploitation. As for other hostages not related to these functions, some have been released, and if their governments were concerned about their safety they wouldn't be lending their troops to the U.S. for the murder and pillage of the Iraqis.

The bottom line is this: the fault for anything that you might find problematic in the Iraqi resistance *lies with the occupation,* *not* with the people who practically have to work miracles to defend themselves. You want the Iraqi resistance to behave like the welcome wagon corp? Have your government get out of Iraq.

Marta Rodriguez
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
OK, glad to see the conversation is moving along.

First off, I would like to apologize for one thing. I should have spoken to the folks with NECDP and ANSWER at the protest to get your perspective, especially since I was chatting with UJP organizers. (By the way, as a point of clarification, I am not and never have been a member of UJP.) That was sloppy journalism on my part.

On the peace conference thing: At the time of it, I believe I went to NECDP's website and I don't recall seeing anything about Mitzna speaking. (My memory may be failing me here, of course.) The reason I was really puzzled by this is that I knew someone who was working on organizing the conference. While as the daughter of Holocaust survivers she firmly believes in the need for a Jewish state (a position I do *not* agree with--I find the idea that states of any sort protect people absurd), she was also equally emphatic on the need for a Palestinian state--and well aware not only of the current crimes against Palestinians, but of the events of 1948. So, in addition to checking out NECDP's website, I checked out the website of the conference organizers. What I saw was a moderate Jewish peace group. They tended to emphasize the way the occupation hurt Israel in a way that made me uncomfortable, but I saw nothing I thought totally out of line. Perhaps this woman I know is on the left wing of the organization. Perhaps the organizers of the conference were purposefully moderating their stance to try to draw in the broader Jewish community, who are bothered with what Israel is now doing but are not yet ready to come to grips with Israel's history. I don't know. Certainly having Miztna speak at the conference was problematic, but wouldn't it have made more sense to engage them in dialogue on this point instead of picketing them? While the local American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is pretty progressive, the national leadership is centrist to the point that the keep inviting Colin Powell (an unrepentant war criminal if there ever was one) to speak at their conferences. Would you picket them? I suppose one incident such as this doesn't represent sectarianism, but it still seems to be an example of poor judgement to me.

On going along with organizers' requests: I used to be an organizer and I once had ANSWER/WWP essentially take over a protest I had helped organize by placing their banner in a place that made it look like they had organized it. I think everyone will agree that this is out of line. This sort of thing has made me sensitive to what it's like to be an organizer and have people departing from your plan of protest. It seems to me that when you go to a protest, as a general rule of etiquette, you should be prepared to go along with tone the organizers have set. If you want to do something different, you can call your own demo (which both NECDP and ANSWER had already done previously) or otherwise take action on your own. If, on the other hand, the organizers had tried taking your signs away, that would have been out of line. Those seem to me to be common, generaly understood rules of protest etiquette. Certainly, there are times to be rude--like if the organizers were taking a reactionary stand on some issue or when people show up to Quaker peace vigils with class war signs and the organizers tell them that those are just too far out of line.

This doesn't mean I'm calling for timid action. I called for a campaign of nonviolent direct action. I would agree with Amer Jubran's critique of much civil disobedience today, that it's just coreographed with the police and has no impact.

On what we can expect of the Iraqi opposition: I'm certainly not calling for them to be nonviolent. Though I am a pacifist, I recognize that the violence of the oppressed is almost always less than that of the oppressor. And I recognize that if I'm not there on the ground, it's really not my business to tell them how to fight their battles. Yet, do we really want to support a resistance that commits atrocities? What sort of government will it create? And I don't see how the atrocities of one side justify the atrocities of another (though I understand how our atrocities lead them to commit theirs). I think the example the Zapatistas set, of following the Geneva Conventions on war, is not too much to expect. I don't know that most Iraqis would choose Islamic fundamentalists, but they may end up ruling Iraq anyway through making a power play. Certainly, most Iraqi women would probably not enjoy their rule. I don't think it's racist tosupport groups whose principals are simialr to our own. If we were dictating their strategy to them, that would certainly be racist.

On US troops: Yes, some of them are racist and committing atrocities. Some of those same US troops will probably have post-traumatic stress syndrome afterwards when the full horror of what they've done hits them. I try to avoid demonizing aynone (not that I always succeed) and recognize that all of us are a mix of good and evil. If I ended up in the military, I honestly don't know how I would act if I was being attacked and saw my buddies being killed. That sort of thing makes people crazy. I knew an ex-Navy SEAL once, who told me he was all hung-ho about what he was doing when in the military (which is similar in some ways to being in a cult) and only realized how screwed up it always after being out for a while. US atrocities should be condemned--but we also need to maintain some measure of recognition of the basic humanity of those committing the atrocities, and their potential for being better people in the future.

So now we get to the question, how can we best support the resistance in Iraq and force the US government into a total and complete withdrawal, turning sovereignty over to some sort of representative Iraqi body and not the UN? By voicing our unlimited support for them? I'm not sure how that directly aids them. I think we can better help them by undermining the US war machine here at home. To do that, we need a broad movement--and the people most likely to join that movement are working people and people of color. (Probably none of you disagree with me on that.) Like I said, most of them probably have relatives or friends in the military they're worried sick about. We need a movement that appeals to them. This means connecting the war abroad with the war at home--the cuts in social services, the loss of good jobs, union-busting, police brutality. This also means remembering the humanity of their loved ones in the military. Sounding like we want them to get shot isn't going to do that. I would guess this demo in New York with lots of people of color was composed of seasoned activists, not new converts. They probably have a different perspective than non-activist people of color (I'm making an educated guess here). And this message certainly won't speak to white working class people, who we need in our movement to make it large enough to have an impact. And, eventually, if we really have to break the US war machine, we will have to draw in parts of the US middle class. (We may get help in that from the current economic restructuring which is destroying much of the middle class.)
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
The "peace conference" organizers firmly believe in a pure Jewish State. Not only culturally but racially "Jewish". Replace the word Jewish with German, White, Christian... thus, the "peace conference" is a KKK conference. But you will never understand because primarily you are anti Arab and Anti Muslim.

The Arab Anti Discrimination Committee is primarily composed of elite Arabs and wealthy middle class Arabs. They supported the war on Afghanistan and every US invasion outside the Arab world. I do not know how you classify them as progressive. You should check your facts first.
Want factual inaccuracies?
19 Apr 2004
I'm reluctant to get into this inane argument. But Jawad's post above is simply inaccurate. The ADC did NOT support the invasion of Afghanistan, at least not here--I remember hearing Merrie Najimy speak in her official capapcity shortly after the war began. Why are you attacking them, especailly when no one frmo the organization has said anything here? Now THAT strikes me as sectarian name calling.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
National ADC to be accurate. Local chapters may not have endorsed the position. I was not attacking but highling many of the mistakes in Matthew's article and his response. Jawad
Factual Accuracy
19 Apr 2004
This is the ADC Press release supporting military action in Afghanistan. We know what the US did and is doing in Afghanistan.
Genocide!

