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February 12, 2003

A Mideast rift in peace coalition: S.F. rabbi highlights speaker conroversy

A follow-up on the Rabbi Lerner "problem" posted yesterday.
[...] Lerner, however, has been critical of another rally organizer, International Answer, which has sponsored rallies where speakers have accused Israel of terrorism toward Palestinians. In e-mails that Tikkun has sent out and in comments to the New York Times, Lerner accused International Answer of "Israel-bashing."

"It creates an atmosphere that is intimidating to many Jews at these rallies," Lerner said Tuesday.

His criticisms meant there wasn't a spot on the podium for Lerner. Under ground rules set up by the organizers -- which also include the groups Not in Our Name and Bay Area United Against War -- none can invite speakers who have publicly criticized any of the groups. Lerner's name was never submitted to the full coalition sifting among 300 nominees vying for a spot on the platform Sunday.

[...] "Frankly, I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner," said Michael Nagler, professor of peace and conflict studies at UC Berkeley, who has known Lerner since their work together in the Free Speech Movement a generation ago. "Every peace movement has had to deal with an issue that could divide them."

And this one has the Palestinians and Israel, manifested in the form of Lerner. [more]