Is Unity Possible? June 11 Strategy Discussion
This email includes three parts to contribute to the discussion around unity in the antiwar movement on September 24. They are:
1) An Invitation to a Discussion on Unity and Strategy on June 11, 2005
2) The May 26 Unity Call from the Troops Out Now Coalition
3) UFPJ's email to its member organizations
An Invitation to a Discussion on Unity and Strategy
SATURDAY JUNE 11 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM The New School Lang Center 55 W 13th St New York, NY
GETTING U.S. TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ NOW!
THE WORLD DEMANDS IT - WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
Sisters and brothers,
Since the Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC) added its views to the discussion about uniting the antiwar movement prompted by a unity call circulated by USLAW, September 24 has been set as the date for an antiwar march on Washington. We believe that September 24 should be embraced by all as a critical opportunity to revive a determined and popular struggle to shut this war down. The road to that end is not paved yet. The ANSWER coalition and then UPFJ have both called for marches on Washington DC on Saturday Sept. 24. ANSWER has asked for a united event on this date with UFPJ. In a letter announcing it's Sept. 24 plans, UPFJ says it will not have a united event on this date with either the Troops Out Now Coalition or ANSWER, citing as their reasons the anti-imperialist politics of TONC and ANSWER, and past difficulties working with these coalitions.
At its meeting on May 26, TONC decided to also issue a call for a full mobilization to Washington DC on Sept. 24. We do not envision 3 separate events in Washington DC on Sept. 24. We propose that the 3 coalitions and other forces come together to plan a strong united effort for Sept.24.
We appeal to UFPJ to reverse their rejection of a united mobilization with ANSWER and TONC and others on Sept 24. We believe that all should put aside anything that will create obstacles to realizing the potential of Sept. 24.
We propose that the unifying demand for Sept 24 should be the complete, unconditional and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. occupation troops from Iraq. Beyond that, we propose that each coalition raise the additional demands, and political views that they choose to. We intend to demand money for jobs, healthcare, education and housing, not war, and at the very same time call for an end to Washington and Wall St.'s war against Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, and other countries that are on imperialism's hit list.
We have not found our anti-imperialist positions to be a hindrance. To the contrary, we have found them to be essential to relating to people in this country as well as people all over the world.
TONC also takes the Millions More Movement's march on Wash. DC on October 15 very seriously and we are already beginning to strategize as to how we can best unite the struggle against the war with that effort. We don't want the two dates, October 15, and Sept. 24, just three weeks apart, to compete with each other. Central to TONC's strategy will be to utilize Sept. 24 to build the Millions More Movement events in mid Oct.
As we said in our unity call, unity does not mean uniformity. Our challenge as a movement is to think big and act big so that we can really help to set back the Empire's designs on the rest of the Middle East, and the world.
Bush has already lost the war abroad. It's up to us to make sure that he loses it at home. If our movement can seriously dedicate itself to this goal, we will be helping all of the peoples of the world who are struggling against the empire.
All are welcome to participate in TONC's Strategy Meeting on Saturday June 11 at the New School For Social Research, 55 West 13 street, from 11:AM to 5:PM in New York City, where we will be devoting a session of the meeting to a continuation of the unity discussion.
The Troops Out Now Coalition
Endorse the CALL for UNITY online http://www.troopsoutnow.org/unityendorse.html
Unity Call to the Anti-War Movement from the Troops Out Now Coalition
The Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC) wholeheartedly and unreservedly joins the activists and groups who are calling for a united mobilization against the war in the fall. The absence of such unity amongst the anti-war coalitions only serves to demoralize rank and file anti-war activists and local forces across the country. The grassroots of the movement are looking to those of us who make decisions to put our differences aside in the interests of the struggle to get the U.S. the hell out of Iraq.
Achieving unity isn't easy but the power of unity is the thing that will give everyone the confidence to do what needs to be done. Moreover, the people of Iraq and throughout the Middle East need the movement in this country to unite. The whole world is looking to us to do it. TONC welcomes the sentiments of all who have signed on to the unity statement that is being circulated by USLAW. TONC would add to that call that the movement needs to reach out in a more serious way not only to trade unionists that are active in the anti-war movement, but also to working people and people of color. In the Million Worker March Movement you have trade unionists that are people of color at the helm.
