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The fear factor that silences

by Paul Findley

Candidates for public office, high and low, are bewitched—frightened is the more accurate word—by an unwarranted but costly fear of the U.S. lobby that functions on behalf of the State of Israel. 

Comb through the millions of words expressed by the “final three” in the presidential sweepstakes—Barak Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain--and you will not find a word, not even a syllable, of criticism of the longstanding U.S. policy bias that heavily favors Israel, a policy that imposes a staggering burden on U.S. society and infuriates Muslims worldwide, including eight million who are U.S. citizens. 

A search of the millions of words of analysis of talking heads and other commentators who make a living examining day-by-day the impact of presidential candidate behavior discloses the same empty-headed silence.  They don’t even mention candidate silence on this topic that should be a fundamental and continuing focus of discussion.

A search of major media--print, radio and television—has virtually the same result: silence.  The Internet is one of the few places where one can find thoughtful and candid examinations of Israel’s dominance of U.S. society. 

This silence is a phenomenon unknown elsewhere in the world.  Discussion of the U.S. bias and its terrible consequences are common in periodicals in Britain, France, Germany, all Arab countries, and most other nations, even in Israel, whose Hebrew newspapers and journals regularly discuss candidly and deeply the bad behavior of Israel’s government. 

Because of this silence, the American people are denied the benefit of civilized discussion of the grievances that are believed to be the main factor leading to the dreadful assault on 9/11, the tunnel vision that prompted President Bush to order war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the drumbeat for war against Iran.   

The silence obscures U.S. complicity in the awful, worsening Palestinian plight.  The news coverage that reaches the U.S. public tends to demonize Muslim insurgents who protest, sometimes with terrible violence, against U.S. attempts at military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and similar protests by Muslim and Christian Palestinians against Israel’s U.S.-supported suppression of what is left of Palestine.  

U.S. citizens seldom see reminders that Israel, with U.S. encouragement, came into being in 1948 by the sword and has expanded its domain and carried out its destruction and humiliation of Palestinian society the same way ever since.  The bias in media coverage leads uninformed people to view Israelis, not Palestinians, as the victims.

A few salient facts: 

>  According to the Christian Science Monitor, grants to Israel have cost U.S. taxpayers over $1.2 trillion since 1975.  That sum includes, as it should, the cost of servicing the annual outlays as new debt. 

 >  In 1982, Israel, using U.S.-donated arms, killed over 17,000 people in the environs of Beirut, Lebanon.   In addition to the death toll, according to data compiled by journalist Alison Weir surgeons amputated over 1,000 limbs in the aftermath of just one day’s assault.  Two years ago, Israeli forces killed over1,000 people in another invasion of Lebanon.  Most of the dead in both invasions were civilians. 

>  Israel now keeps 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the desolate Gaza Strip, because, in a well-monitored election, they voted into power Hamas, an organization hostile to Israel’s conquests.  Another two million are cordoned off like cattle behind 20-foot walls and fences in the West Bank.

>  In recent years, Israelis have destroyed over 10,000 Palestinians homes in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in occupied Palestine.

The invasions of Lebanon, the mistreatment of Palestinians, and the destruction of homes are crimes under international law.  None of this would have happened if any U.S. president in the last thirty years had the courage to refuse to finance Israel’s conquests.  If the U.S. government had suspended financial, military, and political support Israel could not have carried out these monstrous crimes.

None of the three candidates seriously contending for the presidency says a word about suspending aid until Israel stops its criminal acts. Not even the slightest hint.  Indeed, each mentions Israel only with peons of praise and pledges of unqualified support.  Why?  Fear. 

Is our country fated to have another president take office next January who is afraid to challenge the lobby for a small scofflaw country the size of New Jersey? 

Paul Findley was a congressman from 1961 to 1983, representing the state of Illinois and serving as a senior member of the House Middle East Committee. He is the author of Silent No More: Confronting America's False Images of Islam, and Abraham Lincoln: The Crucible of Congress, and the bestselling They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby.