marchers of folly

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Mar. 26, 2003
    Editorial: Marchers of folly

    With the Empire State Building behind them, some 200,000 antiwar demonstrators paraded south toward where the World Trade Center once stood.

    In their minds they marched for peace, morality, and the United Nations. They held aloft manufactured signs proclaiming: "Stop the War," "Freedom for Palestine," "End the Sanctions," and "War is Terrorism." The New York rally was mostly peaceful. Only eight police officers required hospitalization and there were but 91 people arrested by the time the rally culminated in Greenwich Village. This in contrast to a San Francisco antiwar rally that resulted in 2,000 arrests. In Montreal, rioters attacked police outside the US Consulate.

    In Paris, Muslims participating in an antiwar rally near the Bastille stabbed two Jewish young people. One was a particularly easy target because he was wearing a kippa. A third youth was attacked with metal rods and chains as he exited a nearby Zionist youth group facility.

    Confronted with this highly organized global campaign, one cannot help but ask a few questions. Who leads it? What do they stand for? What can they achieve? And who benefits from their deeds?
    The vanguard of strange bedfellows most vocally opposing the war in Iraq encompasses radical leftists, ultra-rightists, and a smattering of old-fashioned liberals. At least the liberals are well-meaning. They worry that unilateral action weakens the UN and harms relations with the Arabs. Perhaps. But the antiwar movement isn't driven by concerned and well-meaning liberals. Its engine is the unreformed Left.

    The titan of the US anti-war movement is called United for Peace and Justice. UPJ includes communist-dominated stalwarts such as the National Lawyers Guild and War Resisters League. Also represented are veteran fellow travelers, such as the American Friends Service Committee, the National Council of Churches, and Michael Lerner's Tikkun.

    Not to be left behind, UPJ's umbrella continues with a range of lesser-known groups, such as American Muslims for Jerusalem and the Palestine Right to Return Coalition. They lend the "peace" movement not just an anti-Israel, but also an anti-Semitic coloring. Lerner no slouch when it comes to being pro-Palestinian complains Tikkun has been "blackballed" by the West Coast peacenik-coordinating body ANSWER, because he challenged the vitriolic anti-Israel stance of the California anti-war movement. ANSWER, incidentally, is controlled by the (pro-North Korean) Workers World Party and endorsed the 1989 student massacre at Tiananmen Square.

    Opposition to the war is also fueled by Pat "Don't Call Me an Anti-Semite" Buchanan. The ultra-right does not feign concern for the UN or embrace episodic pacifism. The isolationist Buchanan's beef is explicit: "The American people have a right to know, before we are dragged into Armageddon against Islam ... the War Party may have gotten its war" but, "suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table." Curiously, this is precisely the kind of rhetoric we hear coming from Iraq's Information Ministry.

    We understand there are legitimate reasons to be opposed to this war, and principled reasons to be opposed to war itself. What we do not understand is a "peace movement" that has become a de facto mouthpiece for Saddam's regime. As Shimon Peres points out, "There were no demonstrations when Saddam bombed 100,000 Kurds with gas. There were no demonstrations when Iraq started a war against Iran. They didn't demonstrate when Iraq invaded Kuwait. They don't demonstrate today about Algeria, where terrorists are killing women and children day and night. Why?" Good question.

    Demosthenes said that nothing is easier than self-deception. The "peace" protests are full of such naifs who, if they spent a few days in Iraq would probably come out as did former human shield Daniel Pepper (see facing page), who now writes, "Anyone with half a brain must see that Saddam has to be taken out." But we should not be naive about the extremists who are using these people. They are violent, not peaceful; fascist, not democratic.

    Their aim is not to prevent or oppose war, but to cheer Saddam to victory, and to bring with them a sizable segment of mainstream public opinion.
    Given this, is it any surprise that both left- and right-wing anti-Semites have found a comfortable home among them?
 
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