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While the AFSC makes a fetish of Quaker values of nonviolence, it has always been an arm of the left. Long ago its political alliances on the left transformed the AFSC into fellow travelers of the Communist Party. When the AFSC appears on posters alongside the Workers World Party, it’s no different than the old ties between the AFSC and the Communist Party of the United States.
The AFSC’s road to legitimizing terrorist violence traveled a convoluted route. What began as y dogmatic pacifism that denied war was ever the answer, leading the AFSC to conduct an anti-war campaign during WW2, became a more nuanced refusal to condemn what the left considered to be the violence of the oppressed.
By the 1970’s, the American Friends Service Committee had legitimized terrorism and discarded the veneer of non-violence. In a pamphlet titled, “Non-Violence: Not First For Export”, leading AFSC figure, James E. Bristol wrote, “before we deplore terrorism, it is essential for us to recognize whose ‘terrorism’ came first.”
With that the AFSC adopted the position of the far-left, privileging violence depending on its origin, and terminating the moral authority of its pacifism. The program laid out in that pamphlet treated non-violence not as a universal mandate, but as a weapon to be directed against the United States and its allies: “Instead of trying to devise nonviolent strategy and tactics for revolutionaries in other lands, we will bend every effort to defuse militarism in our own land and to secure the withdrawal of American economic investment in oppressive regimes in other parts of the world.”
The AFSC had started out as an anti-war organization, but Bristol used Marxist doctrine to redefine the status quo as a form of violence and terrorism as the survival reflex of people who have no choice but to resist the status quo. The victims of violence had become the perpetrators and the perpetrators had become the victims.
Under this formula, the existence of Israel is a form of violence. Even by passively existing, the Israeli walking down the street is carrying out a violent act. An Israeli girl in a café in Sderot is guiltier than a Hamas terrorist pulling the trigger, because as part of the status quo, she is an oppressor, while the terrorist is a resistance fighter.
The corruption of Quaker values into left wing radicalism defines the AFSC. Like the radicals who took over its Arab institutions, it is now Quaker in name only. And its commitment to non-violence also exists in name only. Its dark path from true nonviolence has led it to a war against Israel.
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