Press Release

ADC Statement on US Military Actions


Washington, DC -- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today expressed support for actions by the United States to bring to justice the criminals behind the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, and to ensure that no such attacks against the American people occur in the future. Arab Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with our government and fellow citizens in opposing those who would attack our country. ADC urges that, when military actions are required, they are targeted precisely at the guilty parties and their accomplices, and that every possible measure is taken to avoid civilian casualties.

Arab Americans are angered and appalled by attempts to cynically exploit Arab and Muslim concerns regarding some US policies in the Middle East to justify the crimes of September 11. ADC reiterates that nothing could justify the September 11 attacks, and that those who would use widespread concerns over US policies as a rationalization for these crimes are distorting and misrepresenting these grievances. These concerns need to be addressed within the framework of US efforts to develop and maintain warm and stable relations with Arab and Muslim societies. ADC welcomes statements by President George Bush that American military actions are not targeted against the Afghan people or Islam.

ADC urges Arab Americans to continue to exercise caution, use their common sense, be aware of their surroundings, and report suspicious or threatening incidents to the police and ADC. ADC has confirmed over 350 violent incidents against Arab Americans since September 11, including five killings. ADC provides legal referrals to those who face threats, violence or discrimination on the basis of their national origin, ethnicity or faith.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 Apr 2004
Matt,
This bit is confusing to me:
> I would guess this demo in New York with lots of > people of color was composed of seasoned
> activists, not new converts. They probably have
> a different perspective than non-activist people > of color (I'm making an educated guess here).

Is this really an educated guess or a wild guess or a guess that fits your assumptions when the people you are speaking for defy your expectations? There were young people in their teens starting chants, older women and men, families - I followed one five year old girl who started a chant on her own.

Rather than guess, why not try and attend these sorts of protests and events and listen to what people have to say about why they are there, what they want, how they envision building a movement to take us there...

In hope,
Aimee
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
20 Apr 2004
I don't want to interrupt the discussion taking place here, but I have a question/point of clarity.

Is it really fair to characterize the aims of US intervention in Afghanistan as "genocide"? Let's be mindful of the fact that genocide is the systematic, deliberate extermination of an entire people because of their racial, ethnic, national, or religious (etc) identity. I think it's safe to say that the US government has not set out to exterminate every last Afghan on this earth, whatever the actual goal of the intervention is.

We in the antiwar movement should be careful when using such powerful terms. Members of the NECDP, an organization I respect in many ways, ritualistically equate their opponents (Alan Dershowitz and John Ashcroft, for example) with Hitler. They have used the term "genocide" to explain the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the US war on Iraq. I hope and believe that those responsible for this do not speak English as their native tongue; perhaps they/you are unaware of what "genocide" actually is?

Do you think this is really the best way to reach out to normal people and build our movement? Do you think its more tactically effective to compare Alan Dershowitz to Hitler than to, say, point out the fatuous nonsense Dershowitz wrote in "The Case for Israel"? The facts on all of these issues are on our side. Why don't we stop shooing ourselves in the foot and use them?

Comradely,
Jake
RUN, FORREST, RUN!
20 Apr 2004
Matt, you must flee. Flee I say. You had the guts to call a sectarian, a sectarian, and now they will keep engaging you as long as you keep engaging them.

Run, Matt, Run!!!
Flee?
20 Apr 2004


Flee?

When this is one of the more interesting discussion we've had in the last few months. After all, IndyMedia is "a public media outlet for the radical, accurate and passionate tellings of truth". Matt's piece (the parent article in this discussion) helps demonstrate one perspective of the anti-globalization, anti-war, anti-greed movement. His experience at this protest and others has helped shape his opinion, and we all can benefit and learn from it.

Likewise, the criticim and large response on this topic is also a beneficial learning experience. The more, the merrier, I say.

Isn't the point of the piece, in part, about engaging each other and considering the direction of the movement & even new tactics?

Flee?!

thoughts on genocide
20 Apr 2004
Dear Jake,
Actually, the definition of genocide from the 4th Geneva Convention is quite clear - "...acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical[sic], racial or religious group..."

I encourage you to read it fully. The pdf attached at the end of this post is from a demonstration last year has the definition. It also has a clear explanation of why the term applies to Palestine. (Incidentally, this action was a coalition of Palestine and other groups.)

The war on Afghanistan was undertaken in such a way that it jeopradized the food access of several million people in an already quite debilitated economy. Also, if you take a long view and consider the genocides that happened to the Native Americans in the US (some 97% deliberately slaughtered)and the Africans (estimates are somewhere around 50 million Africans slaughtered by the slave industry) and the recent sanctions against Iraq which estimates come close to 2 million people dying as a result (getting to 10% of the Israqi population), you need to be quite clear about the fact that the US govt does not go around and accidentally wipe out millions of people - it is part of intentional processes that are meant to strip land and resources from people with as little fuss as possible. The same is underway in Colombia. And the same explains the complete disregard and actual promotion of massive scale killings and deaths in Africa. (Such as what World Bank policies had to do with creating the climate for the genocide in Rwanda - these are not incidental connections.)

I encourage everyone who thinks the US govt is above genocide to read Ward Churchill's "A Little Matter of Genocide" which can be acquired from http://www.akpress.org
or get it at Lucy Parson's Book Store.

Unfortunately, genocide is more pervassive than we in this most genocidal country on the planet are led to believe...

In hope,
Aimee



Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
20 Apr 2004
Dropping 5000 pound bombs on villages is genocide. Ashcroft and the Christian fascists repeatedly said in their publications that we must degrade the Arabs, make them defeated, make them hungry and then send the missionaries to convert them. This is exactly what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan ans Palestine.The Christian right proudly announces that most of the high ranking officers in the US ARMY are graduates of Christian colleges and they are determined to humilate the Arabs, kill them and convert them.

English is not my native language but I understand your bigotry and hatred. Jawad
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
20 Apr 2004
To Jawad and Aimee,

I don't believe that Jake was in any way suggesting that the United States had never committed an act of genocide. He was speaking very sepcifically with regards to the actions taken in Afghanistan which certainly were not genocide. The objective was not to eliminate the Afghani people the objective was to respond to 9/11. I concede that the response was foolish and wrong. I opposed it from the start. This is not the point. The intention of genocide is very specific and while some right wing religious groups may advocate it that does not make it US policy. Furthermore Jawad I can assure that Jake is not a biggot. As an Arab-American activist who has known him for years I can tell you this with full confidence. He is a passionate advocate for the Palestinian people. We need to be careful not to throw around the words racist so often. I find it remarkable that the antiwar movement have charged dissenters with racism more often then the zionists do these days. This must stop. We must welcome a rational discourse by a variety of opinions without demeaning individuals with such hateful charges. The war in Afghanistan may have been foolish and wrong but it wasn't genocide. The killing of the Native Americans was an act of genocide. Which Jake never denied. No one has said the US govt is above the act of genocide all that was said is that the war in Afghanistan was not such an act. It's good to be passionate but we must work to remain as objective as possible when reviewing each respective situation. Leave the unfounded charges of racism and biggotry to the Zionists. We have the truth on our side.
on racism and genocide
20 Apr 2004
Tim,
Please please please bother to open the pdf I attached above. It clarifies a lot about why the term genocide is appropriate in Palestine and I bet you can then make the leap of why it is accurate for Afghanistan as well.

