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Portnoy's New Complaint

By Israel Shamir


The Viennese Jewish shrinks decided to turn away the American Palestinian Professor Edward Said, who had been invited to give them a lecture in memory of Sigmund Freud. The Professor was seen throwing a stone in the direction of the Israeli border. The psychiatrists said it speaks a lot about his subconscious. They would never throw a rock, like a tenured wild Arab from Columbia University; they prefer Sharon's missiles.

I think this is a good approach, and if it can be applied to professor Said, it should be applied to others. A generation ago, in 1969, Phillip Roth decided to probe the subconscious of his contemporary American Jew. In the novel, "Portnoy's Complaint", Roth's hero, Alexander Portnoy, lies on the psychiatrist's couch and tells of his inner feelings, domineering mother and adolescent sex. What would a modern Portnoy blabber about on a new and improved model 2001 couch?

We can find important clues by probing the press. Philip Weiss in the New York Observer noted that the Jews are to politics and media what the blacks are to basketball. The leading media powerhouses like the New York Times Corporation are fully kosher, owned by Jews with a substantial majority of the editorials and the op-eds written by Jews. Their voices are representative of Jewish American opinion. With a very few exclusions, they are supportive of Israel, its policies towards the Palestinians and its right-wing ruler, general Sharon.

The situation in our land is well known. The Jews rule supreme. The local non-Jewish inhabitants have few rights. A large majority are disenfranchised. Their property is seized at will and their sources of independent livelihood are destroyed. Their cities are besieged, activists assassinated, women and children starved. They have no access to public media, to welfare; they are not allowed to even go to the beach. None of this is secret. It is freely discussed in the Israeli media.

It would be a gross exaggeration to say that the Jews of Israel hate goys and wish them all gone. To borrow the expression of Conrad Black, the owner of British and Canadian newspapers, it would be 'a lie worthy of Goebbels'. Israel imports hundreds of thousands of goys and shiksas: Chinese, Thai, Romanians, Ukrainians, Russians and Africans. In just last few months, the Israeli Ministry of Labour issued thousands of new permits for guest workers. The Jews of Israel welcome goys, as long as they have no rights, make no demands and agree to work for minimal wage. At the first sign of trouble, they are taken by force and boarded on the first plane back home.

This is the country adored by William Safire, Tom Friedman and other Jews in the mainstream media. 'Tell me what you like, and I'll tell you what you are', goes the Latin adage. The pro-Israel position of the American Jews in the media is a good indication of their subconscious feelings towards the world at large.

Their favourite neo-liberal globalist fad is but a tendency to turn the whole world, including the United States, into a Palestine with a small ruling class, a huge security machine and voiceless impoverished natives. But let us give the gentlemen of the press their due. They could be worse. The more vocal part of American Jewry considers them rather soft. The US correspondent of Haaretz in Washington, Nitzan Horovitz, writes in today's edition (March 16, 2001), "The Israeli lobby in the US (AIPAC) is more intransigent than any government of Israel, including that of Sharon." It is a Jewish supremacist organisation, according to Yossi Beilin, an Israeli ex-minister who is not much of a liberal himself.

Why do they hate Palestinians? The Palestinians have roots, they are living in harmony with their environment, they love their villages, they stick to their land, they can live without Jewish guidance. The Jewish supremacists wish to destroy their society, to confiscate their land and turn them into slaves sweating in Jewish factories. If that is what 'Portnoy 2001' feels about Palestinians, why would he feel any different about other goys? A good Viennese shrink would pronounce him sick and possibly dangerous to others. He is as sick as any bigot of the Ku Klux Klan, but much more influential due to his control over the media.

What is the source of Portnoy's influence? Why did he change so much since 1969? Phillip Weiss explains it by the success of Jews in breaking through barriers, enriching themselves and occupying commanding positions in the establishment. He writes, "I don't claim to know how Jewish the membership of the establishment is. Twenty percent, 50 percent? I'm guessing 30". Even 30% would be sufficient to promote any idea, if the other 70% have no interest in the subject. In many financial companies, a 10% controlling share is as good as total ownership, as the rest is spread among small shareholders.

