JEFFREY BLANKFORT JEWISH-AMERICAN ANTI-ZIONIST JOURNALIST
by SF IMC
Saturday, Nov. 03, 2007 at 1:11 PM
DEATH TO ZIONISM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jeffrey Blankfort: My years of Middle East Activism: An Interview
Jeffrey Blankfort: Jewish-American anti-Zionist journalist
Original article is at http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2006/11/1733088.php
San Francisco Indymedia
A few weeks before Israel's latest assault on Lebanon, SF-IMC interviewed local journalist, historian, photographer, radio producer, and anti-Zionist activist, Jeffery Blankfort. For a variety of reasons, technical and other, we are only just now getting around to publishing it. We apologize for the delay.
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SF-IMC: Tell us how your personal history shaped your politics. Did you have an epiphany one day or did you figure it out a step at a time?
Jeffrey Blankfort: I come from a political background. Both of my parents were political activists. My father was involved with the civil rights movement before there was a civil rights movement. He was a screenwriter, later blacklisted, an unfriendly witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. My mother was among the first people working for the farm workers. So I grew up in a very political household. Unlike some political households, both of my parents, my mother and my father, shared their politics, and what they were doing and why, with my sister and myself. This, to me, was really important.
So there was never an epiphany. We were brought up to believe, essentially, that all human beings are equal, and to fight for justice. And I saw both of my parents doing that and not having double standards. There were no double set of books, and I saw that both of them took risks and had personal courage and were not ready to sell out to the establishment. And so they were role models.
Also my father said to me: "Question everything."
Sometimes, he said, jokingly that he regretted that, but in any case, when it came to the question of Israel and Palestine it was quite interesting because my father supported a bi-national state, and he actually was working for a bi-national state. We had, in the early days, some of the important Israeli leaders, Jewish leaders, stay at our home, including Moshe Sneh, who was the head of the Haganah, and also a member of the Israeli communist party.
Well, Sneh asked my father if he could arrange for him to meet with some wealthy Jews in Beverly Hills, and my father did that, and they went out to visit these wealthy Jews in Beverly hills, many of whom had been socialists when they were young, and they kind of liked the idea of a socialist Israel. Not a socialist United States, but a little socialist Israel would be fine. And so when some of these wealthy Jews in Beverly Hills asked Moshe Sneh, when he wanted them to invest their money in Israel,"Aren't you going to have a socialist Israel?" And Sneh said to them, "By the time we're socialist, you'll have your money back ten times over."
So when they were leaving, my father turned to him and said, not friendly like, "You're talking out both sides of your mouth. What kind of a socialist . . . what kind of a communist are you?"
And he told me this story, my father did, and I remember it because it impressed me, the contradictions between preaching and practice. Then, in the early fifties, we had a number of Israeli Jews visit our house. All of them had immigrated from Israel because they did not want to live in a racist state, racist because every time there was an attack by what they called the fedayeen, the Palestinian guerrillas who had been fighting to get back in their own land from which they'd been dispossessed, every time that there was an attack, there would be what they called a "pogrom," what Jews call a "pogrom," on the Arab villagers in the Galilee, who had remained. And so these Israeli Jews said, "We can't live in a country like this."
So then I went to Europe, and I didn't know the history, and I wasn't curious about the history, but I went to Europe, and I ran into Israeli Jews who told me the same story, about their parents leaving, or they had left because of the racism towards Arabs. It was years before I met an Israeli who had anything good to say about Israel. And that didn't bother me. It wasn't really a problem for me because I had never really made a connection between Israel and the Holocaust. The Holocaust was very traumatic for me when I found out about it, and I had this irrational, though I didn't think it irrational at the time, an irrational hatred toward Germans, which I subsequently no longer have and haven't had for about thirty-five years.
But I didn't make the connection. I didn't transfer my feelings about the Holocaust to Israel at all. I had no feeling one way or the other about Israel, except in 1967. When Israel triumphed in the Six Day War, I was appalled at the triumphalism of the Jewish community in North Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. You would think they had gone to fight the war, and there was something about their reaction that, as a human being, I found appalling, and, subsequently, I was to find that my reactions were the right reactions.
Even then, it wasn't until 1970, when I was living in London that I started thinking about the Palestine issue. The Viet Nam War was going on. I'd worked with the Black Panthers. I'd photographed for the Black Panthers almost from the beginning. I'd done Viet Nam War work. I was active, but the Israeli/Palestinian issue was not in my mind.
I had left the US in 1969. I was kind of disgusted with the movement. In fact, when the Chronicle was telling a more accurate version of events happening here in the Bay Area than was the Berkeley Barb, I knew it was time to leave. So I left for a year-and-a-half, and I happened to be in London when I was asked by Liberation News Service, the news service for the new alternative media, which I was shooting pictures for, if I'd be interested in going to Lebanon and Jordan to photograph a book about the refugee camps and the fedayeen, the Palestinian movement, and did I have any problems as a Jew doing that?
I had some other possibilities of things I was going to do, such as go back to Sardinia, where I had been, with an Italian team to photograph the US bases that nobody knows about, that are in Sardinia, like the Strategic Air Command base. But I decided, no, I'm going to go to Lebanon and Jordan. That sounded very interesting, but I was intent in going as a journalist, not as a Jew. People don't believe me when I say this, but this is true. My thought was that this was interesting stuff; I'm going to go there.
And so I went there, and that was the epiphany in terms of this issue. When I went to the refugee camps and saw people living there who had been forced out of their country by people, including relatives of mine, who had never been oppressed a day in their lives, there was something radically wrong. And when I went to the Lebanese/Israeli border, and stood there looking down at a town . . . in which, it turned out, my sister's brother-in-law [and his wife] were living . . . standing next to two Palestinians, who were born in Palestine, and here I am, an American, a Jew, an American Jew, and I have a US passport in my pocket, and I have more legitimate rights to live in that country than these two Palestinians, for me there was something immoral about that. It was immoral then, and it's immoral now.
A moral wrong does not become a moral right, no matter how many years pass. What happened to the indigenous people of this country at the hands of white settlers was morally wrong. It was a crime then, and it's a crime today. Can't do anything about it, but it's still a crime.
And so my experience of four-and-a-half months in Lebanon and Jordan, and talking to Palestinians about what had happened to them, and seeing the Israeli planes flying over in the morning trying to find Palestinian fedayeen sleeping outside, so we had to sleep in caves to avoid them. We'd sleep outside and then when the sun came up we'd have to move into a cave, so the Israelis, when they flew over, they wouldn't see us. Otherwise, they would fire.
