Posted Sunday, August 11, 2002

Quick navigation  

Alphabetical index (text)

I find that the store is several rungs beneath the Savile Row milieu in which I buy my own suits. The staff sneer that Benny is not in.


August 7, 2002 (Wednesday)
Key West (Florida)

NO phone service, must have been a storm during the night. Breakfast at Rusty Anchor. Later: Phone seems to have been off the hook upstairs for hours: the cottage has become Babel of languages. I have turned over the upper floor, which is normally empty, first to Gabriela from Peru, who cooks and works for me; and then also, by chance, to Hilke from Germany and Rachèle from Brest in northwestern France. (The German learns only later, from disbelieving parents in Bremerhaven, whose notorious clutches she has fallen into.)

They were working briefly in a T-shirt store here in Duval-street, they told me, but the pay was not good and they quit because of what else was demanded of them; I have given them a civilized roof over their heads here for a few days, and access to a full refrigerator, before it is time for them to turn round and go back to university.

Managing this babbling ménage has been quite demanding. While I speak all their languages and more, each one speaks only one other. Each has a different problem, which I try to sort out. Hilke is dating Rachèle's brother, and there are emotional scenes, with much sobbing, as the brother phones her from Europe, quite unexpectedly.

It is like having teenagers all over again. But they also turn to me to tackle other, uglier problems: Benny T., the store owner, has cheated them out of most of their earnings. They are a couple of hundred dollars short, and it means a lot to them. I say they are lucky to have been suffered only financially.

The twenty-two such stores in Duval-street were all owned until recently by one Israeli family, using the word family in both its normal and its mafia sense. The local newspaper, The Citizen, ran a chilling exposé of their real activities in drug-money laundering a couple of years ago, impervious to the inevitable squawk of "anti-Semitism" that this provoked. They had done their homework, and they were right on target. The same family are now switching to the Israeli-run world-monopoly in Ecstasy, it seems. So -- these girls got off lightly.

[Later . . .] The girls have asked me to go make the Israeli store owner pay up. In the evening I bike over with them to the store. I find that the store is several rungs beneath the Savile Row milieu in which I buy my own suits. The staff sneer that Benny is not in. Come back tomorrow at nine a.m., they say: "But he stays only a few minutes."

Since the girls will soon start heading back to Europe, I send them off back to the cottage and bike off to the police station to lodge a complaint on their behalf. Police officers come round to the cottage at ten p.m. -- it is a beautiful warm, dark, balmy evening -- and advise us to inform the city's State Attorney Paul Meyer: "He has been taking a special interest in those stores. They are part of a much bigger organisation," the older officer adds, mysteriously. Having read those Citizen articles I know what he's getting at.


August 8, 2002 (Thursday)
Key West (Florida)

BY 9 a.m. we're at the State Attorney's Office. The problem is that Rachèle and Hilke both have legal work permits in their visas. Paul Mayer's face drops. Had Benny the store owner knowingly hired illegals, he would be facing a $15,000 fine on each girl (and nothing whatever would have happened to them, Paul adds hastily).

He then begins a fascinating questioning session, grilling them on their experiences in the store: Have they seen anything-illegal going on? Anything out of the ordinary? Were there three or four employees there (because with four or more, special city ordinances designed to stamp out the plague of such stores kick in). Had he given them any special training or directions on how to scam the customers (yes indeed, and this is what they had not liked, they both chime in, and why they quit after the first five days: for instance, he had educated them on how to size up the buying power of each customer, by looking at their shoes and other things, and then setting a high or low price accordingly.

When they fixed the decals to the cheap T-shirts, Paul asks, did they write out a proper form first clearly stating the final price to the customer? This is a Key West city ordinance, designed to combat another Israeli scam, he explains: otherwise, a five-dollar T-shirt and a five-dollar decal mysteriously become a sixty-dollar shirt when combined. No, Benny had not filled out any such forms.

Why are the items not openly priced by city ordinance, I ask? Paul explains that the big department stores like Publix and Winn-Dixie would also fall foul of any such ordinance, and if the Israeli store owners were the only ones prosecuted they would cry "foul" and "religious persecution" and "Holocaust".