Racism is very deep and we are bombarded with racist images and ideas 24/7 in this culture - it is racist to think about the safety and harm befalling our troops without mentioning those who are the innocent victims facing invasion in Iraq! It is racist to put so much focus on "terrorism" in the US, 9/11 and so forth, while meanwhile we fund and wage terrorism all across the planet on a daily basis. (9338 9/11s if you consider relative proportions of population.) Is an Iraqi life less important than a US life? Iraq has suffered roughly 667 9/11s at our hands. I don't even know the numbers from Afghanistan, but we get so little information that only makes it scarier. How many 9/11's did we visit on Southeast Asia? Around 1700! There are around 10 9/11's worth of deaths worldwide *every day* due to engineered hunger and/or lack of water. Are these people of the Global South countries worth less than a US citizen? If we say yes, then we are racist. If we say no, then we have to agree that our entire society is geared on racism and it continues to meat out genocide, not just something that happened in the bad old past before we were miraculously "enlitghtened"...

Sharon says Israel is a peace loving nation as well...

If we are not willing to look hard at the US exceptionalism that is pedaled to us day and night, we will inadvertently be perpetuating racism. In fact, even if we look hard, we will still fail to notice many important ways we are participating in the unjust valuing of some humans over others. But at the very least we can commit to trying, can't we? And if I have to suffer being called a racist from time to time, to me that is nothing to even complain about when I am helping to fund genocide all over the world through my tax dollars.

In hope,
Aimee
Genocide
21 Apr 2004
Aimee,
I read the PDF file and I don't see it as relevant to Afghanistan. The issue of contention here is whether or not US actions against Afghanistan were/are genocide. I am not debating whether or not the US has committed acts of genocide our disagreement expressly surrounds the issue of Afghanistan. The killings done in Afghanistan were not done to target Afghans because they were Afghans. The actions in Afghanistan were meant to respond to an attack on the US. I do think the intervention in Afghanistan was wrong but it wasn't genocidal. It wasn't done to deter the growth of the Afghan population. It wasn't done to destroy part of the Afghan population. The people of the US were afraid following 9/11. I grant you that the life of an Afghan is worth just as much as an American life and there is an implicit racism in our policy but that is different then genocide. What occurred in Afghanistan was not genocide it was wrong and violent and arguably racist but that doesn't make it genocide.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
21 Apr 2004
Tim (and others),

First of all, Tim, as an Arab-American, I find you insensivity to repeat (or even believe) the lies/propaganda of the U.S. govt. about why U.S. attacked Afghansitan (i.e., in response to 9/11) simply appalling and yes racist as it propagates the lies of the whites against non-whites. Have you simply ignored all the evidence that it had nothing to do with 9/11 and was pre-planned or does that not count because some white guy in power did not say it? By that definition you should also believe that Iraq was attacked because of WMD or links to 9/11 or Israel was created in response to the Nazi Holocaust. Or are you simply not interested in the history of U.S.(and other empires) in using different excuses to committ similar crimes?

Is it simply that you are so deluded by the propaganda or is it another example of Arabs and other minorities who have internalized racism to the extent that they believe these lies rather easily when they are about other groups and then it extends to their own group in insidious ways. This internalized racism then leads to the attempt of increasing our "value" by appearing more and more "white" e.g, by making the "superior race" feel comfortable by appearing to be "good americans citizens." It is my experience that trying to become "honorary whites" is not uncommon among minorities and in order to gain that status (a myth that one can gain this) one is taught that we have to appear to be "moderate and balanced" in our criticism of the U.S. or Whites and not look like those who "hate the west". It is also seen as a good strategy to become successful. Books like "How Jews beame White Folks and what they say about race in America." I believe ADC (both local and national) have a great interest in becoming influential by following this strategy (which again is a mirage).

Second, all discussions of genocide get quickly into technical definitions as that is the best tact by the opposition to deflate the arguement. It is a beautiful tact as the very defintions are created by the same powers so the judges and the perpetrators are the same. Also, to engage people in an excercise of words is a great academic exercise but then what? Does it REALLY matter what the "intention" was when U.S. carpet bombed Afghanistan? How does it matter to those who were wiped out whether or not wiping out of their cities, villages, etc. was the "intention"? Does the mass murder of Afghanis not count as "genocide" simply because it was not defined as such by some organization (primraily composed of who?--not afghanis i can tell you)? Do we ask Afghanis what they call their own destruction or are they "intellectual" enough to engage in defining what "genocide" is? Perhpas we should simply discuss amongst ourselves whether it fits our definitions of genocide and then tell them that sorry it does not fit our definitions. This is what racism looks like of whites and non-whites who have internalized these notions. But wait, racism is a strong word adn if those engaging in it don't see it as racism then we can't use it since it is technically incorrect to use it if the racist did not have racist intentions.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
21 Apr 2004
E-mail flame wars won't bring US empire to its knees, but I am glad to see that some of the responders to this list understand what will.
I am a Palestinian. I am consistently confused about why those in the US anti-war movement shy away from proudly supporting those who bravely defend themselves against
--soldiers with guns who shoot at children
--military with F-16's who bomb places of worship
--democrats who have given up on merely starving families and now are calling for more troops to destroy even more of Iraq
--republicans who will bomb infrastructure and then shamelessly make money off the wreckage by offering to rebuild it.

How many billions of dollars of oil have left Iraq in the last year, while innocent Iraqi people once again die by military violence and US manufactured poverty?

I keep hearing at street protests about the power of the people.
In Iraq, you are seeing the power of the people.
You are seeing what angry mourning mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters do when their loved ones are slaughtered at the hands of a morally bankrupt enemy with the greatest military in the history of civilization.

What do you want the Iraqi people to do?
How do you want them to fight the enemy?

This is usually the point at which the peace movement trots out Martin Luther King and Ghandi.
Dr. King became the "most responsible black man in America" because the alternative for ending segregation and apartheid was being offered by the Black Liberation Army who did not have an interest in collaborating with a corrupt US government to institute a reform agenda that ultimately didn't do much for black people. How far do you think Ghandi would have gotten if there wasn't an impending popular revolution which was going to throw the British forces out, as opposed to politely asking them to leave. Speaking as a former pacifist, my experience with most pacifists and even people who don't call themselves pacifist but give lip service to "peace" is that non-violent movements generally mean protection of white or rich people at the expense of poor people or people of color. Was it the slogans and flower power in the US anti-war movement that ended the war in Vietnam or was it the Vietnamese people who taught Americans about the cost of empire by sending poor American people home in body bags?