In the absense of solid statistics for the US, it is instructive to consider the economy of Apartheid-era South Africa. The Economist, hardly a 'hate publication', estimated that the Jews who constituted 0.03% of the population owned sixty percent of that rich country's market capitalization. All other players, Anglos, Boers, Indians and native Africans competed for the remaining 40%.

The power of money is translated into ruling over the minds of the masses by the feudal structure of the media. At the peak, there are media lords, the proprietors. They delegate authority to their faithful retainers, the chief editors, who in turn, choose loyal soldiers. The structure does not stand alone, but links with the financial and trading structures, the main ad-suppliers. The ad-suppliers are more important than the readers. In England, the Daily Herald, a newspaper targeted at a working class constituency, went bankrupt. Although it had five times as many readers as The Times, it only attracted half the advertising revenues. Advertisements account for approximately 75% of the revenue of an average newspaper. In the case of Radio and TV broadcasters, that figure leaps to almost 100%. It is no wonder that the media is accountable only to its 'paying' patrons, the privileged few who are members of an elite club.

Contrary to perceived wisdom, the media is not the message. The media is not a line of business. Lev Chernoi, a Russian-Israeli billionaire who sold his vast media empire to another Jewish tycoon, Mr. Berezovsky, put it concisely in a recent interview: "Media is politics". The media is a means of shaping public consensus; of swaying the consciousness of a nation. There was a time when the readership provided some feedback. Not anymore. Ordinary people still own most of the body parts of America and they are the muscle, but the nerve system and the brain have been taken over by the club of media lords and the managers of finance and trade, a new dominant power in the world. They decide what Americans think and Americans enforce their decision on how we should manage our planet, from the rain forests of the Amazon to the last besieged Palestinian village.

The Club has done away with any pretence of pluralism in the press. Russian politicians and journalists visiting the US often express amazement at how, in this huge and heterogeneous country, the scope of expressed opinions is so narrow. "You succeeded where the communists failed", is a frequent refrain. Indeed, the differences between American newspaper coverage and TV News have all but disappeared.

Noam Chomsky recently wrote, "the editors of the NY Times, and their brethren, have refused - not "missed," but refused to publish a single word about the sending of unprecedented numbers of military helicopters to Israel. Last week, the latest $.5 billion deal was struck between the Pentagon and the IDF for more advanced Apaches. They recognize how the (US) population is likely to react. To date, the total coverage of this massive transfer of public funds has been one opinion piece in a newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina. I've actually attempted to personally contact editors I've known for years. No use. The discipline, and uniformity, are really impressive. People who thought that Stalin had reached the limits of totalitarianism are quite wrong".

Well, Joseph Stalin never complained about the media machine or the modern technology at his disposal. Its potential is not yet fully realized, as the five major networks launch a uniform nightly campaign to spread Portnoy's New Complaint to every house in America. A painter Diane Harvey wrote in despair: "its main technique is through feeding the public an entire world-view made out of toxic substitutes for information and truth. The 360-degree, surround-sound World Lie most people are believing is built and sustained by the nonstop flow of highly purposeful, integrated and carefully directed fabrications. The spirit of truth has departed, an upgraded version of global totalitarianism has been coalescing into a new death-grip on human freedom" .

Paradoxically, this machine is vulnerable because it is so formidable. The subjugation and destruction of Palestine is but one of its applications. Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you, as no man is an island, said the Shakespeare's contemporary, John Donne, proclaiming the common humanity of man. These words sent Ernest Hemingway to fight for freedom in Spain in 1936, as freedom is indivisible. We repeated these words in 1968 and we should repeat them now. The struggle for freedom in the US and the battle for Palestine are but one war.

Whenever the Almighty sends a malaise, says a Jewish parable, He sends the cure with it. The cure lies in democracy. The media should be returned to the people, taken out of the rich men's hands. Israel/Palestine should be democratized, with equal rights provided to Jew and Gentile alike. It would cure Portnoy's New Complaint.


Israel Shamir is an Israeli writer and journalist. His articles The Rape of Dulcinea, The Test Failed, Galilee Flowers could be found on many Internet sites, www.thestruggle.org, www.antiwar, www.NileMedia.com, www.mediamonitors.com, etc. He can be reached at shamiri_@netvision.net.il, or write P.O.B. 23714 Tel Aviv 61236 .