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Posted in: Feminism, Jihad & Terrorism

Published on Jun 18, 2004 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for FrontPageMagazine.com

Listener-Sponsored Hate Radio on the Left Coast


Something's up, it's in the air: a malaise, a madness, a mean-spirited mindlessness. Innocents in Los Angeles are being struck down, there's nary a cure in sight. "Feminists" are trying to take a show off the air because some of its guests—namely me—dare to argue a pro-Israel, pro-Zionist point of view.

On May 26, 2004, I was interviewed on "Feminist Magazine" on KPFK in Los Angeles, which is run by Pacifica Radio. This program has been around for more than 30 years. I've appeared before, but this time, for the first time, they wanted me to talk about Jew-hatred and anti-Zionism on the feminist left. Why? Because a small group of KPFK feminists desperately wanted to do something to combat the unchallenged, unbalanced, and omnipresent hate speech against Jews and the Jewish state that seemed to have a life of its own at the station.

The problems at KPFK have been going on for at least 13 years. Had you been listening in 1991, you would have heard Steve Cokely say, "the AIDS virus had been invented by Jewish doctors to kill black babies." Cokely, who is black, also urged the residents of Los Angeles to "turn their city into another Crown Heights." Cokely was forced to resign. According to the Los Angeles Times story, Cokely had previously resigned in disgrace as an aide to the late mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington.

In 1992, in a two day 30 hour "African Mental Health" marathon on KPFK, you would have heard Louis Farrakhan describe Whites and Jews as "the pale horse with death as its rider and hell close behind" that had wreaked destruction on red, yellow, and black people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, as well as the Palestinians in the Middle East." Farrakhan promised that a "reckoning for this slaughter was soon to come."

In addition, Professor Leonard Jeffreys, and others who claimed that the Jews had "stolen Bible stories from Black Egyptian Muslims," said Jews had "taken leadership roles in the NAACP in order to limit the progress of blacks," and "slavery had been invented by Talmudic scholars." No one challenged such views on-air. One station manager, Alan T. Fong, issued a memo forbidding on-air discussions of Black-Jewish relations. Fong would eventually lose his job in the midst of this controversy.

According to an L.A. Times story that appeared on September 17, 1996, Pacifica interviewees and hosts had provided a "forum for racists, anti-Semites, and virulent critics of Israel." In 1992, the KPFA program, "Middle East Focus," which was broadcast twice monthly, "devoted an entire edition to "Palestine Solidarity Day." One guest was introduced as a "victim of Manifest Destiny . . . and of Zionism, as a Palestinian." Another speaker specifically accused the Israelis of "persecuting Palestinian women." Pacifica did not offer its listeners any counter-views to these extremely outlandish allegations.

Ralph Schoenman of WBAI, who also frequently appeared on Pacifica, condemned the Israeli government, asking: "Security for the Israeli state? Do you call security for the Apartheid state of South Africa a condition for the self-determination of the people of South Africa? In Algeria, did you ask that there should be a secure French state in Oran or Algiers? The state is not equivalent to the population." And thus, Schoenman called for the abolition of the Jewish state as a usurper, colonialist entity whose security and defense as an aggressor is a laughable notion.

But, unbelievably, refreshingly, in June of 1994, a coalition of Jewish leaders and disenchanted listeners formed a successful campaign that led to the passage of the Hefley Amendment in Congress, which reduced federal funding by one million dollars for such Pacifica "hate speech." In response, Pacifica cancelled two of its anti-White and anti-Semitic programs.

However, nothing really changed.

Listener complaints about the continuing and intensifying anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at KPFK did not lead to further resignations, firings, or to new Congressional bills, nor did it lead to more balanced or objective coverage. Both the homophobia and Jew-hatred of Black nationalists and leftists were seen as too hot to handle—and allowed to stand on the air. Those at the station who disagreed with this state of affairs were either dismissed as reactionaries or patronized as misguided.

