A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
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Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
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Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
Washington Report, April 29, 1985, Page 11
They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby
By Paul Findley. Westport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill & Company, 1985. 324 pp. $16.95.
Reviewed By Richard Curtiss
Early in 1973, Illinois Congressman Paul Findley was asked to help secure the release of a constituent imprisoned in South Yemen, with which the U.S. Government had no diplomatic relations. He appealed to South Yemen's Ambassador to the U.N. , who invited him to visit Aden. Bearing a letter from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, he stopped en route in Syria, with which the U.S. also had no diplomatic relations, to obtain support from President Hafiz Al-Assad.
Paul Findley obtained the release of his constituent, and his talks with two of America's prime Middle Eastern "enemies"—the presidents of Syria and South Yemen—convinced him of the need for more communication with the Arabs.
He applied the lesson to the U.S. refusal to deal officially with Yasser Arafat, stemming from a promise Mr. Kissinger had made to the Israelis not to talk to the PLO until the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist. In a personal meeting with Arafat, Findley urged him to recognize U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and the land-for-peace formula, thereby freeing the U.S. to conduct direct talks. In the remarkable book he has written describing the active role he assumed in U.S.-Middle East relations, and its consequences, Findley explains:
"I began to speak out in Congress. I argued from what I considered to be a U.S. viewpoint—neither pro-Israel nor pro-Arab. I said that our unwillingness to talk directly to the political leadership of the Palestinians... handicapped our search for peace."
Asking Questions Brings Trouble
Encouraged by officials of the Nixon, Ford and Carter Administrations, Findley writes, "I naively assumed I could question our policy anywhere without getting into trouble. I did not realize how deeply the roots of Israeli interests had penetrated U.S. institutions."
Just seven years after the constituent telephone call that launched him into the Middle East, he routinely requested an election endorsement from former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Dr. Arthur Burns, who declined "because of your views on the PLO." Findley was stunned:
"No event," he writes, "before or since, disclosed to me so forcefully the hidden leverage of the Israeli lobby on the U.S. political scene. This great, kind, generous Jewish elder statesman, a personal friend for twenty years, could not ignore the lobby and say a public good word for my candidacy."
Findley won re-election in 1980 but in 1982 outside money poured into the campaign of his Democratic opponent, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel's principal lobby, publicly took credit for his defeat.
Findley decided to write about others who had spoken forthrightly and been punished by a powerful lobby whose mission is to justify an increasing flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Israel.
His remarkable book is devastatingly accurate and well-informed. It puts highly-respected national leaders on the record expressing profound indignation at extraordinary abuses of the American system perpetrated by Israel's U.S. lobby in well-documented efforts to suppress all information that might lead to questioning of its mission. Findley describes in depth one or two examples from each field, and then summarizes each of the other examples he discovered.
Tucson: A Case Study in Intimidation
In government, he describes the problems faced by presidents and congressmen. In academia, he details a crude effort by the Tucson, Arizona, Jewish Community Council first to intimidate and then to discredit Christian and Jewish educators engaged in a Mideast Outreach program, and then cites similar activities from all over the U.S.
From the Pentagon he describes successful moves to block an investigation of Israeli motives in the 1964 attack on the U.S. spy ship Liberty, which left 34 Americans dead and 171 wounded. A top former official who didn't mind being quoted both on the Liberty cover-up and on the top-to-bottom penetration of the Pentagon by Israeli intelligence was Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said:
"I've never seen a President—I don't care who he is—stand up to them ... They always get what they want. I got to the point where I wasn't writing anything down. If the American people understood what a grip those people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms."
As the lobbyists the book depicts arrange to drop a curtain of media silence around it, they might consider whether, by winning Israel's battles in the U.S., they are not doing it a grave disservice abroad by postponing the day when it must make the compromises necessary to live in peace with its neighbors. Even in the U.S., the lobby's victories seem ephemeral. For example:
Because he questioned blind American support of Israel, the lobby deprived a conscientious Illinois congressman of the seat he occupied for 22 years. In doing so, it freed Paul Findley to write the most powerful expose to date of Israel's abuse of American trust, a book which may prove Admiral Moorer's prediction to him that "the American people would be goddam mad if they knew what goes on."
Richard Curtiss is a retired foreign service officer and executive director of the American Educational Trust.