Paul Findley: A Man of Courage

Global Research, August 14, 2019

Paul Findley one of the most remarkable Congressmen that the US House of Representatives had produced since the Second World War passed away on the 9th of August 2019. He was 98 years old. He was first elected to Congress in 1960 from a district in Illinois once represented by Abraham Lincoln, his immortal hero.  Findley was elected 11 times from that constituency until his defeat in 1982.

As a Congressman, he played a significant role in the formulation of the War Powers Act which required the US president to notify Congress of foreign military engagements. He was also critical of wasteful pentagon spending. He was one of a handful of early legislators who opposed the Vietnam War.

But Findley’s “notoriety” is associated with something else. He was a consistent critic of the influence of the Israel Lobby over Congress. He could see how the Lobby shaped US policies especially in West Asia. He was very much aware of the tactics the Lobby employed to silence anyone who questioned even mildly the biasness of the US position in the Israel-Palestine/ Arab conflict.

Findley himself was a victim of the Lobby’s vicious targeting. Because of his concern over the conflict he had visited the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, who was then regarded by the US government as a “terrorist.” That visit became cannon-fodder for the Israel Lobby to mount a massive campaign against Findley which was one of the main reasons for his defeat in the 1982 Congressional election.

Following his defeat, he wrote a couple of books about the power of the Lobby in US public life and how institutions and individuals were confronting the Lobby. They Dare to Speak Out had a bigger impact outside the US than within. His next book, Deliberate Deceptions, revealed the nexus between US and Israel forged through money, corporate links and personal relationships. Findley was now perceived by the US Establishment as a staunch opponent of Israeli power over the US.

His explorations into Israeli and Zionist power in the US invariably compelled him to look into how that power determined public perceptions of Islam and Muslims in general. His tentative perspective on the issue received a boost when he was invited to participate in a workshop in Penang, Malaysia on perceptions of Islam and Muslims in the Western media organised by JUST in October 1995. That workshop, as Findley had observed many times since changed his outlook on not only Islam but also the West’s relationship with a civilization which often invoked negative sentiments especially among the ‘educated.’ He began to realise that the roots of the antagonism towards the religion and its followers were deeply embedded in the West’s history and entangled with the crusades and colonialism  and post-colonial structures of global power and dominance.

On his return he produced a Friendly Note on his Muslim Neighbour which was widely circulated and later authored a book entitled Silent No More that sought to demolish America’s false images of Islam and Muslims. The book sold 60,000 copies.

As Findley’s mission to combat ignorance about, and prejudice against, another civilisation was beginning to make some progress, it suffered a severe setback through two major events at the start of the new century. Both the destruction of the twin towers in New York on the 11th of September 2001 — the infamous 9-11 incident — which was the rationale for the US helmed ‘War on Terror’ and the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March 2003 made bridge-building between Christians and Muslims a monumental challenge. Nonetheless, Findley persevered. He continued to lend support to the work of the Council on American—Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other such causes.

His last correspondence with me was in January 2016. He had written an article for the JUST Commentary January 20, 2016 entitled, “Truth Seeking About Islam.”  He lamented that his eye-sight was failing — though his spirit was still high.

Findley was a man of extraordinary courage. The positions he adopted on Israeli power or on Palestinian rights or on justice for Muslims in the US incurred the wrath of many. He was often isolated and marginalised. But he never abandoned his principles.

The tenacity with which he adhered to them was what made him a man of integrity and dignity. He knew the price would be heavy.  But it was a price he was prepared to pay.

It is this — his moral conduct in the face of adversity — that will be his lasting legacy.


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Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Malaysia. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Israel Wins US 2018 Election

Israeli Labor Party’s “Cleverly Concealed” West Bank Settlements

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November/December 1994, Pages 10, 84
Speaking Out