All that said, do we really believe that if the Iraqi people peacefully protest the US government or send negotiating teams, that the US will leave and give up on their aspirations to exploit the land for billions of dollars of oil? Has anything in the history of American empire led us to believe that anything but indigenous armed struggle will get Americans or Western Europeans out of land that they have a geopolitical interest in controlling?

Or perhaps you're of the old school, and you believe that Iraqi people should get down on their knees and beg the master to leave, to not destroy their nation, to not rape their land and their people? Should they beg for the West to bestow "US-style freedom" upon them...meaning puppet governments of the United States that allow the US to steal oil and resources and collaborate in the repression of any dissent?

I am embarrassed by the anti-war movement here.
Shame on you if you are reading this and thinking that you are going to help Iraqi people by pacifying your message. If you are not actively supporting the struggle against US imperialism and saying it out loud (not just in steering committee meetings with people who agree with you), then stop wasting your time.

Iraqi people, like all people, are perfectly capable of governing themselves. We do not have to help transition power to them. We merely need to get the hell out of their country and that means that the anti-war movement needs more than an anti-troop deployment message. We need an anti-imperialist movement that stops special forces, corporate America, and globalization from succeeding where US troops fail.

That means being ready to give up our American privilege and saying no to imperial and colonial wars (no matter what form they take: military, economic, or my favorite, the "peace" negotiation variety). It means we stop making excuses for what in our heart we know is absolutely one hundred percent wrong.

If we are frustrated and feel that we can't get the message out about what we know to be true, maybe, it is because our message is so polluted by the propaganda, that on some level, even we have started to believe it.

Right now someone in the anti-war movement is arguing that we can't support a resistance movement against American soldiers because there is an economic draft. Poor people can and do make moral choices every day. They live in communities here in the US (from Harlem to East LA) where they get first hand experience with the effects of empire. And people from Palestine to Puerto Rico can often see that the arm of the military that is destroying their country is the same arm recruiting in their neighborhoods. Shouldn't the anti-war movement be reinforcing the message that joining the enemy is generally a bad idea? that we support the right to resist and the resistance itself when our military commits crimes against humanity?

People talk about Nazi Germany and ask what were the Germans doing when millions of people were being slaughtered? At this historical moment, we need to ask ourselves what we have been doing. If we are not on the side of the Iraqi resistance then we are on the side of the occupier, and we are defending the interests of the occupier and the interests of empire--which ultimately preserves our privilege here.

And let's face it. What is really at stake in making our chants more militant? As a friend of mine from Palestine once said, "At the end of a protest, you (Americans) go to dinner... we (Palestinians) go to a funeral."

Can't we at the very least offer an anti-imperialist message and a message of solidarity to the resistance, given that we're not, at this point at least, offering much else?

This is a war for survival and it is a war against US empire.
Which side are you on?
Choose.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
21 Apr 2004
Jawad, on the Jewish peace conference. Yes, it was a left-Zionist conference. They believe in a two state solution, including an Israeli/Jewish state and a Palestinian state. I know a couple of left-Zionist activists. They are quite sincere in their support for Palestinian rights. I'm not going to defend the left-Zionist position--I don't agree with it--but I think it's wrong to dismiss them as simply racists. It's a good deal more complicated than that. Because of the historical trauma of the Jewish people (centuries of persecution, culminating in the Holocaust), as a community they still have a seige mentality. Certainly, there are Jews who oppose Zionism, but many support it because they see a Jewish state as a refuge. Again, I am not defending this position. (As an anarchist, I think the only people states protect are small groups of elites.) I am pointing out its historical roots--if we actually wish to solve these issues (including addressing the laws in Israel that privilege Jews above other ethnic groups) we need to understand their causes. Dismissing people of good will as racists doesn't accomplish that.

I described the national ADC as "centrist" (this is not a compliment in my vocabulary) and noted that the local one was progressive. The local folks certainly did *not* support the US conquest of Afghanistan. I've heard local members express their frustration with the national ADC on more than one occasion. Why are they still members? Because the Arab-American community is so small that it would do more harm than good to split off into another group. They're trying to reform the group from within. I don't know anything about the class composition of the ADC, so I can't really comment on that, except to say that class divisions are common in lots of oppressed racial/ethnic groups. That doesn't mean well-to-do members of those groups don't face discrimination. Black members of Congress have been harrassed by racist police, who refused to believe that a Congressperson could be black.

As for the charges that I am anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, I have no idea why you think that. I oppose the US occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. I oppose turning Iraq over to the UN, instead of some democratic political system controlled by ordinary Iraqis. I criticized Islamic fundamentalism, but I am well aware that there are progressive forms of Islam--and quick to point it out to Islam's detractors. How any of this makes me anti-Arab or anti-Muslim remains a mystery to me.

Aimee, I would love to make it to more protests. I just do not have the time. I'm in grad school--and if you've never been in grad school, you have no idea how time consuming it is. Some of the other grad students I work with are surprised that I even have the time to do what I do with Indy Media.

In any case, I am aware that there are some pretty significant racial/ethnic divides in the peace movements. Some of this is due to the racism we've all internalized. Some of it has to do with different organizing cultures, that can frustrate attempts to communicate and work together even when there's good will and a consciousness on the part of white, middle class organizers about race and class issues.

I was responding to the point I thought you were making about that march using a lot of militant language, similar to that of your group. Perhaps that rhetoric resonated with people there. I am still really skeptical about the ability to draw in people who don't already identify with the left with that sort of language. Once we get folks invovled with the movement, then a more blunt, radical analysis can be introduced to them. (This responds to some of Lana's concerns as well.) But to draw them into the movement in the first place, we have to speak a langauge they can relate to--in a lot of cases, left-wing langauge won't cut it. It's too great of a leap from the way most people raised in our society think about issues.

I think I'm just repeating arguments I've already made. The only other thing I can add is that this analysis is based on the research done by a lot of sociologists who support progressive social movements and have tried to understand what leads formally non-committed people to support a social justice movement. And they have concluded a big chunk of it is finding the right langauge for your audience. If you want more on that, check out Prime Time Activism, by Charlotte Ryan, published by South End Press.

Of course, we can get too caught up in finding just the right language. We do not want to totally loose a radical analysis in favor of something completely mainstream that just focuses on the troops and doesn't talk about the suffering of Iraqis (and the UJP organizers did not do that). And often people don't get involved in movements becuase they feel powerless--a much bigger problem.

