[I was curious to know who the Cagan was not identified by first name in this article.  It turns out to be Leslie Cagan who must be retired from formal work now — we met at several events a decade or so ago and I found her to be a person of conscience then concerned with the well-being of working people at the lower end of the (declining) scale of American poverty and wealth.  For the record UFPJ is a broad based coalition including both religious (e.g. Quakers and Tikun) and political organizations concerned with poverty, justice, and peace:


I wonder what the outcome will be of the billed critique of Israeli policies scheduled per this article for June?  I would list myself in agreement with Leslie in strong support for Israel to live in peace, but also as a critic of its treatment of Palestinians.   Ed Kent]


Main anti-war group plans rally against Israeli policies

By Daniel Treiman
The Forward
February 2, 2007


The anti-war group behind the recent demonstration that
brought tens of thousands to Washington to protest the
Iraq War already has plans for another mass rally in
the nation’s capital. This time, though, the target of
the protesters’ ire will be Israel.

United for Peace and Justice, the convener of the
January 27 march, is joining with the U.S. Campaign to
End the Israeli Occupation to co-sponsor a two-day
“mobilization” in June, titled “The World Says No to
Israeli Occupation.” The event will include a mass
rally, a “teach-in” and lobbying. It will mark the 40th
year since Israel’s capture of the West Bank, Gaza and
East Jerusalem in June 1967.

“The purpose of the event is to hopefully call greater
attention both to the ongoing Israeli occupation of the
Palestinian territories, but also to call attention to
the role that the U.S. plays in supporting that, and
specifically the financial role, of course,” said
UFPJ’s national coordinator, Leslie Cagan.

The Jewish community has had an uneasy relationship
with the anti-war movement. While polls show that solid
majorities of American Jews now disapprove of the
decision to go to war in Iraq, most major Jewish groups
have been quiet on the issue. Many supporters of Israel
have been concerned that the anti-war movement has
become a vehicle for promoting the Palestinian cause to
a larger audience.

Josh Ruebner, grass-roots advocacy coordinator for the
U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, called
UFPJ’s co-sponsorship of the June 10-11 mobilization
“very significant.”

“The scale of what both of our coalitions are
attempting, I think, has never been attempted before on
the issue of Palestinian human rights in this country,”
he said.

But not all Iraq War critics are pleased by UFPJ’s
activism on the Palestinian issue. Informed of the
group’s plans for a rally criticizing Israel, Rep.
Jerrold Nadler, who appeared onstage at this weekend’s
demonstration along with several other members of
Congress, said he was “very upset.”

“I totally disagree with them on their view,” the New
York Democrat said. “I obviously don’t think the major
problem is the Israeli occupation, which would have
ended long ago if it weren’t for the major problem,
which is the refusal of Hamas and the Palestinian
leadership generally to agree with the existence of

Nadler said that most of those who participated in this
past weekend’s rally showed up because they oppose the
Iraq War, not because of UFPJ’s other political

“This group is a group with its own opinions, and they
have one opinion that a lot of people share, and
they’ve done a good job in mobilizing and getting out
front,” he said, referring to UFPJ’s opposition to the
Iraq War. “One can wish that someone else had done it,
but nobody else did. They did the organizing, etc. Now
they are going to try to exploit that for their other
points. They will not have much success with that.”

UFPJ is a coalition of about 1,400 local and national
groups. It has successfully organized demonstrations
that have brought hundreds of thousands to the streets
to protest the Iraq War. Formed in 2002, UFPJ was
regarded within the nascent peace movement as an
alternative to the then-dominant anti-war coalition,
International Answer, which many believed was
controlled by the Workers World Party, a fringe Marxist
sect. Jewish groups, in particular, were alarmed by
International Answer’s fervid anti-Israel rhetoric.

But UFPJ also has drawn accusations of extremism.
National coordinator Cagan, a veteran left-wing
activist, has been a particular lightning rod for
critics, who have accused her of being sympathetic to
Cuba’s communist regime and of equivocating about the
Iraqi insurgency. In a 2003 interview with the Forward,
Cagan, former director of the Cuba Information Project,
called Fidel Castro “a very smart man who has worked
very hard to help organize his country in a way that he
thinks is valuable and positive.” Asked in the same
interview about the then months-old Iraqi insurgency,
she said that UFPJ “doesn’t have a position on that,
and personally I’m neither condemning them nor
applauding them.”

The June mobilization will not be UFPJ’s first foray
into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. UFPJ has
criticized Israeli actions repeatedly, adopting the
slogan “Occupation: Wrong in Iraq, Wrong in Palestine.”
In 2004, UFPJ coordinated a national day of protests
against Israel’s West Bank security barrier.

“I believe that historically the issue of Israel-
Palestine has been relegated to the sidelines or not
discussed at all by the larger peace and justice
movement in this country,” Ruebner said. “I think that
that attitude and mind-set has changed a great deal
over the past five years, and that UFPJ has played a
role in bringing the issue of Palestine and Palestinian
human rights and U.S. support for Israeli occupation
into the mainstream of the discourse of the peace and
justice movement.”

Cagan said that the June rally will likely be UFPJ’s
largest action so far relating to Israel. She said,
however, that it would not be an anti-Israel event but
rather a protest against Israeli policies. She said
that UFPJ supports Israel’s right to exist, although
the coalition’s Palestine/Israel Just Peace Working
Group has stated that it “will not endorse a particular
solution [for peace], such as two states, one state,
the Geneva Initiative, the road map, etc.,” since its
member groups have differing views on this issue.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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