Letters to the Editor
Through the Looking Glass Darkly
After reading Richard Kim's "The Mad Tea Party" [April 12], I saw the light and converted to Teabaggerism. Has anyone noticed that the monogram for "Cloward-Piven" is "CP," the same as for "Communist Party"? And that the reverse, "PC," is the same as for "political correctness"? And that their article was published in 1966, which, of course, contains the number of the Antichrist, with the first 6 diabolically disguised as a 9? I eagerly await a Fox "News" offer of my very own show.
If you combine the first three letters of "Cloward" and the last three of "Piven," you get "cloven"!
Frances Fox Piven is a target precisely because her work has always supported democratic politics from below. She has devoted a lifetime of scholarship to studying how ordinary people, particularly poor people, fight for social change to improve their lot in life. Case studies she has researched over several decades on the Revolutionary era and the abolitionist, labor, 1930s unemployed workers', welfare rights and civil rights movements all underscore a basic truth: people can redress the imbalance of power and wealth in our society when they organize and disrupt business as usual. That's the last thing Glenn Beck et al. want Americans to realize, and it helps explain why they are working overtime to offer a counternarrative.
I worked for Richard Cloward at Mobilization for Youth in 1966 and was there at the creation of the "Strategy to End Poverty." Were Cloward and Piven radicals? You bet, but so was everybody--from the poverty lawyers to school activists (remember Ocean Hill-Brownsville?) to housing advocates and right on down. For God's sake, it was the '60s!
At no time did Cloward and Piven consider welfare rights a brief against capitalism, and you'd have to be a lunatic to consider what they were doing to be out of the mainstream. Compare the peaceful and orderly welfare rights movement with the Harlem, Watts, Newark and Detroit riots.
I am astounded at the sudden infamy of Cloward and Piven (which Dick would have loved; Frances was always the more practical of the two). To suggest that what the community organizers were doing to help the poor was sinister, unpatriotic or intended to bring down the pillars of our country through disruption is a barbaric misreading of a nation in what was arguably its most creative, if not the messiest, period of the last half of the twentieth century.
Cloward and Piven were partners at every relationship level. The energy that produced the "Strategy" came from a combustible combination of love and commitment to a better life for the poor. I ran into Fran on the subway shortly after Dick died. She said she was going to a meeting at Columbia to organize the poor--did I want to come along? I said no, but I loved that she was still fighting for the oppressed.
There You Go Again, Israel
Westport Island, Me.
Congratulations on "Obama's Israel Problem" [April 12]. As one who served on three UN missions to Palestine, beginning with the Bernadotte Mission in 1948, I suggest that the president tell Israel that America will continue to defend it against aggression and support it financially provided Israel returns to its 1967 borders, phases out West Bank settlements and leaves Gaza. Until Israel initiates actions to those ends, we should suspend diplomatic relations and notify the Security Council accordingly.
UN assistant secretary general (ret.)
Why is America's foreign policy establishment so astonished by Bibi Netanyahu's serial intransigence? Taking Washington's support for granted has long been an article of faith in Tel Aviv. Though Democrats and Republicans continue to vilify one another over everything else, both parties march in lockstep with AIPAC and any and all Israeli policies, no matter how brutal or illegal. Little wonder, then, that despite Vice President Biden's effusive praise for a US-Israel special kinship, Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly embarrassed his state's staunchest ally and chief benefactor.
Israel's military pre-eminence, European standard of living and technologically sophisticated economy are due in great measure to Uncle Sam's per annum stipend of $3 billion. Yet Israeli leaders never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity when it comes to the two-state solution.
Gen. David Petraeus's admonishments notwithstanding, no American president--including Obama--will ever emulate Ike and summon the courage to overturn such naked irredentism.
ROSARIO A. IACONIS
Your nostalgic reference to the days when "President Eisenhower was not afraid to threaten economic sanctions" against Israel needs to be placed in historical context. Eisenhower was elected at a time of heightened cold war tensions, when Israel was perceived by many in DC as a closet, albeit nonaligned, friend of the Soviet Union.
Key to his willingness to take on Israel and push for Middle East peace was that top CIA officials like Kermit Roosevelt, and the State Department's Henry Byroade, covertly supported the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, led by rabbis Elmer Berger and Morris Lazaron and San Francisco businessman George Levison. In the early '50s the ACJ was a major voice in Reform Judaism, speaking for about 25 percent of US Jews.
In 1953 Levison and ACJ president Lessing Rosenwald met with Eisenhower to discuss ways the ACJ could assist the Middle East peace initiative, and to distinguish Judaism from "expansionist Zionism." The CIA's Roosevelt also recruited Jacob Blaustein of the American Jewish Committee to pressure Israel into accepting back about 200,000 Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war.
Critical to the ACJ acting as a CIA front organization was the American Friends of the Middle East, created by Roosevelt and Berger, with help from Aramco's Col. William Eddy. AFME funded trips to the region by Berger and Lazaron in 1954 and '55. Freedom House's Leo Cherne also worked with the ACJ to create a philanthropic fund, which, had the Eisenhower peace initiative borne fruit, would have assisted Palestinian refugees (with a TVA for the Jordan Valley) and Arab Jewish communities in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Iraq. Eisenhower called for Israel to end its Zionist mission, and Berger's 1955 trip focused on how CIA and Aramco money funneled through the AFME to the ACJ philanthropic fund could maintain Jewish communities in the Arab states.
The Eisenhower administration worked diligently to create a supportive American Jewish constituency group in the ACJ. The ACJ was even encouraged by the Luce family of Time-Life fame to develop a network of anti-Zionist Reform temples, starting with Chicago's Lakeside Congregation, and Jewish schools with a message that opposed Jewish "peoplehood" in favor of Jewish spirituality. (Readers who would like to know more can read Thomas Kolsky's Jews Against Zionism.)
DAVID EUGENE BLANK