And you saw in Lebanon, civilian cars all over the place that had been blown apart from the air by the Israeli air force. So when we drove around southern Lebanon, we had to drive with our head outside the car, looking for Israeli planes. We were told that if we see a plane, we had to get out of the car right away because they would shoot people in cars. This was at a time when "nothing was happening." These were unreported stories in the media. So I decided that when I came back, I was going to work for justice in Palestine.
In '71, I came back, and I started speaking to former friends of my parents, people who were on the Left, and who said that I was "the man from Standard Oil." Palestinians!?! They thought I had joined the Nazis. This was a major contradiction, and remains a contradiction, within the American Left, which is very heavily Jewish and Jewish dominated. And this is one of the reasons that there is no movement here today, thirty-five years later, because most American Jews, even those on the Left who sympathize with the Palestinians,carry around so much baggage that they can't come out and say, "Israel is wrong, was wrong from the beginning, and the way to solve the problem now, since there is no military solution, is to sanction Israel.
One state or two states, for me is not the issue. That's for the Palestinians to decide. If I was a Palestinian, I wouldn't want to live next to an Israeli. Understandable. But I don't think that's the argument right now. I think the argument is for sanctions, which, for me, is a litmus test, and those people who oppose sanctions, oppose divestment, oppose boycotts, are essentially taking a position on the other side of the barricades with Israel, no matter what they say about a two state solution, justice for Palestine, or whatever.
Jeffrey Blankfort interview, Part 2
by SF-IMC Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006 at 8:38 PM
SF-IMC: So let's talk about Zionists in the progressive left . . .
Jeffrey Blankfort: They're almost synonymous.
SF-IMC: . . . what are we gonna do here? They have so much control over the Left. What are we gonna do?
Jeffrey Blankfort: My position is basically to criticize them constructively when I can. It's very difficult because people will bring up this thing of a circular firing squad . . . the Left gets in a circle and fires on each other. But, frankly, when I look on some of these people, I don't see them on my side. United For Peace and Justice is an example. Leslie Cagan, who runs it out of New York, one of the important persons, is a long time Zionist. She denies it now, but in 1982, there was a huge anti-nuclear march in New York, a demonstration, a rally, on June 12th it was, and there was one here, which I was one of the organizers of, and inconveniently, the week before, Israel had invaded Lebanon. So what was the response in New York for 800,000 people? They had a Lebanese person on the stage who was not allowed to speak.
Now out here there was a major struggle, and even the Palestinian support movement opposed a vigil that was called by a Lebanese woman in front of Dolores Church where people were going to gather the next day at Mission Dolores before the rally, but there was a vigil. People slept overnight on the traffic island on Dolores. So even the Palestinian support movement has been so dominated mentally by Zionists, that's what happened is you have Marxist groups (quote, unquote) like Line of March being involved with the Palestinians. Line of March's position was, "We can move the Democratic party to the left." That was the position of Irwin Silber, its chairman. Palestinian organizations seem to believe that they have to attach themselves to some American Left organization that essentially pimp them.
We see the International Socialist Organization, which was almost dead, begin to suddenly arise, and one of the first issues they started talking about was Palestine. But when the Afghan War started and we were going to have a big march, and a number of us wanted to bring up the issue of Israel and the Occupation, the ISO opposed that.
I wanted to debate one of the ISO leaders, who happens to channel Chomsky without even quoting him. (We can get into Chomsky later.) And he agreed to do it and discuss the Israel Lobby. I was going to give them all the money from the proceeds. And then he wrote back that, "I've been told that we don't really have time to have me debate you."
And then we have ANSWER, the Workers World Party. They also opposed . . . all the Left groups have opposed the Palestinian issue being made a major part of the anti-war movement until fairy recently.
Jeffrey Blankfort: For various reasons, some that are obvious but not valid. None of them are valid. One is labor. The American labor movement is part and parcel of the Israel Lobby. Seventeen hundred unions own over five billion dollars worth of Israel Bonds. That obliges them to support Israel to make sure the investment of their members' dues, made without their members' knowledge, is secure.
Twenty three states have also invested in Israel Bonds as well. This is taking taxpayers' money and investing in the economy of a country that is dependent economically and politically on the United States. This makes all these people lobbyists for Israel. Very clever on their part.
So the argument is that if we put a Palestinian issue in there, labor will not participate. Well, the truth of it is that the American labor movement is a joke. When I was in Europe, European workers would ask, "What is it with the American labor movement?"
And I tried to explain to them as best I could, the purging of the unions of Leftists after WWII, , the lack of working class consciousness, unless somebody's own job is threatened there is a lack of solidarity. But, in fact, when you had these major anti-war marches, major mobilizations, the labor participation is minimal. They were just happy to have the secretary of the Labor Council, Walter Johnson, speak instead of mobilizing a lot of workers. Or you'll have the Longshore Union's Drill Team but few longshoremen. It's a charade, but they want the endorsement of the labor unions, then the churches.
Now back in '82, when I was on the steering committee of this anti-nuke march, somebody who thought better of it later, who was not Jewish, said, "We ought to have a rabbi speak."
I objected to having a rabbi speak. There was no reason to have a rabbi speak, I said, but if a rabbi speaks, it's on one condition, that that rabbi should have taken a position of opposing Israeli Occupation of Palestinian territory. And there was a vote. And I won the vote eight to seven.
However, then the churches said the rabbis are being held to a litmus test that no one else is being held to. I asked, what other people that would speak that would represent a people that is occupying anyone else's country? Israel is a unique situation. Why have a rabbi speak who represents an oppressive country that is oppressing somebody else? And not only that, whose soldiers are throughout Latin America and Africa, helping oppress other people who have never oppressed them.
Well, when the churches said they would pull out, I finally backed off, but the only person who was willing to speak, that was a rabbi, was Michael Lerner. A fast learner, Michael Lerner.
So you see that pressure . . . and the steering committee, which was made up of a number of political activists, was threatened when Israel invaded Lebanon. They wanted to keep it off the agenda. But, in San Francisco, it was mentioned by quite a few speakers from the podium.
The other reason is money. Jews, historically, are known for their philanthropy.
SF-IMC: Philanthropy is good.
