The Holocaust Historiography Project

Machinations of the Anti-Defamation League

Paul N. McCloskey, Jr.

You might wonder why a man would leave northern California and come to southern California in the middle of a lovely weekend. I came because I respect the thesis of this organization — the thesis being that there should be a reexamination of whatever governments say or politicians say or political entities say. I was in politics for fifteen years, and I think you should start with the assumption: never trust a politician.

In 1964 I was on active duty in the Marine Corps over at Camp Pendleton, a few miles from here. I was then leading a Marine Corps Reserve officer class studying counter-insurgency. It was during that time that the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was enacted by Congress [August 7, 1964], and you may remember that the Secretary of State [Dean Rusk] and the Secretary of Defense [Robert McNamara] came before Congress and said that [North Vietnamese] torpedo boats had attacked two U.S. destroyers, the Maddox and the Turner Joy. The Congress voted nearly unanimously to authorize the President to go to war in Vietnam, one of the most tragic mistakes that we ever made. The two men I fought under in Korea, General MacArthur and General Ridgeway, both said: Never again fight a land war on the Asian continent; it is not a place for Americans. Nevertheless we went to war, and a great American, Senator William Fulbright, said it is the responsibility of the politician to lead in the reexamination both of policy and in historical fact, which is exactly the thesis of this organization. Because if you're going to make policy decisions, you need to know what the facts are.

You may remember when Lyndon Johnson announced [March 31, 1968] that he would not run for a second term as president. For some years he had told everyone in the Congress that we were doing the right thing in Vietnam: that we had to bring the coonskin home because we couldn’t afford to be, as President Nixon put it, a “pitiful, helpless giant.” We had to win that war, he said, and for a long time he was convinced, based on his daily briefings, that we were winning the war.

One of my friends from Stanford law school, and my debate partner in the moot court debates there in 1950, was John Ehrlichman. Years later, when he went to prison in 1975, I asked John what had caused a fine, honest lawyer to become a corrupt servant to President Nixon and to lie to the Congress. And I asked him why Henry Kissinger had been making the foreign policy of the United States, rather than the Secretary of State, William Rogers, who by law was entrusted with that responsibility. And he told me: “Pete, it’s this way. Every morning at seven o'clock Richard Nixon gets his briefing of events around the world. There were briefings from State, Defense, and the CIA, but we couldn’t trust any of those three agencies because the warfare amongst them was greater than their desire to tell the truth to the President of the United States. Therefore, Kissinger became the censor of those three reports. He took and collated the State, Defense and CIA reports, so that the President got a single briefing from Henry Kissinger. Well, Kissinger’s policies being what they were, you can imagine what that could do to the policy of the United States.”

Free speech and civil courage

Earlier here today I listened to speeches about the courage of men in France, Britain, Germany, and New Zealand who have spoken out against the commonly accepted concept of what occurred during the Second World War in the so-called Holocaust. And I wanted to tell you a story that every American ought to know, because we do have free speech in this country, and a judicial system with the right to jury trial. Whatever you may think of the ability of given judges, or the ability of given members of the press, the independent judiciary and press have saved us from the kind of things that have been described here today in Germany or Britain or Canada.

I remember that one time, during a visit to New Zealand, a radio talk show host there commented that, based on statistics, four percent of the one hundred men in New Zealand’s Parliament would be homosexual, which meant that four members of Parliament could be homosexual. Well, they hauled this talk show host up in front of a parliamentary committee and threatened to lock him up and throw away the key for contempt of Parliament. He whined and whimpered, and said, “I didn’t mean to say four members of the parliament are homosexual, but that’s just the statistics, and if they are a representative sample of the population, four would be homosexual.” With his apology and humbling, they let him go. Within six months, three members of the New Zealand Parliament admitted they were homosexual.

But it’s different in America. How many of you know the story of John Peter Zenger? If you reexamine history, and go back to 1733-1735 in New York, the royal governor of this British colony was a man named William Cosby. And a very brave editor, John Peter Zenger — maybe the David McCalden or the Mark Weber of his time — came out and said in his paper that “Cosby is corrupt. He’s taking money from the royal treasury. The government is corrupt, and the governor is corrupt.” He was hauled up for trial [on a charge of seditious libel]. In keeping with English common law, he had a right to a jury trial, and the chief justice in the case instructed the jury, twelve men tried and true: “You must find John Peter Zenger guilty because he has criticized the government. It is important and essential to the preservation of government that people have a good opinion of it. Therefore, you must find him guilty.” [Zenger’s lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, argued that because what Zenger had written was true, he should be acquitted.] Well, the jury took about twenty minutes to acquit Zenger. As a result, when we later adopted our Bill of Rights [1791], we put into it two essential rights: the right of free speech and free press, and the right of trial by jury. And that has generally protected people in this country in expressing whatever dissenting views they cared to express — from everything except the scorn of their peers in the same field.

