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Paul Findley: The Conscience of America

Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2006 21:14:21 +0300
Subject: Paul Findley: The Conscience of America

> TO: Distinguished Recipients
> FM: John Whitbeck
> It is an honor and a privilege to be able to transmit below two
> magnificent articles by former Congressman Paul Findley.
> In the age of Alzheimers, Paul is living proof that both mental clarity
> and moral clarity can still shine brightly at age 84.
> For me, Paul is the conscience of America.
>                    ______________________________
>> Because of the gross, longstanding bias in U.S. policy in the Middle
>> East, the
>> world teeters on the precipice of widening conflict focused -- sadly,
>> unnecessarily, dangerously -- on religion: Christendom versus Islam.
>> Those are
>> strong words, frightening words, but they are the truth.
>> Since I found myself in the thicket of Middle East politics nearly forty
>> years
>> ago, I have done little else than seek justice for Arabs deeply aggrieved
>> by
>> our policy bias.  This pro-justice endeavor is motivated mainly by my
>> deep
>> concern for America.
>> At 84, I sometimes feel old enough to have heard God's command to Moses,
>> as
>> recorded in Deuteronomy:  "Seek justice, only justice."  That command is
>> my
>> watchword.  Despite the efforts of many brave people to bring about a
>> just
>> reform, the bias continues -- more flagrant and costly each year.   The
>> peril
>> confronts all Americans.  No one can escape.
In Middle East policy, America ignores injustice, because religion-based
>> passions here at home override even vital national interests.  Our bias
>> is not
>> controlled by government officials but by two peculiar, politically
>> powerful
>> religious communities -- fundamentalist Christianity, on one hand, and on
>> the other
>> an extreme element of Judaism.
>> Together, they burden our country year after year with an Israel-centric
>> foreign
>> policy that is disastrous to America's vital interests.  Both groups have
>> a
>> deep-seated, passionate attachment to the State of Israel, no matter how
>> outrageous its behavior becomes.  Both are represented powerfully in
>> Washington
>> and exert a suffocating level of influence throughout America's political
>> system, as well as in almost every other part of our society.
>> This influence is abetted unwittingly by suicide bombers, professed
>> Muslims who
>> engage in reprehensible violence mainly as a barbaric protest against
>> foreign
>> occupation of their land.  In doing so, they defy the rules of Islam and
>> Christianity by taking their lives and the lives of innocent people and
>> thus
>> frustrate the efforts of people who define Islam correctly as a generous,
>> tolerant and peaceful religion.
>> Nearly one-half of the American people harbor false, ugly images of Islam
>> and
>> want the civil liberties of U.S. Muslims curtailed.  Most Americans also
>> seem
>> oblivious to the peril before all of us.  They are unaware of the
>> flagrant bias
>> in our policies and the price we pay for this bias.
>> Despite the wonders of the Information Age, few know the truth about how
>> our
>> flawed policies in the Middle East are put in place.  Almost everyone who
>> knows
>> the truth is afraid to speak out.  This unofficial but effective
>> censorship is
>> deadly.  It has unwittingly has led us step by step into deep trouble,
>> even
>> war.
>> Of the two religious communities cited above, the older and more skillful
>> one is
>> the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  The newer but much
>> larger
>> one is the fundamentalist Christian community that is guided by a
>> controversial
>> interpretation of the Bible's Book of Revelation.
>> AIPAC consists almost exclusively of Zionists, activists
>> whose behavior is actually disapproved by the majority of U.S. Jews.  My
>> book,
>> "They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's
>> Lobby",
>> details the origin, history and tactics of AIPAC.
>> Ultra-Orthodox Zionists believe their messiah will not arrive until
>> Greater
>> Israel -- Biblical Israel -- comes into being.  This means the
>> incorporation of the
>> entirety of the West Bank and East Jerusalem into Israel proper.   In
>> both
>> Israel and the United States, such Zionists exert great political power.
>> They
>> receive U.S. financing, both public and private, and are the primary
>> force that
>> establishes and expands the illegal Jewish settlements that now consign
>> Palestinians to isolated enclaves like those that once existed in
>> apartheid
>> South Africa.
>> Christian fundamentalists are not as tightly organized as AIPAC, but they
>> consist of more than 50 million members.  They are well disciplined on
>> election
>> days and have attained great political power in recent years.  They were
>> prominent in Bush's presidential campaigns.
>> The two communities make strange bedfellows.  Judaic doctrine makes no
>> mention
>> of Jesus Christ.  Fundamentalist Christian doctrine proclaims that when
>> Christ
>> returns to earth, all Jews will either be converted to Christianity or be
>> destroyed.  The two groups are bound tightly together today by an
>> immediate
>> interest -- the survival of a strong, expanding Israel as an essential
>> precondition for the arrival on earth of their separate messiahs.