Jeffrey Blankfort: Some is good. A lot of it is good. Historically, they have funded the Left. This even before Israel. They were the major funders of the Civil Rights Movement. They were the funders of the anti-war movement during the Viet Nam War. If people were arrested, and they needed bail, progressive Jews provided the bail, and the lawyers were mostly Jewish.
So what happens is you have all these pressures, and there's no countervailing pressure from the Palestinian community or the Arab American community or the Muslim community. There is no similar history of political struggle in those communities here. Going back into the thirties, you have Jews active in the unions, active in every radical movement. That's the tradition I grew up in. It no longer exists. As a matter of fact, it's been erased from Jewish history. Young Jews growing up in America today have no idea of the Jewish radical past in this country. That was the Jewish radical past I connected with. Since it no longer exists, I have no connection to the Jewish community. It's as simple as that. There is no radical Jewish community. There are some radical Jews, individuals that are anti-Zionist, but the community as a grouping, there isn't any. And this is a critical situation.
And I don't know how to overcome it because there doesn't seem to be the kind of pressure to do so. People will make rationalizations, for example, for politicians who are good on every other issue but Israel/Palestine, who would not make the same rationalizations if they were good on every other issue but apartheid in South Africa.
Now you have Tom Ammiano, who several years ago went over to Israel as part of a delegation, a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender delegation, and declared his support for Israel, saying that the Queer struggle and the Israeli struggle are the same thing. And so I put this out on the internet. It was in the Jewish Bulletin. And I only got one response, from a Latino brother, who said that nobody was going to respond. He was right. It was ignored. I tried to question Ammiano about it at an event where he appeared. There's a mural in the Mission district, at 21st St., a Palestinian mural, which was disfigured, and they finally covered it up. They held a press conference, and Ammiano showed up. He was very nervous and mealy mouthed about the attacks on the mural. I had a microphone. I wanted to ask him about his statement in the Jewish Bulletin. And he may have been worried about it, concerned about it at the time. He wanted to talk to a cop who was there. He said, "I'm in a hurry. I can't talk now," and after speaking briefly with the cop, off he went.
Now, to me, if he had said, "Ah, South African apartheid, ah, I love it, this is like Queer struggle," it would have been unacceptable, but it's inherent racism on the part of the movement which stems from the fact, the fact. . . I can't say it's a fact, but my belief that most Jews are anti-Arab at some level or another and protective of Jews at the same time, that they have been saddled with the baggage of anti-Semitism. They believe that for two thousand years, Jews have suffered, a tale that has been vastly exaggerated. Before the Holocaust, on a world scale, it wouldn't even appear. The people of the Congo have suffered more than the Jews have suffered, including the Holocaust. They're still suffering. Nobody here speaks about the Congo.
I've met people who survived El Salvador and other places who don't demand the same kind of sympathy as the "Eternal Victim." But this thing of being the "Eternal Victim" is a belief that Jews are conditioned with from childhood in this country and in other parts of the Diaspora, and, of course, in Israel they are taught, that non-Jews are born "suckling," as former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said, "anti-Semitism with their mother's milk."
This is, of course, nonsense, but many Jews believe it. They live in a different world, in which they're so Jewish identified that they think people look at them as Jews. I remember an experience I had in the army. I went into a Western Airlines ticket office with a friend in my unit who lived in Beverly Hills, who came from a very wealthy Jewish family, and we bought our return tickets to Ft. Ord. And when we left the airline agency . . . it was a young blond woman who sold us our tickets .he turned to me and he said, "You know, she knew we were Jewish."
I said, "What!?!"
He said, "She knew we were Jewish. I know."
I said, "David, you're nuts!"
He said, "No, I know these things."
Well, I wasn't raised this way. But many Jews . . . I think most Jews . . . are raised this way. I was not bar mitzvahed, thank god!. (chuckles) Even the high school I went to, which was a largely Jewish high school, was very secular. The community was very secular. Unfortunately, it isn't any more.
So I can see where this Jewish problem is coming from in the Movement because, for example, if you try to raise the issue of the Lobby in the Movement, you are told you are provoking anti-Semitism, that it's not Marxist, it's not socialist, and that it's all US imperialism. So, poor old US imperialism, it's bad enough as it is, but there are some things that it's not responsible for. And the influence of the Israel Lobby, of the Jewish Lobby in the Middle East is manifest. It's also manifest in that there is no debate in Congress on military spending. There's no debate.
Now why is there no debate? Why do the Democrats not object to it? Because the Democrats are a subsidiary of the Israel Lobby. They get most of their money from it. As has been published in many newspapers and magazines, at least sixty percent of the major large funding of the Democratic Party comes from wealthy American Jews. And they don't do this as an altruistic gesture. Politicians are given money to do someone else's bidding. And so the Democratic Party does not fight arms spending. They're as much for it as are the Republicans. And this, I believe, and I make the argument, this is part of the influence of the Israel Lobby.
Now the Christian Zionists are an important part of the Lobby. But this was happening before there were Christians Zionists. There are certain people, who happen to be Jewish, on the Left, who love the presence of the Christian Zionists, because now they can talk about the Christian Zionists as being more important than the Jewish Zionists, which is nonsense because they're important in the states where there aren't many Jews, and they do contribute some money, but they're not lobbyists in the same sense.
SF-IMC: Let's talk about that for a minute. I watch Comcast cable TV. The people who run it must be devout Christians. There's a lot of Christian programming. There's a lot of overt Christian Zionism. They have Hagee, Robertson, Falwell, for example. They have this show where they raise money to move Russian Jews to Israel. There's another guy, his name slips my mind, lectures on the coming apocalypse and the Biblically foretold vital role that Israel plays in the preordained "end times." This is propaganda being broadcast to a major metropolitan area. These Christian Zionists, they scare me.
Jeffrey Blankfort: But they're not the owners of Comcast. Clear Channel, maybe, but not Comcast. Comcast, as far as I know, is Jewish owned.
Jeffrey Blankfort: Clear Channel is not.
SF-IMC: But they're on the cable there, selling Israel to the Bay Area . . .
Jeffrey Blankfort: The Israel Lobby was indomitable before the Christian Zionists were brought in. They were brought in, by the way, by Menachem Begin, who, when he got elected in '78, invited Jerry Falwell to Israel. This was also the time when they started talking about Israel as a strategic asset of the United States because before that, the US/Israel relationship was never questioned because the people who ran Israel, the Labor Party, were basically Democrats, and when Begin was elected, it created a real problem for American Jews because he had been identified as a fascist by people like Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, and so on. So they had to find a rationalization for continued support of Israel. And as General Matty Peled, an Israeli general who was a friend of mine, said, this is when they introduced the idea of Israel being an asset, because they had to find a justification for Israel still getting the support from the United States.