I may not agree with you about everything I've heard today, or what you might feel, but your right to say what you believe and to research things that are alleged as true, and to try to disprove them, is perhaps the most important part of our democracy.

That’s what we're up against now with the Anti-Defamation League, and I think ultimately we're going to win. When you think about those rights — which they don’t have in Canada or Britain or New Zealand or France or Germany, where people can go to jail for expressing unpopular thoughts — thank God we're Americans.

Reactive repression

Let me go back now to the ADL — after all, this speech is entitled “Machinations of the ADL” — and let me tell you a little about my experiences. I'm a fourth generation Californian. My father and both grandfathers were lawyers here in southern California. I grew up in a little town called San Marino, a classic all-white suburb. The last I heard there were 9,000 voters, 8,700 of them Republicans. There were no blacks in San Marino, and there were no Jews. They kept Jews out of San Marino by asking, “What’s the maiden name of your mother?” The real estate people had a conspiracy. As with blacks, Jews in your neighborhood were supposed to make property values drop.

My father was a member of a law firm called Horwitz & McCloskey, which was on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles when that was the city’s legal center. I remember once when I was a boy, he said, “Son, we Irish need the Jews. We have half of the good traits of mankind and half of the bad ones, and the Jews are exactly the opposite. They've got the good traits where we're weak, and they have the weak traits where we're strong.” I've always remembered that.

Anyway, in 1960 I was the president of the Palo Alto Bar Association. The next year I was elected president of the California Conference of Barristers. (That’s all lawyers in the state under 36 years of age.) That year Proposition 13, which some of you may remember, came up for a vote in California. Very simply it read: “A person shall have the right to sell or rent his home to whomever he chooses.” Sounds good. What that means in practice, however, is that a person is free to discriminate against anybody that he doesn’t like because of race or some other reason. The state Bar convention had never taken a position on political initiatives, but that year we felt that because we were constitutional lawyers, and because this initiative was clearly unconstitutional, the Bar ought to speak out.

Three of us addressed the conference, arguing that the Bar Association should take a position on this matter of constitutional interest. We got a lawyer in his late seventies named Herman Selvin — a tax lawyer with a famous Jewish firm in Los Angeles called Loeb & Loeb — to make the concluding speech. At the end of his marvelous, very persuasive speech, he said, “We lawyers have shown we've got great minds, and we've got great hearts. Now let’s show we have some guts.” And the Bar Convention, 3,000 people, voted two-to-one to take a position against Proposition 13. But it proved useless, because the people of California voted two-to-one to pass Proposition 13, although later our Supreme Court held it to be unconstitutional.

Well, after he had given his speech at the convention, we took Herman Selvin out for a beer, and we complimented him, as young lawyers will an elderly sage. He told us that anti-Semitism was alive and well. A friend of his, he went on, had invited him to the posh Montecito Country Club in Santa Barbara, but when they got to the door, there was a man in a tuxedo who looked down a list and then said: “Selvin. We don’t take Jews here.” Now that was in 1963! In my own lifetime, this state has had a long record of anti-Semitism.

And what do people do when they're discriminated against? They form networks. By June 1967, when the Six Day War occurred, the Jewish communities in America had built up a large network of mutual support in the synagogues and the Jewish community centers. At that time there were thirty-three major Jewish organizations. One of them was the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, which became the most militant voice for Israel. To be a good Jew meant that you had to support Israel. It was as if “Israel über Alles,” or “Israel above all,” became the watchword of the ADL.

Stifling debate

They built up an intelligence organization to learn about their enemies. There were people like Roy Bullock, who masqueraded as a kind of rotund antique dealer, at first in the East, and then in the Midwest, before he moved to Los Angeles and then to San Francisco. He would pass himself off as a sympathizer with whatever group the ADL deemed to be hostile to Israel. By the 1980s the ADL’s main purpose was no longer to try to stop anti-Semitism and bigotry, but instead to discredit any voice that was hostile to the policies of Israel — and not only to discredit people who spoke out against Israel, but to deny them a forum.

Now, I've always been willing to debate. I once debated Meir Kahane in front of two thousand Jews in San Francisco. I've debated Irv Rubin of the Jewish Defense League. But no ADL leader will debate me on the subject of Israel. If a public television station, for example, wants to organize a debate on the Middle East, they'll first call the ADL to find someone to speak for the Jewish community. Then they'll call for someone on the other side — for example someone from the Council for the National Interest, a group I founded some years ago with [former Illinois Congressman] Paul Findley. But when they call the ADL back to ask, “Will you debate Congressman McCloskey or Senator Percy or Senator Adlai Stevenson?,” the answer is always “No, no.” If there is a skilled speaker on the other side, they refuse to debate. The ADL does not want the facts to come out. They want to suppress any facts that are critical of Israel. You must understand that that’s their goal. Above all else, they want to preserve the “special relationship” between Israel and the United States; preserve a good public opinion of Israel on the part of the American people, so that the money keeps coming; defeat any political figure, such as Paul Findley or Chuck Percy or even Ed Zschau, who was defeated mainly by Jewish money in his bid for the Senate here in California.

The ADL’s purpose is to discredit and to deny a forum to anybody who might jeopardize the Israel-U.S. relationship. So of course the IHR is a major bull's-eye target. Now, given the extensive intelligence organization they've built up, I am almost certain that someone in this room is reporting to the ADL. Roy Bullock, for example, would go to the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and say “I'm in sympathy. Let me pass out your literature.” But this was only a masquerade.

My wife was once working in San Francisco on behalf of something called Proposition W, which called for cutting aid to Israel by the amount of money they were putting into the settlements on the West Bank and Gaza. So of course she got listed; she became targeted because she was taking a view hostile to Israel. I got a call from a police captain, who said: “Mr. McCloskey, in the records of the San Francisco ADL is a note that when your wife crossed from Jordan into Israel in 1987, she was involved in an altercation at the Allenby Bridge.” Well, I was with her at the time, along with Jim Abourezk, the Arab-American senator from South Dakota. We had visited Jordan, and my wife wanted to go across and see Jerusalem and Jericho. All in all there were five young women, in their 20s and early 30s, who were crossing the bridge. The Jewish border guard stopped them. My wife, with a name like McCloskey, or Smith or Jones: No problem. But one of the girls was named Aziz, that is, she had an Arab name. She had married a young Arab-American. All five were American citizens. The Israeli border guard turned to the one named Aziz and said, “Take off your clothes.” It was a humiliating, demeaning experience. My wife was offended, and she spoke up about her feelings. But to find that turning up six years later in the office of the San Francisco Anti-Defamation League meant that information was going from Israel to the United States, as well as from the U.S. to Israel. Victor Ostrovsky, a former Israeli Mossad case worker, has written [in his book, By Way of Deception] about the cooperation of American Jews with the Israeli government.

The ADL would ingratiate itself with police departments so that they could get information about anti-Semitic or anti-Israel activity. Roy Bullock, the ADL spy, would come to a meeting like this one, and after sitting down, would go out to the parking lot and take down the license plate numbers of all the cars parked there. And then he would take the numbers to Tom Gerard at the San Francisco Police Department and ask: “Would you get me the names of these people?” And back would come the names and the addresses of the people who owned the cars parked at the meeting, along with a notation that these people are “anti-Israel” or “pro-Palestinian,” or that they're Vietnam war “peaceniks.” And that information would be passed on the ADL office in Los Angeles or New York or Washington, DC. Even Portland, Oregon, might get it. The 31 ADL offices, in major U.S. cities, as well as in Israel, were in constant communication with each other. The ADL compiled detailed dossiers, so that if one wanted to find out if such and such a person was anti-Israel, or had ever said anything that was anti-Israel, the ADL was able to quickly respond with a “No” or a “Yes,” which would condemn you.

Marked man

Until 1980, when I first spoke out against Israel, I had been known as a relative friend of Israel. On issues like Vietnam or a woman’s right of choice, things of that kind, I shared views with most Jews. But once I took a position that was deemed hostile to the state of Israel, including opposition to Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and its use of cluster bombs, I was a marked man.

