“Israel has a powerful stranglehold on the American government” –James Traficant interview with Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren broadcast on Fox News on September 10, 2009.
Traficant had been an extremely popular Democratic Congressman from rustbelt Ohio who had just been released from spending seven years in prison on charges of corruption. Many people feel Traficant had been railroaded on trumped up charges after trying to take on the Israel lobby and a number of powerful interests.
Traficant was one of the few members of Congress to oppose Israel and support Palestinian rights. Below are a few examples.
The Washington report on Middle East Affairs reported in 1988:
The former Mahoning County sheriff (1981-1985) has a proud history of defying special interests and defending their victims. As sheriff, he attracted national media attention when he was jailed for contempt of court because he refused to process court-ordered foreclosures on the homes of several unemployed steel workers in his economically depressed community. Traficant sees a direct connection between his defense of the homes of steel workers in Ohio, and his condemnation of the indiscriminate and vindictive Israeli demolition of the homes of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza…….
…As a result of the intifadah and the rise in worldwide consciousness of the Palestinian struggle, many congressmen now privately express admiration for the courage of the Palestinians and revulsion at Israeli military brutality. In public, however, most are voiceless. Only the gentleman from Ohio has repeatedly spoken out on the floor of Congress, with his every word being transmitted to a nationwide television audience….
…On March 9, 1988, Traficant first startled Congress by sharply criticizing Israeli brutality and violations of human rights in the occupied territories. Citing shocking statistics and eyewitness accounts of the suppression from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, he told congressional colleagues that “the time has come to speak out against the abuses of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip … A roar of outrage should be the voice of the House, and everybody should hear it.”
Traficant followed up the next day with a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, saying “the beatings and shootings” of teen-agers “are not acceptable to us (Congress) and the American people.” He concluded by urging the prime minister to give peace a chance and to reconsider a land-for-peace international conference as outlined in the Shultz plan.
Traficant has continued to remind members of Congress of their obligation to speak out on behalf of Palestinian human rights. On August 10, he told his colleagues: “The Palestinians are also God’s children. They have a right to self-determination and … they have a right to freedom.”
IN 1991 he continued to oppose AIPAC, the Washington Report noting:
Rep. James Traficant has introduced a resolution to prohibit the US government from guaranteeing loans to foreign borrowers unless it also guarantees the borrowings of all American states and cities. Such a resolution, unimaginable just six months ago, now presents a serious obstacle to AIPAC’s campaign to slip the guarantees through Congress without debate and without an up or down vote if possible.
In 1995 WRMEA reported:
Efforts by one House member, Rep. James Traficant (D-OH), to spread the pain [of cuts] equally among aid recipients failed. Noting that the Israeli and Egyptian programs were the only ones not being cut, Traficant observed that “there should be no sacred cows when we are cutting veteran’s programs, Medicare and school lunches.” He proposed 10, 5 or 1 percent across-the-board cuts on Israeli and Egyptian as well as other foreign aid programs.
To the consternation of lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who demand 100 percent adherence to their voting recommendations, when Traficant’s 1 percent reduction amendment actually reached the House floor for a vote, more than a third of House members supported it, with 139 ayes to 270 nos. Despite such flurries of resistance, however, the new Republican majority demonstrated conclusively that, revolution or no, Congress still is Israeli-occupied territory.
A 2014 in depth interview with Traficant is here.
An article about how he was viewed in his hometown: Jim Traficant Was Our Kind of Crook: A Youngstown tribute.