For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



How the Zionists Subvert the American Antiwar Movement

by Ken Freeland (founding member of Houston Coalition for Justice Not War and only participant in the Assembly from Texas)


Background:  The National Assembly and its Call


On 28-29 July, 2008, a “national assembly to end the Iraq war” was held in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.   The Assembly had been promoted through the grapevine, and had been advertised as an attempt to restore unity to a divided and moribund peace movement (which under its current national leadership had failed to make any significant national public response to this year's anniversary of the war against Iraq).  Activists were told that anyone could register and participate in the Assembly, that everyone attending would have the right to vote, and that decisions would be made democratically.  The organization I represented had been alienated by the undemocratic machinations and Zionist-friendly politics of an earlier attempt to unite the peace movement, the United For Peace and Justice leadership, and had disassociated  from UFPJ early on, and this motivated my journey to Cleveland. I was eager to find out  if the antiwar movement was finally going to engender a genuinely democratic vehicle to coordinate itself, and also whether this vehicle would be capable of at long last  recognizing the centrality of the Palestinian issue to the antiwar movement, and the culpability of the Zionist lobby in fomenting the wars we oppose.


The organizers of the Assembly stated at several points that they were using the National Peace Action Coalition of the Vietnam antiwar movement as their model.   In many ways, this appeared to be the case:  Those old enough to remember NPAC recall that while everyone had voice and vote at NPAC meetings, the decision as to major tactics for the movement were a foregone conclusion, mass demonstrations, and the best any alternative approach to stopping the War could hope for was honorable mention.  That this approach was to be recapitulated by the Assembly was evidenced by the pre-Assembly meeting held Friday night, 27 July, by its Coordinating Committee of the Assembly.  While this self-appointed and entirely unrepresentative committee took care of a few housekeeping issues as we might expect, its primary focus was an intense debate over the best dates to recommend to the Assembly for  nationally coordinated mass antiwar demonstrations.   When I say it was unrepresentative, I do not mean that the usual suspects were not there from a number of major national antiwar organizations (UFPJ, ANSWER, Troops Out Now, etc.).  What I mean is that not every participant in the conference had the ability to participate or be represented by someone at this important pre-meeting, and this gave a mighty big edge on this poignant question of a date for national mobilization (and as we shall see later, on several other more political questions) to those who were among the chosen few.  And as we shall also see later, this “we're all equal here, but some are more equal than others” approach to decision making would come back to destroy the integrity and democratic process of the Assembly later on.


A Belated Victory for the Palestinian Cause


As its first order of business, the Coordinating Committee proposed rules of order for the Assembly: Roberts Rules of Order. These were adopted by the Assembly with a few special rules added.  In the spirit of its NPAC model, the organizers had decreed beforehand that only one “comprehensive” action proposal could be adopted by the assembly.  Since the omnibus action proposal developed by the Coordinating Committee was the only “comprehensive” proposal (which among other things identified mass demonstrations as the major tactic for the antiwar movement) it was a foregone conclusion that it was going to win the day.   However, also following NPAC methodology, those whose proposals did not win the competition were given the option to resubmit their proposals as amendments to the winning proposal, so as to create one all-encompassing action plan with everyone, or almost everyone, on board.  Reviewing the proposals that had been submitted in advance of the Assembly, I had been particularly impressed by the Palestine-centered proposal of the Middle East Crisis Committee of Connecticut, and was able to join forces early on with its delegates Stan Heller (who broadcasts a poignant weekly progressive news program called “The Struggle” that is carried on some 30 local Cable Access channels) and Mazin Qumsiyeh, the prime mover of the Wheels for Justice program, with whom I had worked previously in Texas.  Following the adoption of the Coordinating Committee's Action Proposal by the Assembly, Stan submitted an amendment incorporating the basic principles of the MECC's earlier proposal, consisting of several parts.  All of it called for stronger, clearer language on the issue of Palestine and its integral relationship to the antiwar movement, in opposition to the lip-service language proposed as an alternative by the Coordinating Committee.  But it also contained a revolutionary claim that challenged the Coordinating Committee's boilerplate “war for oil” explanation by proposing two additional causes of the war:  "the interests of the military industrial complex and the influence of the lobbies of Jewish and Christian Zionists." 


This multi-part amendment was opposed by the Coordinating Committee, and those of its leading members who now comprised the Presiding Committee took turns speaking against it as it came up for vote.  The three of us agreed that Mazin should give the overall introduction, I should address the additional causes of war, and Stan would address the rest and summarize, since we were allowed a total of only three speakers.  Here was the substance of my remarks, which were limited to two minutes.  I present here the full text of my speech from my notes, for reasons that will become clear later:


The slogan “no war for oil”had real resonance and organizing potential during the First Gulf War.  But as a complete explanation for the current war against Iraq it has been effectively debunked by modern scholars, who have identified Zionist Israel as the necessary condition of the war against Iraq.  In fact, there are significant contradictions, explicated by Jonathon Cook in his recent work “Israel and the Clash of Civilizations,” between the current political chaos in Iraq (about which he documents the Bush Administration was well warned before proceeding with this war) and the expressed interests of the oil industry.


Can we possibly sell this “war for oil” hypothesis to ordinary Americans who are daily gouged at the gas pump, that this war has gained oil for America?  And what of the promise made to them by the war's promoters that the costs of this war would be paid for by the oil revenues of Iraq, instead of by taxes levied on working people, indebting our children for possibly generations to come?


If we honestly reflect, we must recognize that the deepest divisions in the antiwar movement have been around this issue, and the failure of the movement as a whole to openly recognize it.  This has in turn hampered our ability to recruit our natural allies, Arab-Americans and Muslims, who have a natural, experiential understanding of this issue, to fuller participation in the antiwar cause and therefore our ability as organizers to mobilize.  If, on the other hand, we take this opportunity to finally lift the taboo on recognizing that the oppression of Palestinians and the influence of the Zionist lobbies are integral parts of the “war on terror,” not only in launching the war against Iraq, but even more unarguably in pushing the impending war against Iran, it will go far to begin healing this breach, a necessary step if we really hope to unify our divided antiwar movement.



Stan Heller's speech, which followed mine, concluded with a rousing call for a “fearless antiwar movement” that brought many to their feet in applause.  The final vote was close, but the Assembly's vote clearly favored our amendment over the milquetoast language of the Coordinating Committee.  This was our first democratic victory.  But the opponents of our proposal were not subdued.  Despite the understanding we had been given that the winning proposal would be forthwith included in the Action Program, the acting Chair, who I believe was Jeff Mackler, ruled that he would now allow amendments to our language.  This, of course, is a violation of Robert's Rules, which requires that whenever an assembly is considering alternative proposals,  all amendment must be done BEFORE they are voted on.   Alas, this would not be the last of Robert's Rules to be seriously breached by our opponents.  In any case, an amendment was offered from the floor to remove from our amendment any reference to the Zionist lobbies as a cause of the war.  Its proponent argued that he did not believe that the Zionist lobby dominated US foreign policy.   In speaking against the amendment, I noted that it was essentially an effort to rob our recently approved language of its substance (essentially raising the same issue twice, which Robert's Rules forbids), and then went on to cite the many scholars, including Drs. Walt and Mearsheimer, Dr. James Petras and Jonathon Cook, all of whom have identified the influence of the Zionist lobby as instrumental in instigating US war against Iraq.  The vote was extremely close on this one, but once again we prevailed:  the majority of the Assembly defended our language that included explicit reference to the Zionist lobbies.  This was our second democratic victory.  Then the amended language was put to a final vote, and it now won easily.  This was our  amendment's third democratic victory.  


The Administrative Body Usurps Power and Subverts the Democratic Decision of the Assembly


Naturally, we were elated by all this, and left the Assembly with hope and good faith understanding that the Action Program document issued by the Administrative Body (whose members were elected at the very end of the Assembly after many of us had already left) would reflect the democratic decisions of the Assembly, including our adopted amendments.  But our  trust was tragically ill placed.  Our opponents refused to accept their democratic defeat, and went on to corrupt the operation of the 13- member Administrative Body, which had  never been assigned governing authority in the first place, and whose primary task was to form a Continuations Committee from representatives of member groups which would have governing authority.  Instead of performing its assigned task, instead of setting up a  listserv so that the members of the Assembly could continue to openly communicate with one another as any other democratically run organization might do, the Administrative Body decided to “politically correct” the decision of the Assembly to adopt our amendment, by illicitly instituting a so-called “referundum” on the question. 


Those of us who supported the amendment first learned of this usurpation from Stan Heller, who, apparently because he had personally proposed the original amendment, was informed of the Administrative Body's decision and invited to submit a 200 word opposition statement if he so chose, that would be included in the “referendum” along with the Administration Body's proposed revision.   Before we examine these arguments themselves, let us pause here to reflect on the process already taking place, and the subversion of democratic process (not to mention decency) that it represents:


1)      The Administrative Body's function is to set up the Continuations Committee, not to meddle in politics.  The political decisions were to be made by the Assembly, and augmented by the Continuations Committee composed of representatives of member groups.

2)      By informing in advance only Stan Heller of this decision, and giving only Stan Heller the right to make a statement that would be seen by others who were sent ballots, the AB effectively disenfranchised every member of the Assembly who is NOT on the AB of the right to debate its motion, a clear abrogation of Robert's Rules by which the Assembly agreed to be bound. Moreover the limitation of Stan's rebuttal to 200 words was itself an arbitrary limitation of his right to debate, something Robert's Rules requires a 2/3 majority of the Assembly to authorize.

3)      Of course, no one outside of the AB had any opportunity to challenge the legality of the AB's decision to hold a referendum in the first place.  This should not have been  a problem since the Administrative Body had been assigned no governing power, but once it usurped this power, it was careful not to allow democratic discourse between the members which would have enabled them to challenge this usurpation of power belonging only to the Assembly itself.

4)      Roberts' Rules of Order Newly Revised, Tenth Edition, expressly prohibits email and other cybernetic forms of voting unless explicitly authorized by an organization's bylaws, and unless it meets certain other conditions (which allow for the normal open debate between members, for instance), but this organization does not HAVE any bylaws.   Ipso facto, even if the AB had the authority to initiate a referedum on a question already decided by the Assembly (which it certainly does not), the use of such email ballots would be illicit.


