Four Freedom Riders, then and now

The upcoming Freedom Rides has tethered itself very tenuously to an event in the past, and has thereby taken a stand in a historical legacy that leaves itself highly open to interpretation. Says Palestinian youth activist and organizer Fadi Quran, “this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides in the US. Apart from disrupting the segregation and challenging the oppression imposed on us by Israel, we chose this form of direct action to highlight the similarities between the Palestinian struggle and the civil rights movement to an American audience.”

freedomridersbusWhat strand of resistance ties the Freedom Rides of then to the Freedom Rides of now? The Freedom Rides through 1960s segregated America were staged by citizens of a country in protest of its apartheid policies, while the Palestinian Freedom Rides will assert the rights of a sovereign people under foreign military occupation. Nonetheless, apartheid is apartheid, no matter where it rears its ugly head. To examine the link between the two movements, and shed light on the bridge of historical development that separates them, we may ask- what are the 1960s Freedom Riders’ views on the Palestinian struggle?

John Lewis, the son of Alabama tenant farmers, joined the Freedom Rides when he was 19- “he rode to Birmingham with the Nashville cohort, endured the angry mob in Montgomery, was arrested in Jackson and served jail time at Mississippi’s Parchman State Prison Farm”. He is now serving his 12th term representing Georgia as a Democrat in the House of Representatives. On January 20, 2002, in the midst of the Second Intifada and two months before Operation Defensive Shield (and, coincidentally, on the 20th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s democratic election to the Presidency of the Palestinian National Council), the San Fransisco Chronicle published an op-ed piece by Lewis called ‘‘“I have a dream” for peace in the Middle East- Martin Luther King Jr.’s special bond with Israel’, in which Lewis emphasized Dr. King’s fervent belief that, as ‘one of the great outposts of democracy in the world…peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality’. Lewis continued-

[King] consistently reiterated his stand on the Israel-Arab conflict, stating “Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is uncontestable.” It was no accident that King emphasized “security” in his statements on the Middle East…During the recent U.N. Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa, we were all shocked by the attacks on Jews, Israel and Zionism. The United States of America stood up against these vicious attacks.

Attempts were made at this September 2001 conference to draft legislation accusing Israel of racist policies towards the Palestinian people, and after four days of negotiations the United States, Israel and Canada withdrew. In this op-ed, Lewis clearly intends to drive home the message, as he states in the opening paragraph, that King, who “sought ways to achieve liberation and peace…thus understood that a special relationship exists between African Americans and American Jews. This message was true in his time and is true today.”

Thus, in a manner similar to Israel’s ‘pinkwashing’ campaign, Lewis attempts to use his and Dr. King’s civil rights credentials to block criticism of Israel’s right to military “security” as a persecuted state, and to suggest, paradoxically, that anyone who dares accuse Israel of racism is butting up against Dr. King himself (the assertion of Kings Zionism, by the way, is questionable). Lewis equates the African-American struggle against persecution not with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, but with the history of Jewish oppression that Israel carves into the wrathful sword of its state.

Henry Schwarzschild, who fled from Berlin to the U.S. in 1939 at the age of 14 and was executive of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in the 1950s, was arrested as a Freedom Rider in Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. Once he was released, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote on his imprisonment forms, “Your courageous willingness to go to jail for freedom has brought us closer to our nation’s bright tomorrow.”

Schwarzschild’s own “bright tomorrow” would see him write a series of articles for the journal Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility. Over the years he grew progressively more critical of  the lamentable situation wherein, as he said in 1972, “Israel and American Jewry believe that the proper response to Arab claims against the State of Israel is to defeat the Arabs and reject their claims, to maintain protectorates in Gaza, Sinai, and the West Bank, to persist in the annexation of Arab Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, to manufacture legitimacy for the expropriation of Arab property, [and] to continue a military government over Arab settlements in Israel”.

In 1975 he wrote a piece called ‘Racismthe Unavoidable National Sin, reacting to the very 1975 U.N. Zionism-equals-racism resolution that was allegedly a precursor to the 2001 U.N. conference Rep. Lewis found so appalling. Drawing on his experiences fighting racism during Freedom Rides in America, Schwarzschild insists that “the ethnic nation-state is by its nature exclusionary vis-a-vis other ethnicities…The insistence by ethnic nations upon being in the majority in their state, upon creating the state in whatever image they choose, and upon letting ethnic-national values predominate in it, is the functional equivalent of racism…The Jewish state, conceived as the solution to the Jewish problem, has become the Jewish problem. That melancholy irony proclaims the absolute end of Zionism.”

Seven years later, in response to the 1982 Israeli siege of Beruit, Schwarzschild published an open letter announcing his resignation from Sh’ma, and stating that “I now renounce the State of Israel, disavow any political connection or emotional obligation to it, and declare myself its enemy.  I retain, of course, the same deep concern for its inhabitants, Jewish, Arab, and other, that I hold for all humankind.” He continued:

the War on Lebanon has now made clear to me that the resumption of political power by the Jewish people after two thousand years of diaspora has been a tragedy of historical dimensions…I now conclude and avow that the price of a Jewish state is, to me, Jewishly unacceptable and that the existence of this (or any similar) Jewish ethnic religious nation state is a Jewish, i.e. a human and moral, disaster and violates every remaining value for which Judaism and Jews might exist in history.  The lethal military triumphalism and corrosive racism that inheres in the State and in its supporters (both there and here) are profoundly abhorrent to me.  So is the message that now goes forth to the nations of the world that the Jewish people claim the right to impose a holocaust on others in order to preserve its State.

