The problem was exposed when Rabbi Michael Lerner, one of the nation's most prominent liberal Jewish leaders and editor of the San Francisco-based magazine Tikkun, went public to complain that he was "banned" from speaking at the Sunday rally here, because ANSWER objected to his positions on Israel. (Lerner favors a two-state solution, while ANSWER is fervently anti-Israel.) "A complete falsification," countered Richard Becker of ANSWER Lerner was not invited to speak, said Becker and other rally organizers, because he had previously "attacked" ANSWER's positions, and organizers of the rally had agreed not to have speakers who had criticized any of the organizing groups.
Many national leaders of the antiwar movement refuse to accept the San Francisco coalitions' explanation. In a letter on the Web site Commondreams.org, more than 150 of the most notable progressive writers and intellectuals in the country, including Howard Zinn, Barbara Ehrenreich, Stanley Aronowitz, Jack Newfield and Frances Fox Piven, strongly protest the refusal to allow Lerner to speak and they take direct aim at ANSWER: "We believe this is a serious mistake, and that it exemplifies ANSWER's unfitness to lead mass mobilizations against war in Iraq."
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.