The Illegal Basis for U.S. Green Party
by Lorna Salzman
(Note: In response to accusations that I have distorted the US Green Party's statements and positions regarding the middle east and women's rights, I sent the following response to the party's media director, Scott McLarty, for posting to the party national committee listserv last year.
My response was based on actual Green Party press releases issued from 2004 onward, as part of the party's resolution 190 calling for a boycott/divestment policy towards Israel, whose lead author, Mohammed Abed, is a prominent Al Awda (Palestine Right of Return) organizer in Wisconsin.
Neither foreign Green parties nor American Green state parties nor their members were consulted, nor were dissenting views solicited. The resolution passed without debate, with approximately 2/3 of the national committee actually casting votes; of these 72 votes, approximately 55 voted in favor, with the rest abstaining or opposing, few if any of them with authorization from their state parties. Most state parties never heard about the resolution or vote until after the fact. In effect, less than half of the party national committee made policy for the entire party.)
While some of these press releases do condemn violence on the part of both the Palestinians and Israelis, unfortunately many of these condemnations as well as other assertions have been conditional or qualified; many contradictions exist in the press releases. Furthermore, the press releases are a preponderance of anti-Israel statements, making it clear that the U.S. Green Party (USGP) has aligned itself not with an impartial view of violence but with those who blame both Israel and the United States for the terrible state of affairs in not just Israel and Gaza but in the entire middle east and by extension the Arab and Moslem world.
This entirely supports the contentions that I have made - that the USGP has, wittingly or unwittingly,(but certainly naively) aligned itself with the forces of violence rather than with peace and reconciliation, and that it continues to blame the US and Israel rather than those who commit acts of terrorism for the spread of violence as well as the repression of women in these countries.
Anyone doubting this needs only to refer to the press releases themselves, as I have done. Thus, the USGP has assumed the viewpoint of the sectarian left in the US and abroad by downplaying, even ignoring, the real motivations behind Islamic terrorism that has spread to the rest of the world. While I do not deny that the USGP has in several press releases acknowledged the repression of women in Moslem countries, it has severely undercut its profession of concern by blaming the American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan for its existence!
I find this extraordinary, inasmuch as this repression not only pre-existed in these countries but has persisted precisely because the US did not exert SUFFICIENT pressure or retain its presence in Afghanistan. Instead of pursuing the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, and instead of overseeing a process for enfranchising women in Afghanistan as well as Iraq, the US has failed to utilize its own powers and influence to protect women.
At least one of the press releases actually blames the oppression of women on the US invasion of Iraq. The March 24, 2004 press release quotes Anne Anderson of the USGP International Committee, who points out an increase in violence against women in Iraq, as saying: "How tragic that one of the legacies of our military occupation is a loss of security for women and children". If this is not a bald-faced apologia for Islamic violence against women, I dont know what it is.
On top of this the USGP additionally deflects responsibility for violence away from Palestinians and Islamic terrorists; its Dec. 12, 2001 press release states: "Greens are also concerned that Israel's new 'war' and the Bush administration's threat to expand the military assaults against Afghanistan to other Muslim nations, especially Iraq and Somalia, will destroy the fragile alliance with some Muslim nations and lead to a long and bloody war across the Middle East and central Asia - as well as violent attacks against civilians in the U.S. and our allies".
This comes uncomfortably close to blaming the US for the 9/11 tragedy and the other terrorist bombings in Spain, London, Bali, Indonesia, Egypt and Germany. In this Green Party scenario, terrorism apparently only exists because of the US policies. In the July 25, 2005 press release appears this statement: "Greens said that the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in increased support for groups willing to kill civilians for political purposes..".
Again, this shifts the blame to the US and, worse, is an apologia for terrorism, based on the notion that SOME forms of terrorism (but not all) are justified: namely those that are anti- American, but those committed in self defense, as in Israel, are illegal and immoral. I find this repugnant and in violation of the basic principle of Nonviolence in the USGP Ten Key Values.
The double standard of morality which the USGP employs repeatedly also emerges clearly from these pro Palestinian press releases. The Dec. 12, 2001 press release decries the assassination of a Hamas leader, saying: "Assassinations are not 'self-defense' but an illegal attack on civilians". I find it extraordinary that the USGP had little to say about the repeated Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel, which targeted innocent women and children.
Proof of the double standard can be found in the April 10, 2002 press release, which urges "the denunciation of the Ariel Sharon government's policy..a systematic destruction of the Palestinian Authority". No mention is made of the statements of Hamas and other anti Israel forces in the middle east that their main aim is the destruction of the state of Israel.
Nor is there any mention of the embedded, state-sanctioned promotion of livid anti-Semitism, which long precedes the Israel-Palestine conflict. Indeed, the USGP seems oblivious to the fact that its resolution 190 condemning Israel has given cover to those who are now spreading anti Semitism throughout the US and Europe, and who in my opinion have clearly influenced the passage of this resolution, enacted as it was without hearing dissenting views or input from party members in state parties. You may protest that this resolution is anti Israel or anti Zionist, not anti Semitic. That is disingenuous and disproved by past events; the campaign to tar Israel as an "apartheid" state like the old South Africa is part and parcel of this campaign against the Jews.
