Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tangible Results

In July, 1969, a delegation of the Black Panther Party is introduced and hosted at the First Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algeria by Abraham Serfaty. In the first issue of The Black Scholar, Nathan Hare, a man born on a sharecropper's farm near Slick, Oklahoma, who went on to get his doctorate at the University of Chicago and become head of the first Afro-American Studies Program at San Francisco State University, wrote an account of the festival:

"There was a battle in Algiers in late July, with lighter skirmishes both old and new, and emerging signs of struggle which low lurk ready to boomerang around the world in the years (and months) to come. The troops came together, African generals and footsoldiers in the war of words and politics that splashed against the calm waters of the Mediterranean Sea - in the first Pan-African Cultural Festival - from everywhere in greater numbers than ever before; from San Francisco to Senegal, from Dakar to District of Columbia...

"Hundreds of delegates came from thirty one independent African countries and representatives from six movements for African liberation, from Palestine to Angola-Mozambique and Congo-Brazzaville. And there were Black Panthers and 'black cubs' and old lions from the American contingent. Secretly exiled Eldridge Cleaver chose this occasion to reveal his whereabouts, and expatriated Stokely Carmichael came with his South African-exiled wife, Miriam Makeba. Kathleen had her baby during the festival, and there was Panther Minister of Culture, Emory Douglass, inernational jazz artists such as Nina Simone and Archie Shepp, and Julia Hevre (the late Richard Wright's daughter, now living in Paris).

"LeRoi Jones (whose passport had been held up) could not get over, but there were: the serious and quietly charismatic young poet, Don L. Lee; Carmichael lieutenants, Courtland Cox and Charlie Cobb; Panther Chief of Staff, David Hilliard, who had to return to the United States before the Festival was over to take care of a crisis with theChicago Police; and the compassionate black Parisian poet Ted Joans. There were many young black Americans who had not been invited but who had cared enough to piece together their own fare."

Back in the USA, the FBI aggressively exploited an issue that had begun to present itself in the summer of 1967 when, at the National Convention for a New Politics in New York, two members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), James Forman and Rap Brown, "led a floor fight for a resolution condemning Zionist expansionism". Just a few months after the Festival in Algiers, the Counterintelligence program, otherwise known as COINTELPRO, embraced a fundamental axiom of Israeli propaganda: to be against Zionism is to be an anti-Semite. Rabbi Meir Kahane was chosen as an efficient vessel to convey this message since, as a memo put it: "Rabbi KAHANE's background as a writer for the New York newspaper "Jewish Press" would enable him to give widespread coverage of anti-Semeitc statements made by the BPP and other black nationalist hate groups not only to members of the JDL but to other individuals who would take cognizance of such statements."

Fabricated letters, like the one below, went out:

Dear Rabbi Kahane,

I am a Negro man who is 48 years old and serves his country in the US Army in WW2 and worked as a truck-driver with the famous "red-call express" in Gen. Eisenhour's Army in France and Natzi Germany. One day I had a crash with the truck I was driving, a 2 1/2 ton truck, and was injured real bad. I was treated and helpd by a Jewish army Dr. named "Rothstein" who helped me get better again.

Also I was encouraged to remain in high school for two years by my favourite teacher, Mr. Katz. I have always thought Jewish people are good and they have helped me all my life. That is why I become so upset about my oldest son who is a Black Panther and very much against Jewish people. My oldest son just returned from Algers in Africa where he met a bunch of other Black Panthers from all over the world. H said to me that they all agree that the Jewish people are against all the colored people and that the only friends the colored people have are the Arabs.

I told my child that the Jewish people are the friends of the colored people but he calls me a Tom and says I'll never be anything better than a Jew boy's slave.

Last night my boy had a meeting at my house with six of his Black Panther friends. From the way they talked it sounded like they had a plan to force Jewish store owners to give them money or they will drop a bomb on the Jewish store. Some of the money they get will be sent to the Arabs in Africa.

They left books and pictures around with Arab writing on them and pictures of Jewish soldiers killing Arab babys. I think they are going to give these away at Negro Christian Churchs.

I thought you might be able to stop this. I think I can get some of the pictures and books without getting myself in trouble. I will send them to you if you are interested.

I would like not to use my real name at this time.

A Friend


"It is further suggested tat a second communication be sent to Rabbi KAHANE approximately one week after the above described letter which will follow the same format, but will contain as enclosures some BPP artifacts such as pictures of BOBBY SEALE, ELDRIDGE CLEAVER, a copy of BPP newspaper, etc. It is felt tat such a progression of letters should then follow which would further establish rapport with the JDL and eventually culminate in the anonymous letter writer requesting some response from the JDL receipient of these letters."

Other memos, from 1970, describe further operations and their results:

"2.Operations Being Submitted

On 2/27/70, a correspondence was directed to individuals known to have attended a BPP fundraising function at the home of the well-known musician LEONARD BERNSTEIN. This correspondence outlined the BPP's anti-semetic posture and pro-Arab position."

"3. Tanglible Results

On 5/70/70 [NAMES BLACKED OUT] both of whom have furnished reliable information in the past, advised that on that date approximately 35 members of the Jewish Defense League picketed the Harlem Branch of the BPP in NYC. The purpose of this demonstration was to show that the JDL feels the BPP is anti-Semetic in its acts and words.

Also on the above date, approximately 50 members of the JDL demonstrated outside of the Bronx, NY BPP Headquarters for the aforementioned reasons.

In view of the above actions by the JDL it is felt that some of the counterintelligence measures of the New York Office [of the FBI] have produced tangible results."


- Ammiel Alcalay, "No Return", in the collection Wrestling With Zion, edited by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon

[the text relies on material from Ward Churchill and Jim Van der Waal's book The Cointelpro Papers]

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