Twenty-nine years later, fifty years after Schwarzschild’s Freedom Ride, his daughter Hannah, a Philadelphia attorney and Palestine Solidarity activist, publicly connected  her father’s legacy to her own support for the 2011 Freedom Flotilla II mission and America’s ship, the Audacity of Hope. Calling the flotillas ‘a modern-day Freedom Ride’, she, like many others at the time, drew an explicit link between the two human rights missions, drawing attention to “the audacious hopes of thousands who have committed their money and time to this nonviolent mission of resistance to enduring racism and injustice…they will be armed only with a legacy of the courage of their activist forebears, the moral outrage of a growing worldwide movement for freedom and justice in Palestine, and the steadfast hopes of an illegally occupied people”.

Rabbi Israel “Si” Dresner was another white, Jewish American who joined the Freedom Rides in solidarity with the struggle against oppression. The self-proclaimed ‘most arrested rabbi’, he was first arrested as a teenager in 1947 for protesting, with other members of the Zionist youth group Habonim (supposedly modeled after the Boy Scouts), outside of a British-owned business in Brooklyn, in response to the British government’s refusal to allow Jewish refugees to immigrate to Palestine. He was arrested in the 1970s for marching on behalf of the refuseniks, and has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians since the early 1980s.

“As long as they remain nonviolent”, he says about the new Palestinian Freedom Rides, “I’m all in favor of this, and of all demonstrations of any sort against the occupation…there are major differences [between the two Freedom Rides] of course…[but] the Israeli occupation has been not only a bad thing for the Palestinians, it’s been a bad thing for Israel. Just as slavery and segregation were bad for not only Africans, they were bad for Americans, they were bad for the south!…the occupation has led to a buildup of hatred in Israel, the kind of hatred we call racist hatred- all Arabs are bad, all Palestinians are terrorists…so the occupation has been a disaster for Israelis and for Palestinians…I’ve always been in favor of justice and peace for everybody, for the Jews and for everybody else.”

Nonetheless, following a typical path of ‘soft’ liberal criticism of Israel,  he prays merely for the reform of what he believes to be an essentially and originally morally just state. “I love Israel,” he reassured the Jewish Week in  an article published in  May 2011 (a mere two days after Hannah Schwarzschild connected the Freedom Rides and the Freedom Flotillas). “I’ve been there 36 times. I was married there. Israel means a great deal to me, and I just feel that their policies are self-destructive.” Dresner, who today sits on the Executive Board of Meretz USA, told Rabbis for  Human Rights  in  2010 that “we should know better than to have Jews persecuting someone else. I’ve been a dues paying, card carrying Zionist for 68 years, and Zionism today has been corrupted and corroded. It’s not the Zionism that I knew when I first became a Zionist….we have to correct it, we have to reform it to change the policies of the annexationist polices of annexing land, annexing people, annexing houses, etc, etc,etc…”

If we can trace a spectrum ranging from John Lewis’s pro-Israel advocacy, past Israel Dresner’s left-wing Zionism and arriving at Henry Schwarzschild’s whole-hearted opposition to Israel as a Jewish state, we would have to place Stokely Carmichael, another Freedom Rider, beyond even Schwarzschild in his through-and-through condemnation of the Zionist project. Carmichael’s well-known drift from SNCC non-violence to Black Panther militancy represents a clear departure from the peaceful civil disobedience of his Freedom Rides days, as does his later separatist belief, which distanced him from even the Panthers, that white activists needed to organize their own movements before joining the black liberation struggle.

“Zionism is the baby child and interest protector of imperialism in the Middle East,”  he said in  the 1980s. “The Palestinian state belongs to the Palestinian people, this is a fact…Zionism took Palestine through raw and naked terrorism…Zionism is racism according to the United Nations, so at this point I won’t even hide behind the united Nations, I know it’s racism!…in no way can I be anti-Judaic, but I am anti-Zionist and will remain so until it is destroyed, because it is an unjust, illegal, immoral and racist system…the state of Palestine must be a secular state”.

The legacy of the Freedom Rides has been used by African-American Riders both to protect American-Israeli imperialism and to call for its utter destruction. Correspondingly, white-Jewish Riders have both asked Israel to be nicer and gentler, and have turned away from it entirely. This makes the stated legacy of Palestine’s Freedom Rides all the more complex, challenging and compelling. Much has changed between then and now, and the four young civil rights activists, once united in a single cause, have in time scattered across the diffuse spectrum of the Left. Despite contextual differences between the two movements, however, and despite the shifting political ideologies of the human actors who have been pulled in different directions by the turbulent tides of history, the struggle, then and now, remains the same.

Ben Lorber is an activist with the International Solidarity Movement in Nablus. He is also a journalist with the Alternative Information Center in Bethlehem. He blogs at freepaly.wordpress.com.

About Ben Lorber

Ben Lorber is an activist with the International Solidarity Movement in Nablus. He is also a journalist with the Alternative Information Center in Bethlehem. He blogs at freepaly.wordpress.com.
Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine, Occupation, US Politics

{ 53 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Potsherd2 says:

    Amira Hass had an article today in Haaretz link to haaretz.com titled “no one cares.”

    The civil rights movement in the US was based on the assumption, which turned out to be correct, that people would care about injustice, about humanity. The assumption doesn’t apply in Israel, and it doesn’t apply in the US. It doesn’t apply to Palestinians. No one cares about them. The Zionist propaganda machine has so poisoned the field of public discourse that the concept of Palestinian justice is automatically rejected.

    For the most part, the news of Palestinian freedom riders is suppressed, so that no one who might be supposed to care will ever hear about it. But even if they do, they will not care.

    In Brooklyn, there were great marches protesting against the recent antisemitic incident where cars were burned and swastikas sprayed on Jewish property. Who among these people have any idea that settler price tag actions do the same to Palestinians in the West Bank on a daily basis, except that the swastikas have six points?

    Or, if they do, do they cheer on the settlers and hope one day to be among them, doing the same thing?

    • seafoid says:

      link to electronicintifada.net

      “It was very interesting to notice the attitude of the Israelis towards us. They couldn’t comprehend why were doing this. What we were doing challenges their mindset and that is why it is such an effective tactic. They treat the Palestinians as if they are subhuman. They don’t think Palestinians deserve to live in a normal society, to be able to import and export and fish and farm. It’s great to be able to meet that mindset head on.”

    • “…the news of Palestinian freedom riders is suppressed…”

      No, there is a lot of reporting about the Palestinian point of view in the media. The difference between the 1960′s civil rights activists and Palestinian activists (including the non-Palestinian and Jewish activists) is VIOLENCE.

      The Palestinians and their supporters have frequently used violent means whereas the civil rights fighters rode on a Freedom bus and marched in the streets (without throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks or setting tires on fire and rolling them toward the police as happens every week in the “non-violent” Bi’ilin demonstrations).

      No, the attack in Brooklyn is an unwarranted vandalizing of property. There was no act by Jews in Brooklyn which provoked it. While I don’t agree with the “price tag” reaction, you must admit that, by definition, it follows an attack by Palestinians.

      Any flotilla which has the aim of defying the laws of a country is going to be stopped. There are a couple of unsubstantiated stories of Israeli brutality. But no one on this flotilla was armed so the IDF didn’t have to meet force with force.

      If the concept Palestinians have of opposing Israelis is a violent one they are not like the innocent peace-loving civil rights activists who ended segregation in the American South.

      • Potsherd2 says:

        ruthie -

        The violence is at the hands of the Israelis. Your comment only serves to prove my point: the only news related to Palestinians that isn’t suppressed are the lies about Palestinian violence. The news of nonviolent resistance is so thoroughly suppressed that dupes like you either haven’t heard about it or think you can successfully ignore it.

        And when you say While I don’t agree with the “price tag” reaction, you must admit that, by definition, it follows an attack by Palestinians it only proves how ignorant or mendacious you are. The price tag violence on the part of the settlers is NOT retaliation for nonexistent Palestinian violence, it’s retaliation for moves by the Israeli police to impose the rule of law on the settlements, evicting illegal squatters and tearing down illegal buildings.

        The truth is suppressed, and fools repeat the lies.

  2. MHughes976 says:

    The West’s ability ‘not to care’ about Palestinians – to consider them as in some strange way unreal – has many roots, some of which were producing sprouts and twigs in the days of the Freedom Rides. Not so much a kind of uncaring, perhaps, as a kind of unseeing. Or of always seeing something else as more important. Or of always thinking that there’s nothing constructive we can do or say.
    It took even Stokely Carmichael, I think, some years to evolve from full sympathy with Zionism to strong opposition and even then – at first – not because he saw that the Palestinians, real people, were being treated as nothing at all, but because Israel-South Africa cooperation gradually became apparent to him.
    Carmichael’s influence on King was growing in the late 60s though it seems that they never discussed or even considered the idea that the Palestine problem should be brought to the forefront of their very American movement. Yet King was one of the very few westerners who had visited Palestine in the days of Jordanian rule. He must have sensed how important the problem was but must also have thought that he could not make any constructive contribution to solving it. This opened the way to hoaxers and to pseudo-King pro-Zionist documents in later years.

    • I have to disagree with you about the West not caring about Palestinians. America gives $600 million dollars a year to the Palestinian Authority (and $225 million through the UN) plus donations by charities and individuals. The Palestinian Authority then gives more than half of their budget to Hamas in Gaza.

      The caring is only one way, though. The USA rates low in approval in polls of Palestinians and they burn our flag in the street and step on it. Still, Americans want to help the poor Palestinian people who are so often in the media. It has only been with time that we have seen the money has been funded to support terrorism while medical care goes unpaid. Hamas built a huge staging to honor the returned Israeli prisoners from materials which somehow came into the area while they are still complaining ordinary people lack homes (blamed on Israel not allowing building materials into the area, which is actually no longer true).

      Egypt caught on quicker and I think they do treat the Palestinians as “nothing at all” as MHughes976 puts it or as a hated minority. When Israel has opened the borders to Palestinians, the Egyptians have more frequently closed their own. Jordan, also, shows contempt for their Palestinian population, who make up the majority of it, by withdrawing rights they had formerly granted to them.

      • Potsherd2 says:

        ruthie –

        The money given to the PA does NOT go to the Palestinian people. It goes to the collaborationist “security” forces that suppress the Palestinian people so Israel doesn’t have to bother.

        You don’t have the slightest conception of the reality of the situation.

        • I will look that up.

          What about the money which goes to Hamas? They aren’t working with the US or Israel to suppress their people; yet they are oppressing them and rank with the worst abusers in the world.

          Isn’t Israel one of the worst? No, Gaza and the West Bank are not free in Freedom House’s newest report, Israel gets a much better score. If an agency (UN’s Human Rights Council, for example) doesn’t think things are bad in Korea and the Sudan, I don’t trust their opinion on Israel.