In the beginning, the major Jewish organizations were very uncomfortable with Christians like Falwell and the Moral Majority. As Israel and the Jewish community moved to the right, however, this displeasure changed to the point where a couple of years ago, on the first of May, or the first week of May, there was a prayer breakfast held at the Israeli embassy, hosted by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. And the very same week, Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition had one of his speeches published in an ad by the Anti-Defamation League, which had been one of the foremost critics of the Christian Zionists.
So what's happened is that as Israel becomes more right wing and fascistic, and Israel and its supporters seem to need support from wherever they can get it, they have now embraced the Christian Zionists, and encouraged them to come to Israel. Of course, Israel wants them to do that. They've given them a plot of land in Israel in order to build some kind of a center. So you have an incredible combination, working on a system that is the antithesis of democracy.
Thanks to the interpretation of a Supreme Court Decision of 1886, that gave corporations the same rights as an individual, and a later interpretation that said that donating money to politicians is a form of free speech, the American political system is obviously the most corrupt in the advanced world. What in other countries would be considered bribery is legal here. And so, the Zionist Lobby has made great use of this.
SF-IMC: Politics make strange bedfellows rich.
Jeffrey Blankfort: It isn't just the money, however. Money is very important, but it's the way they approach politicians. AIPAC, for example, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is the only foreign lobby that isn't required to register as a foreign agent. They hold regional meetings around the country, at which they invite supervisors, mayors, city council people, public officials from the area, to come to these luncheons and dinners, where the speaker will be a US Senator or some very important government official, who will come into town, unknown to the media, with no notice to the media. He or she will make no other speeches, give no press conferences, and will leave. It will be reported in the local Jewish paper, but it will not be reported in the state where the person lives, except perhaps in the Jewish press there. And there's no interest in the media in following up why, for example, Senator Christopher Dodd, when he comes to San Francisco, or Mario Cuomo when he speaks out in Danville, why does he not have a press conference and talk to the media here.
In any case, they go to this meeting, and they, these Congress people . . I'm speaking from knowledge here because I joined AIPAC and I went to one of these luncheons . . .
SF-IMC: (laughs) Good for you.
Jeffrey Blankfort: . . . and I saw what was going on there. And I said, my god, this is brilliant!! They have all the leading political figures from Northern California at the meeting, from whose ranks will come the next member of Congress, no doubt.
What happens after AIPAC leaves, then the Jewish Federation, or some local Jewish organization, maybe it's the Koret Foundation, will then send local supervisors, city council members, mayors, and so on, on all expense paid trips to Israel. They meet the Prime Minister, whoever it is, the Defense Minister, and so on, of both political parties, they take a trip to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum, to Massada, where Jews supposedly committed suicide in Roman times, to the West Bank, where they may meet a House Arab, and they come back here knowing that they have good friends, important friends, in the Jewish community.
These people who go into politics, all of them are ambitious. So they know that if they want to run for office, it's not just a matter of money. It's a matter of personal acquaintances. And there are certain instances where I believe people are promoted to run for office by the Lobby, and so in a sense they become the Lobby's employee from the get-go. Take Sen. Daniel Inouye, the one armed bandit from Hawaii. His first job was selling State of Israel Bonds. He doesn't list that in his official biography, but the Jewish press has written about that. And he has been one of the foremost supporters of Israel. Tom Daschle from North Dakota is another. They seem to have been promoted into running for office.
You also have something else called blackmail, which the Left never considers as a reason for somebody doing something. But the Anti-Defamation League is a major spying organization, the largest private spying organization in the country. They spied on me. In the Bay Area, in Northern California, they spied on twelve thousand individuals, about 600 hundred organizations. Every organization, progressive, ecological, NAACP, the Asian Law Caucus, Filipino groups, Irish Northern Aid, all of them, and Jewish groups as well, progressive Jewish groups. Why do they do this? Information is important. They don't get information just gratuitously and pay people to do that.
I was spied on, but nothing compared to a politician. So, for example, Congressman, Tom Harkin, of Iowa, who was on the Board of Directors of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, was visited one day by a member of the Anti-Defamation League and AIPAC, and sent his employees home, and the next day, Harkin, soon to run for senator, is all for Israel, totally for Israel. What did they do? Did they offer him money? I doubt it. They probably found something out about Congressman Harkin. They'd given Congressman Harkin reasons why he should be pro Israel and how they would make him a US Senator, perhaps, and afterward they gave him a lot of money through campaign contributions.
I know of another case of a progressive congressman who never would criticize Israel and who had something serious to hide, and if I knew that, so would the Israel Lobby. They have people working on this 24/7. There are many people who think that in Britain, Tony Blair is being blackmailed to support the United States. There is no good reason for the British to support the United States. Materially, they gain nothing. Their corporations have made nothing from the war. And given the British public school education, photographs could have been taken . . . there's a very good likelihood that Blair might be being blackmailed. People try to find all kind of reasons for people's actions and there may be no other political reasons than self survival.
These are all aspects, so AIPAC has this job, this role, of directing funds to various politicians who support them. Also, even if they don't give money, the threat of them giving money to an opponent is there. So in August, 1989, a pro Israel congressperson told Morton Kondracke of the New Republic that it's not out of affection for Israel that Israel gets three billion a year and that there's no debate on the floor of Congress. It's the fear that if you do so, you will wake up the next morning to find that your opponent has a half a million dollar war chest to use against you. That was '89. Today, the war chest would be larger. So there are these threats.
Also something that isn't generally known is the use of political consultants. There's an organization that's called Committee for an Effective Congress or something like that which is part of the lobby.
It was started by Eleanor Roosevelt and is is one of a number of consultant groups. What these consultant groups do is go to a young Congress person. They'll loan them money. They'll also provide them with a databank of their district, critical information on each voter. This is a very expensive proposition if you want to do it on your own. These groups tend to be Zionists. So you're running for office and they come to you, and they want to take care of you, and suddenly you're in their embrace.
Cynthia McKinney resisted AIPAC from the very beginning. One of the things they did with her, and with Earl Hilliard, who also criticized Israel, was to redraw their districts. When the Democratic Party, or the Republicans who have their own consulting groups, the members of Congress go to these groups because they have all the data. There was a congressman named Gus Savage in Illinois. Savage had a problem. He was a critic of Israel. He supported the Palestinians. And he gave a talk in which he listed and gave all the names of all the Jews outside the Chicago area who were giving money to his opponent's campaign. That, of course, was "anti-Semitic." And the Washington Jewish Week ran a headline entitled "Savaged Savage." Talk about racist, huh? And he was defeated. What they did was they redrew his district. And they did the same with Earl Hilliard and Cynthia McKinney to get certain voters who supported them out of their district. And, of course, they got no support from the Democratic party.
It's interesting because the Democratic Party, as I said, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Israel Lobby. And anyone who thinks that things can change by supporting an individual Democrat, other than McKinney, maybe, is crazy.
The head of the Democratic Party Senate campaign, the one who determines where the money is going to go, is Charles Schumer, an open, leading, Jewish Zionist from New York. For the House, it's Rahm Emmanuel, who, when he was working for Bill Clinton as a high level staff member, took time off during the first Intifada to do volunteer work in Israel for the Israeli Defense Force. His family is Israeli. He says he's not. In any case, here you have two Jewish Zionists, one running the Democrats' House campaigns and one running the Senate campaigns, determining who is going to get the money in the 2006 election. It's flagrant. And yet you can't discuss this on the Left, because they'll say that sounds like anti-Semitism, or say that, "it's not important that they're Jewish," like it's not important that the Pope's Catholic. This is what we're dealing with.
And out here in San Francisco, we have Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Whip, and Tom Lantos, one of the most important persons on the House International Relations Committee. He's the ranking Democrat, and also serves Israel as a diplomatic representative in countries where Israel has no diplomatic relations, according to the Jerusalem Post. We see major political events against the Iraq war, even for Palestine here, and yet do we hear criticism of Pelosi or Lantos?
Just before 9/11, Steve Zeltzer and I, the Labor Committee on the Middle East no longer existing, decided we would picket of Tom Lantos, who was being given the Jewish National Fund's Man of the Year award at the Fairmont Hotel, the Jewish National Fund being the organization that took over the Palestinian land and the villages in 1948. They plant trees on Palestinian land where the trees have been uprooted. They tear out Palestinian trees in order to plant Jewish trees.
So we decided to have a picket. It was right after the Durban conference on racism. At a meeting at the Arab Cultural Center, I asked one of the leaders of ANSWER, "Will you endorse this picket of Tom Lantos?"
And she looked at a fellow ANSWER official there, and, kind of hesitant, asked "What do you think?"
And he said, "I think we have to."
So we had the picket, and about 65 people turned up. One person turned up from ANSWER, and it was that person. He turned up at the end of the picket. You'll never hear criticism of local the Democratic Party from ANSWER and ANSWER has to answer for that.
There was a big turnout for Nancy Pelosi speaking at the Marina Middle School some months back. Global Exchange was there, as was the ISO, but not ANSWER. Nancy Pelosi is one of the most important politicians in the United States, and she's supportive of the war. She also has acknowledged that she knew about the government wiretapping. She knew about the phone lists being turned over. She's admitted that. Are we going to see a picket or protest against Nancy Pelsosi?
Even when Global Exchange had a picket of her at the Fairmont Hotel against the war in Iraq, I had to get a hold of a microphone to remind people that she's been supporting Israel against Palestine, and pledging her loyalty to Israel every year, and I passed out copies of a speech she had made at an AIPAC convention, in which she pledged her loyalty and America's loyalty to Israel a half a dozen times.
There should be some kind of law about that, when a Congress person pledges her allegiance to a foreign country, but when it comes to Israel there's what I call the "Israeli exception." But here we are, in what used to be a progressive community, and Tom Lantos gets no criticism whatsoever. The Labor Council supports him because he's good on labor issues, and he's good on some other human rights issues. He's also very good on pets and animal rights. He just put out some legislation on animal rights. But he is one of the main proponents of the war in Iraq and the war against the Palestinians.
He was heavily and directly involved in the phony incubator story back in 1991, in which his Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which is actually not a part of Congress . . . it's not an official part of Congress, it's housed in the headquarters of the Hill and Knowlton PR firm in Washington, brought in a Kuwaiti nurse who had witnessed Iraqi soldier coming in and taking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, throwing them on the floor and taking the incubators back to Iraq, where they didn't have any incubators, obviously, and it turned out the story was a total fabrication. The so-called nurse was the Kuwait ambassador's daughter and hadn't even been in Kuwait. John MacArthur wrote about it in Harper's and the New York Times. Bob Scheer wrote about it in the LA Times. There was no follow up on this, no demand from the Left to follow up on this.
If people in Lantos' own district and Pelosi's own district don't take these people on, how can we expect anybody around the country to do it? The Left is a total failure in San Francisco, an utter failure. It's a betrayal of the Iraqis. Forget the slogans. Forget "No Blood for Oil!" Forget "End the Occupation!" They have betrayed the Palestinians and the Iraqis because they haven't dealt with the political figures in this community who are responsible for the present situation.
Politics is local. And it may appear to give you some good credits or props to picket George Bush, but we have to deal with the issues here.
The failure to put any kind of pressure on Pelosi, over the years, even for her support of fast track on NAFTA is extraordinary.
She's good on the Gay issues, on AIDS, of course. In San Francisco she would be. This does not take courage. This is smart politics. She was good on opposing aid to the Contras, but I asked her, when she was running for office the first time, if she would support aid to the Contras if aid to Israel was tied to it, and she said she would. She'd support the appropriation. I made a flyer out of it.
So the reason that I have contempt for the movement here, and contempt may be too mild a word, is because it's playing games with decent people who want to do something, who look to the leadership of the movement for guidance, and what they get is smoke and mirrors, an illusion that something is being done. Now it's interesting that during the Viet Nam War, there were big marches, but between the marches there was a lot of activity going on. There was so much activity that we had to have meetings in the morning because there weren't enough nights to the week. And all we have here now is a march, and then at the march they announce when the next march is going to be, six months from now, and "we're all going to work for that march." If they got three or four hundred thousand people out, that's one thing, but they don't get that many people out. What happens is that people aren't working against the war. There should be sit-ins at recruiting stations. There should be a whole variety of political actions. This is not rocket science. It was done during the war in Viet Nam. What's the problem here?
The problem here is that, essentially, a group that was on the margins back then has emerged and has remained standing, when, thanks to the end of the Cold War, and changes in Russia and China, political groups that used to have members that were active, and related to both countries are no longer active. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the East Bloc was a major psychological blow in terms of an ideological blow. It had a worse effect on countries like Viet Nam, on South Africa, Now you have a situation in China with sweatshops and worse. It's a horrendous situation.
And for those people who were ideologically locked in, which I never was, it hasn't been easy because it's very difficult to rationalize, or try to explain some things that have no rational explanation. There's no defense for a sweatshop. There is no defense for the way China treats many of its workers. And there are many revolts going on there all the time. It's happening in Viet Nam as well.
Calling something "communist" is like calling something "democratic". Anything that calls itself "People's Democratic . . ." isn't. You know, just like they use "democracy," Bush uses "democracy" and it's all BS. But it presents problems, and people say, well, what can we do? And I don't have answers.
One of the problems is there there may not be answers. Human problems are not math problems. They don't all have solutions. They may change in form, but if you look at other periods in history, for example, before WWII when there was a big Left in Europe, a conscious Left, they couldn't stop WWII. They knew it was coming.
You have in Europe genuine Marxists. I mean, people who have actually studied Marxism. Yet you saw what happened in the East Bloc. People who went to prison under the Nazis, when they got power, they started abusing it. In Italy, the Communist Party, people who fought against the Nazis in the Resistance, they became the establishment Left. And their job was to suppress what they called the "ultra-left." Same thing happened in France. So the Communist Party followed the dialectic. They became reactionary organizations. In Latin America they've been considered reactionary organizations for years.
It's one of these situations where you join an organization or a party because you believe that's the way to change something, so you're willing to take risk. Then the party becomes successful and institutionalized, and then the party has to be defended from competing ideological organizations. That becomes the main goal.
We saw that during the 80s, when you would have the Communist Party calling a demonstration against the US in El Salvador, in Oakland, or San Francisco, and the Trotskysist Socialist Workers Party having one on the other side of the Bay on the very same day.
The Zionists don't have problems like this. They have their differences. They compete for money. They have different ideological viewpoints, like "kick out all the Palestinians" or "sit on them" are two viewpoints, a truncated Bantustan or kick them out to Jordan. But when it comes to uniting to defend Israel, they put all those differences aside. And that's the key to their success.
SF-IMC: This brings up an interesting point. Would you say that the key to the failure of the movement, especially in this part of the world, is the traditional in-fighting between the groups, or do you think it's because the grassroots looks to the leadership rather than generating change themselves . . . ourselves?
Jeffrey Blankfort: I think if you try to explain the failure, there is a desire to let others do the leading and thinking. So we have someone like Noam Chomsky. People think that when they read Noam Chomsky, they don't have to read any more.
SF-IMC: Well, that's a mistake.
Jeffrey Blankfort: That's a mistake.
F-IMC: Well, let's talk about that. Talk about what a mistake that is.
Jeffrey Blankfort: The mistake is that Noam Chomsky, as I described in an article, is a human tsunami. He has written so many books, and has made so many speeches, written so many articles that the works of legitimate scholars who contradict him, I mean, genuine scholars, which he is not, in my opinion, are overwhelmed by the tsunami.
He is the most widely quoted person in the universe that's still alive. He makes statements that he does not have to back up with fact. He makes statements in a way that it sounds like he's talking about the day of the week. And who's going to argue with that? If he says that it's Tuesday and it's Tuesday, you say, well, of course, it's Tuesday. But much of what he says cannot be backed up in fact, and the examples that he uses, some of them are so ancient that if he was submitting a paper to a professor, the paper would be returned for more up to date, more substantial references.
As a matter of fact, there was an article on Counterpunch by someone from Harvard, who complained that Chomsky's books were not being reviewed by serious, scholarly journals. And I wrote this guy back and said, Chomsky's very lucky because nobody who writes thirty books in thirty years would be considered a serious scholar. A serious book requires a lot of time and research, and Chomsky hasn't done that. And when I decided to do an article called "Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict," I didn't realize what a snake pit it is when you're trying to investigate what Chomsky has written because it's more self-referential than a good scholarly work should be. So what happens is that you're reading in a book of his, and you go back to a footnote, it will often refer to another book he's written.
So I now have a whole shelf of books by Chomsky, which essentially say the same thing: US imperialism bad, and it's all the fault of certain governmental elites.
Now one of the criticisms I made of him, and made also by Israel Shahak, the late Israeli Holocaust survivor, and extreme critic of Israel, Zionism, Judaism, and the PLO, is that Chomsky focuses too much on the Executive while negating the role that Congress plays, which is what we have to deal with on a local level. If it's only the executive elite, and these elites are doing something in Washington, we, in California, are outside of Washington and essentially helpless. I wrote back in '91, in an exchange I had with Chomsky in the old National Guardian, that Chomsky makes us spectators when history demands we be participants.
Now the other thing about Chomsky, and I love this what Shahak wrote, "Chomsky acts as if American foreign policy was put in a computer about 1944 and has been acting on a printout ever since." Shahak wrote that American policy may be evil, but it's far more complex than Chomsky treats it as such. This kind of simplistic thinking may be good for people looking for easy answers, wrote Shahak, but not for serious scholars.
The problem is one of American culture. Quite apart from the Left, we are not a society of serious scholars. We've a short story culture. We want to be entertained and really deep scholarship and research is antithetical to our general culture as Americans, apart from the Left. It's the way we developed. You can find a book by a European writer that may be a half inch thick, that will take you longer to read than a book by an American scholar that's two inches thick because it makes you think. And what you should be thinking about as you're reading should provoke you. You should be provoked to think new thoughts, to pause and think about what the writer is writing, and not accept what the writer is writing as gospel.
And what's happened with Chomsky is that he has become gospel. What happens if you criticize Chomsky, is that people's eyes glaze over. People have taken to channeling him. They quote him without even referring to him, they have so internalized his positions. And that you go on various web sites, Marxists web sites, Trotskyist web sites, their line on the Israel Lobby is Chomsky's line, that the Lobby is only powerful, only appears to be powerful when it's lined up with American foreign policy, or when there's some dispute among the elite. . Both before and after that exchange in the National Guardian, he subscribed to the Middle East Labor Bulletin, which I put out from 1988 to '95, in which almost every issue had several pages about what the Lobby was doing in Congress, all backed with footnotes. After the Guardian exchange, a mutual friend, Ron Bleier, who happened to be one of the thousand Jewish children that Roosevelt allowed to come into the United States from Europe at the beginning of WWII, and who happened to be a very strong anti-Zionist (chuckles), wrote to Chomsky to ask him if he would debate me at the Socialist Scholars Conference in 1991 on the issue of the Lobby. And Chomsky wrote back declining, saying "it wouldn't be useful." Then I went to Joel Beinin, a professor at Stanford, who was a friend and said, "Will you debate me on the Lobby? "And Beinin ), taking Chomsky's position, also mimicked him saying that "it wouldn't be useful."
A few years ago, I had an exchange with Phyllis Bennis, who, taking the Chomsky position, said that Congress was not Israeli occupied territory, and an anti-Zionist Israeli living in Iceland, of all places, wrote to me asking what I wanted of Bennis? I said I want her to debate me. So he wrote to her, and she made a long reply, but also refused. She wrote that she and I basically agreed on most things, but "it wouldn't be useful."
Wouldn't be useful to whom? I think we know.
After two years of trying, I did finally get a debate with Stephen Zunes on KPFA in May, 2005, during which he made some amazing statements. .This is the Stephen Zunes, whom Chomsky recognizes as a Middle East scholar. In the debate Zunes said, "I'll be a Zionist as long as there is anti-Semitism," that "Israel is an example of 'global affirmative action'," and he repeated this a year later on a panel in Marin County.
This is somebody who has just been invited to speak to a Muslim audience in Hayward, and was given two hours on the air on a Muslim radio station in South Africa. It's interesting that he, along with Chomsky, and other people on the Left, have been among those who have been first to criticize the paper of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on the influence of the Israel Lobby on US foreign policy.
Now that paper is quite interesting because even though there have been some books written about the Lobby, and other articles, Mearsheimer and Walt, who come from something called the "Realist School," examined the lobby on the basis of whether US support for Israel benefits America's national interest.
People on the Left argue about that, but there is a "national interest," which includes, for example, access to cheap oil to keep the economy going. I think most folks on the Left who drive a car appreciate cheap oil.
There are problems around it, but, essentially, if you define the national interest as continuance of the US capitalist system, most Americans would accept that, irrespective of the global and domestic consequences.
In any case, Mearsheimer and Walt said that the support of Israel is against US national interests, that the war in Iraq is against US national interests, something that I had actually maintained; in other words, in an article that I had written about support for Israel. Interestingly enough, you have the pit bulls of the Zionist Lobby, like Alan Dershowitz and others, the Neo-cons, attacking Mearsheimer and Walt, from the right,, calling them anti-Semitic, identifying them with David Duke and the Nazis, and then you have the pundits of Left, attacking them as well, and coming to the defense of the Lobby, including Joseph Massad, a Palestinian at Columbia, who was attacked by the Lobby. They tried to run him off the campus, and yet he was the first person to defend it against Mearsheimer and Walt's critique.
And I wrote an article, going paragraph by paragraph, criticizing Massad, and then when somebody in Michigan asked Massad, when he was visiting there, "Would you debate Jeffrey Blankfort (I didn't ask him to do that) .and Massad said no, and that I am anti-Semitic. Amazing, no?
But then you have Chomsky dismissing Mearsheimer and Walt and Bennis, as well, but Zunes has been particularly aggressive in attacking them. And you have to ask why? Here when you see why the Palestinian support movement here is an utter failure . It has allowed a Lobby that's powerful in San Francisco, is powerful in every major city, that intimidates politicians at every political level, and is allowed to do so, at least because nobody in the leadership role of the Left is talking about what it's doing.
Oh, they'll have a picket line around the Israeli consulate, which is a total waste of time, but here we have the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council which threatened a picket line at the Rainbow Grocery if they boycotted Israeli goods, and Michael Lerner, the rabbi, said he would be on that picket line. Here's a worker's co-op in which the majority of workers, or certainly a substantial number, are Latino, Third World, and they were wanting to vote for this boycott, but after their web site was totally inundated and blocked by emails from Zionist Jews from around the world, and when they were told that if they had this boycott, the Jewish Community Relations Council would mount a boycott of Rainbow and put up a picket line. And when Michael Lerner went and spoke to them, and said essentially the same thing, they were cowed, afraid, and so they defeated the boycott by a three to one vote, and didn't want to talk about it afterward.
Two Jewish women who were active in the boycott. one from South Africa and one from here, told me that the Zionists "terrorized" them. The Jewish Community Relations Council terrorized the Rainbow workers. And I'll tell you when I went there afterwards, after the vote, and tried to talk to some of the employees, they didn't want to talk about it. Now they knew that even though it's a worker's co-op, if the store's income went down, the last people to become part of the co-op would have to go. So here is Zionist racism manifested in San Francisco.
And one of the things that gives the Lobby power, gives AIPAC its power, is the grassroots level. The JCRC here and in other towns gets away with this, they pay no political price. As the Left ignores what they are doing completely, they continue to do it. They continue to do it.
How to stop it? How to change it? Firehoses to begin with. People need to challenge the so-called leadership of the Left. I don't know what would replace it. This is the problem. I don't see the material, what Zionists called "human material," when they are referring to Middle Eastern Jews . . . they think of them as so much horseflesh . . . that's the racism of Zionism towards dark skinned Arab Jews. But I'm looking here at trying to build a movement, and it's very, very difficult under the circumstances. The Zionists have so infected and infiltrated the political life of America at every level, that it may not be salvageable without some other ingredient, some other events taking place that have yet to have taken place.
SF-IMC: Like what? What is going to wake up the grassroots, progressive Left?
Jeffrey Blankfort: I don't know. The war in Iraq was clearly a war for Israel. The oil companies want stability. They're going to make money. They look at the long run. High prices, low prices, they're going to make money. They control the market. Saddam Hussein would play ball with them. Why the United States would not play ball with him is because the Neo-Cons, which is part of the Lobby, didn't want that. It's interesting. Without the Lobby, and without the orchestrated incubator story, we might not have had an intervention in Kuwait because at the time the Senate was split down the middle, and when the incubator story came out, even Amnesty International believed it. People said, oh these horrible Iraqis, and then there was no debate anymore.
So we had that first Gulf War, not initiated, but supported by the Lobby. It's interesting that a number of Jewish organizations did not support it. But the key Lobbyists did because they were over in Israel and the Israelis told them, support it. And so they supported it. But they were very upset because they expected a regime change and George Bush Sr. disappointed them.