>> Together, the two communities control U.S. policy in the Middle East.
>> They are
>> so powerful that Congress dutifully approves massive aid to Israel every
>> year with no
>> debate whatever.  No mention is made of Israel's continuing record of
>> destroying
>> Palestinian society through military conquest, assassinations and
>> wholesale
>> destruction of lives, homes and means of livelihood.  On Capitol Hill,
>> there
>> is no mention of the grave harm this bias causes to U.S. national
>> interests.
>> Year after year, our government enables Israel to defy the rules of
>> international law and the UN Charter with impunity.  Due to media bias,
>> few
>> Americans are aware of this scofflaw conduct, but most other people
>> worldwide,
>> especially Muslims, follow this abuse with mounting anti-American fury.
>> The rage
>> over recently published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is thought by
>> many
>> observers to be a spontaneous eruption of anger among Muslims toward the
>> West.
>> Some anger may be spontaneous, but most is grounded in the long-festering
>> bitterness over U.S. complicity in the plight of mostly-Muslim Palestine.
>> In President Bush's campaign against terrorism, he has failed to
>> recognize that
>> 9/11's real Ground Zero was never Manhattan or the Pentagon.   It was
>> always
>> Palestine and remains so today.
>> What motivated the 9/11 assault against America?  It was a grisly payback
>> for
>> America's complicity in Israel's bloody assault on Arabs years ago.  In
>> several
>> televised statements, Osama bin Laden cited as motives for 9/11 U.S.
>> complicity
>> in Israel's 1982 bombing of Beirut, as well as our subsequent role in
>> Israel's
>> destruction of Palestinian society.
>> Using U.S.-supplied armor, bombs and bullets, Israel killed more than
>> 18,000
>> innocent Arabs in Beirut.   This provoked worldwide anti-American fury
>> that
>> intensified when Congress immediately voted funds to restore the
>> inventory of
>> munitions Israeli forces consumed in the massacre.  I know.  I was a
>> Member of
>> Congress when the vote occurred.
>> The 9/11 calamity and our costly, stumbling wars in both Afghanistan and
>> Iraq
>> are the ugly off-springs of our longstanding complicity.  Worldwide
>> resentment
>> against Israel and the United States has deepened with each passing year.
>> President Bush's failure to recognize and redress these Arab grievances
>> is the
>> main reason for the lethal insurgency now underway against our forces in
>> Iraq.
>> This failure quickens our fateful pace as we plunge toward the precipice
>> of a
>> widespread war over religion.
>> Our best way to pull back from the precipice is to pull U.S. military
>> forces and
>> contractors out of Iraq.   Sadly, Bush shows no sign of changing course.
>> Our
>> peril deepened in the wake of 9/11 when  Bush received bad advice from
>> Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, my
>> colleagues
>> years ago in the House of Representatives.   Overreacting to 9/11, they
>> convinced the president that the assault made him all-powerful as
>> commander-in-chief and that he had a free rein to ignore Congress and
>> tradition
>> and could change U.S. policies as he wished.
>> Bush immediately acted the part, proclaiming his right to commit acts of
>> war any
>> place he alone found a threat to our security.  He scrapped national
>> sovereignty, the bedrock of the nation state, rammed through a panicky
>> Congress
>> an unpatriotic Patriot Act and pledged to maintain U.S. forces and
>> foreign
>> bases at a level sufficient to police the world.
>> He initiated inconclusive, stumbling wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and now
>> hints at an assault on Iran.  Syria may be next.
>> I am not an isolationist.  The world needs policing, but no single nation
>> state
>> should attempt that role.  It is the proper job for a multinational
>> organization which our government should be helping to create.
>> I use plain language.  Perhaps what I say troubles you deeply.  In these
>> perilous I must speak the truth as I believe it to be.
>> How did we get in this mess?  How do the religious lobbies maintain this
>> tight
>> grip on U.S. policy?
>> They use America's political system with great skill.   They vote. They
>> take
>> part in political campaigns.  They contribute generously to candidates
>> who do
>> their bidding and against those who do not.   Their most powerful
>> instrument of
>> intimidation is the reckless charge of anti-Semitism.  I know the sting.
>> It
>> works.  It makes people who know the truth about our complicity cower in
>> silence.
>> Few Americans know -- but all should know -- of the silent but effective
>> support
>> of Israel that exists within our government bureaucracy.  Almost every
>> office in
>> the executive branch and for congressional committees that has any role
>> in
>> Middle East policy formulation has at least one staff member who takes
>> the
>> personal responsibility of protecting the interests of Israel as each
>> piece of
>> paper passes through his or her desk.   My book is replete with examples.