          Thanks for your reply. I look forward to discussing the Middle East again.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          There are very stringent strictures in place to keep any US money from going directly to Hamas.

          There can be no doubt that Hamas rule of Gaza can not be considered liberal, but it is also far from being one of the most oppressive regimes. Another aspect of the Lie is the demonization of Hamas, to paint it in far darker colors than reality. And Hamas, one must remember, is given very few options by the axis of repression.

          There can be no doubt that if the US and Israel had accepted the results of the legitimate Palestinian elections instead of turning Hamas, the situation would now be a great deal different – almost certainly for the better. The US taught Hamas that democracy can not be trusted.

        • MHughes976 says:

          It’s hard to measure caring scientifically – I think that the West would be prepared (is signalling that it would be prepared) to subsidise a Palestinian mini-state to some extent, with some effect on the welfare of the population as well as on ‘security’. But giving money isn’t necessarily a sign of caring, sometimes only of a wish or hope to shut people up. When two groups are in conflict a small donation to one is not very caring if accompanied by huge donations to the other. Especially if these donations are used to keep the other group oppressed and without dignity and if this humiliating situation is reinforced among the donors by a substantial flow of hostile propaganda, while the more powerful group is constantly assured of its high status. And especially if the basic belief of the more powerful group, that they alone have a true right to be in the place which in practice they share, is treated with the respect that it does not deserve. According to this belief one side is a heavy weight on the scales of justice, the other nothing whatever in comparison. Which isn’t a caring way to look at anyone, even if you throw a bag of coins at them.

        • thetumta says:

          “yet they are oppressing them and rank with the worst abusers in the world. ” Funny how those silly Gazans overwhelmingly elected Hamas in the last free and fair elections. Then they fought off Eliott Abrams’s and Dahalan”s collaborators to maintain Hamas’s rule. All while just next door to the “the worst abusers in the world” Is ruthyof….. the latest IDF Hasbarist Corporal or ……..?
          Hej!

        • Potsherd2 says:

          The true purpose of the US contributions to the PA is shown by the fact that Obama and the Zionist minions in Congress (with the permission of Israel) agreed to continue the payments, as “essential to security.”

          Whose security? Certainly not the security of the Palestinian people, or protecting them from Israeli aggression!

        • annie says:

          yet they are oppressing them and rank with the worst abusers in the world.

          by whom are they ranked? and why do you think if palestinians thought they were being so abused by them, why do you think they won the elections both in the west bank and gaza?

        • Annie, I used freedomhouse.org which ranks every country in the world.

          Those elections in Gaza took place a while ago. I was happy Fatah lost the election; until Hamas staged a coup and murdered their rivals.

          I was wrong to hope Hamas was trustworthy and would try to build a safe place for Palestinians to live.

          They are now enslaved by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, et al. Annie, why did Hamas set fire to a UNWRA summer camp for kids? It wasn’t to help Israel!

        • annie says:

          freedom house? this freedom house?
          link to sourcewatch.org

          Freedom House, Inc. is a non-profit organization that relies upon tax-deductible grants and donations under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code.[1] Corporate researcher Holly Sklar (1989) described it as a “conservative research, publishing, networking, and selective human rights organization.” Freedom House’s work is linked to the “democracy promotion” efforts of the National Endowment for Democracy.

          it lists Peter Ackerman as Chairman of the board..that can’t be right:

          link to sourcewatch.org

          In recent years there has been a long-running debate between critical scholars and affiliates of Ackerman’s International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, with the critics suggesting that the ICNC and their founder and primary funder, Peter Ackerman, are acting in the service of imperialism. For full details of this debate, see link to michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com

          whoops!

          so lets trip on over to the National Endowment for Democracy shall we?

          link to sourcewatch.org

          The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a Washington D.C-based non-profit funded by the U.S. national budget, boasts that it is “supporting freedom around the world.”

          Carl Gershman has been President since April 1984. Alan Weinstein, one of the founders of the NED, explained in 1991:

          A lot of what we [NED] do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA[1]

          NED’s website describes its mission as being “guided by the belief that freedom is a universal human aspiration that can be realized through the development of democratic institutions, procedures, and values.” NED, which is publicly funded, “makes hundreds of grants each year to support pro-democracy groups in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.” [2]

          According to the New York Times: “The National Endowment for Democracy is a quasi-governmental foundation created by the Reagan Administration in 1983 to channel millions of Federal dollars into anti-Communist ‘private diplomacy.’” [3]

          fun. not. what are you doing sourcing from these kinds of places ruthie. are you sure your name isn’t ruthless? here’s more on NED link to iefd.org

          The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID):

          Funded and sponsored Venezuelan NGOs that participated in the 2002 attempted Coup d’état against Venezuela’s democratically elected President Hugo Chavez;

          In 2004, funded the defeated recall referendum against President Chavez and directly contributed to the destabilizing political opposition in Venezuela;

          Funded, convened, and founded the organizations behind the coup against the democratically-elected government of Aristide in Haiti;

          Funded political parties, acted to buy elections and financed the over-throw of democratically-elected governments in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bulgaria, and numerous other countries around the world;

          In 2004, the NED doubled its operating budget to finance projects aimed at maintaining the occupation of Iraq.

          “I was happy Fatah lost the election; until Hamas staged a coup and murdered their rivals. “

          oh i just bet you were ruthie. happy as a clam. that’s kinda funny about hamas staging a coup after winning an election. why don’t you explain for us how that works.

