International Action Center & ANSWER: An ADL Backgrounder


Introduction

Updated: July 8, 2011

 

Under the guise of an anti-imperialist and anti-war agenda, the Far-Left International Action Center (IAC) and its affiliate, the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, have been at the forefront of injecting anti-Israel fervor and support for terrorism into the anti-war movement.

 

Founded in 1992 by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, IAC regularly organizes protests against capitalism and what it perceives to be American imperialism, including policies related to the economy, immigration issues and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ANSWER, its anti-war spinoff which was founded in 2001, has a narrower agenda and focuses on "campaigning against U.S. intervention" in foreign countries.

 

IAC and ANSWER's ideology is strongly rooted in the Workers World Party, a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party founded in the 1950s on the principle that only socialism will end "exploitation, racism and war."  Both IAC and ANSWER organize many anti-war rallies around the country and they have become a galvanizing force behind the anti-war movement, leading the way in expressing opposition to the United States' wars abroad.

 

Along the way, they have consistently sought to link the Palestinian cause with other "anti-colonialist" and "anti-occupation" initiatives. ANSWER signs at anti-war rallies often read, "Occupation is a Crime: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine." By equating the United States' wars abroad to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ANSWER has sought to put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the anti-war movement's agenda, and has, to some extent, succeeded in making the conflict a core issue for the anti-war left.

 

In addition to its anti-war activity, IAC and ANSWER have sponsored and organized numerous anti-Israel events, rallies and demonstrations in the United States. ANSWER in particular has positioned itself as the leading organizer of the large rallies against Israel that usually take place during periods of heightened tension, including the Gaza War in the winter of 2008-2009 and the summer 2006 war in Lebanon. These protests, often co-sponsored by other anti-Israel organizations, regularly featured anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, expressions of support for terror and offensive Holocaust imagery likening Jews and Israelis to Nazis.

 

ANSWER and IAC
have both repeatedly expressed support for terrorist groups determined to dismantle the state of Israel, including Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as "resistance" groups fighting U.S. forces abroad. Hamas and Hezbollah flags and signs expressing solidarity with these groups are often on display at ANSWER and IAC-organized anti-Israel rallies. IAC representatives have also attended conferences in the Middle East with Hamas and Hezbollah representatives to discuss strategies for shoring up support for these groups.



International Action Center (IAC)

The International Action Center (IAC), founded in 1992 by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, is an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist organization "committed to the building broad-based grassroots coalitions to oppose to U.S. wars abroad while fighting against racism and economic exploitation of workers here at home," according to its Web site.

 

IAC and ANSWER's ideology is strongly rooted in the Workers World Party, a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party founded in the 1950s on the principle that only socialism will end "exploitation, racism and war."

 

Much of IAC's activity, including organizing demonstrations and events, is focused on American foreign policy in the Middle East. The group opposes what it considers to be a "U.S. conspiracy to re-colonize the Middle East" and views Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups fighting U.S. forces in Iraq as legitimate popular resistance forces and a bulwark against U.S. imperialism and "Israeli terrorism."

 

IAC representatives have repeatedly participated in overseas terror conferences attended by representatives of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. In January 2010, Ramsey Clark participated in a conference in Beirut in which various terrorist groups called for the destruction of Israel. A year before, Clark and IAC's co-director Sara Flounders joined representatives of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations at a similar conference to
discuss strategies for supporting Hamas and opposing Israeli and American interests in the Middle East. The conference was co-sponsored by the International Campaign Against U.S. and Zionist Occupations, an umbrella organization co-founded by IAC.

 

In addition, IAC representatives participated in Viva Palestina US, an anti-Israel convoy that traveled to Gaza in July 2009, and met with Hamas representatives, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The convoy was organized by British parliamentarian George Galloway, who previously led a convoy from the U.K. that donated cash and vehicles to representatives of the Hamas government.

 

IAC participant Judy Greenspan called the Gaza war "a well-orchestrated terror campaign against the Palestinian resistance to the Zionist state of Israel" in an article about her trip in the November 5, 2009, issue of the Workers World newspaper. She also praised the Hamas government, noting that despite "few resources, [it] was able to organize an unforgettable visit for the convoy."



The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition

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.

Links to the Workers World Party

Many IAC and ANSWER leaders are also members of the Workers World Party (WWP) or its six-member secretariat, and write articles for the WWP's newspaper, Workers World.

