Contact Us



     No topic could be more urgent and worthy of your close attention than the Israel/Palestinian conflict. It is a dreadful foreign struggle with frightening implications for much of humankind. It is also a domestic issue of colossal impact that has already shaken this giant oak called America to its very roots, and the worst may be yet to come.

   It threatens the future well-being of all U.S. citizens, especially college students who one day will be called into military service.

    I choose my words carefully. I am a Republican, but I am gravely alarmed at the direction George W. Bush has taken us.

   We have lost our bearings. In our panic, we overlook the relationship of 9/11 to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

   Congress overreacts, yielding absolute authority to make war to one man, the President. Still worse, the President announces frightening new doctrines: He asserts his right to order acts of war against any nation he alone deems necessary, and he proclaims America policeman of the world.

   The United Nations and other international institutions must follow the U.S. lead or become irrelevant. In a loosely-defined and poorly-designed war on terrorism, the President decides what foreign regimes must go.

   His orders brought down two regimes-the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq-- amid thunderous bombardment that left thousands of people dead, some of them Americans, along with many thousands of local civilians killed or maimed for life. Lives were plighted, homes destroyed, infrastructure wrecked, and local inhabitants outraged against America.

   At home, the overreaction to 9/11 brings misery, embarrassment, fear and even unwarranted imprisonment upon many law abiding citizens. Hundreds, even thousands of people, are rounded up arbitrarily for questioning by the FBI on flimsy charges or no charges at all.

   Many are jailed for weeks, months, even longer-all because of their religion, color of their skin or country of origin. At a convention on the East coast, I met a Canadian who was detained for questioning at the U.S. border. He and his young son were kept in the broiling sun for more than two hours for only one reason. The border guard found on the man's passport that his first name was Mohammed. That was enough to order him out of line for a long wait before eventually being waved through.

   Indignities, inconveniences like that are repeated hundreds of times all over America.
    Think of the indelible impression these experiences make on people, young and old, who once believed that America was unmatched as a land of liberty and personal freedom.

   At presidential request, Congress approves unprecedented levels of wiretapping. Consequently, Big Brother is prying into private lives without court order, impinging on constitutionally guaranteed liberties as never before. An enormous computer data base is being established at the Pentagon in Washington, where intimate information about any and all of us may be entered.

   The intrusions continue, and our attorney-general, not satisfied with the extreme powers he has already received from Congress, seeks even greater authority.
The main brunt is felt by people called Muslims, followers of the Islamic faith. Before World War II, they were almost non-existent in America. Today, they number seven million and are the second largest and fastest-growing religious community in America.

   I was 51 years old and a Member of Congress for 11 years before I knowingly met a Muslim. I nurtured false images of Islam from early years in Presbyterian Sunday School and did not dismiss them until middle age. From my personal experience, I am not surprised that false images of Islam flourish everywhere in America. They are strangers in our midst.

   Most Americans are suspicious of Muslims, linking them falsely with violence, wickedness, abuse of women, and un-American activity.

   Mrs. Findley and I reside in Jacksonville, Illinois, a college town of about 30,000 population, home to only three very quiet Muslim families. I estimate that 90 percent of my neighbors even today have never met a person they knew to be Muslim. They are nervous, to say the least, about the growing role of Muslims in American life.

   Many headlines and news broadcasts link the words Islam and Muslim with acts of terrible violence, but few Muslims deserve to be called terrorists. Some professed Muslims, like the perpetrators of 9/11, of course are terrible human beings. They sin grievously against Islamic teachings by killing innocent people and committing suicide. Christianity has its own killers. The Rev. Jim Jones comes to mind.

   Some governments call themselves Islamic states even though, as monarchies or military dictatorships, they violate principles of governance set forth clearly in the Quran.

   Muslims actually already make great contributions to the betterment of America. One recently received the Nobel Prize in physics. Muslims are leaders in every worthy profession.

   Beginning in the 1970s, Mrs. Findley and I have become personally acquainted with many Muslims in a number of countries. We would gladly welcome any of them as next door neighbors, but the false images are widely prevalent and growing in magnitude and severity as our military involvement in Muslim countries deepens.

   Long ago I became convinced that the false images are an albatross burdening the well-being of every American. I wanted to spread the truth about Islam.

   Three years before 9/11, I began to write a book about U.S. Muslims. It appeared on the market two months before 9/11. In appendix A is a brief text, called a "Friendly Note from Your Muslim Neighbor." It tells in clear, concise sentences that the Islamic faith is actually closely interrelated with Judaism and Christianity. Fundamental doctrines have marked similarities. All adherents to the monotheistic faiths are spiritual descendants of Abraham.

   I mention this appendix, because I have enough copies of the Friendly Note to distribute to all of you. All Muslims of my acquaintance, as well as Christians and Jews, accept this little document as a fair and accurate presentation of the truth about Islam. Please pick up a copy as you leave the auditorium.