>> Our
>> government is truly Israeli-occupied territory, but few citizens are
>> aware of
>> this reality.
>> Today's bloody mess started a half-century ago on Capitol Hill when the
>> lobby
>> for Israel first promoted a heavy bias in U.S. policy in the Middle East.
>> Its
>> activities thoroughly intimidated our political institutions and
>> effectively
>> stifled debate.   I know firsthand.  I was a Member of Congress for 22
>> years
>> and have watched developments closely ever since.
>> By silencing dissent, the pro-Israel lobby intimidates not just the
>> Congress but
>> the entire nation.   Former Ambassador George W. Ball spoke accurately
>> when he
>> said that Congress behaves like trained poodles, jumping through hoops
>> held by
>> lobbyists for Israel.  Senators Charles Percy and Adlai Stevenson and
>> Representatives Paul "Pete" McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, Earl Hilliard
>> and
>> myself are among those defeated at the polls by candidates heavily
>> financed by
>> pro-Israel forces.  Only McKinney later returned to Congress.
>> Nationally, not just on Capitol Hill, the State of Israel is treated as
>> sacrosanct.  It is rare when a word critical of Israel is expressed even
>> in
>> private conversation.  This is true in the media, academia, social
>> circles and
>> business communities.  Almost everyone, afraid to speak out, has an
>> excuse for
>> silence.  Lobby intimidation even suffocates free speech in houses of
>> worship.
>> It should surprise no one that Congress, with hardly a murmur of protest,
>> recently approved resolutions saluting the prime minister of Israel for
>> building high walls and fences that keep Palestinians penned up on their
>> own
>> land like cattle.
>> I believe 9/11 would not have occurred if the U.S. had refused to support
>> Israel's humiliation and destruction of Palestinian society.   Any
>> president of
>> the past 38 years could have brought peace to the Middle East by
>> suspending all
>> aid until Israel withdrew from Arab land it seized in the 1967
>> Arab-Israeli
>> war.
>> Why did Bush order the invasion of Iraq?  Israeli footprints are found
>> every
>> step of the way.  U.S. General Anthony Zinni, once Bush's special
>> emissary to
>> the Middle East, spoke the truth recently when he said Israel and oil are
>> the
>> widely accepted reasons for the invasion.  I will add that almost
>> everyone
>> knows that Israel was the stronger of the two reasons.  The war in Iraq
>> was for
>> Israeli interests, not American.  If we commit acts of war against Iran
>> or
>> Syria, these too will be mainly to help Israel.
>> The raging insurgency against U.S. forces in Iraq is linked directly to
>> the
>> plight of the Palestinians nearby.  How can we expect Iraqis to trust our
>> promise of freedom for them when a few miles away we maintain our abject,
>> decades-long complicity in Israel's denial of freedom for Palestinians?
>> The best way to stop both the insurgency in Iraq and the gathering storm
>> of
>> Christendom versus Islam is to suspend all U.S. aid until Israel vacates
>> illegal settlements it has established throughout the West Bank and East
>> Jerusalem and withdraws from Arab territory it has held illegally since
>> June
>> 1967.
>> In Iraq, we should announce plans for a total withdrawal of the U.S.
>> military
>> and contractor personnel by an early date, stating clearly that the only
>> units
>> exempt from withdrawal would be any that are expressly requested by the
>> Iraqi
>> government and the UN Security Council.
>> These two announcements would sweep away the dark clouds of religious war
>> and
>> quickly dampen the Iraqi insurgency.  They would be greeted with
>> worldwide
>> rejoicing as heralding a dramatic return of U.S. policy to the high
>> ground it
>> once occupied.
>> Is the scene hopeless?  Of course not.  We are on the eve of a new
>> election
>> cycle.   Every one of us has the opportunity -- yes, the
>> responsibility --  to speak
>> up at political gatherings, ask precise questions of candidates and
>> demand
>> precise answers.  We can write letters to the editor and engage directly
>> in
>> partisan campaigns.
>> We must reject preemptive war as an instrument of public policy.
>> Supporters of
>> war turn to scripture for misleading inspiration.  Let us take our
>> inspiration
>> from Deuteronomy, where God instructed Moses with these words: "Seek
>> justice,
>> only justice."   The peril is immediate and great, but it is not too late
>> for
>> justice.
>> I am 84.  I've been on the firing line for justice in U.S. policy in the
>> Middle
>> East for nearly half my life.  I do not regret a minute of that long
>> endeavor.
>> I will never give up.  Will you help?
