An artist’s collage juxtaposes the real-life conditions Palestinian workers face in the occupied West Bank with Scarlett Johansson’s role as SodaStream spokesmodel. (Courtesy Electronic Intifada)
Outside the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, activists demonstrate against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his peace proposal, Jan. 29, 2014. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)
A Jewish settler (unseen at left) places the Israeli flag on a road sign as Israeli troops encircle Palestinian villagers protesting the army’s cutting branches off olive trees on a road leading to the illegal Jewish settlement of Tekoa, south of Bethlehe
Dr. Eyad El Serraj at a 1993 press conference in East Jerusalem denouncing Israel’s use of torture. (Ruben Bittermann/Photofile)
U.N. and Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (l) and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Jan. 22 press conference closing the Geneva II peace talks on Syria. (Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 16, 1986, Page 7b
Whom the Gods Would Destroy...
Four years ago when the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report, was established, a midnight assailant, wielding a brick, beat to the ground the then director of AET's speakers bureau as he was parking his car behind his home. The assailant threw the AET officer's wallet back to him untouched, but kept his address book. The same night the then editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, receiveda telephone threat that he was "riding for a big fall."
The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, spoke for all of us in a May 17,1982 editorial entitled "Intimidation Will Get You Nowhere" when it declared that "whatever happens to individuals, the newsletter will keep being published and the other activities of the organization will continue to be carried out." We thought of it then as an exchange of messages.
Almost four years to the day after those first assaults our editorial associate, Robert Hazo, received a 5 a.m. harassing phone call. When he arrived at his office later in the morning he found it had been ransacked and vandalized sometime between 3 and 6 a.m.
Albert Mokhiber, who keeps score on "threat and violence" reports from American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee members, says it was the 56th such incident reported to him in 1986 alone. We're not sure, therefore, whether this latest message was addressed to Mr. Hazo as an articulate Arab American, a consultant to ADC, or a valued AET associate. What's important is that we're sending back a message, and some questions.
Lack of funding forced us to close our speakers bureau two years ago. We're going to reopen it, as announced on the back page of this issue, Somehow we're going to provide an informed and distinguished speaker to tell every American who asks exactly how our country is being isolated abroad and subverted at home by the "Israel firsters" among us.
As for this newsletter, normally we reprint in our Other Voices section some of the more positive reporting from other U.S. periodicals about Middle Eastern issues. In this issue, however, we're going to join the national dialogue on terrorism. Terrorism over here. We're reprinting as much as we can from a shocking series of articles in the Village Voice based upon interviews with members and ex-members of the Jewish Defense League. What we can't fit into this issue we'll try to cram into a later one. Because these Jewish stormtroopers use obscene and racist language in commenting about desecration of churches, clearing "Jews for Jesus" off the streets of New York with stun guns, bombing Arab Americans, shooting at foreign diplomats, and routinely intimidating anyone who criticizes Israel, we ignored the series when it began. But since receiving the latest message we've decided none of our readers should miss a word of what the dialogue's all about.
Executive Director Thomas Dine told the audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's national convention this year that U.S.-Israeli cooperation is now so "excellent" that "we are no longer talking about a transformation in the relationship, we are talking about a revolution." Why, then, did the Israelis pay Jonathan Pollard to provide them U.S. technological and military secrets? Why, when Secretary of State Shultz asked his friend and confidant, Prime Minister Peres, whether the Pollard case was an aberration, did Peres lie to Shultz instead of admitting, as everyone now knows, that it was not? Why, when President Reagan invited 35 Jewish leaders to the White House to beg for their help in salvaging something of America's credibility with Middle East moderates, did only 14 show up, and only three of those offer to help? Why is the extremist element in the U.S. pro-Israel "community," as Mr. Dine calls it, resorting to violence to silence patriotic Americans who call attention to these things? And why do "respectable" members of that pro-Israel "community" acquiesce, by their silence, in terrorism against Israel's American critics?
In an election year is the killing of Americans at home by pro-Israel extremists not as serious as the killing of Americans abroad by pro-Palestinian extremists? It's not a hypothetical question. Alex Odeh, an Arab-American poet and father, has been killed by a bomb in an ADC office in California. Two Boston policemen were wounded dismantling a bomb at an ADC office in Boston. There have been no Presidential messages to the families, no resolutions about domestic terrorism, and no indictments. Is it Rambo Reagan abroad, and Ronald MacWimp at home?
Obviously Israel's supporters think so. They're riding high in Washington today, and bragging about it. Here's a verbatim excerpt from Tom Dine's remarks to his cheering AIPAC followers in April:
"The whole story of this revolution in strategic cooperation cannot yet be told because many of the most important steps are in an embryonic stage and both countries feel that greater progress can be achieved without an undue burden of publicity. Let me, however, share with you what Secretary of State George Shultz recently explained. He said the point of strategic cooperation is, and I quote, 'To build institutional arrangements so that eight years from now, if there is a Secretary of State who is not positive about Israel, he will not be able to overcome the bureaucratic relationship between Israel and the U.S. that we have established.' Think about that. For a Secretary of State to feel that way—think about how far we have come."
When patriotic Americans think about it they may give up on a President who doesn't want them to know what deals he's making in their name with Israel, even though he's snubbed by Israel's American friends. And a weak Secretary of State seeking to curry personal favor with America's pro-Israel media by binding his successors to a bizarre foreign alliance they almost certainly will reject as not in America's interest. And an American lobbyist who brags about his success in conspiring on behalf of a foreign country with U.S. leaders behind the backs of the American people.
Don't give up on America, however, Just last January, on the basis of his Reagan Administration access, Michael Deaver was depicted on the cover of Time magazine as Washington's most successful lobbyist. Using the same criteria, right now AIPAC clearly is Washington's most successful lobby.
The timeless lesson in Deaver's fall is expressed in the saying Quem Juppiter vult perdere dementat prius—whom God would destroy, he first makes mad. The question is, who is mad? Israel's friends, deliberately trashing the fruits of 100 years of selfless labor by Americans in the Middle East? The Congress, Secretary of State and President who not only don't care, but even threaten to take us out of NATO if Western Europeans won't share our pro-Israel bias? The journalists, Jewish and Gentile, who understand but don't speak out?
If it's yes to all of the above, then the American people themselves would be mad to tolerate this sordid betrayal indefinitely. We're betting our lives that they won't.