        • annie says:

          well chaos, that was a no brainer. i was so looking forward to lil ruthlessie’s response before i dropped the link

          ;)

        • Potsherd2 says:

          More propaganda, ruthie. The coup was staged by Fatah, with the collaboration of Israel and the US, but it was put down in Gaza by the legitimate, Hamas-led government. In the West Bank, the coup was more successful. The democratically-elected representatives of the Palestinians are imprisoned.

      • dahoit says:

        Ruthie of America?Please.
        And now that Hamas has gotten the only concessions from the Israelis in 20?,40? years by having a thousand Palestinians released from their gulag,you think they will get less support?Hah.
        Our Palestinian puppets just had their clocks cleaned by USA and Israeli pressure on the Western imperialists to deny them rights that every sovereign people should have , and will send the puppets further into histories garbage can.
        Talk about the arrogance of idiots who shoot themselves in their own feet regularly.(And who created or enabled Hamas in the first place?Ho Ho.)

      • Shingo says:

        The caring is only one way, though.

        Bribery is not caring. The US gioves aid to Egypt and Jordan too. it’s not to help the poor, it’s to control the leadership. When the US congress threatend to cut off funding to the PA, Netenyahu was the first to object. Netenyahu doesn’t care about Palestinians, he just wants to maintain the leadership, which he knows he can control.

        The USA rates low in approval in polls of Palestinians and they burn our flag in the street and step on it.

        Obama’s approval ratings in Israel sank to single digits afte his Cairo Speech too. Imagine what the Israeli’s woudl be doing with flags is the US was sending F16′s to the Palestinians, which they in turn we using against Israel?

        It has only been with time that we have seen the money has been funded to support terrorism while medical care goes unpaid.

        I din’t know that medical care in Israee was going unpaid.

        Hamas built a huge staging to honor the returned Israeli prisoners from materials which somehow came into the area while they are still complaining ordinary people lack homes

        Staging area? Did they use cement – whch is stil not being allowed into Gaza?

        When Israel has opened the borders to Palestinians, the Egyptians have more frequently closed their own.

        That’s becasue the Egyptians do as they are told by Tel Aviv – that’s what they get for the bribery money sent to Cairo.

        Jordan, also, shows contempt for their Palestinian population

        You mean, Jordan’s dictator – who also receives aid from Washington.

        Are you beginngi tio see the pattern Ruthi?

  3. annie says:

    ben, have you followed the trajectory of the anti zionism equals anti semitism propaganda campaign. i recommend you read the link.

    fyi, the allegation martin made that statement, the whole wedding of martin w/zionism movement started around the turn of the century. when it flew onto the scene it first appeared in an alleged article that was in a cia affiliated magazine alleged to have been written years before. this was a way of predating not only martin’s words (which he never said and of course he was already dead at that time) but of also predating the alleged article (which no one has ever actually seen a copy of , because the article was never published in that magazine owned by some neocons).

    iow, there was an onslaught of ‘support’ for the idea martin was a big zionist (not just israel) supporter and part of that campaign (read the link above) was recruiting dupes (probably eager to fill their campaign coffers) to substantiate these kinds of allegations. so it is no coincidence in 2002 when this ‘new anti semitism’ campaign was in full bloom mr lewis recalls something martin said weeks before his death decades before? had mr lewis made these allegations a decade or two before i might take it more seriously, or if it was in his archives but the only place i can find these words beside lewis article are on sites like jihad watch.

    On March 25, 1968, less than two weeks before his tragic death, he spoke out with clarity and directness stating, “peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

    read: The Use and Abuse of Martin Luther King Jr. by Israel’s Apologists

    Back to the main point: if the forged quotes reflecting Dr. King’s views on Israel were accurate, citing him would still be classic Argumentum Ad Verecundiam. Where is the proof that Dr. King studied the region or its modern history? The dearth of then-publicized comments and writings on the region by Dr. King shows that it was probably not a subject he was well-versed on, nor did it appear to be a priority of his throughout his career.

    Even the statements Congressman Lewis attributes to him are low in substance and high on flourishing rhetoric. For example, Dr. King stated that Israel is a “marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.” Referring to it as “marvelous” and an “oasis” sounds rather uninformed given the realities of military occupation and the forced exile the Palestinians have witnessed since Israel’s foundation. They surely do not sound like the words of someone familiar with both sides of the story.

    More significantly, as Tim Wise pointed out, Dr. King’s supposed statements on Zionism came before the more than three decades of crippling Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the 1987 intifada that grabbed the world’s attention. The Palestinian narrative was sparsely conveyed in the United States up to that point. There were few Arabs or Palestinians in the U.S. and fewer Arab academics, policymakers, and activists working with Dr. King. Wise also suggests that application of Dr. King’s principles logically give way to more sympathy to the Palestinian side given the systematic inequality it faces.

    martin is arguably the most loved and respected american to ever live. everything anyone ever said he said should be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb. it may very well be martin supported zionism, but as far as attributing these statements to him, if it is not in his official archives, forget about it. the chance the lobby did not approach congressman lewis to write this article, and he just happened to write it when their was a camera campaign to wed martin and israel? zero nada forgetaboutit! imho.