Years later, on October 21, 2002, Don Bustany, the producer and host of Pacifica's "Middle East in Focus," issued a memo to all programmers who shared Schoenman's view, saying that Israel did not have the right to defend herself. He accused Israel of having "very sophisticated public relations machinery." Nothing could be further from the truth, but such a view allowed Bustany to see himself as the victim of this imaginary machinery. Thus, it justified HIS attack as self-defense. He writes: "Israel calls its military the 'Israel Defense Forces,' which suggests that something's okay. Defense is appropriate; everybody's entitled to it. But when an army commits aggression and it's still being called a Defense Force, the truth is being twisted. Every time any of us (programmers on Pacifica) uses 'Israel Defense Forces' on the air, we are subtly saying to listeners that Israel is on the defensive and that its adversaries are on the offensive—which of course, is patently ridiculous. If you agree with my observations, then I invite you to refer to Israel's forces as the 'Israeli Army,' 'Israeli Military,' 'Israeli forces.' And if you feel like tossing in an adjective such as 'offensive' or 'aggressive,' that's okay too."

Tricia Roth was the programmer of "Feminist Magazine" as well as a member of the feminist collective. She said the L.A. chapter of Women in Black literally invaded a meeting of the feminist collective once after a Holocaust survivor had appeared on "Feminist Magazine." Why? Because the elderly woman dared express disapproval of Palestinians who teach their children to hate, and worse, stated that she believed the Bible gave the Jews rights in the Holy Land. "Women in Black were outraged. They denounced us and at least one demanded that we be taken off the air for this," Roth said. What's amazing and very troubling is the refusal and perhaps inability to tolerate the slightest difference of opinion among presumed radicals.

Roth said late in 2002, after nearly four months of calling and writing KPFK's new general manager, Eva Georgia, about this problem, she finally received a response. During her radio program "Report to the Listener," Georgia announced she would be forming a committee to "look at anti-Semitism at KPFK."

However, Roth discovered that such a committee had not been formed, and Roth's request to join the non-existent committee was never answered. On January 22, 2003, Roth resigned on the air. However, she was still willing to share some examples of the kind of anti-Semitic programming that offended her with Georgia's office. She was subsequently invited to be a guest on a program about anti-Semitism. Roth declined, she said, because "I was not an expert on the subject, and I didn't trust those who were producing the program to create a non-hostile atmosphere."

Roth was right. The program aired on March 12, 2003. Three of the five guests were Jewish anti-Zionists, including Sherna Gluck, from Radio Intifada, and Ralph Shoenman, from WBAI—whose book, The Hidden Story of Zionism, claims that Jews purposely collaborated with the Nazis in the extermination of European Jewry in the interests of achieving a Jewish state.

For a year and a half after her on-air resignation, Roth attended a workshop in non-violence, after which she decided to return to KPFK. She did not wish to concede control of the airwaves to Jew-haters. With the support of the feminist collective, she would focus exclusively on pro-Jewish and pro-Israel programming as a "corrective," and as a way of injecting on-air sanity, objectivity, balance, and diversity.

Roth chose me as her first guest. She had read my latest book The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It and wanted to feature my views on the program. She and others on the feminist collective who produce "Feminist Magazine" were still reeling from the continuing barrage of on-air and off-air hate, deceit, and disinformation often leveled against them by Jewish left feminists.

A representative from the L.A. chapter of Women in Black—which is now calling for the removal of "Feminist Magazine" from the air—had been interviewed on KPFK. When asked about Muslim-on-Muslim oppression, she responded that "Israel's transgressions in this area" was her main bailiwick; she was not "concerned" by anyone who oppressed the Palestinians other than Jewish Israelis.

Roth told me that the switchboard lit up while we were still on the air last month. She said many called to protest my views and the views of "Feminist Magazine" as neither progressive nor feminist. Calls mounted for the censure and removal of "Feminist Magazine" from the air or from the control of the feminist collective.

Two days ago, a protest petition to KPFK listeners appeared on the Internet in which my entire interview had been carefully, painfully transcribed (thanks to whoever did that), as proof that the views expressed are "not in keeping with the Pacifica Mission. The petition claimed that my views, and the views of "Feminist Magazine", are "at best, self-indulgent and irrelevant to today's feminism, and at worst, racist and not worthy of Pacifica."

