International Action Center & ANSWER: An ADL Backgrounder
The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition
Posted: January 5, 2009
The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition was founded by the International Action Center shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in an effort to oppose the United States' war in Afghanistan.
ANSWER has consistently linked its anti-war initiatives and campaigns with an anti-Israel agenda. ANSWER considers Israel to be a capitalist outpost for the West, and regards terrorist organizations that advocate for Israel's destruction, including Hamas and Hezbollah, to be legitimate resistance organizations. During a July 31, 2006, interview with FOX News, ANSWER's national director, Brian Becker, said: "Do I consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization? The answer is no."
ANSWER's rallies opposing the United States' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan often include signs condemning Israel and praising anti-Israel terrorist groups. At ANSWER's rally to commemorate the anniversary of the Iraq war in March 2009, Hezbollah flags were on display as well as signs that read, "Condemn Israeli Baby Killers," "Stop the Palestinian Genocide" and "Stop Israel's slaughter in Gaza."
ANSWER is also responsible for organizing rallies specifically opposing Israel around the country. Speakers and signs at these rallies have regularly expressed support for terror and anti-Semitism. At an ANSWER-organized rally to protest the Gaza war in Orlando on January 10, 2009, Emmanuel Lopez, an ANSWER-Florida steering committee member, praised the "Palestinian resistance" and argued that the only terrorists in the Middle East are the Israeli Defense Forces and American forces in Iraq. He also led the crowd in chants of "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free," a call for the dismantlement of the state of Israel.
Lopez also spoke at a fundraiser for Gaza held at Florida Atlantic University on January 18, 2009, shortly after a ceasefire was declared. In his speech, Lopez remarked, "We have to continue to fight…don't get fooled by the ceasefire…the so-called peace that Israel and the Zionists are trying to put forward is only the prelude to the next war."
ANSWER's anti-Israel rallies tend to draw large crowds because of its ability to partner with an array of other anti-Israel groups including Al-Awda, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and the Muslim American Society (MAS). In turn, ANSWER representatives have been embraced by these groups and have been invited to speak at their conferences and events, providing ANSWER with the opportunity to spread its message to an even larger population.
For example, at Al-Awda's sixth annual convention in May 2008, Richard Becker, ANSWER co-founder and West Coast regional coordinator, called for an end to the United States' involvement in the Middle East and expressed his "full solidarity" with the Palestinian people. John Parker, the West Coast coordinator of IAC, articulated similar sentiments and pledged a commitment to Al-Awda's refusal to accept Israel's existence, stating "From the river to the sea, we will not stop until all of us are free."
ANSWER's steering committee is comprised of several left-wing groups committed to various international and domestic causes. Its Palestinian representative, the Free Palestine Alliance (FPA), espouses radical views about Israel and advocates for its destruction. On December 27, 2008, the day Israel began military operations in Gaza to stem Hamas rocket attacks, FPA issued a condemnation which described the operation as "fascistic Zionist attacks," the Israeli government as a "Nazi like regime" and the Israeli Defense Forces as the "Israeli killer army." The statement also condemned Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority for not standing up to Israel.