I could go on at length about what a mockery this made of any genuine democratic process, but let us leave this question aside for now and review the pathetic pleadings of the AB as to why, in their unanimous opinion, such an extreme abridgment of democracy had become so urgently necessary.  I first learned about the AB's machinations second hand, from an email sent to several of us who had worked with Stan at the Assembly on this amendment: 


Jeff Mackler on behalf of the Administrative Committee contacted me several days ago and said that he had received many complaints about one part of our amendment "Jewish and Christian Zionist lobbyists…”  and ask if it could be changed.  I said that it was democratically voted on (3 times) and that in fact mentioning the lobbies as motivation was an important advance in the analysis. 


This attempt by Mackler to gain Stan's assent to change the wording based on unspecified “complaints” was highly manipulative, but even more disturbing is Mackler's apparent belief that Stan Heller had any special power over the amendment after it had already been adopted by the Assembly.  Had Mackler approached Stan Heller prior to his submitting the amendment to the Assembly and asked him to change the wording, he would have been within in his rights.  If had argued for a change in the wording once the amendment was under consideration by the Assembly, he would ALSO have been within his rights, and it is possible that Stan may have chosen to adopt it as a friendly amendment.  But technically, once the amendment is under consideration by the Assembly, the proponent loses all propriety rights to it, and only the Assembly itself, as determined by its majority, can alter or dispose of it. As the Assembly had already approved this amendment, Mackler's strange attempt to contact only its original author represents a bizarre attempt to turn back the hands of time and undo the work of the Assembly.  But you can't do least, not without making a mockery of democratic values.  What's done is done, so long as it is done democratically, and it cannot be undone except democratically, by either a majority or super-majority of those “present.”  Without this important protection, all democratic process would be a sham, just as this Administrative Body has made a sham out of the democratic work of the Assembly.


In fact, Mackler was being very disingenuous in his claim above that the proposed wording change concerned only the references to “Jewish and Christian Zionists.”  There was, in fact, an even larger distortion of our amendment in the works, albeit more nefariously.  As is clear from my remarks on the question to the Assembly, we had presented “the influence of the lobbies of Christian and Jewish Zionists and the interests of the military-industrial complex”  as independent causes of the war against Iraq, in a way that openly CHALLENGED the contention that this was merely a “war for oil.”  But in its politically corrected form, thanks to the Gang of 13 in the Administrative Body, the original Coordinating Committee  statement asserting a war for oil was preserved intact.  Then, several sentences later, they proposed to insert our now-mangled amendment by stating that this same war for oil was “spurred on by” these two other influences.  This was more than a distortion, it was turning our amendment on its head, and instead of allowing these causes to be listed along with the oil explanation for the war, they had made them subordinate to and supportive of the very explanation for the war we had openly challenged.  This is rankest dishonesty.

And as we will see in the “referendum” language, this perversion of our amendment was presented in both the “pro” and the “con” versions on the ballot, so either way, without realizing it, people were voting to subvert the substance of the original amendment: very insidious, but also very transparent to those of us who remember its purpose and the Assembly's approval of its clear intent.



What follows below is a deconstruction [in red italics, in brackets] of  the text of the “referendum” sent out by the Administrative Body (we know of some registered participants in the Assembly who did not receive it).  The subject heading of this email message was “URGENT: NATIONAL ASSEMBLYREFERENDUM VOTE CALLED. PLEASE VOTE!” and it was sent by “natassembly(at), who never signs her or her name. Indeed, the AB's plaintive apologia for the referendum (which runs almost twice as long as the 200 words alloted Stan Heller, and this is BEFORE the AB grants itself 200 words to make its case for the revision), is signed by no one in particular (though I believe the AB did elect officers, but who knows for sure?).  The 200 word response of the AB is in addition to this, and it is signed by the entire AB: 



Please cast your vote by replying to this email!


To: All Registered Participants in the June 28-29, 2008 National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation

[Not all registered participants were sent copies of this.]


From: Administrative Body, National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations


Re: Referendum Vote on amending the language adopted in the Action Program with regard to the wording “… the influence of the lobbies of Jewish and Christian Zionists.”

[This subject heading is misleading in the extreme....the substantial change for which the AB is illicitly seeking approval concerns the contrived wording “spurred on by” which subordinates the two independent causes of the War to subordinate causes of an “oil war”  -- see below]


At its first meeting on July 13, 2008, the elected Administrative Body of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations voted to conduct a referendum of all registered participants who attended the June 28-29, 2008 Cleveland antiwar conference.

 [Nowhere in either the above or the below paragraphs is the AUTHORITY for the National Assembly to conduct a referendum cited.]

The main reason for conducting the referendum is this: There was widespread confusion and misunderstanding regarding some wording contained in the Palestine amendment when it was voted on by the conference.

[“Widespread?”  What does this mean? Note that this term completely obscures the identities of those who have launched this campaign to undo the work of the genuine democratic procedures the identities of all speakers and the maker of all motions must be identified...but not here!  You can be sure that if their identities were revealed, it would be crystal clear that they were people who hadn't the slightest “misunderstanding” of the wording of this amendment, but understood it well enough to openly oppose it three times during the course of the Assembly's consideration of it.]

A majority of Administrative Body members, for example, who were present when the vote was cast, were unaware that it contained the words "the lobbies of Jewish and Christian Zionists."

