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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Peace Movement or War on the Jews?

By Greg Yardley
FrontPageMagazine.com | October 28, 2003
AP photo

On Saturday, October 25th, several thousand people protested in San Francisco, the largest demonstration in the Bay Area since April 12th. It was a sister demonstration to one occurring that same day in Washington, D.C.

While the protest was purportedly against the presence of American troops in Iraq, those stumbling onto the protest by accident might be forgiven for thinking it was really against Israel.

The Palestinian flags scattered liberally among the crowd, the keffiyehs on many of the organizers, the plethora of speakers from pro-Palestinian organizations - all the evidence indicates the protest organizers want the Jews out of Israel as badly as they want the Americans out of Iraq. The comparison is hardly fair; unlike our troops, the Israelis have nowhere to return to.

That didn’t stop the marchers from chanting as they marched - “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” The slogan belongs to the terrorist group Hamas.

When I arrived at San Francisco’s Civic Center, a small group of folk singers were trying to stir up an anemic crowd with a few protest songs - as one put it, ‘the only solution’s a new revolution.’ People did not seem particularly enthusiastic about that revolution’s potential. They milled about between the literature tables of various communist groups, and bought t-shirts from vendors not willing to let anti-Americanism get in the way of making a buck. One man in a fez wandered through the crowd waving a large North Korean flag; every attendee with a Che Guevara t-shirt picked that day to wear it. American flags were flown, too - all either defaced in some manner, or hung upside down. But the most common flag was the Palestinian one. The International Solidarity Movement, well known for defending the homes of Palestinian suicide bombers.

The march was organized by two of the largest of this spring’s anti-war coalitions: the communist Workers World Party-controlled International ANSWER, and long-time Communist Party activist Leslie Cagan’s United for Peace and Justice. However, the latter group was barely visible. Two representatives, Andrea Buffa and Samina Fahim, addressed the crowd; a few small United for Peace and Justice banners were carried in the protest march. International ANSWER was clearly running the show. The banner at the front of the rally belonged to them. The banners strung behind the stage belonged to them. All but a few speakers were drawn from International ANSWER’s friends and allies. And the anti-Israel stance was unmistakably theirs.

Earlier this year, United for Peace and Justice hesitated to ally themselves with ANSWER, because they disagreed with some of ANSWER’s platform; in particular, the way many within ANSWER did not recognize Israel’s right to exist. By doing so, United for Peace and Justice attempted to portray itself as more ‘moderate’ than the other anti-war groups. They caved on this and allied with ANSWER in recent months; now, thanks to their alliance with ANSWER, all of their claims to be moderate are void.

Speaker after speaker stood up to denounce the President, denounce America, and denounce Israel. Ban al-Wardi of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee stood up to proclaim that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and America’s presence in Iraq were closely linked. He triumphantly declared that both America and Israel were paying a heavy price, and that the Palestinians and Iraqis had a legitimate right to ‘resist’. That they do so through terrorism didn’t seem to bother him a bit. He also claimed the Israelis were ‘ethnically cleansing’ the Palestinians, and that here in America, the Attorney General was engaged in the ‘Israelization’ of the justice system. One would think that’d be a good thing, thanks to Israel’s vigorous struggle against terrorism, but al-Wardi was staunchly opposed to this fight.

Speakers from the Bay Area Iranians for Peace and Justice and the Free Palestinian Alliance echoed his message - the Palestinians, like the Iraqis, could oppose Americans and Israelis by any means necessary. While none of them mentioned suicide bombings or other acts of terrorism, the implication was clear.

Other speakers went even further in their anti-Jewish rhetoric. Zulma Oliveras, a radical Puerto Rican activist and a member of the Committee of 98 for a Free Puerto Rico, openly denigrated the importance of the Holocaust. ‘We must stop the lie that only one holocaust has happened,’ she announced - as if the situation of the indigenous people in North America or the situation of Palestinians in Israel was remotely like the systematic Nazi genocide.

Supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party-controlled Not In Our Name project made America sound like the monster, leading the crowd in a pledge - “we will not stop until all of us are free from your bloodthirsty domination.”
Continue reading.

P.S. Banagor gives them hell in "The Illusion of a Community." Also read "Waiting for Outrage". Fabulous blogger! Thanks so much to Rachel for the tip.