Lana, the War Resisters League's youth group (ROOTS) actually does run counter-recruitment efforts in high schools in poor communities, explaining to kids what joining the military is really about--and that they won't economically benefit either. (Actually, a lot of military families are on food stamps, they're so poorly paid. George Monbiot recently wrote an article pointing out that it's things like this that have traditionally lead to munities.)

People who join the military are certainly as capable as anyone else of making moral judgements. A lot of kids who join have no idea what they're getting into though. Most Americans, even members of oppressed groups, just do not know the bloody history of the US imperialism. A lot of them believe the high flown, benevolent rhetoric. A lot who joined probably never expected to see combat and be in a situation where they would have to shoot other human beings and be shot at by them.

By way of clarification, when I was explaining what causes soldiers to commit war crimes, I was not apologizing for it--any more than attempts to understand while al-Qaeada members flew planes into the Twin Towers are an apology for those crimes. I was trying to draw out the complexity of the situation. A lot of the postings here have presented analyses that treat the world as black and white when it's shades of gray. All people are capable of moral autonomy. But all people are also haveily shaped by their social environment. I think that's pretty basic to any radical analysis--it's the system that is the problem, not the individuals. (If individuals were the problem, we could fix the problems by electing new leaders.) Bad people can make a bad system worse (as the Bush adminsitration has so aptly shown) but bad systems can make decent people do bad things. That is why I think it's important to understand what leads people to join the military and what leads them to commit war crimes--so we know what we need to change. On the other hand, to deny people any moral autonomy at all is to dehumanize them. When some posters argue that we cannot condemn what Iraqi militias have done because they are just responding to the same actions by American troops, that seems to me to be denying them their moral autonomy--the Iraqi militas are not responsible because they're just engaging in a knee-jerk response to the atrocities of the US troops. I think Iraqis are capable of more than that. I am sure everyone else here does too (otherwise you wouldn't be advocating their liberation from US rule), but it doesn't always sound like it.
To the confused individual
21 Apr 2004
To "confused?"
I don't recall any information surfacing concerning pre-made plans to invade afghanistan. Prior to 9/11. There were plans to invade Iraq from the beginning. I never denied that and I am well aware that WMD was not the driving force behind invasion with respect to Iraq. I don't believe that it was a lie when the US said it was invading Afghanistan in response to al-Qaeda's attack on the United States. I believe the action against afghanistan was wrong but it is not out of ignorance that I believe that the US invaded Afghanistan because of the 9/11 attacks. I believe this because it is the most rational explanation of invading afghanistan. Afghanistan isn't exactly a valuable resource to us. Iraq is. No one has demonstrated any evidence that Bush had his heart set on invading Afghanistan before 9/11 in fact even after 9/11 his advisors were saying Afghanistan was worthless and were trying to direct him to Iraq. I never denied the intervention in Iraq was not due to WMD or 9/11. It is obvious that the invasion was done to appease other interests. Afghanistan on the other hand has not demonstrated itself to be because of anything else. So confused if you have evidence to the contrary I encourage you to produce it otherwise stop charging people with being racist because they believe something to be logical. Just because I don't agree with your interpretation of every event in international politics does not mean that I have an internalized racism toward myself and my people. Cut it out with this your either with me or against me crap. Such an assertion is absurd. Please don't bring the rationale for Iraq into this. I agree that those were lies. I disagree very specifically on the issue of Afghanistan. Stick to the issue of contention.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
21 Apr 2004
Dear Aimee,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. Your desire to discuss these matters in a mature way is appreciated, and many of your colleagues could do well to emulate it.

However, I think the source you cite coupled with your own explanation of US foreign policy ("the US govt does not go around and accidentally wipe out millions of people - it is part of intentional processes that are meant to strip land and resources from people with as little fuss as possible") practically refutes your thesis regarding Afghanistan. I'd say that the goal of the US intervening there was something closer to what you describe than to genocide. As Tim said, the goal was not "to destroy part of the Afghan population."

As Tim also pointed out, I never said that genocide has never been committed (either by the US or someone else) or that the US government is 'above' genocide or atrocities. I merely objected to the way Jawad described US intervention in Afghanistan.

Anyways, I believe it is now impossible to carry this discussion on in a medium like this one, though I'd be happy to do it elsewhere.

Dear Jawad and "Confused" (and to a lesser extent Aimee),

It is not racist to dispute your respective interpretation(s) of US foreign policy. Judging by your behavior on this thread I think it’s safe to say that you disagree. If I didn't know better, I'd say that you've been attending those AIPAC-run seminars that teach young Zionists how to humiliate and silence would-be critics of Israel. Like them, you ritualistically invoke a series of cowardly and slanderous charges to scuttle debate and defame your critics – even ones like Tim and I, who spend a good deal of our time and energy trying to build the same movement you are, and who would probably never post here if it wasn’t for that sake.

You see, this is what people mean when they accuse the NECDP of being "sectarian." Before we can bring our movement to the next level and take on some of the more (for lack of a better term) militant tactics you advocate, we first need to have a civil and open discussion about how to do it. And we can't have a discussion unless we’re willing to listen to each other and save the charges for when they’re due.

Comradely,
Jake
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
21 Apr 2004
The thing that needs to be recognised is that the anti-war movement in the united states is only willing to go to the streets in protests and then head on over to lunch and completely forget about what is being done by there own government to indiginous people until the next protest. What we all need to recognize is that we need to defer to the people who are undergoing this ethnic cleansing and refrain from dictating to them what roles to take in defending themselves. The role the NECDP takes is to bring the message of the people on the ground in PAlestine and in Iraq to the streets of this country and the thing that differs between NECDP and UJP/ANSWER and all the other groups out there is that NECDP defer to the Iraqis and Palestinians to decide what to do and we support them all the way including there right to resist.
If the anti-war movement here is willing to up the risks that they take then we would actually make a difference and not get blown of. If UJP is really affective in organising then why is it that with 100s of thousands of people protesting against the ocupation of iraq the government continues to go through with there plans.
The question that keeps coming up through this discussion is what needs to be done for better organising. well my answer is to have some humility and respect what the people are doing who are fighting the genocide being comitted against them, and be willing to take risks. Otherwise we are going to conitnue to look like a bunch of people whith nothing better to do other than yell in the streets and are never going to be taken seriously by this corrupt and blood thirsty government...

