The ANSWER Coalition called an antiwar march and rally in D.C. on Sept. 24. and asked United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) to join as an equal partner. UFJP responded by changing the date and location of their already planned demo in NYC on Sept. 10 to D.C. on Sept. 24. Thus, they refused to join in on a unified rally and instead called a counter-rally. Why? In a word, Palestine.
UPJP are trying to cozy up to the Democratic Party who reject any mention of or support for the Palestinian cause. But this is nothing new for UFJP. They’ve consistently fought against support for Arab and Muslim causes. Those voicing support for Palestinians were shouted down at a recent meeting in D.C. In contrast, the ANSWER Coalition supports self-determination for Palestine, sees Arab and Muslim causes as linked to the Iraq War, and welcomes Arab and Muslims groups as partners on Sept. 24.
National Muslim leadership rejects UPJ “segregation” approach to Sept. 24 march on D.C
Over one hundred prominent Muslim leaders and National organizations have indicated that there is only one rally and march in Washington, DC, on September 24. And it will not be the “Segregation” March proposed by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). Responding to what has been categorized as a patronizing elitist and separation agenda that has long been a divisive issue in the anti-war and peace movement, prominent leaders in the Muslim and Arab community made it clear that they will not allow groups like the United for Peace and Justice set the agenda for American Muslim involvement in the peace movement.
Thus the idea that UFPJ will attempt to hold a separate March and Rally on September 24 in Washington, DC, and not join in principle the September 24 National Coalition for the March on Washington is viewed by many as a “segregationist counter-rally”. Why? The answer is simple. It is all about having a principled position on Palestine. When it is all said and done UFPJ has paid mere lip service to the Palestine issue and struggle as being part and parcel of the American Peace Movement. They have ignored the insistence of authentic voices in the Muslim and Arab community that ending the occupation of Palestine and other regions of the world should not be decoupled from ending the occupation in Iraq.
Mahdi Bray, Executive Director, MAS Freedom Foundation stated,
“Letâ€™s get real here, UFPJ called for a segregated March in DC after the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition made the initial call. They listed all kinds of excuses why they can’t join a unity effort. The reality is that a strong peace agenda put forth by the Muslim Community is not a reality that UFPJ is willing to accept and that is most unfortunate for the Peace and Justice Movement. I was there at a unity event when UFPJ removed the Palestinian flag from the stage. That speaks volumes for the leadership of UFPJ. However, I don’t believe that the UFPJ leadership’s aversion to the Palestinian struggle is representative of the position of UFPJ’s grassroots.
“As I’ve stated earlier we hold no ill will toward our brothers and sisters in the UFPJ, however, I just wish the leadership would drop the fig leaf, be up front and say that because of money and the fact of upsetting some left of center Democrats and other who have resisted the raising of the issue of the rights of the Palestinian People for true self determination they can not join the masses on September 24th. Instead, they have chosen to sponsor a segregated counter march and rally. It is sad commentary on this facet of our movement but I truly believe that on September 24 those who want an inclusive movement will prevail on the streets of Washington, DC.”
Those who deliberately try to split the antiwar movement are hardly helping the cause. An UFPJ antiwar rally held as an adjunct to the Democratic Party would be weak and timid indeed and would be a protest in name only. ANSWER is already mobilizing for their militant and principled march and rally at the White House at noon on Sept. 24. Be there!
(There will also be ANSWER-initiated demos in L.A., S.F., and elsewhere.)