The silence about Iran is staggering. On April 9 the Washington Post reported on US military planning for an attack. In includes this sentence, Pentagon planners are studying how to penetrate eight-foot-deep targets and are contemplating tactical nuclear devices. Contemplating? Were not talking about mediation here, but dropping tactical Hiroshima-size atomic bombs. And UFPJ has nothing to say.
The conventional wisdom smugly says this is all a bluff, that with all the losses in Iraq and sagging polls at home Bush would be crazy to attack Iran. But Sy Hersh reports [New Yorker April 17, 2006] that a government consultant with ties to the Pentagon told him that the President believes that he must do what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do, and that saving Iran is going to be his legacy. Mission is part of Bushs reborn personality. Remember he seriously believes that he was chosen by God to be President.
Who is going to stop him? The non-cooperation of France and Germany of 2003 is a thing of the past. Russia and China? Can anyone believe that these money-sotted regimes would put up any opposition to a US full court press? How about the US Congress? Hersh reports that the White House briefings of the leadership are underway and the only questions that are being raised are How are you sure you can hit the targets deep enough? What about the Democrats? Kerry and Obama tried to win the macho crowd by claiming in 2004 that Bush wasnt taking a hard enough line on Iran. Theyre not about to change their spots now. Lieberman? Hes probably signing his name on the nukes themselves.
Oops I mentioned Israel. UFPJ doesnt want to say anything about it. Condemn unending oil war and thats the beginning and ending of analysis. The Christian Zionists who see a Jewish conquest of Palestine as the start of Aramageddon? They dont really matter. AIPAC, which draws half the Senate and a third of the House to their blood-curdling conventions. Not really worth mentioning, not even the 2006 gathering which was devoted to demands that the US take care of Iran. Bush himself has stated, We will use military might to protect our ally Israel, but why get into that?
And those pesky Palestinians. Yes, they have their troubles, but why mention them in an anti-war movement? As if Israeli war-mongering wasnt based on its aparthied-like oppresson of Palestinians. As if an Israeli official hadnt publicly said that wiping out Saddam would help Israel impose a new order on the Palestinians. As if the al-Qaeda killers havent tried to adopt the Palestinian cause as their own. Bringing up Palestine in connection with the war will just alienate us from those thousands and thousands of Israel partisans who are just itching to join the movement once we get rid of our anti-Semitism. Uh-huh.
Well, in CT this strategy of pandering to the so-called center has been tried and its failed.
The Connecticut Experience
We in Connecticut have had a statewide umbrella group, Connecticut United for Peace, that for over three years has run the large statewide demonstrations. Were members of UFPJ, but years ago we formally decided that the oppression of Palestinians was intimately tied up with the war and have mentioned it in all our rallies.
We started making plans for this years March 18 rally last November, and we held two ultra-democratc votes about the demonstrations demands. Anyone who showed up at the meetings could vote. In November we proposed the slogan End Israeli Occupation and Apartheid. We also had slogans for immigrant rights, opposition to persecution of Muslims and rejection of war with Iran.
At our final meeting in January (with 125 in attendance) a number of people demanded a single issue rally, totally on Iraq, saying by going for the lowest common denominator wed get labor, the Democrats and anti-war Jews. The majority wouldnt go for it. We werent going to abandon the immigrants and Muslims and wed be fools not to mention Iran, but we figured the real sticking point was Palestine. So we offered a compromise. Instead of the slogan End Israeli Occupation and Apartheid we offered the vague Justice for the Palestinian People.
People voted for the compromise by a large majority. Still the very notion that the Palestinians were the victims was too much for some and others were afraid of offending the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party oriented labor leaders. So the Israel-apologists, the Peace Council and some labor leaders went off and did their own thing. They held a rally on March 19, a day after ours and formed a group with the acronym COW, Connecticut Opposes War.
On March 18 we marched 20 blocks from a largely Latino neighborhood and held and rally on the New Haven Green that according to the AP attracted 1,000. We think it was larger. Perhaps 10% were Muslim and Palestinians. We had pro-immigrant speakers in English and Spanish and a section of the Green with Spanish translators. It was a great demo, but we had expected double that number to attend and we blame it mostly on the split.
So how well did the splitters do on the 19th in Hartford? Politically the rally sucked. It was two blocks from Senator Liebermans office and none of the speakers denounced Lieberman. Neither Democrat Ned Lamont who was challenging Lieberman for anti-war reasons nor Ralph Ferrucci who was running as a Green were invited to speak. The only chant was this embarrasing bleat,We are Americans, This is Our Country. Imagine after three years of the war they still think we have to defend our patriotism? All the speeches denounced one person and one person only, George Bush. As if the Democrats hadnt pushed for the war enthusiastically and as if they werent still supporting it. Iran was mentioned in one sentence. And, of course, they didnt say a word about Israels constant pressure for war against Iraq and Iran or the fact that Gaza is now without flour.
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