[This is an incredible admission, when we consider that the core people from the Coordinating Committee were the same core people on the Presiding Committee (who oversaw the voting) and now are the core people in the so-called Administrative Body.  They hopscotched from being self-appointed organizers to presiding officers to elected administrators, picking up power as they went (but not as much as they think).   Moreover, if there really WAS confusion about the wording here, who was responsible for it if not these members of the Presiding Committee themselves?  Shouldn't they acknowledge their incompetence and resign, if people did not even understand what they were even voting on?  But no, they themselves ALL understood very well the wording of our amendment, because it was submitted to them in writing, and many of them openly opposed it from the podium in the course of debate.  Using their own incompetence as presiding officers to justify taking a FOURTH VOTE on a matter already resolved by the Assembly THREE TIMES is surely the height of chutzpah.]



And based on many reports received after the conference, this misunderstanding was widespread.

[And here we go again:  “many” reports....”widespread” many reports?  Can we see these reports?  Who sent them?  How “widespread” exactly?  Of course, we are not told.  We are not on a need-to-know basis, being only participants in a “democratic” Assembly, not high and mighty members of the “Administrative Body” appointed by it....]


Many people told us that if they had known that this language was part of the amendment, they would have voted differently.

[“Many?”   Just how many please?  Can't we even have a clue? That people would have voted differently (even if it were true) is beside the point, as any parliamentary procedure, including Robert's Rules, will tell you....a vote stands until the next legitimate vote, which means the next properly called assembly, because the rights of a majority cannot be rescinded at the behest of a minority.  This is undoubtedly one reason why no numbers are given here, and the effort is made over and over again to imply a vast objection.  It insults the intelligence of the participants of this Assembly that they they voted three times in favor of our amendment and had no idea what they were voting on.]


 Of course, if copies in writing had been made available to all attendees at the conference instead of to just two people, it would have been different. 

[And once again, whose responsibility was it to provide copies of amendments to the participants?  Those with amendments were instructed to submit them in writing to the Presiding Committee, not to make copies for the plenary. The Presiding committee had all Saturday night and part of Sunday morning to make copies for the participants... that it CHOSE not to do so is telling.   But it is no reflection on anyone but themselves, and to repeat, they were OPPOSED to these amendments, and spoke openly against them to the plenary.  Are we to suppose that between our arguments and their counterarguments the participants did not understand what they were voting on?   We should also point out that in the subsequen election of the members of this Administrative Body, there were ALSO no written ballots provided with their names on them, nor were the candidates given the slightest opportunity to address the participants, or even to be identified in some cases.  Borrowing the same logic, since I would never have voted for these people if I had known who they really are (now that they have shown their hand), shouldn't I have the right to call for a new election of the Administrative Body? Don't hold your breath...]


We wish to make one point crystal clear: the Palestine amendment was approved by the conference and it has been made part of the Action Program. That is not at issue here. The only question that the referendum will settle is whether the words "the lobbies of Jewish and Christian Zionists" will be included as part of the text.

[Well, this is just doubletalk.  If the Palestine amendent was approved (and it certainly was...three times!), what authorizes a new referendum on any part of it?  But the big lie here, of course, is that it is not simply the words “the lobbies of Jewish and Christian Zionists” that is at issue, but the question of whether these independent causes of the war are recognized as such in the final wording of the Motivation section of the Action Program, per the amendment.   And of course, the AB never acknowledges that it has made this alteration in the amendment, and focuses instead on these particular “controversial” words.]



Because of the critical implications of including this kind of language in the program adopted by the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations, the Administrative Body concluded that the matter should be clarified and that the best and most democratic way to do that would be through a referendum, where all registered conference attendees would have a vote.


[Well isn't that special?  But we are still are not being told by what authority the AB is conducting this referendum on a matter already decided by the Assembly.  And once again, even if the AB did have such authority, which it clearly does not, the use of such an unverifiable means of balloting is prohibited by Robert's Rules for obvious reasons.  But of course, there can be no appeal of “Administrative” decisions, now, can there?  Not once the Administrative Body ceases to function as a democratic arm of a democratic Assembly and begins functioning as a cabal to impose its own canons of political correctness.]


Several Administrative Body members have stated that they accept everything in the Palestine amendment except the disputed wording and would have to withdraw their backing for the Assembly if that language were retained. 


[This is perhaps the most revealing sentence in this entire concatenation.  In the first place, note the word “disputed.”  This recalls nothing so much as the substitution some years ago of  “Disputed Territories”  for the formerly (and correctly) termed “Occupied Territories” in Palestine by Zionist-influenced media.  According to every existing international law, the remaining areas of Palestine are under Israeli occupation, and therefore are properly termed “Occupied Territories.” But when the Zionist-influenced media twist the truth and call them “Disputed Territories” it suggests that there are two legitimate claims under consideration, when in fact there is only one.  This same trick is used here, to suggest that there is more than one claim about what language was approved by the Assembly, when even the email sent by Mackler to Stan Heller contains the original wording, and does not “dispute” it.