Let me tell you what happened when, after 15 years in the House, I came back to California in 1982 to run for the U.S. Senate. Here’s an example: My finance chairman in southern California was a savings and loan company executive. He was a very loyal man. He'd known my father, and he wanted to help me. He thought I'd make a good senator. In 1982, you may remember, there was a savings and loan crisis. Three of his biggest Jewish depositors came to him and said, “Mr. X, we see you're the chairman of McCloskey’s finance committee. You get off that committee, or we will withdraw our deposits.”

In the 1982 primary election race I lost the Republican party nomination for the U.S. Senate to Pete Wilson. He went up to the San Fernando Valley and made a promise to the Jewish leaders of that powerful Jewish area that if elected to the Senate he would favor Israel’s annexation of the West Bank and Gaza. That story was reported, but then absolutely hushed up. You've never heard the story since. The Jewish community has the power to suppress, either by advertising or control of the media, news reports that are hostile to Israel, and they have the ability to discredit anyone who speaks out. And that’s their purpose.

I'm going to give you a couple of examples of what they've done to friends or clients of mine to achieve their goal of protecting the good public image of Israel. In 1983 two young women, Carol Al Shahib and Audrey Shabbas, who were wives of Arab professors at San Jose State University and the University of California, had organized a small educational program to educate people about Arab culture and Muslim culture. They put on seminars and taught people about Middle East history. They quickly came under the eye of the ADL as threats to Israel because they had spoken about justice for Palestinians. When a Saudi Arabian art exhibit came to San Jose, they signed a contract with the San Jose Museum of Art to host the exhibit. This foundation was run by twenty-one of the community’s leading citizens. The chairman happened to be Jewish. Carol and Audrey also scheduled two speakers, one of them a lady from Texas who had spoken on behalf of Palestinian rights.

One of the foundation’s board members thought he recognized the name of the speaker, and he called the local ADL representative, William Brinner, a famous professor at the University of California (Berkeley). And Brinner said, “Those people are anti-Israel.” The two women had invested about $5,000 to put on this four-day exhibition, and had sent out letters to all the local school teachers. Called up in front of the board, they were told that the speakers were controversial, and that the exhibition would have to be cancelled. These two women would perhaps have made maybe $15,000 from the seminar, probably paying half or two-thirds of that amount in expenses. So the ADL effectively ended their ability to earn a living by teaching people about the Arab world.

Liberty Denial

My second story begins during the Six Day War in June 1967. An American navy ship called the USS Liberty was sailing off the coast of Egypt and Gaza, well outside the three-mile limit. It was a radio antenna ship. You can call it a spy ship. It had a crew of 294 seamen and officers commanded by Captain William McGonagle. In the early morning of June 8, 1967, the ship was flying a big American flag. A fellow named Jim Ennes, who was a lieutenant and officer of the deck, had run up an American flag so big you could see it for miles. They were under surveillance by flights of Israeli jets, not once but twice. But in the early afternoon, Israeli jet fighters roared in and strafed and machine-gunned the ship, knocking out all of the antennas. Israel torpedo boats came out and launched a torpedo into the Liberty.

Nearly everyone on deck was killed or wounded. Out of a crew of 294, there were 34 killed and 171 wounded, the greatest number of casualties on a U.S. naval ship since Okinawa. The ship started to go down, and they put out life boats. Israeli torpedo boats directed machine-gun fire at the life boats. Obviously they intended that there be no survivors.

Captain McGonagle was able to save the Liberty, which limped back to Malta. The dead were buried. McGonagle took care of the wounded. The Navy gave instructions that the crew was to be separated. No one crew member was to go to the same base, but instead the Navy spread them over ships and stations all around the United States. The Liberty crew was awarded a presidential unit citation, but they were never told about it. Captain McGonagle was later given the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the ship, but he’s the only Congressional Medal of Honor winner in history to be given it at the Washington Navy Yard and not at a ceremony at the White House.

Israel claimed that it had all been a terrible mistake, and that their pilots hadn’t really seen the American flag. Well, since then individuals have come forward to say “I was in the headquarters on that day. I was a naval reserve officer. Yeah, they knew it was the USS Liberty. They had a big American flag on it. They bombed it, strafed it, deliberately.”

The story was suppressed for years. Finally, Jim Ennes wrote a book about it, Assault on the Liberty, but copies of it began disappearing from libraries. Clearly, there was an effort afoot to silence Jim Ennes’s story about the Israeli attack.

