[R-G] FYI: Lerner/ ANSWER
DavidMcR at aol.com
DavidMcR at aol.com
Tue Feb 11 20:33:55 MST 2003
I had been getting wind of this problem but had not wanted to comment, in
part because some folks are willing to pick a fight with Workers World aka
ANSWER when we should be focusing on Bush, and in part because the word I had
been getting was muddlied - the writers referred to "Sunday, February 15" and
this made it clear they were not in close touch.
However your letter does move me to write in dismay.
Freedom of speech within the movement is crucial - it is one of things many
of us believe in (I don't think Workers World does, but again, that is my own
position - show me a Leninist who believes in freedom of speech and I'll show
you a Leninist who hasn't read the basic texts) and it separates us from Bush
and his cronies, whom I KNOW do not believe in full exchange of views.
It is almost impossible to find a responsible movement leader who has not, at
some point in the last ten years, voiced irritation at Workers World and its
To conclude in advance that anyone who has had a harsh word to say about
Workers World/IAC/ANSWER can't speak strikes me as, to put it mildy, a
profoundly wrong position.
The point of our mobilization is NOT that we all agree to love one another. I
detest much of the policies of ANSWER, I detest the subtle anti-Semitism of
their courting of the Palestinians, and I detest their race-baiting, which
I've experienced as part of the price one pays for disagreeing with them.
But I have, do, and will defend their right to be in a broad coalition (my
problem is their tendency to control the coalitions). I have, AT NO POINT,
advocated they be excluded. I would welcome Republicans, Democrats, etc.,
just as swiftly - and would be sort of stunned if I was told that "only
speakers who had not disagreed with the Democrats or Republicans" can speak.
You have made a very serious error. What you all do later is up to you. Right
now we need to build the coalitions here, there, and everywhere, and not
allow the folly of the actions in the Bay Area to prevent us from
We can learn from mistakes. It is also important to realize when serious
mistakes have been made. In this case they were.
Peace and struggle,
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Statement from SF event organizers re. Rabbi Lerner
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 18:02:36 -0800
From: Andrea Buffa <andrea at globalexchange.org>
To: <ufp_com at yahoogroups.com>
We are still trying to work things out with Michael Lerner. I hope to
more to say tomorrow. Until then, this statement at least clarifies what
actually happened. Feel free to forward it if you think it would be
Bay Area United Against War € International A.N.S.W.E.R (Act Now to Stop
and End Racism) € Not In Our Name € United for Peace and Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT:
February 11, 2003 Bert Knorr (510) 644-8071
(415) 307-8028 (cell)
STATEMENT FROM FEB. 16 ANTI-WAR COALITIONS REGARDING RABBI MICHAEL
We would like to clarify the misunderstanding regarding Rabbi Michael
Lerner¹s perception that he was ³banned² from speaking at the peace
His charges are untrue, and we wish to set the record straight.
As the Bush Administration continues its relentless drive toward war,
mass mobilizations in cities around the world on the weekend of Feb.
have taken on great significance. Millions of people are expected to
demonstrate in cities around the world in what may be the last
to stop a new war on Iraq before it starts.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, four coalitions - each comprised of many
organizations and individuals - have come together to sponsor a broad
united anti-war march and rally on Sunday, Feb. 16. The four coalitions
Bay Area United Against War, Not In Our Name project, United for Peace &
Justice, and the International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End
Racism) Coalition have been working together successfully for the last
several weeks to maximize the turnout on Feb. 16.
One of the first agreements that was made between the groups organizing
Feb. 16 anti-war protest was that none of the coalitions would propose
speakers who had publicly attacked or worked to discredit one of the
coalition groups. When members of the Tikkun Community, who have
participated in the organizing meetings for Feb. 16, suggested to Bay
United for Peace and Justice, that it propose Michael Lerner as a
it was explained by members of UFPJ that since he had publicly attacked
A.N.S.W.E.R in both the New York Times and Tikkun community email
newsletters, his inclusion in the program would violate the agreement
the Feb. 16 organizing groups.
It was this issue‹Michael Lerner¹s public attacks against one of the
anti-war coalitions‹that resulted in his not being formally proposed as
speaker on Feb. 16; his views on Israel and Palestine had nothing to do
it. Within the anti-war movement, there is a wide spectrum of diverse
opposing views regarding Israel and Palestine, and those views will be
on Feb. 16. On that day, two rabbis, David Cooper and Pam Frydman-Baugh,
both of whose views are similar to those of Michael Lerner, will be
speaking. To reiterate, the fact that Michael Lerner was not invited to
speak on Feb. 16 was not the consequence of a veto by the A.N.S.W.E.R.
Coalition. None of the coalitions have veto power over the Feb. 16
We strongly abhor all forms of racism and bigotry, including
At the same time, we don¹t believe that criticism of Israeli government
policies should be labeled as anti-Semitism any more than criticism of
government policy should be labeled as anti-American.
On the eve of a terrible war, we call upon everyone to join together in
making Feb. 15-16 a massive and powerful statement for peace and
are heartened by the broad range of participation that is developing for
Feb. 16, including within the Jewish community, and encourage one and
join with us in our efforts to stop the war on Iraq. >>
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