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February 12, 2003

MICHAEL LERNER WRITES ON ANTIWAR ANTI-SEMITISM:

The most painful thing has been watching other antiwar groups make unprincipled compromises with A.N.S.W.E.R. As a result, there is support on the left for self-determination for every group in the world except the Jewish people. Fellow progressive Jews, some anxious to speak at these rallies, have urged me to keep quiet about anti-Semitism on the left. After all, they say, stopping the war against Iraq is so much more important.

Why should we have to choose? Tikkun will be bringing thousands of our supporters to the demonstration Sunday. But just as we fought against the sexism and homophobia that once infected the left, we will challenge anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing on the left, even as we say "no" to a war with Iraq.

I'm glad to see this issue getting more attention. Howard Kurtz also mentions the issue, quoting David Corn's piece from yesterday.

UPDATE: Here is, er, A.N.S.W.E.R.'s answer. I'm not impressed, but you may feel differently. And here's a story from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Academics and leftist intellectuals have worried aloud for months about the primary-organization role of International Answer in the movement, given that its roots are in the Workers World Party, a socialist organization with a small constituency in the United States.

Marc Cooper, a contributing editor for the Nation magazine who has written about peace activism for 30 years, fears that the movement's efforts to woo mainstream supporters will be marginalized by having International Answer participate in the leadership.

"To the degree that (Answer) controls the direction of the coalition, it's not a good thing," said Cooper, who is circulating an e-mail petition protesting Lerner's absence from Sunday's program.

I can't help but feel that the decision to blackball speakers who had criticized coalition members was primarily designed to protect A.N.S.W.E.R.'s position by muting criticism of its positions.