Enemies of the Library

There’s a small town up in Wisconsin called Grafton, a town of about 10,000 people north of Milwaukee. Two old gentlemen who lived there, Ted and Ben Grob, ran a machine tool shop, which was the most successful business in Grafton. Back during the Depression, when people in Grafton were in trouble, the Grobs could be counted on to help out. They were good people. They were quiet people. They were German.

In 1993 the town’s leading citizens decided to build a new library. They called in a professional consultant, who told them “You need two and half million dollars. Okay, first you've got to raise the initial quarter of a million. One-tenth of it. You should raise it from one person, who will start it off so that people have hope that they'll get the full two and half million. And so the first gift has got to be $250,000, and then ideally you'll get five gifts of $50,000, and then you go out publicly and put up a big thermometer on the town square. As you get closer and closer to your goal, the thermometer goes up and people get inspired, and finally you put it over the top.” And the good people of Grafton asked, “Well, how do we get that first $250,000?” And the pro says, “Well, it’s simple. You agree to name the library after whoever gives you the $250,000.”

So the Grob brothers gave the first $250,000, and soon they raised the entire two and a half million. And shortly before the ground-breaking ceremony, the town’s leading citizens went to the Grob brothers to ask them how they'd like the library named. Well, these two brothers had been reading The Spotlight, which had picked up the story of the USS Liberty. (The Spotlight used to pillory me regularly. Editorially it was no friend of mine.) And so the Grob brothers replied that they wanted to name it the “USS Liberty Memorial Library.”

Well, all hell broke loose. The ADL went right up the wall. They got editorials in the Milwaukee Journal and the Chicago papers. By God, it was said, to name a library in memory of a U.S. ship that had been strafed and torpedoed by the Israelis would increase anti-Semitism. The ADL got about a third of the teachers at the Grafton high school to oppose naming the library after the USS Liberty. They got the high school valedictorian, a young 17-year-old, to speak in his graduating class address against naming the library after the USS Liberty. And all of this was sponsored and pushed by the ADL because of an incredible fear that merely raising the issue of the USS Liberty would increase public opinion against Israel. And that’s what you're up against.

I don’t know whether you're right or wrong about the Holocaust, but anytime a historian takes a position against Israel, that brings down their wrath and concentrated numbers and economic power.

Historical Correctness

Let me tell you another story about a friend of mine named Norman Davies, a man acknowledged around the world as a leading historian on Eastern Europe. He’s one of the few historians who can write readable books. One of them is Europe: A History, which was a best-seller. You don’t often find history books that are best-sellers. Well, I had just gotten out of Congress, and had returned to the practice of law in Palo Alto. (It was a country town when I had left, and now it’s a kind of headquarters of Silicon Valley.)

I had been invited to be a guest professor at Stanford, to teach a course on political science. And I was hired in spite of a fierce campaign against me by the Jewish campus group, Hillel, and by the ADL. Well, Norman Davies was scheduled to be named to a prestigious chair at the history department. Stanford has a procedure whereby the department votes on whether or not to approve the appointment. To be appointed a professor at Stanford you have to be at the top of your field. Some twenty-five consultants, called outside referees, were asked about Davies, and all of them agreed that he was among the top one or two who might be considered for this professorship.

Some ten days before the matter came to a vote — it was in December 1983, I think — a history professor at Stanford who was also a member of the ADL contacted the ADL office in San Francisco, and the word then went out to all of the Jewish members of the faculty: “Have you read what Davies wrote about the Jews in Poland” [in his book God’s Playground: A History of Poland]? Well, you can’t write a book about Poland without dealing with the Jews, who were a large and important part of the population. In his book Davies had dared to suggest that not all Poles were anti-Semitic. And that ran counter to the view of history held by the Israelis and the Jewish community in the United States; that the Poles were anti-Semitic and they all discriminated against the Jews. Lucy Dawidowicz [Jewish historian] wrote that Davies was, in effect, a revisionist, and that his view of the history of Europe was detrimental to the Jewish community around the world. I've talked to a lot of Poles over the years, and I've known some who didn’t like Jews and I've found some that helped Jews. In occupied Poland during the Second World War the Poles who helped Jews were shot by the Nazis if they were caught.

