Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Wichita Peace Center's June 5 march

The Peace and Social Center has been recognized as a positive voice in the Wichita community for many years. Now people of conscience should oppose the demonstration it is cosponsoring on June 5 with Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Pax Christi, the Muslim Political Affairs Council and others. Stay home, go to a movie. You’ll be doing more to promote peace.

Together these groups are hijacking the opposition of Bush’s Iraq war to advance a radical anti-Israel agenda.

At a moment when there is growing disenchantment with the war in Iraq, the antiwar movement needs as broad a platform and as broad an appeal as possible. But a small group has chosen instead to put the interests of sectarianism ahead of the interests of all those who oppose this foolish and unnecessary war.

The flyer for the June 5 demonstration has the slogans "End the Dual Occupations" "Stop the Genocide," "End the occupation of Palestine,’ and "When the occupation ends, peace begins."

The date for the demonstration is it itself inappropriate. It marks the anniversary of the 1967 war. Even such a tough critic of Israel’s foreign policy as Avi Shlaim recognizes that the Six Day War "was launched by Israel to safeguard its security, not to expand its territory." The Arab League at its January 1964 summit had openly declared "The establishment of Israel is the basic threat that the Arab nation in its entirety has agreed to forestall. .. the existence of Israel is a danger that threatens the Arab" and planned "collective Arab military preparation, [which] when they are completed will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel."

During the Six Day War there was much talk of destroying Israel from reactionary Arab nationalists. Cuba's Fidel Castro was so shocked by the nature of Egypt's anti-Israel propaganda at the time that he spoke out against it. In an interview that was published in the New Statesman on 22 September 1967, he told the journalist K S Karol that he believed Egyptians showed a lack of revolutionary principles. "True revolutionaries never threaten a whole country with extermination," he said. "We have spoken out clearly against Israel's policy, but we don't deny her right to exist."

Israel ended the war in occupation of the West Bank because Jordan, as part of the Arab alliance, launched military attacks on Israel and refused an offered cease fire.

"End the occupation of Palestine" is a slogan that fails to support peace between Israel and Palestinians. Hamas, Islamic Jahad, and elements of Arafat’s Fatah movement still consider any Jewish state to be "occupation." From its founding in 1964 until 1998 the National Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization took the same position and called for the expulsion of all Jews who came to Israel after 1917. The original charter is still displayed by the Palestine legation to the UN and other Palestinian bodies. A wing of the American Palestinian solidarity movement calls for Palestine "from the river to the sea," which advocates the destruction of Israel.

Thus, dual occupation cannot be used to equate the American occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

"When the occupation ends, peace begins." For every complex problem, there is a simple solution--that is completely wrong. As Michele Goldberg wrote in Salon "one of the key dynamics shaping both Democratic and leftist demands on Iraq [is] the sense that since progressives have so little power, it doesn't much matter what they call for."

Nir Rosen writes in the June Progressive "The entente between Sunnis and Shiites is likely to be only temporary. Though they are united in their hatred of America, when the common enemy has left they may not celebrate long before turning on the Kurds in the north and then on each other in a bloody civil war over who will define the borders and nature of the new theocracy in Iraq."

Most offensive of all, is the slogan "end the genocide." There is no genocide being perpetrated by Americans in Iraq or Israelis in Palestine. To make this charge is reckless and without foundation, It insults the memories of Jews, Armenians, Cambodians, Rawandans, and Kosavars who have suffered from real, not imagined, genocides. It blocks attention from the real Something more must be said. The Peace and Social Justice Center and the Muslim American Political Action Committee levy this charge against the state which provided refuge for the remnant of European Jews who survived Hitler’s holocaust and the overwhelming majority of Sephardic Jews who fled second-class status, persecution, and pogroms in the Arab world. Today, there is a revival of the crudest and most vile anti-Semitism is the Arab media. Sadly, some in Wichita have joined this campaign to vilify and demonize Israel.

The Peace center website asks members to make puppets with the suggested theme that "Bush as a puppet of Sharon." As Searchlight, the leading anti-fascist and anti-racist magazine in Great Britain puts it, "the idea that a cabal of Jewish people controls the world through political skulduggery has been a staple of antisemites since they propagandized against the French Revolution after 1789."

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