Originally published at If Americans Knew Blog.
The Republican Congressman from Illinois worked for human rights for Palestinians for almost half a century, penning the first exposé on the Israel lobby… (A documentary about his life is at the bottom of this post)
By Alison Weir
Former Congressman Paul Findley, a longtime advocate for Palestinian human rights, has passed away at the age of 98. Findley was a forefather of the movement for justice in Palestine, speaking and writing on the issue for almost half a century.
Findley was a Republican Congressman from Illinois when he began speaking out about Palestine in the 1970s. Before long, the Israel lobby targeted him, and after serving 22 years in Congress, he was pushed out in 1982.
Findley then wrote a groundbreaking book: They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby. He described in riveting detail how Israel partisans had similarly worked to push out other Americans who had spoken out about Palestine, from positions in Congress, the media, academia, and elsewhere. (A PDF is available here.)
He once wrote: “I marvel—and recoil—at the grip the government of Israel, a small nation of about five million people, maintains over America, a nation of nearly 300 million. After many years in politics, I am convinced that this is America’s greatest burden today.”
In the introduction to They Dare to Speak Out, Findley wrote:
“Much of the information provided here is volunteered by career government officials who want the public to be aware of how the lobby functions but insist that their own names be withheld. These requirements tell a lot about the sensitivity of the subject matter.”
Findley revealed that It had been extremely difficult to get the book published:
“Declining to represent me, New York literary agent Alexander Wylie forecast with prophetic vision that no major U.S. publisher would accept my book. He wrote, ‘It’s a sad state of affairs.’ Bruce Lee of William Morrow and Company called my manuscript ‘outstanding,’ but his company concluded that publishing it ‘would cause trouble in the house and outside’ and decided against ‘taking the heat.’ Robert Loomis of Random House called it an ‘important book’ but reported that the firm’s leadership decided the theme was ‘too sensitive.’ Twenty other publishers also said no.”
Eventually, a small company published the book, and for a brief time it was a Washington Post bestseller. Soon, however, the explosive book was largely buried. Today, even many Palestine activists haven’t heard of Paul Findley or his book – a testament to the degree to which information about the Israel lobby continues to be obscured from Americans’ knowledge.
Findley went on to write several more books, including Deliberate Deceptions: Facing the Facts About the U.S.–Israeli Relationship, and Silent No More: Confronting America’s False Images of Islam. Many of his reports and analyses were published in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
Findley also cofounded the Council for the National Interest, a nonprofit organization in Washington DC that works to counter the Israel lobby and advocate for rational, moral U.S. Mideast policies. He was a founding board member of If Americans Knew, which works to inform Americans on the American connection to Israel-Palestine. He also served on the National Council of Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU), which has published a magazine on the issue since 1967.
Findley was also a strong advocate for the crew and family members of the USS Liberty, which had been lethally attacked by Israeli forces. He wrote a detailed report on the incident in which he stated:
“Israel’s war crimes against the USS Liberty and its crew on June 8, 1967—midway in the Six-Day War Israel launched against its Arab neighbors—provoked a startling, profound U.S. response, a cover-up that signaled the beginning of America’s 38 years of Israel-centric foreign policies. It marked a costly, radical turn for the worse that sent America’s prestige and credibility plunging and imposed on the American people ever-growing new burdens—even war—with no end in sight.”
Principled and courageous
Findley was known as a profoundly principled, committed, brave warrior against racism and injustice.
A Midwestern Presbyterian who grew up in Depression-era America and served in World War II, Findley was soft spoken, passionate about the need for justice, and quietly intelligent. His personal warmth and self-deprecating humor may have misled the Israel partisans who tried to bully him, only to have him produce a devastating exposé of their tactics.
Findley spoke out for Palestinians when most people were silent.
Today some young Congress members are courageously daring to speak out again – and coming under the same vicious assaults.
Findley’s revelatory book helped to wake up many people about Palestine and the power of the Israel lobby, and his long fight for human rights inspired people around the world.
For an update, and other remembrances, click the following link,