The New Complaint of Portnoy



The Viennese Jewish shrinks decided to disinvite the American Palestinian Professor Edward Said, who had been called to lecture them in memory of Sigmund Freud. The Professor had been seen throwing a stone towards an Israeli border. The psychiatrists said it speaks a lot about his subconscious. They would never throw a rock, as the wild Arab from Columbia University; they prefer Sharon’s missiles.

I think it is a right approach, and it should be applied not only to professor Said. In the far-away 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 blubber on the newest reclining couch model 2001?

We can find this out by turning towards the press. Philip Weiss[i] 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 and the Washington Post are fully kosher, owned by Jews and a substantial majority of the editorials and the op-eds are written by Jews. They are representative of the Jewish American opinion. With a very few exceptions, they are supportive of Israel, its policies towards the Palestinians and its brave ruler, general Sharon.

The situation in our land is well known. The Jews rule supreme. The local non-Jewish inhabitants have few rights. The majority of them is 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 the 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 objection, they are taken by force to the first plane back home.

That 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 trend is but a tendency to turn the whole world, including the United States, into a Palestine with a small ruling class, big security machine and voiceless impoverished natives. But let us give their due to the gentlemen of the press. 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[ii] 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.

What do they hate in 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 the 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 his neighbours. He is as sick as any bigot of 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 the Jews to break through the barriers, to enrich themselves and to occupy the 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 divided among small shareholders.

In the absence 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 the rule over the minds 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 to 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 to its ‘paying’ patrons, the privileged few who are members of an elite club.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the media is not the message. The media is not a line of business, either. 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. Once, the readership provided a 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. Americans enforce their decision how we should manage our planet, from the rain forests of the Amazon to the last besieged Palestinian village.

The Club disposed with the pretence of the pluralism in 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 had no such compliant media machine or the modern technology at his disposal. Its potential is not fully realized yet, as the three major networks plan to launch one united and unified news programme every night, to spread its message 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 believe is built and sustained by the non-stop 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” [iii].

Paradoxically, this machine is vulnerable as it is too formidable. 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 Elizabethan poet, 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, we should repeat it 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 wisdom, He sends the cure for it. The cure lies in democracy. The media should be returned to people, taken out of the rich men’s hands. Israel/Palestine should be democratised, equal rights provided to Jew and Gentile alike. It would cure the New Complaint of Portnoy.


[i] New York Observer, 22.01.01

[ii] In Israeli parlance, the Jewish supremacists are called ‘right-wing’, while national moderates are called ‘left-wing’, though this division has no connection to their social positions.


(Mr. Israel Shamir, is one of best-known and most respected Russian Israeli writer and journalist. He wrote for Haaretz, BBC, Pravda and translated Agnon, Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Tel Aviv and writes a weekly column in the Vesti, the biggest Russian-language paper in Israel.)