What Paul Findley Means
Paul Findley's book, They Dare to Speak Out, was a major influence in my life.
The book tells the story of Findley's struggle as an American. He served in the US Congress for 22 years, always representing the best interests of his Springfield, Illinois based congressional district with distinction and honor.
But it was his strong feelings of fairness, and his refusal to bow to the pressure of the terrible Israeli lobby in Washington, that made him a target of haters in this country and cost him his re-election bid. In fact, his efforts were always dedicated to the peace process, and brining peace to the war-ravaged Middle East.
It was his meeting in 1978 with PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat that began the campaign that saw his eventual ouster from congress by an opponent, Dick Durbin, who used his ties to fanatic members of the country's pro-Israeli lobby and their unending "dirty money" funds, to win. Durbin later became Illinois' US Senator, waffling between often hypocritical roles in his defense of Israel.
Ironically, some may attribute to Findley much of what has been accomplished over the years in bringing Palestinians and Israelis to the peace table.
Arafat had given Findley one of the first publicly written statements in which Arafat agreed to renounce violence, and to dedicate himself to the much smaller goal of creating an Independent Palestinian State in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem, all lands illegally occupied by Israel when Israel attacked Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June, 1967. Arafat also offered to give de facto recognition to Israel, a major concession for any Palestinian to offer to a state that had refused to even recognize the rights of the Palestinians.
Findley's book inspired at a time when I was moving from journalism to political activism, after leaving the Chicago Sun-Times as a reporter in 1992. I had ended an 18 year career as a political journalist with several major awards, to launch my public relations company, Urban Strategies Group. I also spent much time dedicating myself to the needs of Chicago's unfairly treated Arab American community.
His book, They Dare to Speak Out, published in 1985 (Lawrence Hill & Company, Westport, Connecticut) inspired me to pursue fairness for Arab American causes.
It would have been so easy to ignore my community and instead focus on my career as a political consultant. But I couldn't do that, especially not after having read the horrible experiences that Findley, an American, was forced to endure as detailed in his book.
Working for the Arab American community has cost me many jobs. Many politicians refuse to hire a Palestinian Arab consultant to manage their campaigns, fearful of the many hazards outlined and detailed in Findley's book involving retribution from the Israeli lobby.
But I feel better. And I oftentimes reread Findley's book, when there are moments when I need encouragement.
Three of his books:
They Dare to Speak Out
: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby
A. Lincoln, the Crucible