But in this sentence we also see evidence of who instigated this subversive effort and how they managed to manipulate the entire AB into complying with their wishes.  It is clear that this issue was so important to the opponents of our amendment, that they threatened to disassociate from the Assembly if this democratic decision were not rescinded.  Thus it was apparently put to the more neutral members of the Assembly that if they did not go along with the blackmail, they would be responsible for losing the “unity” which the Assembly had consciously striven to obtain.   But what about unity with those members who had introduced their amendment in good faith, and what about maintaining unity with the majority of the Assembly who voted to support their amendment?  NEVER MIND THAT!  Once again  we see that some participants in this “democratic” assembly are “more equal than others.”   You can bet that the member or members who threatened to withdraw if the Assembly's democratic process were not subverted are those same people who are used to having their dictatorial way in United For Peace and Justice, and other such top-down organizations in the “progressive” movement.  Rather than confronting these individuals for the blackmailers they are, who care nothing about real unity or democratic process and are willing to sacrifice both on the altar of their closet Zionism, the rest of the Administrative Body gave into them, in the same way a weak parent gives into a spoiled child who threatens to make a public scene.  When we reconstruct their sentence in reasonable language, what it really says is:  “Certain influential members of the Administrative Body threatened to leave our organization if we allow this democratic decision to stand, so for a fourth time we are illegally putting it to a vote, this time  using illicit methods in order to obtain a decision that will be more politically acceptable to them.”

And while we are on this subject, let's examine closely the wording which these individuals find so appalling that their organizations would threaten to withdraw over them:  “the lobbies of Christian and Jewish Zionists.”  Does anyone who has spent ANY time in the antiwar movement, on the Internet or with the alternative media have any doubt at all that these Christian and Jewish Zionist lobbies exist, that they are powerful and that they push for war against Israel's putative enemies?  Even the mainstream media recently reported how John McCain was at one point courting the political support of the Rev. John Hagee...and what does his organization do other than lobby support in Congress on behalf of Christian Zionists?  Does anyone in the movement any longer pretend that AIPAC and other Jewish lobbying groups do not do the same?  What then is so controversial about this wording that veteran antiwar organizations would need to withdraw from an Assembly that openly referred to them?  Obviously this would  NOT be true for antiwar organizations whose first interest was really peace, but which instead have a  hidden agenda to deflect criticism from Israel's political infrastructure in the United States. ]


We have also been informed that a broad range of other Assembly supporters are in accord with this view.


[Informed?  Informed by whom?  Who would be in a position to inform the Administrative Body of what a “broad range” of other Assembly supporters think on the subject?  Was this a scientifically conducted survey, do you suppose?  Then why were none of us who supported the amendment interviewed as to our opinion on the subject?  What a hoot!]


Since we favor unity and as broad a network as possible, this was a grave concern for the new Administrative Body. 

[Oh, “we” do, do we?  Exactly how “broad?” Broad enough to include those who participated in the Assembly and made amendments in good faith that were approved by the Assembly? Apparently not.  Broad enough to include those who wish to talk about the elephant sitting in the living room?  No again... no, just broad enough to include those who agree to continue the  taboo on discussing the influence of Zionism in driving American military aggression.” ]


We did not take lightly this calling a referendum but it seemed to us that was the only way to resolve this issue so that the vote would be clear to all registered conference attendees.  

 [Well again, Robert's Rules limits voting to members “present” in a physical sense.  There are sound reasons for this.  These conditions were met by the three votes that affirmed these amendments.  An “email referendum” does not come close to meeting such democratic standards, and the Administrative Body is still bound by the democratic principles of Roberts Rules whether it likes it or not.  It has no governing authority OVER the Assembly, it is supposed to be carrying out the will of the Assembly.]

The Administrative Body proposes to amend the wording in the adopted Action Program as follows:


Change: “It is a war spurred on by the interests of the military industrial complex and the influence of the lobbies of Jewish and Christian Zionists."


To: “It is a war spurred on by the corporate interests behind the military industrial complex and the influence of powerful lobbies supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestine."

 [Well, here is where the treachery of the AB is most clear:  the above clearly suggests that the language which they claim to want to change is the language of the original amendment, when they know very well it is nothing of the sort. The original language of the amendment was included by Mackler in his email message to Stan Heller.  It did not contain the words “It is a war spurred on by” at all.  It simply called for adding the rest of the sentence, which is almost correctly stated, to the causes of war which at that time only included the war for oil.  I refer readers once again to the text of my remarks argued before the Assembly, prior to the adoption of the amendment.  We OPPOSED these causes of war to the war for oil explanation, which is the opposite of the wording presented below, which uses them IN SUPPORT of the war for oil explanation:]

The amended paragraph, as proposed by the Administrative Committee, would read (with the change in italics):


The war and occupation of Iraq is motivated by the drive to control that country’s gigantic oil wealth and access to the energy resources of the entire Middle East. It is a war in which working class youth, especially from oppressed nationalities, are victims of the "economic draft" and pay the ultimate price.  It is a war that in the name of combating terror uses legislation like the Patriot Act and Executive Orders to violate constitutional rights, particularly habeas corpus, in order to increase surveillance, stifle dissent, and scapegoat immigrants. It is a war costing trillions of dollars needed to solve pressing social problems at home, rebuild the destruction in Iraq, and relieve hunger and poverty around the globe. It is a war spurred on by the corporate interests behind the military industrial complex and the influence of powerful lobbies supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We oppose all funding for unjust wars and occupations.


