Has the reader ever heard of James Traficant?
He is a former Democratic Representative in the U.S Congress. He was convicted by an American court in 2002 on counts of taking bribes, filing false tax returns, and racketeering. After serving his 7-year sentence in prison, he was released on the second of September, and is now considering returning to politics, and running in the legislative elections next year.
In fact, Traficant was very popular in his hometown in Ohio, and in the district which he represented since 1985 and until he was expelled in 2002, having been re-elected several times without any serious opposition. Also, it seems that he still has some measure of popularity among voters there, evident by the celebration of his release, and which was attended by 1200 of his supporters. Moreover, I read a news story about the possibility of his return to a career in politics career, on which the readers’ comments and responses were mostly favourable to the former representative’s bid.
But why should Traficant be of any interest to the Arab reader?
I did not know anything about him all throughout his tenure and until he was expelled, except that he came out in support of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian American mechanic working in the automotive industry, and who was accused of being Ivan the terrible, the Nazi concentration camp guard where who killed and tortured Jews. By coincidence however, I heard a recording of a television interview conducted by Fox News with Traficant, following his release from prison. I thus requested its transcript, and I lift some excerpts from what he said to the host, Greta Van Susteren, for the readers below. He wants revenge from the U.S Department of Justice, which he claims had forged evidence against him, as well as from the Israel Lobby, which had conspired against him for his role in the Demjanjuk case. He said:
The first reason [for my prosecution], is that I brought John Demjanjuk back from Israel. It was in fact my Freedom of Information Act which proved not only that he was innocent, but who the wanted Ivan really was. Members of Congress would tell me, "Jim, I love you. But please, don't involve me." I sent my evidence to the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati. They wouldn't accept it. I finally send it over to Israel, to the Supreme Court there. They called me over there along with my family – (it should be mentioned here that his wife Tish had stood by him all throughout his years in prison. They are both catholic). I did a live interview with Bryant Gumbel, and I said, if the Israelis put this innocent man to death, they're going to lose $15 billion to $20 billion every year they get from the American taxpayers. Bryant Gumbel then said, "What are you talking about? They only get $3 billion." And I said, "Bryant, that's only the foreign aid bill. Look at all of the other trade compacts, economic assistance, and military assistance. Israel gets approximately $15 billion a year from the American taxpayers, and cost every man, woman and child in America $30,000 a year.
The Israeli Supreme Court looked at the evidence, and could not refute it. And it came from the Justice Department. And they said, take him home. I brought him home, and he was bombarded ever since.
I pause here to say that Traficant carried on with a long explanation of his problems with the U.S Justice Department, how he defeated the department in an earlier case in 1983, and how the Prosecutor held a grudge against him since. He then elaborated to the anchor: The reason behind this is very simple. And this maybe you don't want to hear, I don't know. And I certainly don't want to hurt you on your show. You're fair. But I believe that Israel has a powerful stranglehold on the American government. They control both members of the House, the House and the Senate. They have us involved in wars in which we have little or no interest.
I pause again here for the last time, and say that Traficant had said what we all already knew about. However, the importance of what he said lies in the fact that it was announced by a former U.S Representative, who believes that he was set up by the lobby because of his support for Demjanjuk, and also because he believes that there are allies of the Israel lobby well placed within the justice department; he wants revenge against those as well.
Nonetheless, I am not sure whether Traficant will be able to take his revenge, as the path of American politics is strewn with the victims of this lobby; Traficant was not its first victim, and nor will he be its last. In fact, my first experience with the lobby’s influence dates back to when Representative Paul Findley was attacked by this very lobby, and who later on published the famous book “They Dare to Speak Out”.
No doubt, Traficant is bold. Even before his confrontation with the lobby, he was famous for his independence at the U.S congress, and had voted many times in favour of bills that his party was not in support of. He often dressed “poorly”, which is yet another expression of his independent character.
Traficant denied being anti-Semitic during the interview, and said that this is the first charge that is expected to be made against the opponents of Israel.
The strange thing however, is that Israel, with its crimes and the arrogance of its collaborators, has become the primary motivation behind the resurgence of the anti-Semitism of which it is now complaining.
* Al-Hayat 4/10/2009