   Whether you are a Jew, Christian, Muslim or an adherent of another faith, it is in your interest to help spread the truth about Islam. The ugly stereotypes about Islam are deep seated and getting deeper. They are like a contagious disease, spreading discord and hate throughout our nation.

   According to a recent poll, 25 percent of the American people believe Muslims are anti-American-a seven percent increase over the previous year. Forty-four percent believe Muslims encourage violence-nearly double the percentage of a year ago.
No matter what your religious affiliation, each of you can help correct these corrosive false images. By doing so, you will help create a happier, more cooperative America.

   You will also be helping to bring closer the day when a just peace will come to the Holy Land, as well as to America. The false images constitute a major barrier to the reform of U.S. Middle East policies. As long as the stereotypes prevail widely, supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon will argue persuasively that Israel, surrounded by Muslim "terrorists," has no choice but to deal roughly with them.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is inextricably linked to 9/11 and to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

   The trouble began thirty-five years ago, when the Washington lobby for the state of Israel began to control all legislation and public policy related to the Middle East.
Shortly after World War II, a small band of U.S. partisans for Israel marshaled self-discipline and commitment so effectively that they succeeded in ending free and open debate on Capitol Hill and throughout most of America whenever Middle East issues are considered. They had no thought, I am sure, of setting in motion a sequence of events that would be calamitous in the Middle East and later in America. Their goal was to assure the unconditional support of Israel by the U.S. government. The horrible consequences that lay ahead were unintended and unexpected.

   In seeking gains for Israel they rigorously stifle dissent and intimidate the entire Congress. They defeat legislators who criticize Israel. I know. I was there for 22 years.

   They have forced severe anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias into U.S. Middle East policy for the past thirty-five years, bias that grows worse year after year.
The most harmful part of this process was the disappearance of unfettered discussion of the U.S. relationship to the Palestine-Israeli conflict.
As a result, the anti-Palestinian bias has been getting worse. This bias yields enormous flows of aid in various forms to the state of Israel, and little or none to the hapless Palestinians.

   It enables Israeli leaders to impose discrimination and severe hardship on Palestinians, most of them Muslims. The outside world, including over a billion Muslims, watches with dismay and anger as the U.S. government supports the subjugation of innocent human beings year after year.

   In recent years, this bias has led to the humiliation and devastation of an entire people, radicalizing behavior on both sides of the conflict. but its gross imbalance in power causes the Palestinians to accept by far the greater suffering.

   During the past l8 months, while giving lip service to Palestinian statehood, the U.S. government has helped Israel visit new devastation, curfews, and bloodshed on Palestinians. Israeli forces confine them within 20-foot high wire cages, separating them from each other and from sources of income-- consigning children to malnourishment and denying them childhood itself. The U.S. government has been complicit in all of this, a responsibility that is well and painfully known to all the world except the American people.

   For all its platitudes about freedom, democracy and human rights, the U.S. government, year after year, has supported the imposition of cruel, unspeakable suffering on a proud and once dignified and self-reliant people. We help consign Palestinians to bleak days and give them no hope to expect better ones tomorrow.
We spend billions in an inconclusive struggle in Afghanistan, and now one of even greater expanse, duration and complexity in Iraq. We spend a billion dollars a day for military purposes-in addition to the awesome outlays in Iraq and Afghanistan.

   In our panic, we believe we can curb violence and protest with the sword. We ignore the grievances against America's ugly partnership with Israel, grievances that are voiced angrily by over a billion Muslims and millions of other people here in America and throughout the world. We pursue an Israel-centric foreign policy, as Condeleeza Rice, the Presiident's national security adviser, once described it. We must disenthrall ourselves, liberate ourselves from Israel.

   I long for the day when the U.S. government will be led by a President who will have the decency and wisdom to suspend all aid until Israel withdraws from the Palestinian land it seized in the 1967 war. When that happens, suicide bombings will cease, and Israelis and Palestinians will rejoice, inspired for the first time in a generation by the clear prospect of a just peace.

   Let us dream of the day when human rights will prevail over the sword, when the American people can abide by the wisdom expressed by Abraham Lincoln when he urged that respect for law become the political religion of the land, and when he said, on another occasion: "Our defense is the preservation of the spirit that prizes liberty as the heritage of all people in all lands everywhere," warning, "Destroy that spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at our door."

   Let us all obey the order God gave Moses: "Seek justice, only justice."

Remarks of PAUL FINDLEY at the conference on Israeli/Palestinian issues at St. Louis Community College, Meramec, on Tuesday, October 28, 2003. He is a former Member of Congress, 1961-83, lecturer on the Middle East conflict, and author of the bestseller, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby. He resides in Jacksonville, Illinois. Phone 217 243-8444. E-mail: pfindley@myhtn.net


| Top | Home | Al Habtoor Group | Metropolitan Hotels | Al Habtoor Automobiles |
Diamond Leasing | Emirates International School |