>>                     ______________________________
>> REGAINING THE HIGH ROAD           By Paul Findley
>> A few days ago in Tampa, Florida, I spoke at a vigil seeking the release
>> of
>> Prof. Sami Al-Arian, still incarcerated after three years confinement for
>> allegedly supporting terrorism.  He is not the only person wrongly
>> imprisoned
>> these days in America, but he is one I have known and respected for more
>> than a
>> decade.
>> Until charged, he was a popular tenured professor in computer science in
>> Florida South University.  In 2000, although an immigrant hoping someday
>> to
>> regain citizenship in an independent Palestine and therefore not
>> qualified to
>> vote himself, he led a campaign that prompted 90 percent of Muslim voters
>> in
>> Florida to support George W. Bush for president.
>> The margin proved to be Bush's key to the White House, but for Al-Arian
>> the
>> outcome became a personal irony.  He was caught in the frenzy that
>> followed the
>> 9/11 horror.   The unpatriotic Patriot Act was enacted by a panicky
>> Congress,
>> and Al-Arian, an enthusiastic supporter of Palestinian causes, was among
>> hundreds of innocent people caught in a net spread by a new army of
>> federal
>> investigators hunting for terrorists among the Arab Muslims in our midst.
>> He languishes in jail even though a jury of his peers in a six-month
>> trial
>> failed to pin any guilt on him.  The jury found him not guilty on eight
>> of 15
>> counts that charged support for terrorism, and, although unable to agree
>> on the
>> remaining seven counts, in each instance ten of the twelve jurors favored
>> acquittal.   All charges date back at least fifteen years.
>> He remains in what amounts to solitary confinement, treated as an inmate
>> too
>> dangerous to release.  Another costly, lengthy trial on the seven
>> unsettled
>> counts seems likely.
>> In its December 19, 2005, issue, Time magazine reported that years of FBI
>> investigation established "no real links between Al-Arian and terrorist
>> acts.
>> Nevertheless, says a former FBI supervisor involved in the case, in late
>> 2002
>> word came down from [then Attorney General John] Ashcroft to build an
>> Al-Arian
>> indictment.  'We were in shock, but those were our marching orders,' says
>> the
>> supervisor who felt that the Justice Department was rushing to indict
>> before it
>> had really appraised the evidence."
>> The evidence actually suggests strongly that Ashcroft decided, regardless
>> of
>> evidence, to make Al-Arian a terrorist trophy.
>> These are days of sacrifice and dislocation for all Americans -- not just
>> for
>> Al-Arian.  This great nation is in the grip of divisive, misdirected
>> patriotism
>> at home and costly war-making abroad.  Once renowned as a safe haven for
>> dispossessed and storm-tossed humankind from any corner of the earth and
>> revered as the world champion of human rights through the rule of law,
>> America
>> is now sidetracked on a futile quest for security through the lethal
>> force of
>> arms abroad.
>> At home, our government pursues a double standard that harms severely the
>> well-being
>> of law-abiding residents like Al-Arian who seek nothing more than the
>> protection
>> of the civil liberties that are enshrined in the Declaration of
>> Independence
>> and the Constitution of the United States.
>> Al-Arian is, I believe, a victim of discrimination based on race and
>> country of
>> origin that one day will puzzle historians who attempt to examine and
>> explain
>> this errant period in our history.
>> It may be small comfort to his suffering family to know that the
>> professor
>> joins a long line of great people who, while incarcerated, composed some
>> of
>> their most moving statements.  While in jail, Al-Arian has set on paper
>> some of
>> his finest compositions about liberty and justice.
>> His exoneration in the jury trial is a source of great joy and perhaps
>> surprise
>> to many people who had despaired of a favorable outcome in any
>> proceedings that
>> are cast in today's dark shadows.   The opportunity for a still greater
>> advance
>> lies on the desk of Ashcroft's successor as U.S. attorney-general,
>> Alberto
>> Gonzales, who knows from the experience of his parents the challenges,
>> opportunities and joys of immigration.
>> Al-Arian has never been the slightest threat to our liberties.  To the
>> contrary,
>> he is a bulwark of our precious traditions, and his release by Gonzales
>> would
>> bring credit and worldwide praise to President Bush and all who serve his
>> administration.  If the attorney-general orders the dismissal of the
>> charges
>> left unsettled by the jury, he will quicken the spirit of all those who
>> suffer
>> discrimination.  They will have reason to hope it heralds a new day of
>> equal
>> justice in this land.
>> The decision will help guide this troubled nation back on the high road
>> it once
>> proudly traveled -- where America can demonstrate that true security lies
>> in
>> protecting liberty, not starting wars.
>> ______________________
>> Paul Findley was a Member of Congress, 1961-83, and is the author of five
>> books,
>> the latest being "Silent No More: Confronting America's False Images of
>> Islam".
>> He resides in Jacksonville, Illinois.

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