That future arrived for me in September after Progressive magazine published my advertisement severely critical of Israeli policies toward Palestine. The ad was a reprint of a column I wrote for the June 20 Sparks Tribune. It bore the headline: “Clamp sanctions on Israel.”
The burden of my indictment:
• “The founding of Israel in 1948 was one of the greatest blunders in history.”
• “It outranks the U.S. folly of Vietnam, the stupidity of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the madness of Napoleon and Hitler marching on Moscow and the senseless slaughter of British and French soldiers at the Somme in 1916.”
• “Israel has no moral, ethical or legal reason to exist. But it was founded because of the West’s guilt over the Holocaust.”
• “Zionism is racism. It was created solely for Jews. Zionism was branded as racist by the U.N. General Assembly in 1975.”
• “When Israel was created 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their land…Israel is judge, jury and executioner of Palestinians. Arab hatred of the Jews is palpable—and justified.”
• “The crimes of Israel are vast…No rogue nation is more deserving of sanctions.”
As a result of the ad, I got e-mails of approval from all over the country. Typical was one from Mariel Caldwell of Oak Ridge, Tenn.:
“This is the first time I have read something this truthful…Most Americans are not at all knowledgeable of the situation in Palestine and have no idea of the actions of Israel…God and Allah bless you for writing the truth.”
Peter Rocke of Middlefield, Mass.:
“Thank you for advocating sanctions on Israel, a step long overdue. It’s time that the Jewish community disciplines its Zionist wing for the same fascist behavior it found so reprehensible in the Nazis.”
Sally Howland of Lisle, Ill.: “You hit every button. ‘One of the greatest blunders in history.’ Indeed!”
Larry Stanley of Avoca, N.Y.: “The Zionist history before the establishment of Israel is a classic case of neo-colonialism. The wholesale ethnic cleansing that has taken place since 1948 has been a disgrace to the international community of nations and an affront to the U.N. Charter of Rights.”
Jerry Buerer of Wausau, Wis.: “For the first 50 years of my life, without really knowing it, I was brainwashed into believing ‘God’s chosen people’ could do no wrong in the homeland ‘God gave them.’ ”
Other email comments:
• “Your article was one of the best outlines of the outrageous perfidy of the Zionists I have ever seen.”
• “Awesome piece. The absolute blindness of most people who don’t have the ability to recognize that something is evil no matter who is doing it. It just boggles the mind.”
• “You have absolutely captured my exact feelings regarding the plight of the Palestinian people. The once victims have become the bullies.”
• “The Palestinians struggle without hope while smug America does nothing to sanction Israel. It is beyond unconscionable. I am so ashamed of my government for its unwillingness to take a courageous stand against this unspeakable evil.”
• “It really has irked me to see the U.S. be the only vote in the U.N. to vote against condemning Israel for inhuman treatment of the Palestinians.”
• “Before I read your article I thought I must be the only one in the country with your perspective on Israel’s action against the Palestinians and the grip its lobby has on our Mideast policy.”
• “Every word of your paid ad is complete, correct and concise. The U.S. is the biggest scofflaw of U.N. resolutions. Israel is an outlaw nation.”
Lest I be accused of being “a Jew hater,” Dennis Myers, news editor of the Reno News & Review, adroitly recalled something I had written years ago:
“Highton, long an admirer of the Jews as ‘the most intellectual people on the face of the earth,’ said many of his correspondents worried that criticism of Israel would be construed as anti-Semitism, a factor that often chills Middle East debate,” Myers wrote.
I ran the ad because no Establishment newspaper would print it. Although the Trib is a tiny daily, I shall always be grateful to it for publishing my against-the-grain column for two decades.
The Progressive ad was the one intellectual triumph of my life.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.