[Well, this is the big lie.  Here in fact is what the amended paragraph would look like if nothing were amended...i have italicized the difference:

The war and occupation of Iraq is motivated by the  interests of the military industrial complex, the influence of the lobbies of Jewish and Christian Zionists and by the drive to control that country’s gigantic oil wealth and access to the energy resources of the entire Middle East. It is a war in which working class youth, especially from oppressed nationalities, are victims of the "economic draft" and pay the ultimate price.  It is a war that in the name of combating terror uses legislation like the Patriot Act and Executive Orders to violate constitutional rights, particularly habeas corpus, in order to increase surveillance, stifle dissent, and scapegoat immigrants. It is a war costing trillions of dollars needed to solve pressing social problems at home, rebuild the destruction in Iraq, and relieve hunger and poverty around the globe. We oppose all funding for unjust wars and occupations.

Compare this to the AB version and you will see the radical difference between the two.  I just discovered in the course of this exercise that they altered another part of our adopted amendment.  Instead of “the interest of the military industrial complex”  they have rendered it “the corporate interests behind the military industrial complex.”  I wonder what they think gives them the right to politically correct the decisions of the Assembly like this?  It is the strongest argument I can imagine for their removal.]



If you approve of this proposed amendment, place an "X" on this line: _____


If you disapprove of this proposed amendment, place an "X" on this line: -------


Below you will find a 200-word or less motivation for the “Yes” position submitted by the Administrative Body of the National Assembly and a 200-word or less motivation for the “No” position submitted by the Middle East Crisis Committee, CT.

 [This is a stupendous misrepresentation of fact.  In no way can the position submitted by the Middle East Crisis Committee be construed as a support for the “no” position.  Had the AB been honest, it would have said:  “and a 200-word or less motivation challenging our right to conduct this referendum by the Middle East Crisis Committee, CT.”  Read it for yourself below.]

Your vote must be received by July 31, 2008. After marking your ballot, please respond by emailing Ballots must be received no later than July 31 and the name of the person casting the ballot must be included for the vote to be counted in order to guarantee the integrity of the process and preserve a record.



Motivation for a “Yes” vote: Submitted by the Administrative Body


Specifying “Jewish and Christian Zionists” is sure to draw charges of anti-Semitism and anti-religious prejudice. Use of such language would be offensive to many broader forces that the Assembly is trying to win to its cause – including labor and faith groups -- not to mention the bulk of the present movement.

[Let us ask who these “labor and faith groups” are that would be offended by such language.  Do the “faith groups” include Muslims, should we suppose?  [The attempt to be more inclusive of Muslims was one of the expressed motivations for the approved amendment.]  Exactly which “faith group” would be offended by the open statement about the religious identification of the Zionist lobbies pushing for war?  Oh wait a minute... I know! And I'll bet you do too!  But does anyone seriously believe that it makes sense to recruit that group to the  antiwar movement? And if, like their allies on the Administrative Body, they make the price of their involvement the suppression of truth and democratic process they are instigating on their behalf, how useful is that, really?]


To our knowledge, none of the existing antiwar coalitions has ever used the phrase “Jewish and Christian Zionists.”

[Would intelligent, literate people ever be moved by an argument such as this?]

If the National Assembly were to include this language in its Action Program, it would run the risk of undercutting the very unity we are trying so hard to forge to end the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan,

[The further amplification of the blackmail... “if we don't give in to these groups and subvert our democratic process they will withdraw.”]


and it would hurt – not help – the Palestinian cause by diverting attention from the injustices of the Israeli occupation to what will be regarded as smearing religions.


 [Well they have really outdone themselves in the chutzpah department here.  They are invoking the Palestinian cause to defend Zionist machinations.  And who is “smearing religions” here?  Those who abuse it to promote a Zionist political agenda, or those who expose  such abuse of religion?  The amendment specified ZIONIST lobbies, but this is exactly the word that the AB wants to remove, despite their pretended concern about religious references (and despite the fact that an amendment from the floor during the Assembly failed to remove it).  Look at their revision and you will see that the word “Zionist” is nowhere to be found, with or without the “Jewish and Christian” adjectives, their pretended concern.]


In our view, retention of the “Jewish and Christian Zionist” language would be lethal to the future of the National Assembly.

 [But of course, subverting the democratic process of the Assembly, and usurping its power, will not.]


Signed by the 13-member Administrative Body of the National Assembly: 

Zaineb Alani, Colia Clark, Greg Coleridge, Donna Dewitt, Jamilla El-Shafei, Mike Ferner, Jerry Gordon, Jonathan Hutto, Marilyn Levin, Jeff Mackler, Fred Mason, Mary Nichols-Rhodes, Lynne Stewart



From: "Stan H" <>

Subject: response to the Administrative Body

A principle of the National Assembly was that anyone could come to the meeting and that decisions of the body would be made by those present, grass root democratic decision making.  In terms of Palestine and Israel besides the language establishing that Palestine is critical to the anti-war movement and the words on boycotts and divestment, the Assembly voted to add to the language about oil motivating the war these further motivations “the interests of the military industrial complex and the influence of the lobbies of Jewish and Christian Zionists.”