By Paul Findley

Whether the Labor or Likud Party controls Israeli policy, the prospects for Palestinian freedom and dignity are grim. The party differences are mainly in style and tactics. Likud leaders prefer open defiance of world opinion, while under Labor—by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s own admission—repression is carried out quietly and deceptively.
In the fall of 1990, preparing for the political campaign that would restore him two years later to the position of prime minister, Rabin acknowledged a massive deception that had already put major obstacles on the road to peace. In effect, he also foretold the policies he would follow when victorious at the polls.
At the time, on the assumption that the spread of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories was broadly popular among Israelis and certain to win votes on election day, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud Party was boasting about its leadership in expanding the settlements. Indeed, Shamir, never known for subtlety, had been brazen about settlement-building. On several occasions he had attended ground-breaking ceremonies for new ones that were scheduled to coincide precisely with the arrival in Israel of a strong critic of settlements, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker.
Not to be outdone in the campaign arena, Rabin discarded his customary policy of concealment. He informed the electorate that the Labor Party had led the way in building settlements years before the Shamir administration, but added that it had carried out the construction “cleverly” so as to avoid criticism in the United States.
The Oct. 18, 1990 issue of Davar quoted Rabin’s response to Likud: “For all its faults, Labor has done more and remains capable of doing more in the future [in expanding Jewish settlements] than Likud with all of its doing. We have never talked about Jerusalem. We have just made a ‘fait accompli.’ It was we who built the suburbs in [the annexed part of] Jerusalem. The Americans didn’t say a word, because we built these suburbs cleverly.” The suburbs he cited are Jewish settlements built on land in the East Jerusalem area seized from Palestinians.
In this amazing but little-noted bit of candor, Rabin could accurately have broadened Labor’s claim beyond the East Jerusalem area. All of the early and many of the later settlements in the West Bank and Gaza were built when the Labor Party was in power.
Rabin’s astonishing admission came to my attention through a booklet, Clever Concealment: Jewish Settlement in the Occupied Territories Under the Rabin Government,August 1992-September 1993. It is published by the Palestine Human Rights Information Center in Jerusalem and is the clearest and most dramatic presentation of the challenge posed by settlements that I have seen. Rabin’s admission is a convincing rejoinder to those who claim that the settlements are the unfortunate legacy of the Likud Party alone and would never have come into being had Labor stayed in power. The main difference on settlement policy, as became evident when Rabin took office, is that Labor is more deceptive.

The main difference on settlement policy is that Labor is more deceptive.

On assuming the post of prime minister, Rabin pledged publicly a “settlement freeze” but privately proceeded with expansion. He began to carry out the Sheves Plan, named after Shimon Sheves, the director-general of the prime minister’s office, which cleverly obscures in “development” terminology plans for the construction of settlements, both government and private, and highways to serve them. According to Clever Concealment: “There has not been an abrupt break, or settlement ‘freeze’ as publicly claimed [by Rabin]. Instead, there has been a shift from Ariel Sharon’s stark vision of the transfer of Palestinians and outright Israeli annexation of the territories to a more sophisticated concept of quantitative control, selective annexation, separation (through closure), and containment of Palestinian population centers within contiguous Jewish settlements.”
In a highly deceptive statement in 1992, Israel announced it was terminating government financial benefits to settlers. The announcement worked wonders in America; it gave President George Bush the excuse to provide Israel in the last months of his administration with $10 billion in U.S. government loan guarantees which have since facilitated the expansion of settlements.

A Fraudulent Announcement

In reality, the announcement was a fraud. Financial benefits to Jewish settlers did not end. The Rabin government continued assistance to Jews in 76 separate settlements—nearly half the total—in amounts ranging as high as $18,000 per settler. Far from being “frozen,” subsidies were increased. Settlers were given generous grants and loans. For example, living space that cost $145,000 in West Jerusalem could be purchased by settlers in the occupied territories for $60,000. East Jerusalem and surrounding areas were specifically excluded from the so-called “freeze” on settlements. Settlers there are exempt from municipal taxes for five years and then pay a reduced rate. Because of this bias, per capita taxation of Palestinians in East Jerusalem is five times that of Jews living there.
Since then, Israel has proceeded with the construction of highways in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied territories. In each instance, this has meant the confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian property, including many homes.
The new highways serve Israeli interests in two ways: First, they form links vital to the well-being of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, enabling settlers to move swiftly to and from Jerusalem and among the settlements; second, they form barriers that make movement difficult for Palestinians, whose communities are already substantially isolated from each other.
Moreover, the Israeli government permits only Jewish-owned enterprises to be established along these new highways. As they become lined with businesses that are exclusively Jewish, the highways will become barriers to Palestinian movement that are even more formidable.
Under Shamir, Israel pressed toward the objective of settling 2.6 million Jews in the occupied territories by the year 2000 at an aggregate cost of $200 billion. Housing Minister Ariel Sharon said publicly he would continue toward that goal even if U.S. loan guarantees were not forthcoming. Public resistance to outlays of that magnitude helped to create the vote that defeated Shamir and placed Rabin in office in June 1992, but the change in government did not make a basic change in Israeli plans to use settlements as instruments to control the territories.
Labor and Likud must share the blame for populating the West Bank with over 100,000 Jewish settlers, East Jerusalem with more than 150,000 and the Gaza Strip with 3,500. In the aggregate the settlements now total 160. On July 20, 1979 the U.N. Security Council demanded that Israel stop building settlements. Israel has ignored the demand.
Each settlement stands as an explicit violation of international law and policy decisions of the United Nations. The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, states: “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
Working “cleverly” and without complaint from his chief financier, the U.S. government, Rabin is making swift progress in subdividing the Palestinian population into isolated units that will be easier for Israeli forces to control through the imposition or extension of closure. It is ironic that Israel, with massive American help, is building an ugly new apartheid while South Africa, responding to substantial U.S. pressure, is dismantling the old.
Former Congressman Paul Findley is chairman of the Council for the National Interest, a membership organization in Washington, DC.
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