    • DBG says:

      why are you so threatened by the idea that MLK had Zionist leanings? Trying to re-write history might put your mind at ease annie, but it doesn’t really help the Palestinians at all. When real heroes of OUR civil rights movement see you trying to use MLK as a propaganda piece, they will be sickened. It is the same w/ these freedom rides you guys are using part of American history as methods of propaganda. This will backfire (if anyone actually hears about it outside of the fringe anti-Israel movement)

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        I can’t speak for annie, but the reason I am outraged at the thought of the Zionists using Dr. King’s memory is because the Israel, even more so since his death has turned into the epitome of everything he fought against — an evil, malevolent, racist force. And while it may have been possible, in the ignorant, limited-media days of the 50′s and 60′s not to see the rotten, evil force that Zionism has birthed in Palestine, no one has any such excuse today. The Zionists of today are shitting on King’s sacrifice by trying to parasitize his goodness to their evil cause.

        If the American Jewish establishment wants to destroy any progressive credentials it may have gained in the civil rights struggles, in order to support the ethno-religious apartheid state, that is their business. The people dragging MLK through the mud are like vultures feeding on his carcass for their own gain. Actually, they’re worse, because vultures at least have a constructive role to play in the world.

        I mean, for pete’s sakes, when he was murdered, he was in Memphis supporting people fighting for nothing but a fair shake and some workplace safety concerns. Do you really think he would be okay with Israelis thugs pulling people off of buses based solely on their ethnicity?? Please.

      • Cliff says:

        Um, no one is threatened.

        There is no evidence, and we are discussing the facts here. That is all. It’s only desperate Zionists on MW scrambling to point-score.

        OUR civil rights movement? Who is this ‘OUR’ belong to?

        I’m an American, born and raised. Noam Chomsky was also part of the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement during the Vietnam era. Do you see him equating antisemitism with anti-Zionism?

        It’s disgusting that out of the countless articles about Israeli criminality in the territories, you only choose to comment on threads like this one. You pay lip service to the 2SS among other things but you’re really just a racist nitwit nationalist like the settler freaks.

        Get it through your skull, yonira: MLK never equated antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The quote is a fabrication, and you won’t find it supported by the King family or by King himself of course.

        Meanwhile, Coretta Scott King supported Mubarek Awad when your racist, apartheid State (since you don’t give a shit about OUR country, being the Israel-firster that you are) DEPORTED HIM for advocating non-violent protest.

        Are you going to comment on that?

      • dahoit says:

        MLK,as a human,was also susceptible to propaganda as we all are,and nobody is perfect.(If his support for Zionism was true)
        And of course Zionism in Israel is their business,but here in America it should have no business,as its tenets are Unconstitutional.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “And of course Zionism in Israel is their business”

          No, it’s everyone’s business. It is a vile injustice against humanity and the Palestinian people that should have the whole world up in arms.

      • annie says:

        why are you so threatened by the idea that MLK had Zionist leanings?

        threat? what threat? speak to me in truth and then i will decide if there is a threat or not. someone alleging martin said something decades after his death is not compelling evidence for me. especially after the campaign to wed martin and zionism together had already begun.

        Trying to re-write history might put your mind at ease annie, but it doesn’t really help the Palestinians at all.

        who is rewriting history? martin died in 1968. 34 years later lewis puts quotes around his word? helloooo. sorry, but i cannot accurately quote anyone from memory 34 years ago. just show me the link at the king center and then i will not only eat my words i will apologize. but when i place those ‘quoted words’ in a search engine all i get are pamela gellers site etc. this is not me rewriting history, it’s me not letting the lobby highjack martin.

        if someone does not stop this nonsense within 50 years martin will be as well known for his impact on the civil rights movement as he will for supporting zionism. i will not let that happen.

        When real heroes of OUR civil rights movement see you trying to use MLK as a propaganda piece, they will be sickened.

        not once have i ever put words in martins mouth. it is people like me who defend his legacy. as i said before: everything anyone ever said he said should be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb.

        he is one of the most archived men in american history. so show me the links to the king center. otherwise it is all speculation. that would be others speculations. i do not speculate martin as he spoke for himself. who tried to use martin as a propaganda piece? camera. and they were busted big time. get a load off.

        • annie says:

          ps, does anyone have a verified source confirming martin ever even uttered the word zionist or zionism? because if they do it will be a first for me.

        • Cliff says:

          Exactly, when did MLK take the time to pay lip service to the ZioCult? He had more important things to do. He wasn’t some bought-and-paid-for politician.

  4. Donald says:

    “Back to the main point: if the forged quotes reflecting Dr. King’s views on Israel were accurate, citing him would still be classic Argumentum Ad Verecundiam. Where is the proof that Dr. King studied the region or its modern history? The dearth of then-publicized comments and writings on the region by Dr. King shows that it was probably not a subject he was well-versed on, nor did it appear to be a priority of his throughout his career.”

    That is the main point. Supposing one could find proof that Dr. King was an enthusiastic Zionist, what it would almost certainly demonstrate is that he had only been given a very slanted overview of the subject. It’s impossible to believe that he wouldn’t see the analogies between Israeli treatment of Palestinians and, say, the US treatment of the Cherokees if he knew about the Nakba, for instance.

    • john h says:

      Thanks annie and Donald, I agree. Pretty much as I stated in my posts on the other thread yesterday.

      Having done that research, and reading this article now, I am in absolutely no doubt as to where MLK would stand today in regard to Zionism and Israel.

      The clincher, if one was needed, was Henry Schwarzschild, the Jew who fled Hitler to become a key Freedom Rider with King. He is a fine example of the likely change and clarity MLK himself would have come to had he lived, on the nature of the Zionist regime and its ideology.