This language in the amendment passed three votes, once to become the main motion, once when someone tried to delete the words about the lobbies and a third time as the entire amendment was passed.  The Assembly then ended. The Assembly certainly had the right to list all the factors behind the war.   The Administrative Body has no authority to hold a referendum to change parts of the action/motivational call of the Assembly.  


Rather than hold this referendum let the Administrative Body setup a listserv of the 407 conference participants so we can work together to carry out the will of the Assembly.


Stanley Heller, Chairperson, Middle East Crisis Committee, CT



[My only criticism of Stan's response is that he does not make it clear that BOTH versions presented by the AB are distortions of the original amendment.  But in fairness to Stan, he is limited to 200 words here.  Which allows us to see exactly WHY this undemocratic limitation was made.  Why 200 words?  Why not 500 words?  Why not unlimited space to make your argument.  The answer is, because it takes more than 200 words to unravel a tissue of lies like this.  By limiting the opposition to 200 words, the AB provides the illusion of “fairness” (unless people notice the lengthy preamble which states the AB's case before they are even recognized to speak), while effectively denying the opponent adequate space to counter all of its dishonest machinations.  It is the same thing as the classic: “Are are you going to stop beating your wife?  Yes or no?”   Except that here, tragically, this game is being played by individuals in whom a number of activists trusted to carry out the democratic decisions of an antiwar Assembly, so it is hard to laugh.

It is important to note, before we move on to review the results of this illicit referendum, that Stan Heller does not invite people to vote “no”  (these words were put into his mouth by the  AB, and of course, Stan is not present to raise a point of order to object)...Stan appropriately challenges the legality of conducting a referendum on an item that has already been decided by the Assembly and the AB's authority to conduct such a referendum.  Anyone agreeing with Stan would not vote “No,” because doing so would only serve to legitimize this illicit referendum.  Logically, such individuals would instead refrain from participating in this illegal ballot.


Results of the Illicit Referendum

Now as to the results of this attempt at political correction by the AB:  According to its report,  they received 157 yes votes, and 18 no votes, with “2 abstentions.” It seems odd that they would claim two abstentions, since there was no place on the “ballot” to indicate abstention.  As you can see, there are only spaces  for yes or no votes on the “ballot.”  The only way, then, to abstain (in protest against the referendum itself) was simply not to vote.  Out of curiosity, I asked natassembly(at) how many people were sent ballots.  It turns out that natassembly(at) is Jerry Gordon, who now signed himself “Secretary, National Assembly.”   Not “Secretary, Administrative Body of the National Assembly.”   This was the more curious as when one of us earlier requested the minutes of the National Assembly, we were told that there were none, because the National Assembly did not have a secretary.  Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say.  (And never mind that Roberts' Rules requires a secretary in order for an assembly to conduct business in the first place.)

Now, what does Robert's Rules require in order to amend something previously approved by an assembly?  Normally, it requires a supermajority, or 2/3 of those present, to accomplish this.  This is an important protection of the rights of the majority, so that finagling opponents cannot easily undo something officially adopted by a majority by manipulating simple majorities.  An assembly must REALLY want to amend something it has already adopted in order to do so.  So the first question that we must ask is:  how many people were “present ” in this ballot?  The impossibility of giving a definitive answer to this question explains in part why Roberts' Rules forbids this practice.  But for the sake of argument, which is really stretching a point, let's say that all 400 of those to whom Jerry Gordon claims to have sent ballots are considered “present.” How many of them would constitute a 2/3 vote?  About 266?  How many voted in favor of the AB's amendment?  157.   Even if we use the loophole provided by Roberts that a majority of the entire membership can accomplish this, and then grant these 400 people “membership,” a majority vote would require 201 affirmative votes, whereas the Mr. Gordon reports only 157.  (And whenever this absolute majority is required, abstentions are counted AGAINST it, so that both abstentions and no votes count against the motion.)   In other words, viewed in any democratic context, despite the illicit nature of the vote (or perhaps because of its illicit nature), our amendment won a fourth democratic victory!  Ah, but its opponents were STILL not going to take no for answer.  Despite being democratically  defeated four times (nevermind that this last vote was totally illicit), they still went on to claim victory, and altered the wording and the positioning of the amendment to suit their own code of political correctness, democracy be damned!   This “Gang of 13” are a law unto themselves.  The results of their perfidy are now posted on the National Assembly's website for all to see.

