FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The American Peace Movement and Israel

by CATHERINE FENTON

As the local peace group I belong to begins to stumble on the question of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, I happen to be reading Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland“.

Déjà vu whirled through my mind as I read the following description of events at the 1967 National Conference for a New Politics, after a thirteen-point manifesto was introduced:

“…another clause ordered condemnation of ‘the imperialistic Zionist war’ in the Middle East. The Reverend William Sloane Coffin Jr., chaplain of Yale University, was among those who insisted the thirteen points be adopted without discussion as a gesture of interracial unity. Jewish delegates who considered the Six Day War a struggle for national survival walked out.”

Has anyone or anything been as effective at wreaking havoc within the anti-war movement, as Israel’s wars?

In 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon and the images of Lebanese children wrapped in plastic as they were pulled out of the bombed earth hurt my mind. The Jewish members of my group refused to march. As Condi Rice was on television, juxtaposed in my mind with the dead children, she talked nonsense about wanting a “lasting peace”. When someone is bleeding, first thing you do? Stop The Bleeding. Worry about forging a “lasting” solution to what caused the bleeding later. I became enraged by Rice’s words, but the Jewish members of my group still would not march. We were all knew to the group, and no one wanted to make waves, so no one marched.

On the internet, I found that a group called the “ad-hoc coalition” was having a demonstration against Israel’s attack on Lebanon in Union Square Park. I went, alone.

Two-and-a-half years later, here we are again.

My group is having our monthly meeting this weekend. Already, two of our Jewish members are not attending. One of them emailed that she knew we would be “talking about Israel” and that this “hurt her too much.” I do not know what is going to happen when we discuss upcoming demonstrations against Israel’s invasion of Gaza. But early signs are not promising. And we are not alone. I know of other peace groups having the same issues.

How is the Peace movement going to deal with this? American Jews have long been at the forefront of liberal movements in this country. We need only look to the civil rights movement to see this. Yet, it is always upon Israel which we stumble.

What conversation can we have? What can each of us say? I know that I would like an explanation on how it is not anti-American to march in protests against America’s wars, and to chant things like “George, pull out, just like your daddy shoulda” (I know, it’s my favorite too). Yet it is anti-Semitic to criticize Israel’s foreign policy. They either both are, or neither are, but you cannot have it both ways.

And perhaps there are things my Jewish friends in the peace movement would like to say to me. As long as it doesn’t start with “you don’t understand what it’s like to be Jewish” I’m willing to listen. I don’t need to understand what it’s like to be Jewish. Let’s face it; you don’t understand what it’s like to be Palestinian. We can both understand what it is like to be human. To watch your child die.

There needs to be some way for people in the peace movement to talk about this. At this point, I feel that if you are happy to march against the United States, but feel comfortable accusing myself and others of “anti-Semitism” if we protest Israel’s foreign policy, then you must be anti-American. What other conclusion can I draw?

And I don’t want to march with people who are actually anti-American, rather than critical of American foreign policy. It’s bad PR and plays right into the hands of the hard-right.

CATHERINE FENTON is a freelance writer. She can be reached at: cathfenton@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail