Findley, champion of justice and Palestinian rights, dies
A powerful champion of Palestinian rights, Paul Findley, was laid to rest on August 9, 2019 in his hometown of Jacksonville, Illinois where he launched his successful 11-term, 22 year congressional career in the U.S. Congress, until he was toppled by pro-Israel funded challenger Dick Durbin in 1982.
By Ray Hanania
Paul Findley was a champion of justice, civil rights and especially a strong voice for Palestinian rights. The 11-term former congressman who represented the downstate Illinois 20th District for 22 years died on August 9, 2019. He was 98 years old. Findley was buried in his Jacksonville community.
Findley was a Representative from Illinois born in Jacksonville, in Morgan County, Ill., on June 23, 1921. He attended the public schools of Jacksonville, Ill. and received his B.A., from Illinois College at Jacksonville, in 1943.
Unlike many of his peers in Congress and politics, Findley was an active duty military veteran who served in the United States Navy in the Pacific as a lieutenant (jg.) from 1943 to 1946. He was president of the Pike Press, Inc., Pittsfield, Ill. and he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for State senator in 1952; member, United States delegation, North Atlantic Assembly, 1965-1970.
Findley was elected as a Republican to the Eighty-seventh and to the ten succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1961-January 3, 1983); was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1982; appointed to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, 1983-1994; died on August 9, 2019, in Jacksonville, Ill.
Findley was a champion of Palestinian rights, an issue that made him a national target of the pro-Israel movement. Israeli PACs poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into candidates to try to defeat him, but was unsuccessful until they found Richard Durbin, who took political criticism to the extreme accusing Findley of being anti-Semitic because of his support for Palestinian rights. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, defeated Findley, a Republican, in the November 1982 General Election. Durbin was sworn into office in January 1983 and his first act was to denounce the Palestinians and the peace efforts that Findley championed. Durbin was later elected with pro-Israel PAC backing and funds as the U.S. Senator from Illinois in November 1996.
Tragically, many Muslim Americans and Arab Americans have closed their eyes to the role Durbin played in destroying one of the loudest, strongest and most courageous pro-Palestinian voices in the U.S. Congress blindly embracing Durbin for their own selfish reasons.
Findley was the author of a powerful book appropriately titled “They Dare to Speak Out” which documents the often racist and biased coverage by the mainstream American media that silenced critics of Israel and whitewashed the atrocities and war crimes committed by Israel’s government and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces).
“They Dare to Speak Out” is the first book to speak out against the pervasive influence of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on American politics, policy, and institutions resonates today as never before. With careful documentation and specific case histories, former congressman Paul Findley demonstrates how the Israel lobby helps to shape important aspects of U.S. foreign policy and influences congressional, senatorial, and even presidential elections.
Described in the book are the undue influence AIPAC exerts in the Senate and the House and the pressure AIPAC brings to bear on university professors and journalists who seem too sympathetic to Arab and Islamic states and too critical of Israel and its policies. Along with many longtime outspoken critics, new voices speaking out include former President Jimmy Carter, U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney, Senator Robert Byrd, prominent Arab-American Dr. Ziad Asali, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and journalist Charles Reese. In addition, the lack of open debate among politicians with regard to the U.S. policy in the Middle East is lamented, and AIPAC is blamed in part for this censorship. Connections are drawn between America’s unconditional support of Israel and the raging anti-American passions around the world—and ultimately the tragic events of 9/11.
Findley laid the foundation for many champions of justice, the Rule of Law and civil rights, and advocates for Palestinian rights who followed in the U.S. Congress including Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.
Findley was an activist and a friend. It took real courage to stand up for Palestinian rights in the 1970s and early 1980s, a time when Palestinians and Arabs were the targets of FBI harassment, and demonization by the pro-Israel mainstream American news media. It was amazing that FIndley managed to remain in office for 22 years in the face of the anti-Arab campaign by AIPAC, the biased racist American maimnstream news media, and by pro-Israel candidates and politicians like Dick Durbin, who has since “moderated” his views in inactive support of the “Two-State Solution” recognizing Palestinian rights and statehood.
Findley’s legacy as a powerful voice against the violence by Israel’s increasingly rightwing governments against civilians deserves far more than it has received.
One of the few organizations to remember Findley is the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) which issued this important statement on Wednesday, August 14, 2019.