 

The Workers World Party is a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party that espouses extreme anti-Israel views. Journalists for the party's newspaper, Workers World, often describe terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as legitimate resistance and "anti-imperialist" forces and accuse Israel of "apartheid and "genocide" against the Palestinians.

 

§       John Parker, the West Coast coordinator of IAC, ran for president on the WWP ticket in the 2004 elections. He regularly writes for the Workers World newspaper. 

 

§       Larry Holmes, an ANSWER co-founder and former IAC co-director, is a member of the WWP secretariat. Holmes ran for president on the WWP ticket in the 1984 and 1988 elections.

 

§       Sara Flounders, the co-founder of IAC, is a member of the WWP secretariat.

 

§      
Brian Becker, the national director of ANSWER, was a member of the WWP secretariat and regularly wrote articles for Workers World in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

 

§       Richard Becker, the co-founder and West Coast regional coordinator of ANSWER, regularly wrote articles for Workers World in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

 

In addition, at least three IAC chapters around the country – New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco – share offices with the WWP chapter in their area. The Boston chapters of the WWP and IAC share a phone number.

 

Despite these fairly transparent affiliations, IAC and ANSWER do not advertise their connection to the WWP. Both groups' Web site "About Us" sections neglect to mention the WWP, and their leaders are not described as affiliated with the WWP.



Fiscal Sponsorship

ANSWER and IAC are not tax-exempt organizations but receive much of their funding through a fiscal sponsor, the Progress Unity Fund (PUF). PUF is a San Francisco-based 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2000 with the mission of providing a "progressive alternative to mainstream charities."

 

Since its inception, PUF has allocated a majority of its resources to ANSWER and IAC. Its program description on the charity navigation site GuideStar reads, "Progress Unity Fund is proud to sponsor many of the activities of the International Action Center and International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition."

 

In 2008, PUF issued grants totaling almost $140,000 and distributed more than $80,000 to various ANSWER regional chapters.  In 2007, PUF allocated approximately $270,000 in grants, of which ANSWER chapters received close to $230,000. PUF also claims to have "helped found" ANSWER in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks to "promote a peaceful alternative to racism and war."

 

At least one of PUF's four principal employees, Muna Coobtee, is affiliated with ANSWER and is a member of its Los Angeles chapter's steering committee. Coobtee is also affiliated with the Free Palestine Alliance (FPA), the Palestinian constituency within the ANSWER coalition.

 

In turn, PUF is at least loosely affiliated with the Workers World Party, a Marxist-Leninist organization. PUF's director, Keith Pavlik, whose San Francisco home is the listed address for PUF's offices, was a journalist for the Workers World newspaper, as were two of the three other employees listed on PUF's tax filings, Coobtee and Brenda Sandburg.  

 

ANSWER and IAC used to rely on another little-known non-profit organization called the People's Rights Fund (PRF) as thier fiscal sponsor. PRF, which shared an address and a phone number with IAC's New York office, has since disbanded.



Chronology of Events

June 2011: ANSWER organized a six-city speaking tour called “Eyewitness Libya” in response to the international military assault against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Common themes throughout the tour stops included opposition to Western intervention in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East, and steadfast support for the Qaddafi regime—despite its ongoing brutal and systemic violence against Libyan civilians.

 

Speaking at the event in Los Angeles, IAC founder Ramsey Clark referred to the NATO attack against Libya as “the last of a long line of assaults on Arab and Muslim peoples” and referred to Western intervention as “this tyranny of violence.” During her remarks in New York, former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who headlined the tour, called President Obama a “war criminal” and likened NATO restrictions on Libyan civilians to Israeli restrictions on Gazans, calling the policies symbolic of the “Israelization” of NATO. Other tour speakers included Akbar Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s (NOI) international representative and emissary to Africa; Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition; and local representatives from ANSWER and other antiwar groups. In advance of the tour, organizers indicated that the tour aimed to reveal “the truth” about the U.S. relationship with Libya, which they claimed has been “concealed by the western corporate media.”

 

ANSWER is also partnering with the NOI and several other antiwar groups to organize a demonstration against international military action against Libya in August. The protest, which was announced at a press conference in New York in July, is being billed as the “Millions March in Harlem” event—a direct reference to the NOI’s 1995 Million Man March in Washington, DC.