      Schwarzschild’s desription of this was “a tragedy of historical proportions” and “a human and moral disaster”. He therefore concluded that “The Jewish state, conceived as the solution to the Jewish problem, has become the Jewish problem. That melancholy irony proclaims the absolute end of Zionism.”

      Yesterday I collected the 24 most relevant MLK quotes I could find. From them it is abundantly clear where he stood on life, on the place of the state, and what must be fought against and why and how.

      Christian Zionism was never, and could never be, countenanced by him. It is diametrically opposed to his liberal theology.

  5. King’s principles are what the Palestinian freedom riders need to incorporate.

    To the extent that they get diverted to polemic, rather than patient utterly non-violent sitins, they will harm their movement.

    The character of the freedom riders is what changed hearts and minds.

    Dissent even for a good cause is often dismissed.

    The purpose of non-violent civil disobedience is that it is indismissable.

    • Mooser says:

      Richard, don’t you think it would be so much better if the Palestinians just turned their affairs over to you? After all, you know what’s best, and your disinterestedness, complete absence of prejudice, and passion for justice is palpable.

      • DBG says:

        Richard, don’t you think it would be so much better if the Palestinians just turned their affairs over to you?

        They’d probably have a state of their own if they did.

        • Woody Tanaka says:
          Richard, don’t you think it would be so much better if the Palestinians just turned their affairs over to you?

          They’d probably have a state of their own if they did.

          Yeah, Richard, time for you to take up the white man’s burden and bring civilization to those heathen barbarians who can’t manage their own affairs.

        • Mooser says:

          “They would probably have a state of their own…”

          Oh yes, I’m sure their lives would be just as sucessful as Richard’s.

    • john h says:

      “The character of the freedom riders is what changed hearts and minds.”

      Yes, but the character of those who changed was not the same as the Zionists who need to change even more. The times were different, the people were different, the situation was different.

      “Dissent even for a good cause is often dismissed.”

      Particularly by Israel and most Jewish Israelis; it is part of their ideology to do so. Bassem Tammimi demonstrates this.

      Dissent was part of King’s strategy, and when combined with action it worked. King’s dissent/polemic on Vietnam was not dismissed, but part of a groundswell of opposition that ended that war in disarray and failure.

      “The purpose of non-violent civil disobedience is that it is indismissable.”

      Not in Palestine. That was what the first intifada was, and how the second began. It has been happening daily in recent years.

      The character of those in leadership in India in the forties, and in the US in the sixties, was such that their hearts could be reached and changed. That is not the case in Palestine.

      • Mooser says:

        “The character of those in leadership in India in the forties, and in the US in the sixties, was such that their hearts could be reached and changed. That is not the case in Palestine.”

        Well, if you want to depict the Israelis as monsters whose moral feelings cannot be appealed to, go right ahead, I won’t stop you.

        You know Richard, your own writing is your worst enemy in argument. It tells on you every time.

        • Mooser says:

          Sorry, John H, I thought for a moment Witty wrote those words, and the “edit” function seems to have fled.. Nothing is appearing on my screen as it should today, there’s something wrong with my computer.
          I agree with your conclusion, and I apologise for attributing your words to Witty, and the “edit” function seems to be gone.

        • dahoit says:

          Yeah,the computers are acting weird today.Call Obomba,he’ll know what to do,once his masters tell him the parameters of discussion.
          You know they hate the internet,don’t you?With all the passion of Goebbels heirs.

        • john h says:

          Mooser, you just proved you’re human like the rest of us.

          Fancy that now, did I really “depict the Israelis as monsters whose moral feelings cannot be appealed to”? (;)

    • Chaos4700 says:

      Can anyone else picture Witty in the sixties, berating “those” “uppity” protestors?

      • John H,
        The first intifada was not dismissable. It was the first communication of “we want change”. It was feared, but largely because the PLO had changed its demand to one that accepted the presence of Israel, there was a path for something of the intifada to be heard.

        The second intifada was not dismissable ONLY as a gross threat to civilian Israelis. The message was utterly dismissable, rejected, entirely confused.

        Present dissent is more confused, not declaring “we want to self-govern” as distinct from “we want to be equal Israstine citizens”, as distinct from “we want you to disappear”.

        The prospect of the entirely non-violent, non-rhetorical freedom rides, is of focused, limited, non-dismissable patient assertive civil communication.

        But, to accomplish that is must be clear, non-violent, not confused, doing one thing at a time.

        The Palestinian advocacy effort is ALWAYS accompanied by threatening actions, grossly threatening in the case of Iran joining their solidarity in more than just limited verbal encouragement.

        It feeds the reality that the movement for Palestinian rights is NOT only a movement for Palestinians rights. And, it feeds into the argument of the Israeli right, dismissable.

        • Shingo says:

          The prospect of the entirely non-violent, non-rhetorical freedom rides, is of focused, limited, non-dismissable patient assertive civil communication.

          Translation: I want the Palestinians to behave peacefull and passively while I watch Israelis kill them. I will not suggest forcing Israel to stop killing Palestinians, as this would infringe on their right to self govern. Only by encouraging Israel to stop killing Israelis to stop, but if they decide to continue doing so, then that is ok with me.

          When I say non violence, I am referring only to the Palestinians. I am all for Israel using violence and killing Palestinians if they say nasty things about Israel.

          One more thing. Israel is allowed to threaten to bomb whoever they like, but this is not what I would describe as threatening, because it’s only self defense when Israel does it, even when it’s not.

        • eljay says:

          >> The first intifada was not dismissable.