Another press release supports my contention that the USGP supports "justified" violence. In the April 3, 2002 USGP press release, the party says: "The more Israel tries to suppress violence by Palestinians through the use of military force, the more many Palestinians - already desperate from decades of economic and political suppression, displacement by settlers, and abuse and murder by Israeli forces - may be motivated to commit suicidal attacks on Israeli civilians".In other words, oppressed peoples are morally justified in killing innocent people...is this what the USGP supports?
In the Jan. 23, 2004 press release, the USGP says: "Greens deplore the violence committed by some Palestinians against Israeli citizens, but note that Palestinian violence is not funded with U. S. taxpayers money". Again, the USGP makes what it thinks is a moral statement to both sides but then undercuts it by referring to American funds. By this criterion, unfunded violence on the part of the Palestinians is OK.
This is an outrageous defense of violence and revenge. By this standard, any violent criminal should be excused from killing someone because he has been oppressed by society. Surely the USGP is aware of the noble nonviolent stances adopted by Martin Luther King (who supported an Israeli state), Gandhi, and above all Nelson Mandela. Oppressed black South Africans, led by Mandela's example, did not commit random acts of violence against innocent whites. It apparently has never occurred to Palestinians that they would get far greater world support for their cause if they followed Mandela's principles.
Again, the US is blamed for everything. In this April 3, 2002 press release appears this statement: "U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has contributed to the violence".
McLarty has contested my assertion that the USGP turns a blind eye to the oppression of women. True, the USGP has issued statements opposing the oppression of women and supporting their freedom and enfranchisement. I acknowledge this. But again, these statements are weakened by the press release of November 15, 2001, which, referring to US air strikes during Ramadan in Afghanistan, said this: "Continuing the strikes through Ramadan will further alienate Muslims and jeopardize fragile alliances with Pakistan and other Muslim nations"
Fragile alliances indeed...the USGP appears unaware that Pakistan is not only the funder and protector of Al Qaeda and the fount (along with Iran) of Islamic terrorism in the world, but is one of the chief oppressors of women. Indeed, if I am not mistaken, many Americans have decried these very alliances because of their authoritarianism, lack of civil liberties, oppression and murder of women, and alignment with terrorist movements and philosophies. Yet the USGP apparently thinks that we should continue these evil relationships?Just WHY? Perhaps someone in the USGP could answer this.
In fact, the USGP itself,in its Oct. 4, 2004 press release, admits that women's lives have NOT improved in Afghanistan and Iraq. saying: "Afghan women are reporting threats and intimidation by U.S-backed warlords (note: this implies that the US is supporting women's oppression, a very sneaky and completely unverified assumption) as they attempt to vote and run for office. Women in Iraq are beginning to face similar threats as the situation there deteriorates".
Presumably the USGP thinks that if the US leaves these countries (and it did leave Afghanistan), conditions will IMPROVE for women. But it never considers the possibility that a continued presence in these countries, together with pressure for democracy, women's rights and a secular-oriented constitution, might actually HELP women. The USGP seems to think that all that is needed is the U.S. endorsement of the Convention on women's rights (press release of March 7, 2002) will suffice.
In case these facts do not suffice to muddy the waters and distort political reality, the USGP's March 7, 2005 press release says: "Women in Iraq now face a future under repressive Sharia law if Iraq reverts to a theocracy as a result of the U. S. invasion". I think the USGP got it backwards: a theocracy will result if and when we pull out entirely. More muddying in this same press release: "The invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and Israel's treatment of Palestinians have had a devastating effect on the lives of women in those areas..." By this standard, women were BETTER off before the US invaded!!! And the US is making things worse! What was the USGP thinking? What is this delusion?
Of course the big delusion is thinking that the establishment of a Palestinian state will bring the millennium in democracy, freedom and women's rights. The USGP call for considering a one state solution rather than the two state solution already agreed upon would mean, if one is intellectually honest, the appearance of yet another patriarchal religious state under sharia law that would not only NOT enfranchise women but would perpetuate the absence of not only civil liberties such as the right to dissent from government policies but the continued repression of women in their role as inferior second class citizens. And of course there would be no guarantees of religious freedom for the Jews, as the majority population of Moslems took over. One shudders to think of the fate of Israelis under a single sharia state. Yet the USGP apparently believes that in such a state, Moslems would happily give up sharia law and accept a secular state, relegating religion to the private realm. DREAM ON GREENS!
Finally, as an important side note, the USGP appears unaware of the oppression of homosexuals by Palestinians. They have moved in droves to Israel, where secular democratic law protects them. Whatever crimes Israel has committed, the fact is that it is a secular democracy, not a male religious theocracy...which is what we will get in any future Palestinian state.
(Salzman was the Suffolk County Green Party candidate for the U.S.House of Representatives in 2002 and sought the U.S. Green Party nomination for president in 2004).