Salam

Rawan
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
22 Apr 2004
regarding the "peace" conference,

how could a group of people sincere about palestinian rights invite mitznah, the man who implemented the bone crushing policy of crushing the bones of palestinian children who were caught throwing stones at tanks, a man who has not apologized for this and still takes credit for it when it is politically to his advantage, why would he be invited as the keynote speaker?

furthermore, how could a group of people sincere about palestinian rights push for and advocate the geneva accord, which gives palestine far less then oslo ever did, oslo being a far cry away from being a remotely fair offer for the palestinians?

of course, this is already ignoring the very racist foundations zionism is built upon. how could someone sincere for palestinian rights be in favor of a state based on the racial superiority of foreign settlers that terrorized the indigenous population off of their land only 55 years earlier?

alright, i want you all to imagine something;

imagine a conference full of people advocating a permanent whites only state in south africa. imagine if the keynote speaker was a sadistic war criminal who has shown no remorse for his atrocities. imagine if they were advocating and lobbying for, inviting representatives of all the democratic party candidates of the time to attend, a partition plan that completely subverts and further destroys the native africans. imagine if the crowd attending this conference was all but entirely white americans and white south africans.

and imagine if they called it a "peace" conference.
Afghanistan 4 oil, racism and sectarianism
22 Apr 2004
Jake,

Afghanistan was invaded for UNOCAL, the plans were laid in advance, a UNOCAL man now leads the country - the Caspian Sea oil and natural gas wealth is the "prize" that needs to be seperated from the people, by any means necessary. Afghanis are incidental, in the way. There existence means as little to Uncle Sam as does that of the Colombians, the Panamanians, the Puerto Ricans, the Africans (yes, pretty much all across the continent), and those indigenous to these lands. Guess what the big development project we generous Americans are building for the people of Afghanistan? A pipeline! Who would have guessed it! The plan for Afghanistan was preordained. 9/11 was the pretext.

For whatever reason, when I am using the term "racism" here I sincerely mean it and yet it is being heard as an epithet to silence. For whatever reason, you and others use the term "sectarian" and I hear *that* as nothing but an epithet to silence.

I see I need to do a better job of explaining the connection between US exceptionalism and privilege and racism. Further, I might add that while those who *strategically* focus on the troops, etc. at the expense of focusing on Iraqis might not be doing it because of their own racism. I argue it is *pandering* to the racism of others and perpetuating the kind of exceptionalist thinking that makes us US citizens a dangerous crowd.

Now could you please attempt to explain what you mean by "sectarianism?" Long before NECDP existed I have noticed a divide between people who see, for example, that the US govt is now and ever had been about theft, domination and mass-murder. Others think the declaration of independence and bill of rights were great leaps forward for humankind, but that we "stray" from the path now and again. Some people burn the flag, others claim "peace is patriotic!" People who feel the former way about the US tend to feel that people who think the second way just haven't bothered to learn the real history of this country - whether out of laziness or denial or fear of examining their own unjust privilege in this society built on stolen lands, kiddnapped people, and genocide. I hope you don't think that all people who feel the first way are part of some kind of "sect." A current in the anti-imperialism movement, maybe, but a "sect?"

NECDP was formed to bring out a more honest framing of what is justice for Palestinians - all of Palestine including what was stolen in 1948 with equal rights for all people and return of those exiles with retoration of their property. On the Palestine issue that may seem like a local "sect", but it is connected with the thinking of the reparations movement for those of African descent, the American Indian Movement that seeks to have Indian lands returned to the peoples that they were wrongfully stolen from, the Puerto Rican Independence movement and many other currents that seek justice against US criminality. These currents may seem small inside the hub of the empire, but they are actually part of the same worldwide movement that seeks to end the US empire - ending US economic, political and military hegemony. Much of this movement realizes that people resisting overwhelming violence have the right to use any means necessary to free themselves.

NECDP is a focal point for certain activities around town, but all sorts of people around the area share the principles whether they do work on Palestine or not. And what I am trying to share about my experience on working on Palestine is that Palestinians on the whole have no problem with recognizing the right to resist, the right to return, the dismantling of Israel. This is not about a "sect" or growing a particular group - necdp - this is about struggling for fundamental human rights that continue to be trampled on.

I hope I am being civil, I try very hard to be, but I have only known about Palestine and thus many other issues for the last 2 years, and even I get frustrated and sickened with hearing the same exceptionalist assumptions thrown out over and over again. Imagine how a Palestinian who has known this all their life feels? It is a wonder they would even bother writing about it...

Read Ward Churchill "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens", "A little Matter of Genocide", and "Pacifism as Pathology" and then see if you still think folks in necdp are in a "sect" or if they are just speaking about a worldview that you have not heard much about yet, a view that is never allowed in mainstream media or school books... Zinn's "People's History" is a modest start, but there is so so much more to learn... William Blum's "Killing Hope" is an encyclopedic account of CIA activity since WWII. Ward Churchill is of the 1st Nations Peoples, a perspective we get hardly any of in this society... and the man is angry and maybe even considered impolite to some, but which of us settlers want to tell him not to be?

In hope,
Aimee

PS Who told you protesters equated Dershowitz with Hitler? It was Sharon/Bush with Hitler and Dershowitz with Goebells, a Nazi propagandist charged with incitement to genocide... don't believe everything Dershowitz tells you.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
22 Apr 2004
Tim (and Jake),

I guess I had wrongfully assumed (and thus confused) that at least those involved in the "peace movement" would do some investigation before repeatedly perpetuating the deadly lies of their criminal govt. I can only imagine how Afghanis living (not to speak of thousands who are dead) with the destruction of war under a U.S. friendly regime would feel. By U.S. friendly i mean friendly to the idea of U.S. controlling the resources of the area and not working in the best interest of its people and thus needing 24 hour protection by U.S. forces. Your repeated assertion of Afghanistan being in response to 9/11 is brutal and sickening even for me who has not been directly harmed. The line "a response to 9/11" is brutal on many levels, some of these are indicated in a previous response which enlists all the 9/11's that U.S. govt. has visited upon other countries never being mentioned when the tragedy of american lives is used as the ultimate "logical" explanation for killing thousands of afghanis.

Even if one is ignorant about the resources of the area that were being sought by the U.S. govt./companies, for anyone who knows anything about U.S.'s role in the world to think that the explanation given to them by the govt. for engaging in crimes against a whole nation seems "logical" needs to examine their analysis closely.

Also, is it too much to expect and hope that anyone working in the "peace" movement would investigate and have some knowledge of what media all over the world including progressive media here was writing regarding the real reasons behind the destruction U.S. visited upon Afghanistan and the pre-planning involved which then was conveniently done in the pretext of 9/11 (like Iraq). If a mere reading of what was being reported widely in most of the media around the world and some progressive media here was impossible (even when one google search away) then perhaps even paying attention to media of deception was enough. Bush refused to negotiate with the Taliban when they offered to hand over Osama * IF* U.S. provided evidence. They also suggested that if such evidence is provided they will hand him over to the international court for due process. Both of these offers were refused and I distinctly remember Bush getting off his plane and reporters asking him what he thought of the offer. He said "we won't negotiate with them. We don't need evidence, we know he did it" while smirking and days later he started bombing away the country. Is this what you mean by "logical" explanation? "we don't need evidence we know he did it?"

