In the comments we've begun discussing the latest controversy concerning Cindy Sheehan. No, not her and her husband's divorce. That got cleared up the same day it hit the news. I'm talking about the March 15, 2005 letter to Nightline that's been shooting around the internet in various forms at least since August 11.
Before I proceed, I want to state that I do not yet have satisfactory verification that the letter to Nightline comes from Cindy Sheehan. I'll address that question in part II, later on tonight.
Here is the paragraph, attributed to Cindy Sheehan, that is under discussion:
Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full-well that my son, my family, this nation, and this world were betrayed by a George Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agenda after 9/11. We were told that we were attacked on 9/11 because the terrorists hate our freedoms and democracy...not for the real reason, becuase the Arab-Muslims who attacked us hate our middle-eastern foreign policy. That hasn't changed since America invaded and occupied Iraq...in fact it has gotten worse.
DK, who is a friend of mine, was the first person I heard this from. Yesterday DK wrote:
And I thought, oh yeah, same shit, different decade. I resent like hell having to support an anti-war activist who is an anti-semite. In fact, I can't. I can't describe how much I want a voice without an agenda as nefarious as this administration's to come out of the wilderness and just speak against this inhumanity of war, but this ain't it.
Now Cindy Sheehan is a veritable pieta, and her son a christ figure, killed by the machination of Jews. Can you amen that?
studyholic responded to DK:
Being against the colonial occupation and policies of Israel is not the same as being either anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic.
No one people are saints and no one person is a saint and I'm going to support Cindy's anti-war cause. I have empathy for both Israel and Palestine and I realize the faults on both sides.
I also know that the anti-war movement needs Cindy, and she has the right to be critical of Israeli policies and not be called an anti-Semite.
That's the gist but not all of what studyholic said. I took serious issue with some of how studyholic defended Cindy Sheehan's purported remarks and you can read the rest of studyholic's comment and why I objected in the comments section. studyholic wrote in again, to respond to me. While I appreciate studyholic's good faith efforts at dialogue and mutual understanding, I am going to respond here with a more general statement of my bottom line.
I don't question anybody's right to be critical of Israel's policies, especially regarding the occupation.
What I question is the statement, "My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel." That is not a criticism of Israeli policy. That is an assertion of a lie that solidly crosses the line into antisemitic conspiracy theories about how Israel controls US foreign policy.
I have not heard Cindy Sheehan holding forth on the Palestinian need for contiguous territory, water rights, freedom of movement, freedom from indiscriminate shelling, house demolitions, uprooting of olive groves, etc. Nor have I heard her express solidarity with the Israeli soldiers who are refusing to serve in the occupied territories, any number of whom have gone to prison for their patriotism.
What I would like to hear now from people on the anti-war left is a solid disavowal antisemitic conspiracy theories—not knee-jerk rushing to defend Cindy's right to be critical of Israeli policies.
I think I understand studyholic's anxiety that criticism of Cindy Sheehan from the left hurts the new momentum that she's given to the anti-war movement. However, not demanding clarity and accountability on this subject hurts the anti-war movement even more. If folks on the left can't disavow a statement like "My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel," the left will increasingly find that is keeping some unpleasant company.