In any event, what Davies wrote was deemed by the ADL to be hostile to Israel because of the simple suggestion that not all Poles were anti-Semitic. But we took them on in a lawsuit, which we lost on appeal. In that case we had a famous psychiatrist examine what Davies had written. Of 52 references he found 26 that one could infer were favorable to the Poles, and 26 critical, and 26 favorable to the Jews, and 26 critical. But that wasn’t enough for the ADL. They circulated a notice to the thirteen history professors who were Jewish, “Be there for the vote.” Now, not all of the thirty-eight history professors came to vote. And when the vote was held, it was thirteen to twelve to deny the chair to Norman Davies. The Jews were happy. The ADL was happy. They had denied a forum for a voice of reason, for a voice that spoke out for a different view of history.

The ADL once got caught up in a funny deal. My wife was holding a seminar on the Middle East at Mills College. Roy Bullock was there on behalf of the ADL to check on anyone who was speaking against Israel. And if anyone did speak in favor of the Palestinians or against Israel, the name and the license plate number went on his list. The information was passed around so that dossiers compiled on each person were sent to ADL offices across the United States, available only to the ADL.

Spying for South Africa

But if you'll remember, back in the late 1980s, Israel had an ally, a fellow pariah in the international community named South Africa. And South Africa was not adhering to the United Nations' resolution on Namibia, which they were supposed to give up. And Israel was similarly defying United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 [of 1967] and 338 [of 1973], which required that, along with an Israeli state, there also be a Palestinian state. But Israel didn’t want to give up the occupied territories. It was in violation of these resolutions. There’s pretty good evidence that Israeli nuclear weapons were tested by the South Africans.

Bullock and the ADL started looking at groups that were against apartheid in South Africa. Now, there were a lot of nice American ladies who thought it was time to end apartheid in South Africa, including many in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles. Well, Bullock started going to their meetings. And suddenly the ADL was developing intelligence not only about people who were hostile to Israel, but people who were hostile to the Smuts-Botha apartheid government in South Africa. Soon South African intelligence people came out to see Bullock and Gerard, and over lunch they said: “We'll pay you money if you can get us information about the people in the United States who are against apartheid in South Africa.” So Bullock and Gerard collected, I think, $16,000. They sent twenty-seven reports to the South African intelligence agency about Americans who opposed South Africa’s apartheid government. The thinking was, if they're against South Africa, they must be against Israel, and if they're against the Jewish state, they're against Jews. Anyway, that’s the new definition of anti-Semitism given by Nathan Perlmutter of the ADL [and by ADL officials Arnold Foster and Benjamin Epstein in their book, The New Anti-Semitism].

Well, at about that time, the FBI got word that South Africans were trying to pirate technology from Silicon Valley. After a while the FBI caught Bullock collecting information, put him under surveillance, and then they called him in and interrogated him. And Bullock said, “Yeah, absolutely, I'm helping the ADL. Of course. We've been looking at the anti-apartheid people.” And so the FBI went to the San Francisco police, who were — well, they're like cops in a lot of places. They're not bright. They're Irish. Or Italian. So these Irish cops didn’t know that the Jews were so powerful in San Francisco, and that they funded nearly every Democratic party candidate from the governorship down to the Congress. And that’s how the San Francisco police learned that their officer Gerard was illegally obtaining information from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Post Office, and from others, and funneling it — not only to the Israeli consulate or to Jewish organizations — but also selling it to South African intelligence.

And what did the Irish cops do next? They got search warrants to go into the ADL offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Well, they ran into a funny thing. It turned out that, for some years, the Israelis or the ADL had been funding ten or twelve police officers. They'd given them two weeks in Israel, all expenses paid — take them over there, buy them drinks, and everything else that went with it, a two-week stay! A visit to a foreign country. Why? Because they wanted to ingratiate themselves with police departments to get information from them about people who were hostile to Israel. And in return the Jewish groups would tell the police the identity of anyone who desecrated a synagogue. This connection between the Israeli Mossad and the ADL and the police went up even to the level of the FBI. The head of the FBI would be invited to dinners, where he would urge everyone to cooperate with the ADL, saying “They're really a fine group, against bigotry and anti-Semitism.”

So the ADL helped build up an organization that was able to destroy the careers of people, whether they were in politics or even somebody like Audrey Shabbas who was trying to educate schoolteachers, or Norman Davies, the history professor who was denied a prestigious chair, because of their expressed views on Israel and Jewish history. That kind of power does exist in this country. Luckily the pendulum swings back and forth. Now it swings one way to excess, as I believe, in favor of Israel and the Jewish community. But sooner or later it will swing back.

