`Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace, Anti-Occupation': Is There Anti-Semitism in the Anti-War Movement? (Politics)

Article excerpt

Some people have expressed anxiety about "anti-Israel" stances in the anti-war movement. By "anti-Israel," I mean a politics that blames all of Israel, and only Israel, for the present conflict, or sees it only as a colonialist patsy of the United States, or sees it as a settler state with no legitimacy.

I do not mean those who vigorously oppose both the Sharon government and terrorist suicide bombers, who call for an end to the occupation and its replacement with a two-state peace settlement in which Israel continues to have a special relationship with the Jewish people and Palestine has viable borders very close to the '67 borders, with mutually agreed adjustments. By my lights, such people are strongly and creatively pro-Israel.

By these criteria, there are indeed a few in the anti-war movement who are "anti-Israel." There are many more that are creatively and strongly pro-Israel.

There are now three important anti-war groupings. One is the quasi-coalition called ANSWER. It is tightly controlled by the Workers World Party, a Marxist faction with a strong anti-Israel, anti-U.S, bent to its politics. It demonizes Israel, treating it simply as a tool of imperialism and as the chief fomenter of the Bush administration's march toward war against Iraq. It is easy for this last attitude to slip into a left-wing version of anti-Semitism, in which the fantasy of a Great Zionist Conspiracy is attached to the present grandiosity of U.S. foreign policy and blamed for most of the world's ills.

Last fall, a much broader, true anti-war coalition was founded--precisely because many groups had found that working with ANSWER was extremely difficult. This coalition, United for Peace and Justice, includes a wide variety of peace, religious, labor, environmental, campus, veterans, and other groups. More recently, a second true coalition has formed, called "Win Without War." It is based on a dozen or so large-membership groups such as Sojourners, the Sierra Club, and the NAACP. …