Other charges include the fact that I write for Frontpage Magazine (where Ann Coulter also writes), support the war against terrorism/the war in Iraq, and have said that I may vote for President Bush in the next election. This all "proves" that I am no longer a feminist and do not belong on any feminist program. In addition, any feminist program that interviews me has no right to Pacifica air time.

The Chinese Cultural Revolution is alive and well in left feminist America.

The petition sends readers to a Nation Magazine article, written by the anti-Zionist Jew Brian Klug, who reviewed my book. The petition writers, who seem to believe that Nation Magazine is the Bible, claim that Klug's article "totally refutes and rejects Chesler's claims." Ah, would that he could or did. Klug's article was, in my view, so typical of the Nation's handling of the subject—i.e. so shabby, cult-like, and pedestrian, that I did not even bother writing a letter.

A letter written by former feminist collective member Jessica Hoffman, which is part of the online petition, refers to "uneven" distributions of power in the feminist collective, to "felt elites" and "unofficially powerful members." I remember this power-hungry paranoid language well. I asked Roth how old Hoffman is and whether she has also criticized the collective on behalf of the transgendered. Roth sighed. Apparently, Hoffman is in her early 20s and has argued for the inclusion of transgendered people as a feminist priority. (What do I know? I am fool enough to believe that there are more women who are being trafficked into sexual slavery and forced to veil themselves than there are transgendered folk but clearly, my priorities are old-fashioned.) Hoffman resigned from the feminist collective but has now joined forced with L.A.'s Women in Black chapter to make a probable bid to take over the feminist collective and on-air Magazine.

Perhaps it is also a struggle between the young and the not-so-young. Hoffman is in her early 20s, Roth in her mid-40s, and I'm almost in my mid-60s. Perhaps it's far crazier than that. When I asked Trica Roth what she believed was behind this incredible bru-ha-ha she said something really interesting: "For progressive Jews, this is the ultimate rebellion, both against the status quo, against their parents, against all authority. Their identities are deeply tied to being left wing radicals. This is how they are proving their identities."

Roth also observed that some of the more vocal protestors, including some local members of Women in Black, were themselves the children of Holocaust survivors; Roth suggested a possibly traumatic origin to this struggle, one in which the victim is still and forever guilty, and the aggressor remains too frightening to oppose, and thus, potential victims identify with the aggressor for safety's sake.

The petition writers sound like so many other leftists and left-feminists who blame 9/11 on American military and economic policy and view the be-heading of both Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg as somehow caused by Prime Minister Sharon's and President Bush's military and political policies. If only America had not: ever supported Israel, made deals with the Saudi princes, initially funded the Taliban, invaded Afghanistan and Iraq . . . If only Israel had voluntarily drawn back to it's pre-1967 borders that year, there would have been no al-Aqsa Intifada, no 9/11, no 3/11, no ongoing al-Qaeda terrorism against Christians, Jews, and Americans.

While America's foreign and domestic policies are open to serious criticism, nevertheless, in my view, the "blame America and Israel all the time" is delusional. But, as a psychologist and psychotherapist I understand it. When people feel both threatened and powerless they tend to resort to "magical thinking." A battered woman and an abused child will often blame themselves for being beaten—this gives her the only control over the situation she might have. If she thinks that she did something wrong that "provoked" her beating, next time she will not do whatever it was and will, hopefully, avoid being beaten again.

Progressives find it easier to blame the Israeli or American governments for their mistakes than to stare long and hard into the face of radical Islamist evil. People often blame the victim. It's more dangerous to blame the perpetrator. He might come after you too and he can only be stopped by a high-risk rescue mission or prolonged military operation. Finally, because people are also good, they prefer to look away from the matter entirely rather than endure the guilt they would otherwise feel for doing nothing.

Long live the brave feminist collective of KPFK'S "Feminist Magazine." Tricia Roth and Melissa Chiprin, who also interviewed me, are the whistle-blowing Karen Silkwoods and Erin Brokovichs of their generation—but it might take Hollywood some time to discover them.

For my part, I hope to return to "Feminist Magazine's" airwaves sometime soon.


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