On Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. late last summer posters affixed to
street light poles and utility boxes promoted a Sept. 24, 2005 anti-Iraq war
rally. They carried three big, black headlines: "Stop the War in
Iraq"; "End Colonialist Occupation from Iraq to Palestine to
Haiti"; and "Support the Palestinian People's Right of Return."
Cindy Sheehan, whose Marine son, Casey, 24, died fighting in Iraq after
re-enlisting, was one of the rally's numerous speakers. A news media favorite,
Sheehan declared that her son died for "a neo-con [neo-conservative]
agenda to benefit Israel." Elsewhere, she has called the Saddam Hussein
loyalists and Islamic fundamentalists fighting coalition troops and terrorizing
Iraqi civilians "freedom fighters." She has equated them approvingly
with Palestinian anti-Israel terrorists. Sheehan also has been quoted
criticizing the Bush administration for
saying ... it's okay for Israel to
have nuclear weapons. But Iran or Syria better not get nuclear weapons ....
It's okay for Israel to occupy Palestine... for the United States to occupy
Iraq, but it's not okay for Syria to be in Lebanon. They're a bunch of
Another speaker at the Sept. 24 demonstration was George Galloway, a figure
prominent in European opposition to the war. A British parliamentarian expelled
from the ruling Labor Party, Galloway has been cited by a U.S. Senate
investigation for allegedly profiting from the U.N.'s "oil-for-food"
program. Last spring he termed Israel "this little Hitler state on the
Mediterranean." And at a May 21 rally in London featuring vitriolic
anti-Israel speechesin one, Andrew Birgin of the Stop the War Coalition,
claimed that "when there is real democracy [for Palestinians] there will
be no more Israel!" Galloway called for a general boycott of the
In a Nov. 13, 2005 speech at Damascus University, Galloway condemned as a
set-up the U.N. investigation of possible Syrian involvement in the
assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Galloway praised
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad as the last Arab ruler willing to resist American
and Israeli desires. Syria, he claimed,
is being threatened because she
will not betray the Palestinian resistance, Hezbollah, because she will not
sign a shameful surrender-peace with General [Ariel] Sharon [Israel's prime
minister], and, above allmore than any of the othersbecause Syria
will not allow her country to be used as a military base for America to crush
the resistance in Iraq.
Participants at the Sept. 24 Washington, D.C. rally also heard Lynne
Stewart, lawyer for Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman. Rahman was convicted for the 1995
plot to blow up key New York City landmarks. Stewart herself since has been
convicted of supporting terrorism by passing the sheik's messages from his
prison cell. (She was out on bail for the rally.)
Also at the microphone was Michael Shehadeh, a member of the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine and one of the "Los Angeles Eight,"
whom the U.S. Justice Department has sought for two decades to deport as
supporters of terrorism.
Yet another speaker on Sept. 24 was Leslie Feinberg. She reportedly accused
President Bush of going to war in Iraq to cover up "the capitalist
economic crisis." Feinberg described herself as "a Jewish
revolutionary" dedicated to the "fight against Zionism."
What does opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq have to do with opposition,
even hostility to Israel and Zionism? For some key organizers, plenty. And the
roots of that hostility predate not only the Palestinian "al-Aqsa
intifada" that began in September, 2000 but even Israel's control of the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip that began with the 1967 Six Day War.
To understand those roots, one must consider the main organizers of the
Sept. 24 rally, represented by a coalition calling itself United for Peace and
Justice, and International Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER).
According to Washington Times reporter James G. Lakely ("War protestors
linked to radical left-wing groups," Sept. 22, 2005), UPJ was
"founded by liberals who say they were concerned about the radical tactics
and smorgasbord of issues trumpeted by ANSWER" in the latter's previous
Examples of ANSWER's involvement in the Palestinian issue include:
* A Hezbollah flag fluttered from the speakers' podium at ANSWER's National
March for Palestine, Against War and Racism, April 20, 2002 in Washington, D.C.
* In December 2000, ANSWER delegates attended the first anti-Zionist
International Cairo Conference, at which the organization reportedly solidified
its support for the destruction of Israel. The conference issued a declaration
"Against U.S. Hegemony and War and In Solidarity with Palestine."
* "Never Forget the Palestinians" and "Free Palestine: Stop
U.S. Aid to Israeli Terror," signs were displayed at ANSWER's anti-war
demonstration in Washington, D.C., March 15, 2003. Pro-Palestinian and
anti-Israel protesting was prominent at several ANSWER anti-war assemblies that
* In 2003, ANSWER delegates attended the second International Cairo
Conference at which hundreds of Arab and other international
"activists" supported "acts of resistance in Iraq and
Palestine." ANSWER representatives meet with Osama Hamdan, a Hamas leader
* "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Hamas will never go!" and "Long live
jihad!" crowd members chanted at an "emergency rally" outside
the Israeli consulate in New York City, co-sponsored by ANSWER and
pro-Palestinian Al-Awda and New Jersey Solidarity. The March 23, 2004
demonstration followed the assassination of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmad Yasin.
UPJ, which eventually tolerated "a big overlap" in the Sept. 24,
2005 protests, comprises many groups, among them Punks for Peace, Queer to the
Left, September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and Historians Against the
ANSWER was formed on Sept. 14, 2001, three days after al Qaeda terrorists
murdered nearly 3,000 Americans by flying two jetliners into New York City's
World Trade Center, a third into the Pentagon in Washington, and crashing a
fourth in rural Pennsylvania. Its 12-member organizational steering committee
included the Free Palestine Alliance, Muslim Student Association of the U.S.
and Canada, and the Middle East Children's Alliance.