The important thing is never to accept what somebody says is history, whether it was ten years ago, or thirty or fifty years ago. Because those who first try to write that history are people who want to give a message that is consistent with their political views. And if you've suffered two thousand years of anti-Semitism, you can justify practically anything to preserve a Jewish state.

Cluster bombs on Lebanon

I'll close with a humorous incident I hope you'll enjoy. I was outraged when the Israelis invaded Lebanon. The 1954 Arms Control Act requires that if a country to which the U.S. gives arms uses those arms to invade a foreign country, we must by law cut off arms assistance to that country. When Turkey invaded Cyprus [in 1974] we cut off aid to Turkey, a NATO ally.

When the Israelis invaded Lebanon [June 1982], they used U.S.-supplied cluster bombs. It’s a terrible, devastating weapon. It drops out of a plane to about a thousand feet. Then, a big napalm-type canister blows apart, and maybe two hundred bombs float out and scatter over twenty-five acres. They're timed to go off every five minutes. The first group goes off on contact, the next five minutes later, and so forth. And even after the planes are gone, these things are lying around on the ground. Troops know enough to stay away from, but little kids don’t, and they pick them up and get their hands blown off.

After the 1973 war we gave Israel cluster bombs on the basis of an agreement, according to which they could use them only if they were invaded by the armies of more than one country. In other words, Israel could use these weapons only if it was invaded by two countries. Also, they could never use them in cities, or in partisan warfare, against irregular units. That is, they could never use them in civilian areas, and only against regular troops.

Well, a journalist named Nick Thimmesch, who later [1985] died rather mysteriously, reported that Israel was using cluster bombs. He came to my office in Washington and gave me some cluster bomb fragments. And I said publicly that Israel is using cluster bombs. The Israeli government immediately denied it, but in this world somebody always leaks, and the State Department guys knew that Israel was using cluster bombs in violation of the treaty. And even though the Israeli lobby could make things difficult for the State Department guys, it couldn’t get them out of their jobs. So State Department people kept telling me, “You're right, McCloskey. Keep saying it.” So I made speeches about Israel’s illegal use of cluster bombs. Finally the Israelis admitted that they had been lying, and that they had been using cluster bombs in Lebanon in violation of the treaty.

Well, there was enough concern in the Congress that six of us went over to the Middle East in 1982. In Syria we met with President Assad, and in Jordan we met with King Hussein. And went to Lebanon where we met with Christian Maronites, with Shi'ites, and with the Druze. In Beirut we had to stay at the American embassy residence because they'd blown up the embassy itself. And we met with Yasser Arafat in his bunker in West Beirut. I remember meeting with Bashir Gemayel, the Maronite Christian leader who was elected president of the country and later killed. That was in July, when Israeli planes were bombing West Beirut. I asked him, “How can you run for president when West Beirut and one-sixth of your country is being attacked by the Israelis?” And he replied, “That’s not my problem,” because for the Maronite Christians, the Muslims and most of the country weren’t really their problem. That was a few weeks before the Sabra and Shatilla massacres [Sept. 1982], when the Israelis unleashed the Christian militiamen into those Palestinian refugee camps to kill women and children.

Censorship, Israeli style

After we had met with those various Arab leaders, we went on to Israel and Egypt. In Jerusalem we were put up at the King David Hotel, the same hotel that Israel’s prime minister, Menachem Begin, and his group, the Irgun, had blown up [July 22, 1946] when they were fighting the British for control of the country.

From an Israeli television studio I was interviewed by Tom Brokaw in New York for NBC national television. I'll never forget what happened. He asked what we had found, and about our talks with Assad, Hussein and Arafat. You know, you just get five-minute sound bites. I was asked what I thought of Begin. And I said that he’s the same guy who, back in 1947, had hanged British soldiers. He was terrorist. Even most Jews thought of him as a terrorist. Some called him a Jewish Hitler, I believe. And I was asked what I thought of Ariel Sharon [who was then Israel’s defense minister]. “Well, he’s a butcher,” I said. “He’s a mean guy.” I was asked about Yitzhak Shamir. I said something similar about him.