These trade unionists are leading the way in helping to bring the workers movement and the anti-war movement together. Let us make sure that our appeal extends to them as well as others including immigrants who are all too often under-represented.
An important part of forging any meaningful unity will, of necessity, require that the anti-war movement both acknowledges and unites with the struggle of people of color and the events that carry their message. The call for a "Millions More March" on the tenth anniversary of the "Million Man March" has gone out far and wide. The Millions More March will extend over 3 days next fall, October 14, 15 and 16, including a massive march on Washington DC. It goes without saying that many of us will be pre-occupied with this important mobilization. This is something that needs to be respected.
TONC believes that the time has come for all of us to unite around the demand to bring the troops home immediately. This in no way means that other demands should not be put forth.
We absolutely must talk about the war budget and how it's robbing workers and poor people.
We must talk about the prospect of the draft being revived. We must find ways of reaching out to resisters inside the military.
Moreover, we don't believe that uniting must mean censoring, silencing or excluding the positions of those who are participating in that unity.
The antiwar movement must not turn its back on the Palestinian people and their struggle. In addition, the position that the Iraqi people have a right to resis t occupation by whatever means they choose cannot be censored or excluded.
We don't think that it helps us to make no mention of the threats against Venezuela or Cuba or Iran or North Korea and simply pretend that these problems don't exist. We believe that the movement must address the ongoing occupation of Haiti and Afghanistan; the imperialist designs on Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Colombia and all the peoples of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Caribbean and Latin America. Others may have different priorities. The anti-war movement must ensure that all oppressed communities have an equal place at the table, where their issues and concerns are represented.
Unity does not mean uniformity--the main thing is for the basis of unity to be clear.
It's not necessary for us to ask of each other that we forget neither our differences nor the unpleasantness of past conflicts. All that is required is that we not let any of that get in the way of joining hands to grasp the opportunities that only unity makes possible.
There is a high road. On that road, questions are answered, problems are solved and the means and methods necessary to move forward are found.
Nothing is more important at this moment than for all to walk together on the high road to unity. We believe that what we all do will be decisive. We must and we can stop the war and get every U.S. soldier out of Iraq.
It is up to all of us to do whatever is necessary for our movement to rise to this challenge.
TONC is holding a regional meeting on Saturday, JUNE 11. A special session of this meeting will be devoted to continuing the discussion on unity and we will be extending invitations to groups to participate in that discussion.
You can help! Endorse this call. Pass it on to others.
Endorsers include: (The updated complete list of more than 600 endorsers is available online. )
Action 21, Jersey City, NJ Al-Awda, NY Artists and Activists United for Peace BAYAN-USA Code Pink, Bremerton, WA Cuba Solidarity New York Fanmi Lavalas F.I.S.T. - Fight Imperialism, Stand Together! Guerrero Azteca Project, Escondido, CA Harlem Tenants Council International Action Center Korea Truth Commission Millions for Mumia Movement in Motion Network in Solidarity with the People of the Philippines - NISPOP New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine NY Committee to Defend Palestine North Carolina Free Speech League, Winston Salem, NC NYC Labor Against the War Phil Berigan Institute for Nonviolence, Reading, PA Queers For Peace And Justice, New York, NY Tejanos For Truth, Austin, TX USWA Local 8751, Boston School Bus Drivers, Boston, MA Veterans for Peace, Chapter 099, Waynesville, NC Womens Fightback Network, Boston, MA Michael Berg Wilmington, DE Jack Dalton, columnist, Project for the Old American Century.org , Portland, OR Rev. Arthur Donart, PhD., Prince of Peace Catholic Parish , Clinton, IA Beatrice Einhorn, UFT (AFL-CIO) , New York, NY Leslie Feinberg, National Steering Committee, National Writers' Union/UAW , Jersey City, NJ Stephen Funk, Conscientious Objector, US Marines , San Francisco, CA Steve Gillis, President, USWA Local 8751 Boston School Bus Drivers , Boston, MA Teresa Gutierrez, NYC Coordinator, Committee to Free the Cuban 5 , New York, NY Isolt Lea, MFSO, GI Rights Hotline , Gainesville, Florida Siu Hin Lee, Peace No War Network, South Pasadena, CA Ardeshir Ommani, Coordinator, American-Iranian Friendship Committe, Armonk, NY Andre' Powell, Executive Board, AFSCME Local 112, Maryland , Baltimore, MD Minnie Bruce Pratt, lesbian writer, National Writers Union , Jersey City, New Jersey Sharon Smith, National Organizer, International Socialist Organization, Chicago, IL Fernando Suarez del Solar, Guerrero Azteca Project, Escondido, Ca