Common Cause with Sheikh Rahman
But the keystone of the organized anti-Iraq war movement may be found in
ANSWER's core group, the World Workers Party. And in the WWP, one finds an
early branch of the far left's persistent anti-Zionism. Writing in The L.A.
Weekly ("Behind the Placards: The Odd and Troubling Origins of Today's
Anti-War Movement," Nov. 1 - 7, 2005), David Corn, with contributions from
Jonathan H. Miller, asserted that ANSWER "is run by WWP activists, to such
an extent that it seems fair to dub it a WWP front."
Another anti-war organizing group, International Action Center, is a WWP
offshoot and reportedly linked to ANSWER. The WWP itself, says Corn, is "a
small political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party to
support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in '56," when Hungarian freedom
fightersbelieving the United States would support themattempted to
overthrow Moscow's puppet government in Budapest.
Corn writes that though UPJ wanted the Sept. 24 event to represent a broader
range of speakers united by their focus on the anti-war issue, "WWP shaped
the demonstration's content by loading the speakers' list with its own people.
None, though, were identified as such." For example, Feinberg, the
"Jewish revolutionary" and anti-Zionist, was listed in a May issue of
Workers' World as a "lesbian and transgendered Communist and a managing
editor of Workers' World."
WWP has "the shock troops and talent needed to conduct a quasi- mass
demonstration," Corn concludes. But it creates front groups and trims its
anti-capitalist, anti-American "imperialism" message to get large
numbers of participants from elsewhere.
"It is revealing," writes David Frum, in Canada's National Post
("Marching Against Warand Jews," Sept. 27, 2005),
that at the core of these so-called
peace marches you will find a leadership that strongly supports ... acts of war
targeted against Americans and Jews. You will see that the radical left and
extremist Islamwhile they may disagree ideologicallycan find common
cause, as the hard leftist Lynne Stewart found common cause with Sheik Rahman.
On the left, Michael Lerner mirrors Frum's observation. A rabbi and editor
of the leftist Jewish magazine Tikkun, Lerner was banned from speaking at a San
Francisco "peace rally" in 2003. Why? Because he publicly criticized
ANSWER, one of the groups sponsoring the San Francisco demonstration, for using
the anti-war movement "to put forward anti-Israel propaganda."
Writing in the Wall Street Journal ("The Antiwar Anti-Semites;
Peace protest organizers tolerate no dissent," Feb. 12, 2005), Lerner
it is outrageous that those of us
who wish to protest against what we see as a fundamentally unjust war must be
subjected to a barrage of slogans and speakers that are one-sidedly hostile to
the most painful thing has been
watching other anti-war groups make unprincipled compromises with ANSWER. As a
result, there is support on the left for self-determination for every group in
the world except the Jewish people.
Lerner's notice of left-wing anti-Zionism affirms an insight of twentieth
century political science: Far-right anti-Semitism grew from early and medieval
Church teachings of contempt for the Jews and the parallel teaching that
Christianity (and by implication Christians) superceded Judaism (and by
implication Jews) as the "new Israel." This "classical"
anti-Semitism became genocidal with Nazism's "racial" anti-Semitism.
Similarly, secular left-wing anti-Zionism and contemporary Islamic
fundamentalist denial of Jewish nationalism and the Jewish state have their
roots in Marxist-Leninist thought and subsequent Soviet policy. Marx, observed
Robert S. Wistrich in The Left Against Zion: Communism, Israel and The
Middle East (Vallentine, Mitchell and Co., Ltd., London, 1979), rejected
the Jews' claim to exist as a distinctive group. Instead, Marx identified them
with what he imagined were the worst aspects of capitalism.
Marx's followers, including Lenin and even European Jews who struggled for a
universal "socialist revolution,"
rejected as inadmissible any notion of
national rights for Jews. If there was one factor that united such well-known
Marxist Jews as Leon Trotsky, Paul Axelrod ... Rosa Luxemburg
and others, said Wistrich, "it was their complete rejection of the very
principle of Jewish national self-determination."
But ninteenth century national movements resurrected whole nations,
including Germany, Italy, and Poland. Marxists accommodated themselves to these
nationalisms to the extent they were judged to accelerate "the
revolution" and speed "the disintegration of the feudal-absolutist
monarchies in central and eastern Europe." Even Karl Kautsky, a Marxist
who saw the Jewish proletariat as a class with a future, regarded Zionism as
"a spoke in the wheel of progress," Wistrich writes.
"The negative attitude of Marx, Lenin, and their disciples to the
Jewish problem before 1914," he asserts, "has continued to influence
and shape communist doctrine right up to the present day." And communist
doctrine influenced Arab attitudes, strengthening Arab-Islamic rejection of the
The Soviet Union initiated the U.N. General Assembly's infamous 1975
resolution equating Zionism with racism, a slogan-turned-ideology that the Arab
and Islamic states quickly made their own. Though repealed in 1991, the
Zionism-is-racism slander continues to echo.
Manipulated by anti-Semites and anti-Zionists, assimilated by many who
imagine themselves "progressive," it's behind allegations that
Israel's West Bank security barrier is "an apartheid wall." It helps
prop up the smear that "Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis
treated the Jews." It supports the delegitimization of Israel in any
borders since "the Jews are not a nation, only a religious minority, and
not entitled to a sovereign state like the Palestinian people." The
underlying old Marxist insistence that Jewish nationalism was reactionary,
coupled with later Soviet propaganda that "Zionist reaction" was a
tool of "capitalist imperialism," helps explain ANSWER's morbid
obsession with Israel. The organization's linking of the U.S. war in Iraq with
the Jewish state's fight for survival exposes ANSWER's own hoary prejudices.