Also, Jake, it is not a matter of "interpretation" that U.S. govt.(and many others) engages in lies to continue its hegemonistic agenda around the world, it is a fact, one that has been proven repeatedly and a fact that impacts the daily lives of millions across the world. The destruction of lives and countries by U.S. govt. for economic reasons (and not just by means of "wars") is not a matter of "interpretation" that we should see if we can come to some agreement about--what sort of agreement do you forsee on this issue? What exactly does an agreement in this context mean? please do share since i see no room for "agreements" about how we funding the oppression of many are in a position to reach an agreement about what is acceptable to the ears of those who benefit from this oppression indirectly.

Aimee has already mentioned the links between oil pipelines, Afghanistan, and unocol corp. Perhaps reading about the negotiations with Taliban that were ongoing between these corp/U.S. govt/Taliban and were not going to the likings of those in power here can shed some light. Or perhaps the fact that Karzai signed off on the agreement for these pipelines in DC right before he was sent to Afghanistan as their new U.S. approved leader could provide a "logical" explanation. Please do research under oil pipeline, Afghanistan, or unocol corp to name a few and see all the details that may help you understand the reasons behind Afghanistan's destruction better. Here are just a few links that may help. I just did this quickly and have not read in depth but you get the idea.

http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1023-10.htm
http://www.atimes.com/global-econ/CJ06Dj01.html
http://www.newhumanist.com/oil.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,1361,579401,00.html
http://www.counterpunch.org/mahajan0621.html
http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2001/10/13/stories/05132524.htm
http://www.iacenter.org/nowar_oil.htm
http://www.greenparty.org/afghanbomb.html
http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0141/ridgeway2.php
http://english.pravda.ru/world/2001/10/16/18147.html
http://www.counterpunch.org/monbiot2.html
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
22 Apr 2004
I was expecting to start a debate, but nothing of quite this magnitude (although much of the debate seems to have moved beyond any of the points I was raising originally anyway). I'm afraid I can't properly engage in this debate and tend to the other things I need to deal with in my life, so this will probably be my last entry, unless someone says something really intriguing.

I feel like this debate about the peace conference is getting ridiculous. Some of you seem to have real trouble with the idea that people can have significant ideological differences from you and still be supporters of Palestinian rights. Some of the left-Zionist folks you denounce as racist have risked their lives helping Palestinians. Members of Rabbis for Human Rights, for instance, have consistently blocked Israeli military bulldozers with their bodies to try to stop them from demolishing Palestinian homes. Others have taken less militant actions, but organized joint protests with Palestnians. Why do you insist on seeing them as enemies of Palestinians? There are some real and difficult differences in perspective here that need to be grappled with, but this seems to me as though it would be best handled through dialogue not denouncement. Ideological purity is not going to help the Palestinians or change US policy towards Israel--building a large movement, which means building a large coalition, is what it's going to take. Certainly, there will be a lot of tensions within any such movement, including ideological ones, such as those between left-Zionists and anti-Zionists. But, as African-American feminist Barbara Smith has said, "If you're not afraid, it's not a coalition."

On all the issues you raise--Mitzna, the Geneva Accords, how to deal with the legacy of Jewish colonialism--it seems to me that there is room for honest differences of opinion between supporters of Palestnian rights. On Mitzna: I think a lot of moderate Jewish peace activists hoped he would be an Israeli deGaul, the "great" military leader who would end the military occupation. Apparently, he had a repuation from creating relative harmony between Arabs and Jews in the city he was then mayor of (I gather this analysis didn't really account for class differences). You may consider this naive (I was certainly skeptical at the time), but it was a position they held in good faith. And Mitzna may have regretted what he did (I have no idea)--people change.

At the time the Geneva Accords came out, I read left-wing arguments for and against them. They sound like a mixed bag to me. I don't remember the details of the agreement, but as I recall it compromised on the Palesinian right of return, something indeed problematic. On the other hand, it laid out the final resolution on a ton of important issues (with the notable exception of water rights), which was an improvement over Oslo. One of the problems with Oslo was that, because there were no final status agreements, the Israeli and American governments could keep stringing the PLO along, demanding ever more concessions. Even some folks critical of the contents of the Geneva Accords said that they were good in the sense that they might pierce through Sharon's propaganda that there was no one to negotiate with. Polls of Israelis showed that the majority supported peace negotiations in principle, but also believed Sharon that they were impossible at this point in time. Getting past this is important, because Palestinians will need a strong Israeli peace movement as an ally if the Israeli government is to be forced to actually negotiate in good faith.

Fifty-five years is a long time and several generations of Jews have now lived in Israel. While this does not erase Palestinian claims, Israeli Jews now have a claim on the land as well. There is no neat, perfectly just solution to this messy situation. The two state solution is one attempt to come up with a historic compromise--the binational state another solution. I think you need to distinguish between Israel's policies in the Occupied Territories--which certainly constitute apartheid--and those in Israel's internationally recognized borders. The laws privileging Jews over other ethnic/religious groups are problematic, but they are not apartheid nor are they unique to Israel--Germany and Croatia actually have similar laws. These laws are bad for ethnic minorities, but they are not some evil unique to Israel. Most left-Zionists oppose the discrimination against Palestnian citizens of Israel and would probably support a civil rights movement of Palestnians--something more likely to be possible after the establishment of an independent Palestnian state. You can't fight all your battles at once.

Rawan, where has anyone said that we are in a position to dictate to the Palestinians or the Iraqis what form their resistance should take? May be elsewhere, but not in this conversation. But Iraqis and Palestinians are not some homogenous mass. There are mutliple resistance groups in each country and I see nothing racist about supporting those groups with principles similar to ours. I would also point out that, while they can certainly see things we can't see because they are there on the ground, there may be things we can see that they can't, because we have some distance from the situation and aren't caught up in the (sometimes literal) heat of battle. Critical dialogue between equal partners seems like the best relationship to me. Tom Reeves actually has an interesting article on ZNet on this subject vis-a-vis Haiti. Basically, a lot of grassroots, progressive Haitian groups supported the coup against Aristide. They were so mad at him for the ways he had given into the World Bank and IMF, they didn't see that he was actually holding the line as much as he could (the Clinton administration agreed to return Aristide to power only after he agreed to abide by the dictates of the World Bank & IMF; he did this to stop the killing, but never fully complied--which is probably why the US backed his overthrow) or that the groups replacing Aristide were even worse than him. Reeves argues that American supporters of these grassroots groups were too uncritical in accepting their take on the situation and should have engaged them in critical dialogue.

Bringing the Palestinian voice to the US is important, but I actually think that the BCPR's vigils and models of the Apartheid Wall are more effective. At these events, people actually stopped, looked at the pictures, asked questions, engaged in dialogue. They presented the human face of Palestnians' lives under occupation in a way that NECDP's militant language doesn't. (And I have been to at least one NECDP protest, for the record.)