=for identification only
=for identification only
How You Can Help:
Forward this email Endorse the CALL for UNITY online http://www.troopsoutnow.org/unityendorse.html
Form a local organizing center http://www.troopsoutnow.org/may1orgcentsignup.html
Donate to help with organizing expenses http://www.troopsoutnow.org/donate.html
LETTER FROM UFPJ ON THE ANTIWAR MOBILIZATION IN WASHINGTON DC - SEPT 24- 26
Dear UFPJ Member Groups:
We're writing to update you on a major change in our coalition's plans: the national steering committee of UFPJ has decided to shift the anti-war mobilization planned for September 10 in New York City to a September 24-26 mobilization in Washington, D.C. We are excited about the new plans and will soon be circulating our call to action. But first we want to make sure all of the UFPJ member groups understand the decision. Please take a moment to read this memo and then share it with others in your group.
At the UFPJ National Assembly in February, there was tremendous support for organizing a major anti-war demonstration this fall. More specifically, the Assembly agreed that UFPJ should organize a demonstration in New York City on September 10, which would be right before heads of state come to the United Nations for the Millennium+5 Review.
Soon after the Assembly, we learned that there were serious problems with that date. The Central Labor Council of NYC will be holding its annual Labor Day parade on September 10, a parade that usually includes upwards of 100,000 trade union members. It would be both impractical and politically unwise for us to call for some other major action that same day. In addition, a large international coalition of groups that work on global debt and poverty issues have targeted September 10 as a day they will be issuing a call for action. While we can see a clear connection between the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the war in Iraq and the urgent need to re-order global economic priorities in order to eradicate hunger and poverty, we do not wish in any way to compete with those groups' desire to keep the public spotlight squarely on their issues that weekend.
The decision to change the date and location was not made lightly: these issues were discussed at several steering committee meetings as well as within the administrative committee. Th e UFPJ National Steering Committee took into account the range of other political priorities set by the National Assembly, and particularly the clearly stated desire for the peace and justice movement to increase the pressure on pro-war politicians in Congress.
Therefore, United for Peace and Justice has decided to organize a weekend of action - Sept. 24 - 26 - in Washington, DC against the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq:
Saturday, Sept. 24: massive march, rally, and festival Sunday, Sept. 25: interfaith religious service; trainings in direct action and grassroots lobbying Monday, Sept. 26: lobby day and mass nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience These three days of actions will send a clear message to the White House and to Congress: this immoral and illegal war must end. Our demands will call for a new direction: Bring the troops home now, leave no bases behind; stop bankrupting our communities with war appropriations, and get militar y recruiters out of our schools.
The steering committee's discussions about this started at its first in-person meeting over the April 9-10 weekend. In the six weeks since then there have been several steering committee and administrative committee conference calls. On the May 2nd steering committee conference call there was agreement to explore both the Sept. 17th and the Sept. 24th weekends, with the intention of trying to decide on a date as quickly as possible.
As our discussions took place other developments were unfolding, which we want to be sure our member groups are fully informed about. Several weeks ago US Labor Against War (USLAW), a member group of UFPJ with representation on our National Steering Committee, initiated a public process aimed at pulling together UFPJ, ANSWER and the Troops Out Now Coalition (led by the International Action Center) for a meeting to discuss the possibility of a joint demonstration this fall. In light of past problems working with these groups, the UFPJ National Steering Committee expressed serious reservations about such a joint action, but agreed to participate in such a discussion, should USLAW convene it. The UFPJ co-chairs and national coordinator had several conversations with USLAW leadership expressing concerns about their process and relaying the decisions of the steering committee, including our willingness to take part in such a meeting.