And then Brokaw asked me what I thought about Yasser Arafat. “Well,” I said, “I think he’s a man of peace.” At that point, the Israeli military censor cut off the interview and the link to NBC in the United States. As I was walking out of the studio, I heard the guy who ran the show arguing with the military censor, a major general or brigadier general. The producer was saying, “You can’t shut off an American speaking to an American audience!,” and the general was saying, “We don’t care what he says about our leaders. We probably agree with him. But nobody can say on Israeli television that Yasser Arafat is not a terrorist.” And that, of course, was the ADL position at the time. You might remember that Paul Findley lost his seat in Congress because he had met with Arafat, and that Andrew Young was dropped as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations because he had met with PLO officials.

So, you've got this incredibly powerful organization. When you think how many people from the ADL have been appointed to the Clinton Administration, it’s enough to make you a Republican. And it’s true, incidentally, that the Democrats are far more beholden to the Israeli lobby than Republicans. Republicans tend to get their money from big business, and that’s sometimes corrupt. But in this state, if you're a Democrat you can’t get elected without the support of Jewish money. That power has, I think, reached its zenith.

Dispassion and truth

I hope you'll keep examining history. I would caution you against one thing I've heard a bit of today. A historian should be dispassionate. I use that word deliberately. Do not let the conduct of your enemies cause you to become less than dispassionate in your historical views. I hate to hear the word “propaganda.” I've heard it ever since I've been a young man, calling the enemy story “propaganda.” It’s unseemly, in my judgment, to say that one point of view is propaganda.

The great American Constitution was probably enacted because of an 82-year-old American named Ben Franklin. On the last day of the constitutional convention, after laboring four and a half months in a sealed room in Philadelphia, they came out with a constitution. When people say you're too old to be in the Congress, you just remind them of Franklin’s speech. He was 82 when he got up and said: “Gentleman, the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, even on matters that I was once certain of, because when I receive fuller information, or new arguments, I found that I was often wrong in the opinions that I originally formed.”

A historian, ideally, should be like a juror in California. Every juror, before being sworn in, has to advise the court that he will wait to hear all the evidence on both sides of an issue before reaching a judgment of guilt or innocence, or liability or non-liability. That should also hold true in a special way for the historian, I think. Some of those who viciously oppose you may be tools of the Israeli state, but the historian’s words ultimately receive the credit of the community. Think of the first persons who spoke out against the Vietnam war. Most people in my district thought I was a Communist. I got away with it because I had been a Marine in Korea, and they couldn’t really say that a Marine was not patriotic. But if some college professors said they were against the war, I remember colleagues in the Congress calling them traitors.

The great source of inquiry ought to be the college campus. The minds of students should be formed by instructors who present both sides of issues. When I was a freshman at Stanford, the rednecks and right-wingers in southern California wanted to get rid of an economics professor there because he was a Communist.

A man who is still revered in the Marine Corps, Smedley Butler [1881-1940], fought for thirty years in every important campaign — Cuba, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Nicaragua. After he retired [in 1931], he was asked about his career. He said:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers … I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street … I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras “right” for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

If you had suggested, at the time, that Marines were dying in Nicaragua or Haiti for the United Fruit Company or other big American corporations, public opinion about U.S. intervention in Latin America might have been the same as it was later about Vietnam.

When people finally learn the truth, they turn against those who have been lying to them. And I think that if the movement of which you people are the cutting edge can retain dispassion in the face of outrages, setbacks and humiliations, the truth can ultimately prevail.

You are doing something worse than criticizing the government of the United States; you're threatening the security of the state of Israel. And the Jewish community is dedicated to preserve that state, and to destroy those who speak against it. Good luck!

About the author

Paul N. “Pete” McCloskey, Jr., was born and raised in California. During Korean War service with the Marine Corps, he earned the Navy Cross, the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. From 1967 to 1983 he served as a U.S. congressman. He was co-chairman of the First Earth Day, 1970. He was an early opponent of American involvement in the Vietnam War, and the first Republican in Congress to call for the impeachment of President Nixon. In 1972 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican party presidential nomination. For more about McCloskey’s contentious relationship with the Jewish-Zionist lobby, see Paul Findley’s book, They Dare to Speak Out. This essay is adapted from McCloskey’s address at the 13th IHR Conference, May 28, 2000.

Bibliographic information
Author: Paul N. McCloskey Jr.
Title: Machinations of the Anti-Defamation League
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: September/December 2001
Issue: Volume 20 number 5/6
Location: page 13
ISSN: 0195-6752
Attribution: “Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659, USA.”
Please send a copy of all reprints to the Editor.