Everyone here agrees on the need for a cross-class, cross-race movement against the US occupation of Iraq and US support for Israel. This is precisely what UJP is trying to do with their outreach to military families. Most military families are working class, and people in the military are disproportionately people of color. I don't know how successful UJP has been, and the work can't be easy, but it's essential. There is evidence of growing dissent within the military and we need to do all we can to encourage this. If large numbers of the troops refuse to serve, the US government can't very well keep up its occupation. This means building the sort of uneasy alliances I talked about above. We won't be able to build those alliances if it sounds like we support the killing of American soldiers (whatever you may actually think of the matter). This militant rhetoric so many of you seem to think will help Iraqis seems like it will only hurt them in the long run. But I suppose I have beat that point into the ground.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
23 Apr 2004
As one of the three organizers for A.N.S.W.E.R., Boston, who attended the UPJ sponsored anti-war rally held on the Boston Common on April 16, 2004,I am apalled by the outright lies you printed in your article concerning our behavior at this demonstration. During the entire time we were there, we simply passed out our literature in a non-invasive manner to the protesters as were several other organiztions. We did not bring a bullhorn or interrupt the program in any way. We participated in the march and spoke briefly with afterwards with Mr. Zinn. To print such a fabrication and to slander our character in this manner is shameful to you as an activist an writer. Everyone in the movement knows that all its various organizations disagree with each other on many political issues but none of us needs to print complete falsehoods to make one organization seem bad in front of the others; you have demonstrated clearly by this article that you are guilty of exactly what what you accuse A.N.S.W.E.R. to be-sectarian. By writing about non-existent, negative actions which you claim that myself and two other members of our coalition committed, YOU are the one creating the divisions between organizations working to end this horrific war against our Arab brothers and sisters. Your second outrageous claim was that our slogan was NOT "End the Occupation-Bring the Troops Home Now!" but rather "Support the Iraqi Resistence". Where have you been??? Under a political rock? Go to our web site and look at our flyers! The literature we we passing out at this rally and every other rally specifically states "Bring the Troops Home Now-End the Occupation from Iraq to Palestine-and recently added-Haiti." It is well known that A.N.S.W.E.R. supports self-determination for all nations and unfortunately, because of this occupation, the resistence of the Iraqi people was inevitable and therefore the death toll will go higher on each side. We support the right for the Iraqi people's complete freedom from this attempt at colonialism or any other. They resisted the British in the past and now they must defend themselves again. Our troops have been put in harm's way for no other reason than the greed for oil and strategic placement of our military. Therefore, to end lives being lost either in having to resist the occupation or in being cannon fodder for capital gain, we say, BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW-as we have been consistent in this slogan since the invasion. Lastly, i would like to address you inference that we don't work well with other groups. Where were you on October 25, 2003 and March 20, 2004? At both of these huge rallies and demos in D.C. and NYC, A.N.S.W.E.R. and UPJ worked very hard together to organize and build these demos-that's A LOT of work and the demos were a great success with each coalition sharing equal time in speakers, tabling and disseminating their own literature. The leadership of both these very important peace coalitions is trying to build a united movement. Then little people like come along with your poison pen to create problemswith, as I said in the beginning. are total lies. I therefore demand a retraction of your false staments about the conduct of myself and the two activists who were there with me. In the future, also get your facts straight about our slogans and how we are trying to bulid a solid movement with other groups. It's actually common knowlegde so it shouldn't be too difficult for even you, TROOPS OUT NOW! END THE OCCUPATION! Apology from you now!
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
23 Apr 2004
Um, I already apologized for not talking to you guys at the rally several comments back. I was under the impression that NECDP and ANSWER were working together, which is probably how I confused your slogans. As for my "inference" that you don't work well with others, that's based on considerable personal experience. I really don't have time to recount those experiences and I've talked to an awful lot of folks who agree with me. I am sure all of you in ANSWER/WWP are well meaning, but you are just way to caught up in your own group's agenda.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
23 Apr 2004
http://www.iacboston.org/palestine/palestine_files.cfm?id=z2002.11.21.173705

This website states:

"...and a march on June 9, 2002 organized by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine of International A.N.S.W.E.R. ..."

And this page puts forward a similar implication:

http://www.iacboston.org/pdf/051502leaflet.pdf


Is ANWSER part of IAC, was ANWSER one of the founding elements of NECDP?
Is ANWSER a bunch of sectarians tha use Native people, blacks, latinas and other to mask their sectarianism and non-democratic processes?

Is UJP a bunch of paternalistic white people who dont recognize their own perpetuation of racism?


All anwsers = "Yes".
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
24 Apr 2004
"NECDP= ANSWER?"

your second question could also be the answer of why the NECDP was founded, and why it left ANSWER.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
25 Apr 2004
this is why the left will never succeed. You're too busy fighting easy other and NOT being pragmatic.

and I'm on the left.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
26 Apr 2004
I really can't stand this debate about language anymore. Why can't we have a movement in the US that's honest with itself and everyone else? Believing in one thing and then hiding that and changing the language so that masses of people will feel more comfortable joining the movement says one thing about you: you think you are smarter and everyone else is stupid. You think working-class people need to be told what's going on and in a specific language, in order to get us to join the movement. What ivory tower do you live in? Stop talking about how working and poor people have family in Iraq while some of your organizers are taking a study break from academia long enough to hold a demonstration. Stop talking about the movement as if you're inviting us to be a part of it. Until you remove the systems of white supremacy and economic class status that keeps middle-class white folks in the organizing roles and working-class people, people of color, and disabled people as invited token speakers, this will just not work.

We don't need you to modify or water down your "smart" language so we will join the movement. We built this movement. Now step back and relinquish some of your power in it, and let's all share some responsibility.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
28 Apr 2004
You people have had your usual poor turn out in the support of the murder of our troops, Jews, and untermenchin, and of course Shia Muslims.

When will it be, that when you grow up and be a hated monority, lambs to the slaughter, that you think that our reaction to 9/11 was a bad thing,
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
06 May 2004
So I know that I, for one, had been under the impression that NCEDP and NASWER were about as separate as ANSWER and the IAC. That is to say, they weren't. After reading Sharon Clark's statement that there were 3 folks from ANSWER at the rally, and reading below that that NCEDP had broken away from ANSWER, I'm curious. They certainly seem similar, though at this rally, it sounds like ANSWER was a lot more respectful than NCEDP, whose bullhorn siren did go off while the MC was speaking. Was there a split? I gotta tell you guys, we don't follow your various splits and alliances that carefully, especially when the IAC and ANSWER and Workers World and whatever else hide their connections to each other.
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 May 2004
oh i love you guyz keep it up please if you like me i want to see you killing your self lol am just joking really keep it up can i ask you a question and ansering me why guyz you kill peoples and they didn't do anything i have another thing to tell you that i want some pictures of iraqies that you guyz are killing them
Re: Rally Against the US Occupation of Iraq and the Siege of Falluja
19 May 2004
did you read my letter