Analysis and Conclusions:  The Enemy Within

I imagine there are some readers who are not fully conversant with the issues of controversy here, who will not grasp the enormity of the Administrative Body's subversive action.  They will ask:  aren't you making a mountain out of a molehill?  What's the big deal about whether the word “Zionist” is used to describe the lobbies, or whether the influence of the Zionist lobbies is listed as  primary or secondary cause of the war?   To such naïve readers, I would give two answers:  The first is that the antiwar movement cannot get anywhere without integrity, and that means among other things honoring the essential principles of democratic process, including at a minimum majority rule.  But I would also reply that these readers are begging the question by suggesting that it is I who am making a mountain out of a molehill.  In fact, it was certain actors on the Administrative Body who first chafed under the democratic decisions of the Assembly, and threatened to withdraw unless these decisions were subverted.  If these were such minor matters why did it occasion such a huge reaction from these people?  And right there we have our answer:  any  pinpointing or exposure of Zionist manipulation of US Middle East policy has the same effect as the proverbial pea in the princess' bed:  normal folks do not notice it, but the hypersensitive princess loses sleep over it, proving her royalty.  And in the same way, these statements of fact about Zionism are POLITICALLY UNACCEPTABLE to those with Zionist leanings, or those who are overly concerned about the possible response from those with Zionist leanings.  In the first category, I would list  so-called Left Zionists:  those in the antiwar movement who want to have their cake (appear to oppose war) and eat it too (except where Israel's  role in it, or Israel's putative security,  is concerned).  In the second category, a good example would be many members of the Democratic Party (60% of whose fundraising comes from Jewish-funded political action committees, according to a recent estimate by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post).  And of course, there are more than enough of both in the antiwar movement who wish to co-opt it for their own political purposes.

There is a failure in the antiwar movement generally to grasp the essence of Zionism, and to understand  how inimical it is to justice or to peace.  It is inimical to justice because it is premised on the brutal dispossession of native Palestinians and their permanent alienation from their own land and homes, and it is inimical to peace because it wishes Israel to have undisputed hegemony in the Middle East, and its powerful lobbies are employed to manipulate the United States government into securing it for them by fighting Israel's “enemies” on Israel's behalf.  The antiwar movement cannot make common cause with Zionists any more than it can make common cause with  Nazis or  Nicaraguan Contras.   Some ideologies are  violent by nature.... they have unjust, antidemocratic goals which can only be accomplished by illicit, belligerent means.  And when their votaries (or agents) infiltrate the antiwar  movement, they eventually manifest this same pattern of behavior.  The  antiwar movement cannot serve both the cause of peace and the cause of Zionism – morally speaking, these two causes are diametrically opposed.  And as we have seen in this example of the National Assembly, as in so many others before it,  Zionists and their cronies cannot serve both the cause of Zionism and the cause of peace (and democratic praxis) either.  In the end, what  does Zionism have to do with  peacemaking?  The continuing attempt to admix these two opposing forces of light and darkness has led, naturally enough, to the waning twilight of the American antiwar movement.

Our movement is now at a crossroads:  As this report demonstrates, yet another attempt to unite the antiwar movement democratically has  failed to materialize.  The pattern of imposing authoritarian political correctness and of performing endless damage control for Zionism at the expense of internal democracy is no less apparent in this latest episode of the National Assembly's Administrative Body as it was in UFPJ from its first convention, but why should we expect anything different? After all, a number of its principals are the same people!  

It therefore behooves those who genuinely seek an end to US wars to come to grips with Zionism's role in perpetrating America's modern wars, and to categorically exclude from participation in the antiwar movement anyone with Zionist sympathies.  The way to do this is EXACTLY by beginning with an unequivocal anti-Zionist position.  Why would we ever want  the participation of  anyone whose first goal is to deflect criticism from a primary progenitor of the war (Israel)? Recognizing that this is the hidden agenda of Zionists within the antiwar movement is the first, necessary step to recovering our internal democracy as a movement, and thence our energy and direction.  Having Zionists in the antiwar movement is not much different from having in the movement  someone working for the CIA, for Lockheed-Martin or an Army recruiter, who joins the antiwar movement to seek a softer line from us on the military-industrial complex because our obloquy against it hits a little too close to home.  Wars are not waged without cause.  Wars always serve somebody's interests.  Those who have taken the time to study contemporary US wars understand that all three of the forces that would have been listed by the National Assembly's action program if it had not been corrupted by Zionist influence --  the military-industrial complex, Zionists and likely a few opportunists in the oil  and oil services sector –  believed they stood to gain from US war against Iraq (and potential war against Iran), and Zionists in particular promoted this war from the very beginning.  Any denial of this by the antiwar movement not only flies in the face of modern historical scholarship, but thereby becomes, as we say in Texas, a dog that won't hunt.  Crypto-zionists (and their sycophants) in the antiwar movement serve as the rear guard of the Zionist Power Configuration so well described by author James Petras in his latest books, and they should not be permitted to further obstruct the  movement's progress in identifying the real and demonstrated perpetrators of the wars we so bitterly oppose, which are draining our nation (not to mention those nations wantonly attacked) of blood and treasure, while indebting generations yet unborn to pay for it,  in the interests of making the world safe...for Apartheid Israel.  

How can we, in the antiwar movement, ever inspire other less informed Americans to think outside of the box, if we cower before the taboo of recognizing Zionism as a co-belligerent and primary instigator of the current war against Iraq and of an impending war against Iran?  The answer, of course,  is that we cannot, because our actions always speak louder than our words.  And even if the National Assembly succeeds in mobilizing mass numbers to demonstrate against the current war, its major announced goal  a more dubious proposition since this betrayal of democracy by its Administrative Body),  the antiwar movement cannot  make any real progress without freely and fearlessly confronting this five-ton elephant in our living room. With recognized scholars like James Petras, Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and journalists of the stature of Jonathon Cook and Jeffrey Blankfort all assiduously documenting the manipulation of America's bellicose policies in the Middle East by the forces of Zionism, we have no excuses left. 


Ken Freeland is lifelong antiwar activist, who lives in Houston, Texas, USA.