George Bush Sr., unlike what Chomsky has written, and Chomsky is totally and completely wrong on this, was anti-Israel from the get-go. When the Israelis hit Iraq's Osirak reactor, Bush was Vice President. He wanted sanctions against them. He was voted down by Reagan and Secretary of State Haig. When Israel invaded Lebanon. Bush wanted sanctions against it, as well. This is according to Moshe Arens, the Israeli Foreign Minister, writing in a book about this. When Israel had its pilots sitting in the planes, waiting for the co-ordinates to go attack Iraq in '91, after some Scuds had landed in Israel, Bush wouldn't give them to them. They hate this guy.
And then when Shamir sent over as an emissary, to ask for ten billion dollars in loan guarantees, Bush said no He said, what we'll do, we'll wait 120 days, but first I want certain agreements. Stop settlement building and agree to settle no Russians in the settlements that are there, and wait 120 days and see what happens. And Shamir went to Congress, and Daniel Inouye, who I mentioned before, said to Moshe Arens, "Where's my yamulka? This is war." This is an American, US Senator from Hawaii, speaking.
When 240 senators and congressmen wrote a letter to Bush, telling him to pass the loan guarantees for Israel, at a time when America's economic situation was terrible, Bush realized that if he vetoed the legislation, he'd be overridden. So what did he do? When a thousand Jewish lobbyists were on Capitol Hill, Bush went on national television, and he said there are a thousand lobbyists up here "against little old me. But I have to do the right thing." And he says, US boys are over in Iraq protecting Israel and every Israeli man, woman and child gets so much money from the American taxpayer. No one's ever done that before. What were the polls the next day? Eighty-five percent of the people supported Bush. A month-and-a-half, two months later, only 44% of the American public supported aid to Israel, while 70% supported aid to the former Soviet Union, and 75% to Poland.
Now these figures are totally erased from Left history thanks to Mr. Chomsky, who does not refer to them in all of his writing. He did refer to that press conference, right afterward, and he said, "It took slightly more than a raised eyebrow for the Lobby to collapse." Now a presidential press conference attacking the Israel Lobby is a little bit more than a raised eyebrow.
In fact, the Lobby had to retreat, because they realized the American public was not going to go for it. Senator Barbara McCloskey, a good liberal Democrat, was speaking to a group of Jewish lobbyists, when she's handed a piece of paper, and according to the Washington Jewish Week, her face "went ashen."
She said, "I've just been informed that the President is taking the issue of the loan guarantees to the American people. The American people!?! The last people that the Lobby wants to have concerned with anything about Israel. If you want to put it on the basis of nationalism, we're talking about a nest of traitors. We're talking about a fifth column in the classic sense. You have Israel . . . it's Israel first. These people care nothing about the United States, or they do secondarily to Israel's interest or what they perceive as Israel's interests . . . there's a lot of Israelis who don't agree with that . . . but they are looking for a powerful Israel because its power gives them power as well.
Should there be a solution, any kind of agreement between Israel and Palestine, in which Israel could not be described as being threatened, the Democratic Party would disappear because they have so based their fundraising on money from wealthy Jews that it's like a Rube Goldberg designed contraption. Jews give them money because Israel is threatened, and they get power back from Israel's position, but if Israel is just another country in the Middle East, these Jews have no power. It's as simple as that. The Democratic Party would have no money.
F-IMC: In my opinion, the Democratic Party, the government of Israel, even the Palestinian leadership, none of these guys have anything to gain from peace and justice. They'd be out of work. If there is ever peace and justice in Palestine, these guys are going to have to get honest jobs. That's an awful impediment to peace and justice. How can we overcome an impediment like that?
Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, Palestinian leadership, quote/unquote . . . going back, Yasser Arafat was left alive because he was the only one who could deliver the people into the hands of Israel. Oslo was a betrayal of the highest order, and when Israel was negotiating with the Palestinians in Oslo, Arafat would not let any Palestinian lawyer go there because the Palestinians lawyers would have seen that this was a violation of international law, in which the leader of an occupied people is not allowed to give away territory to the occupying power, which is what happened in Oslo.
Also, technically, Israel, which is the occupying power, is responsible for the well being of the occupied population. What Oslo did, since it did not require Israel withdrawing from the occupied territory, would shift the responsibility, the economic responsibility, from Israel, onto Europe, the United Nations and so on, and this is what we have today. So this is aid to Israel in another form. If they are going to be there and be the occupier, they're supposed to pay.
So we have this phony "Palestine Authority," which is a joke. The whole thing was wrong. It's interesting. One of the people who negotiated for Israel was the former intelligence chief of Israel, named Shlomo Gazit A few months after Oslo he came to a synagogue in San Francisco, and I went to hear him speak. He's a very bright guy and he's speaking very calmly. During the question period, this crazy guy comes running down the aisle, screaming in a German accent . . . this was a German Jew . . . screaming, "Munich! Munich! It's another Munich!"
And Gazit said, "You know, my friend, I don't like to make this comparison, but if it's Munich, we're the Germans, and the Palestinians are the Czechs."
Now I had my little tape recorder. The Middle East Labor Bulletin was the only publication that published this, and this is Oslo.
Parenthetically, Hatem Bazian, is a Palestinian who is very outspoken on the Lobby, and really understands the situation pretty. Well, he and I were going to put on an event at La Peņa, and we went to KPFA to be on the Morning Show to promote the event where I was told, on arrival, not to mention the ADL spying case. By the way, I was not allowed to speak about that on KPFA, other than on Dennis Bernstein's Flashpoints program, because I would probably say something that would offend their Jewish donors. Zionism was not to be mentioned at KPFA, period. Couldn't talk about it.
In any case, when Hatem and I went in there, Kris Welch and Philip Maldari were the hosts and they attacked us for not praising Oslo, for not accepting Oslo. Oslo was a disaster because the Israelis continue to confiscate more ground under the illusion of peace, and Arafat collaborated with them.
As a matter of fact, Arafat undermined the Intifada. He was in Tunis, and the Palestinian movement in the Diaspora had, in fact, given up on the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. They looked down on them, and the Diaspora is unimportant. They were as stunned by the Intifada in 1988 as were the Israelis, and the communiques that came out of Gaza, and I have them, were headed by the phrase: "No voice above the voice of the uprising.&quo