          But the terrorism and ethnic cleansing used to establish a religion-supremacist “Jewish state” are defensible, justifiable and laudable. Go figure.

          >> The second intifada was not dismissable ONLY as a gross threat to civilian Israelis. The message was utterly dismissable, rejected, entirely confused.

          Neither is the ON-GOING campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder is “unfortunate”. From Zio-supremacists, however, it appears to merit, at best, lukewarm disapproval, and the occasional suggestion that Israel should “perhaps tone it down a bit”.

          >> Present dissent is more confused, not declaring “we want to self-govern” as distinct from “we want to be equal Israstine citizens”, as distinct from “we want you to disappear”.

          Israel, by contrast, is not confused: It refuses to negotiate a just and mutually-beneficial peace with the Palestinians, it remains committed to maintaining Israel as a religion-supremacist “Jewish state” (even if it means excising non-Jewish Israelis from their state in order to maintain a Jewish majority), and it appears determined to realize the full extent of its immoral and religiously-inspired “greater Israel” project.

          >> The Palestinian advocacy effort is ALWAYS accompanied by threatening actions, grossly threatening in the case of Iran joining their solidarity in more than just limited verbal encouragement.

          Israel’s Zio-supremacist project is ALWAYS accompanied by threatening actions, grossly threatening in the case of its nuclear weapons arsenal, its default bellicose stance and its close ties with – and significant military and economic backing from – the world’s largest rogue nation, the U.S.A.

          >> It feeds the reality that the movement for Palestinian rights is NOT only a movement for Palestinians rights. And, it feeds into the argument of the Israeli right, dismissable.

          It feeds the reality that the Zio-supremacist project has nothing to do with peace, democracy, justice, equality, morality, friendship, humanity or decency. It feeds into the argument of all people who believe in the above descriptors, dismissable.

        • thetumta says:

          But Richard, you have to admit “disappear” works from an American perspective as well ? No more 9/11′s, no more TSA, no more looting the Treasury. We can get back to living our lives and you can, well disappear. Under certain circumstances, your Israeli right is an afternoon’s work.
          Hej!
          P.S. Ignore button please!

        • Chaos4700 says:

          The Palestinian advocacy effort is ALWAYS accompanied by threatening actions

          TOTALLY unlike Zionist advocacy?

  6. thetumta says:

    Hasbara is slowly being revealed for what it is. Yet another big lie. Well funded, powerful lies don’t go away overnight and this may be the biggest , most powerful one in our recent history. I guess every era has the biggest lie.
    That this man, John Lewis could be fooled as the world was, by Hollywood and Madison Ave is not remarkable. If your were alive then, you were probably fooled as was I. That he, as a major American Union official, in America could be forced to bend to the wishes of powerful ethnic mafias is also not surprising given the history of unionism in America.
    What cannot be denied is the truth of what Dr. King actually said in this context and many others. Maybe I’m delusional, but who can listen to these words and not know what Dr. King would say now. They’d have to kill him again.

    link to youtube.com

    Hej!

    P.S. I’d be shocked if all of you haven’t listened to this in it’s entirety before. For anyone that hasn’t, listen to the whole thing. Enjoy.

    • Potsherd2 says:

      If you played it for the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, they’d probably reject the speaker.

      • thetumta says:

        I can think of one or two who definitely don’t agree, maybe there’s more I don’t know about. Potsherd, you may owe Cynthia McKinney an apology? I’ve met many more black than white Democraps who realize and resent how badly we’re being used by these monsters. After all, when all hell breaks loose again in Iran this time and it will, who’s American children are going to be the most over-represented group on the next wall, yet again. Hint, it won’t be the children of AIPAC or Ruthieof????. Need to fix that.
        If you remember, all of the caucus members of the time, told Doctor King don’t do it and the the Democraps(white and black) you speak of savaged him until he was murdered shortly thereafter, but they genuflect appropriately now. Perhaps they can be reminded of that pesky conscience thing he spoke of by someone new. Cerainly not Barry, his worst nightmares feature Dr. King.
        If you take the text of the speech and substitute “Palestine” for Vietnam, terrorist for Vietminh and so on, the text is current,right on the money. Timeless. It’s too bad there’s no video or this could be a game changer? Much better than the mall speech.
        I am curious why you or anyone else had nothing more substantial to say about this speech. I’m am more dis-illusioned and cynical than most, but I do find this speech provides shelter from the storm from time to time. Am I wrong that it totally devastates any notion that this man could countenance any aspect of what we are all watching now? Silly claims by certain pampered whiteboys not withstanding.
        Hej!

        • john h says:

          You are not delusional, and you are not wrong. I am with you 1000%. What you said below is the same as what I said below.

          What cannot be denied is the truth of what Dr. King actually said in this context and many others. Maybe I’m delusional, but who can listen to these words and not know what Dr. King would say now. They’d have to kill him again. Am I wrong that it totally devastates any notion that this man could countenance any aspect of what we are all watching now?

          “I am in absolutely no doubt as to where MLK would stand today in regard to Zionism and Israel. Yesterday I collected the 24 most relevant MLK quotes I could find. From them it is abundantly clear where he stood on life, on the place of the state, and what must be fought against and why and how. Christian Zionism was never, and could never be, countenanced by him. It is diametrically opposed to his liberal theology.”

  7. David Samel says:

    Ben Lorber, that was a fascinating overview and comparison. Thanks

  8. Chespirito says:

    Terrific piece. It deserves to have appeared as a feature in the NY Times Magazine or some such with a mass audience, but at least we have this great forum. Many thanks, Ch