Open letter from the Arab-American…

Open letter from the Arab-American & Muslim community to U.S. anti-war movement

It’s hard to believe, but some factions of the antiwar movement are deliberately moving away from supporting the right of Palestinians to determine their own destiny. Oh dear, they shriek, we can’t mention Palestinians, people might not come to our protests, a view that seems more than a little jelly-kneed to me. Also, while they loudly moan about the occupation of Iraq by the US, they now openly favor the continued occupation of Iraq by the UN.

Occupation is occupation, no matter who is doing it. Palestinians have a right to self-determination. These opposing “Antiwar Lite” views do nothing but, implicitly or otherwise, reinforce the policies of the Bush Administration – a bizarre stand for antiwar groups to take.

ANSWER, who I actively volunteer with, is circulating this open letter from 41 Arab-American and Muslim groups to the antiwar movement as we build towards the upcoming worldwide March 20 demonstrations.

From the open letter:


Today, forty-one Arab American and Muslim organizations issued an open letter that both supports the March 20 Call to Action and challenges the anti-war movement in the U.S. to take a principled stand in defense of self-determination and in opposition to all U.S. plans for colonial occupation.

The call to mobilize demanded ending “all colonial occupations from Iraq to Palestine to everywhere”. It also called for “bringing the troops home NOW” without delay, and for opposing giving an international cover to the colonial occupation of Iraq.

Some sectors in the anti-war movement objected to and are organizing against these demands, insisting that Palestine be dropped from the call for March 20 (as these same sectors have often demanded), and that internationalizing the occupation of Iraq should remain a viable option.

As a result, and in the context of a long history of being silenced and marginalized, the Arab-American and Muslim community prepared this open letter to the movement

Excerpts from the letter:

Accordingly, we the undersigned hereby declare that:

1.  We do not accept delinking the struggle of the Palestinian people from the anti-war movement, and regard the struggle in Palestine, as it is viewed worldwide, to be central to any peace and justice mobilization.

2.  We insist that the Palestinian right to return and to self-determination are the key anchors of the Palestinian struggle, and that organizations that attempt to diminish, sidetrack, or abrogate these rights, regardless of any other position they may take on Palestine, are acting contrary to the will and aspiration of the Palestinian people.

3.  We view all attempts to relegate our collective presence to the margin and to tokenize our participation in the movement to be racist in character.

4.  We regard the positions that the “colonial occupation of Iraq must be “internationalized”, or that ending the occupation must be conducted over a period of time until the “Iraqis are able to secure their democracy”, as implicitly colonial and racist. These are positions that are rooted in the construct of “manifest destiny” and the “white man’s burden” to “civilize”.

5.  We call on our people everywhere to hold all organizations accountable to the positions they take, especially those that depict racist attitudes towards us, implicitly or otherwise, particularly those that tokenize and objectify our struggle.

The full text of the letter will be posted soon on the national ANSWER website and I’ll link to it from here.