[sixties-l] Peace Demonstration Bares Its Anti-Semitic Teeth (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Tue Feb 18 2003 - 16:54:25 EST

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 14:33:53 -0800
From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
Subject: Peace Demonstration Bares Its Anti-Semitic Teeth

Peace Demonstration Bares Its Anti-Semitic Teeth


By The Nation and Tikkun Magazines
The Nation and Tikkun | February 11, 2003

The following letters are being circulated by Marc Cooper of The Nation and by
Tikkun Magazine, respectively.

Rabbi Michael Lerner has been banned from speaking at the antiwar rally in San
Francisco this Sunday, February 15. One of the rally organizers, Act Now to
Stop War
and End Racism (ANSWER), has stated that it will not allow a "pro-Israel"
speaker to
take the stage, despite the fact that Rabbi Lerner has been an outspoken
critic of Israeli
policy in the occupied territories, has endorsed ANSWER's antiwar rallies
in the past,
has signed the Not in Our Name petition against the war, and is widely
known to be
among the most progressive of American rabbis. Other coalitions organizing
the rally,
including Not in Our Name and United for Peace and Justice, have acceded to
ANSWER's opposition to Lerner, on the grounds that they had previously
accepted as a
condition for participation in the demonstration the agreement that if one
of the groups
vetoed a speaker that all would have to agree.
We, the undersigned, protest ANSWER's refusal to let Rabbi Lerner speak at this
Sunday's rally. At a time when the antiwar movement needs as broad a
platform and as
broad an appeal as possible, ANSWER has chosen instead to put the interests of
sectarianism ahead of the interests of all those who oppose this foolish and
unnecessary war. We believe this is a serious mistake, and that it
exemplifies ANSWER's
unfitness to lead mass mobilizations against war in Iraq.
  --- Michael Berube and Marc Cooper

Progressive Rabbi Banned From Speaking at Peace Rally Because of His Pro-Israel

Rabbi Michael Lerner can not speak at the peace rally in San Francisco,
February 16th.
That was the response given when various groups proposed Rabbi Lerner,
thinking it
logical to have him speak since he is one of the most prominent peace
voices in the
Jewish world.
But Rabbi Lerner was blackballed and banned by A.N.S.W.E.R., one of the four
organizing committees for the S.F. demonstration expected to attract
hundreds of
thousands. The reason: Lerner had been critical of the way that
A.N.S.W.E.R. has used
the anti-war demonstrations to put forward anti-Israel propaganda.
Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, is himself an outspoken critic of
Israeli policy. But he
is also a Zionist who believes in the State of Israel and supported his son
to serve in the
Israeli army in a combat union (the tzanchanim or paratroopers). But Lerner
and Tikkun
magazine have been equally critical of acts of terror by Palestinians, and
they have
called for Palestinians to follow a path of non-violence. In his 2003 book
Israel/Palestine, Lerner calls for a "progressive middle path" that is both
pro-Israel and
pro-Palestine, and argues that the best interests of each can only be
achieved if the
other side also achieves its best interests.
Other coalitions supporting the rally , including the United For Peace and
Justice and
the Not In Our Name, went along with the ban, arguing that they had previously
accepted as a condition for participation in the demonstration the
agreement that if one
of the groups vetoed a speaker that all would have to go along. A.N.S.W.E.R.
spokesperson, speaking on the Brian Lehrer show of WNYC, said that they
would not
agree to have a "pro-Israel" speaker at their rally. Meanwhile, there are
many in the
organized Jewish world who will not let Lerner speak because he is too
critical of Israeli
Beyt Tikkun synagogue, where Rabbi Lerner serves as a rabbi in San
Francisco, issued
the following statement: "Rabbi Lerner has urged us to continue to support the
demonstration for peace on February 16th, and we will be there to show that
many Jews
oppose this war. However, we do not believe that had A.N.S.W.E.R. been
criticized by a
major feminist or gay leader and then vetoed that leader to speak at a
demonstration that
the other coalition partners would go along with that. So why should
criticism of
anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing be treated differently? A.N.S.W.E.R.
doesn't believe
that Israel has a right to exist. We are enthusiastic supporters of Israel,
even though
totally critical of its current policies. So why should our voice of
critique of
A.N.S.W.E.R.'s anti-Israel policy serve as a justification for excluding
our rabbi from
speaking? This seems a dangerous double-standard and conveys, probably
unintentionally, the message that somehow anti-Semitism is not a
significant issue for
anti-war protesters."
Rabbi Lerner said, "I'm honored that some people wanted me to speak, and
that the specific reason I'm not allowed to speak is my criticism of the
anti-Israel bias of
A.N.S.W.E.R. But I believe that the message of peace is far more pressing
at the moment
than the message of fighting the anti-Semitism among some of the march's
--Tikkun Magazine


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