 

January 15-17, 2010: Clark attended a "resistance" conference in Beirut that featured speeches by representatives of Hezbollah, Hamas and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups. The conference, which was attended by delegates of more than 30 countries, including Iran, Syria and Venezuela, focused on ways to shore up terrorist groups that advocate for Israel's destruction.

 

March 21, 2009: Several individuals waved Hezbollah flags at an ANSWER-organized anti-war rally held annually in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Some of the signs held at the rally featured anti-Israel messages such as, "Condemn Israeli Baby Killers," "Stop the Palestinian Genocide" and "Stop Israel's slaughter in Gaza."  An unidentified speaker mentioned a recent pro-Israel remark made by President Obama and accused him of "serving his masters."

 

January 16-18, 2009: At least two members of IAC, its founder Ramsey Clark and co-director Sara Flounders, joined representatives of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations at a conference in Beirut to discuss strategies for supporting Hamas and opposing Israel's and American interests in the Middle East.

 

Clark spoke during an introductory session and voiced opposition to "the crimes of the Zionist occupation against the Lebanese and the Palestinians." Flounders called for supporting terror, saying, "We need to militantly support Hamas…We need to make it clear that we support the right to resist, the right to fire rockets…" She also saluted the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as "the heroic forces in Lebanon, led by Hezbollah." She talked about finding a way to disrupt "the imperialist and Zionist war machines" and described the situation in Gaza as one example in the "wider war against oppressed people of the world."

 

December 2008 – January 2009: ANSWER helped organize rallies and demonstrations in New York, Washington, D.C., Orlando, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere to protest Israel's military operations in Gaza. Signs condemning Jews, expressing support for Hamas and comparing the war to the Holocaust were widespread. Many of these rallies took place during two ANSWER-organized national days of action, one on December 30, 2008, shortly after the war began and one on January 10, titled "Let Gaza Live."

May 2008: ANSWER co-sponsored several anti-Israel events that were held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the "Nakba," a term meaning 'catastrophe' used by many Palestinians and Arabs to describe the founding of the state of Israel. A large rally, co-organized with American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Muslim American Society (MAS), was held on May 16 in Washington, D.C. and featured a speech by ANSWER National Director Brian Becker, who accused Israel of committing acts of terrorism and of being a "colonial project."

 

August 12, 2006: ANSWER held rallies in Washington D.C., San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Seattle to protest Israel's military operations in Lebanon and U.S. Middle East policy. The largest rally, which took place opposite the White House in Washington, D.C., attracted about 10,000 supporters. Protesters at the rallies advocated support for Hezbollah and other Middle East terrorist groups. They waved Hezbollah flags and posters of Hezbollah's Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and chanted in Arabic "Long live Hezbollah, Long live Hamas" and "Nasrallah, Nasrallah; the martyr is the beloved of Allah; the Zionists are the enemy of Allah."

 

Carl Messineo of IAC addressed the crowd and stated, "Israel – a state built upon the domination by the Jewish people over historically Arab land—[is] an obstacle to the peaceful coexistence of the Muslims, Jews and Christians." Other speakers also denounced Israel's existence, and many of the protesters equated Zionism with Nazism or expressed the idea that Zionism and Israel are the enemies of humanity and God.

August 5, 2006: IAC held rallies to oppose the Lebanon war in New York and Los Angeles. The rallies were held under the slogans: "No justice, no peace; U.S. out of the Middle East" and "Support the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples' right to resist." Speakers at the event praised terrorism and called for the annihilation of Israel. In New York one speaker led the crowd in chants in Arabic: "Nasrallah dear: bomb Tel Aviv … bomb Kiryat Shmona" (on the day of the protest, Israeli towns were under missile attacks from Hezbollah). Another speaker from
Al-Awda-NY said: "This will not come to an end until Israel is finished, until there is no Israel… We need to shoot down the media and their corporations [we need to] shoot down Israel." The crowd at the New York event chanted "Long live Hezbollah! Long live Hamas!" and in Los Angeles many of the signs accused Israel and the U.S. of genocide and equated Zionism with Nazi Germany.

March 18, 2006: Several thousand anti-war protestors marched in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and in other cities around the U.S. to protest the "occupation of Iraq." Anti-Israel sentiment was also expressed and ANSWER organizers distributed signs calling for an end to American aid to Israel.

In San Francisco, several placards promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and support for Palestinian violence were displayed, including: "We attacked Iraq for Israel… Free my country," and "Smash the Jewish State." Activists also chanted, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," and "Long live Palestine, long live the intifada."

May 6, 2005: Members of IAC, the Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS),
Neturei Karta and New Jersey Solidarity protested outside the Israeli mission to the United Nations in New York City in commemoration of the "Nakba." Members of ITS held placards equating Nazis and Israelis and signs emblazoned with the symbol of Hamas. Protesters chanted that "Palestine is Islamic Land" and other anti-Jewish slogans in Arabic.

April 18, 2004: ANSWER and IAC leaders in New York joined Al-Awda and New Jersey Solidarity to protest the killing of Hamas leader
Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Protesters marched to the Israeli consulate from Hunter College, where Al-Awda had been holding its annual convention. Abbas Hamideh, a coordinator for Al-Awda, told the crowd that Rantisi "was a leader who defended and fought for Palestinian rights." Signs read, "What's next Sharon. Ovens!!," "Globalize the Intifada" and "All of Israel is 'Occupied Territory.'" Another Al-Awda representative, Rama Kased, lauded the Hamas leader: "Abdel Aziz Rantisi was a son of Palestine, a refugee, and a symbol of resistance against a racist apartheid regime."

March 23, 2004: In response to the assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yasin, ANSWER called for an emergency protest outside the Israeli consulate in New York. Participants expressed their admiration for Yasin, the intifada, Hamas, and other Palestinian terrorist groups. One speaker praised terrorist leaders Ali Mustapha (the secretary general of the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), Abu Jihad (the PLO military chief killed in 1988) and Yasin, saying, "Ali Mustapha, Abu Jihad, Sheikh Yasin, we are here with you standing hand in hand." The crowd cheered him on and later chanted, "Hey hey, Ho ho, Hamas will never go," "Long live Jihad," "Victory to the Intifada," and "Sheikh Yasin, Rest in Peace, Israel will never sleep."

March 20, 2004: ANSWER organized major anti-war demonstrations in New York and San Francisco to commemorate the anniversary of the U.S. invasion in Iraq. Anti-war groups led by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the other major organizer of the protest, initially intended to focus solely on the situation in Iraq, but were pressured by an ANSWER-organized coalition of anti-Israel groups to include an anti-Israel agenda. At the nearly 10,000-strong rally in San Francisco, signs and messages included: "No blood for Israel," "I want you to die for Israel. Israel Sings: Onward Christian Soldiers" and a model Israeli tank with dollars dripping with blood and the sign, "Paid for with US tax dollars." Another sign read, "I Love NYC even more without the World Trade Center."

Many conspiracy theorists attended the New York and San Francisco protests. A group called the 9/11 Truth Alliance, which contends that the Bush administration staged the attacks, distributed signs saying "Stop the 9-11 Cover-Up" and handed out "deception dollars," large replicas of paper currency covered with links to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Web sites.

December 2003: ANSWER representatives met with Hamas leader Osama Hamdan at the
Second International Cairo Conference in Egypt. Hamdan, who heads Hamas in Lebanon and supports suicide bombings against Israel, was invited to the conference by the event's sponsors, the International Campaign Against U.S. and Zionist Occupations, a movement co-founded by the IAC. IAC founder Ramsey Clark, IAC co-director Sara Flounders and Elias Rashmawi of ANSWER, were among the conference organizers.

March 15, 2003: ANSWER held several rallies across the country to protest the war in Iraq. At the San Francisco rally there were messages that likened President Bush to Hitler and proclaimed "No Blood for Oil or Israel." In Washington, D.C., speakers argued that the anti-war and pro-Palestinian movements should unite and focused on criticizing Israel rather than the Iraq war.

December 18-19, 2002: ANSWER participated in the first International Cairo Conference, which produced a document titled, "Cairo Declaration: Against U.S. Hegemony and War on Iraq and in Solidarity with Palestine." The document defined Palestinian terrorist attacks as legitimate acts of liberation and stated that all participants in the movement must reaffirm their "resolve to stand in solidarity with the people of Iraq and Palestine, recognizing that war and aggression against them is but part of a U.S. project of global domination and subjugation." The declaration also called for boycotting U.S. and Israeli goods in support of Iraq and Palestine.

April 20, 2002: ANSWER organized a "National March for Palestine Against War and Racism" in Washington, D.C. The massive rally including thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators. The rally served as a vehicle for anti-Semitism and support for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, whose flag flew from the speakers' podium.




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