In the meantime, while our steering and administrative committees were engaged in discussions about the feasibility of organizing a September 17 or 24 action in D.C., ANSWER, on the morning of May 12, issued a public call for a national march on Washington on Saturday, September. 24. Their call to action has these major demands: Stop the War in Iraq; End Colonial Occupation from Iraq to Palestine to Haiti. Other demands in their call are: Support the Palestinian People's Right of Return; Stop the Threats Against Venezuela, Cuba, Iran & amp; North Korea; U.S. out of the Philippines; Bring all the Troops Home Now; Stop the Racist, Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Labor Offensive at Home, Defend Civil Rights.
In the evening of that same day the leadership of ANSWER sent an email to UFPJ that proposed what they called "a united front between our two coalitions" to jointly organize a Washington, DC demonstration on September 24. It should be noted that the ANSWER memo to UFPJ came well after their call to action had already been released. As has happened in the past, ANSWER publicly announced the political platform of the action and then called for "unity" around their demands. Members of the UFPJ steering committee were troubled about this process and there was further discussion about how to proceed. On May 16th, the Troops Out Now Coalition then issued their letter supporting the ANSWER call, adding their view that, "the Iraqi people have a right to resist occupation by whatever means they choose cannot be ce nsored or excluded."
On the most recent conference call of the UFPJ steering committee (May 18), a decision was made to proceed with our plans as outlined above. This means that while we applaud all efforts and activities to end the war and occupation in Iraq, UFPJ will not join with ANSWER (or the Troops Out Now Coalition) in the planning and organizing of the September 24-26 mobilization in Washington, DC. We will organize a massive march, rally, and festival on September 24; ANSWER may well decide to have a separate event in Washington on that day. We want to be clear. Our call will be an open invitation to groups who want to end the war and bring our troops home now, and who agree with our demands, to join us in the streets. We welcome everyone, including ANSWER and the Troops Out Now Coalition, to organize contingents or feeder marches into our demonstration that day. Our steering committee agreed that should USLAW still decide to convene the meeting described a bove that UFPJ will participate, but only to discuss logistical concerns for that weekend.
This was not an easy decision. The UFPJ Steering Committee recognizes that there is widespread interest in seeing many antiwar forces working together. But based on our past two and a half years experience, it will not be possible to work with ANSWER or the Troops Out Now Coalition on a joint action this fall. We believe any efforts to work together must begin with developing common, jointly agreed upon political demands and be based upon a style of organizing grounded in mutual respect. We take very seriously the mandate of the UFPJ National Assembly to build the broadest, most diverse anti-war movement possible as a key strategy for bringing an end to this war. Our primary commitment is building this movement, including the fall mobilization, in a way that makes it possible for the largest and widest array of people to come together in opposition to the war, including military families, Iraq war veterans and other veterans, and the labor movement. This commitment has an impact on everything we do: from the nature of the program, to the articulation of our demands, to the ways we do our organizing.
UFPJ is also committed to building a movement culture based on trust, respect, principled action, democratic decision-making, and good-faith communication. Both the national coalition and a number of our regional remember groups have had extremely negative experiences on all these grounds throughout our history of working with ANSWER or the International Action Center. While professing to desire unity, ANSWER and the IAC have repeatedly misrepresented the positions of, attacked, and attempted to isolate and split UFPJ and other antiwar groups, even when we were supposedly in alliances. Now, they once again have announced a political platform and a date for a demonstration without any consultation with us, while on the other hand calling for uni ty.
Every day the war in Iraq rages on and people are killed and maimed, lives are ruined, and a once sovereign nation is under the military occupation and corporate control of the United States. We must stay focused on our priorities: building the strongest movement possible in order to end this war, bring our troops home and prevent future wars! We ask all UFPJ member groups to join in the effort to ensure the most successful September mobilization possible.
In the coming weeks you will be getting more information about the plans for the Sept. 24-26 weekend, including specific ways your group can get involved. But there is no need to delay: we encourage you to start convening local and/or regional meetings of UFPJ member groups and others to beginning your organizing for the fall mobilization. We look forward to working with you in the coming months.
Leslie Cagan, national coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
George Friday, national co-chair email@example.com
Judith LeBlanc, national co-chair firstname.lastname@example.org
George Martin, national co-chair email@example.com
Discussion on Unity and Strategy SATURDAY JUNE 11 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM The New School Lang Center 55 W 13th St New York, NY
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