It gets worse. Paul asks the girls: "Did you ever hear the word saf in the store? It's an Israeli word, they use it, it means rip-off," he explains.

The girls do not recall hearing it in Benny's two stores however. Paul came down here twenty years ago from New York City. A Jew himself, he hates these immigrant Israeli scamsters with a fervor.

He explains that when a floor assistant has reeled in the customer and sends him over to the cash register to pay, he will quietly hiss saf to the accomplice: rip-off, meaning: "He is a sucker, you will get away with ripping him off: triple-dip his credit card, or charge twice the correct amount -- he will never spot it, and if he does he will be too far away to do anything about it." "We have got it on videotape," he adds.

So Paul walks back to the store with us, his belt now loaded with bleepers, and a cellphone. Investigator Larry R Shankle comes with us. I stand aside and let them have it out with Benny. Benny is handsome, suave, well-groomed, a lady's man of around forty.

I see him gesticulating vigorously, shrugging his shoulders, raising his arms in mock despair, both palms upwards, the very caricature of a Jewish street-trader. It must be in their microchip, just as I swear every woman has at one time in her life said the words: "If you don't know what you've done to upset me, I'm not going to tell you."

Originally, says Paul afterwards, when he first took him on a year or two ago, Benny was full of macho. Now he realizes the odds are against him and he is less foul-mouthed. He has his back to the wall. His is the last T-shirt store against which Paul's department has failed to get hard evidence; the city has shut down a dozen others, and planted undercover agents in several more, who have reported on what is really going on here in Duval-street. So Paul is grateful for the information the girls have given him.

It adds to the mosaic (an appropriate word, as it turns out). Benny has made a mistake in picking on girls who would speak to me. Sooner or later now, Paul will get Benny too.


AFTER walking the officials back to the city building, I call in at the store alone and tackle Benny. His chutzpah is gone. I say to him that he has a choice: give me the cash that the girls earned now or face, well, a lot of grief from the authorities and me. Paul has asked me to make a report, I add, and that report goes straight on to the Immigration.

He fishes out half a dozen ten-dollar bill from the till, whining: "Why are they doing this to me! After all that my family has been through. I came to America after such suffering." He seems not to know to whom he is saying this. I hand the little wad of cash politely back to him and say: "I will be back in an hour. By that time please have the entire missing amount ready for me." We're talking two hundred dollars.

At 11 a.m. I pick up the payment. Two hundred. It is now in two checks, but I give my European guests their cash at once, plus a few dollars more, because I feel guilty for the way this town, the Israelis, the male of the species, and all the rest have treated them. I want them to return home with kind thoughts about America. The Americans deserve it.

I hope one of the flies on his wall will report to me Benny's feelings when he sees that his two checks have made it into David Irving's Legal Fighting Fund. And I will remember to listen out for that word: saf.


August 9, 2002 (Friday)
Key West (Florida)

DUBLIN has again invited me to speak in November. Here we go round the Mulberry Bush.


August 10, 2002 (Saturday)
Key West (Florida)

THE phone rings at 3:40 a.m.; turns out to have been a "Mike" -- one of Gabriela's friends. I leave a suitably terse message on his voicemail. The visitors have however all left. Peace and quiet returns to the cottage. A pleasant, noisy, interlude, just like having teenage children all over again: but the smoking, and noisy friends, and tantrums, and the petty backbiting between the three of them  . . . aargh. I watched them drive off -- but not before I had hidden a card in the closed ashtray reading "bad, smoking in a non smoking car" -- and attached it to a string of five ten dollar bills tucked into the tray. I know what it is like to be a student on tour with just enough cash to scrape by on.


I HAVE several times invited Professor Norman Finkelstein, author of the book, The Holocaust Industry, to come and be a major speaker at Cincinnati. His book went in agonising detail into the extent of the financial scandal behind the major Jewish organisations' extortion of money from the Swiss Banks and foreign governments, money which never reaches the deserving survivors of the Holocaust (like his own mother).

We have corresponded in past years about this historic shakedown, and I am sure that many Americans will want to see and hear this brave man. But there is no response from Finkelstein.

Until earlier this year he was an untenured professor at the City university in New York, but he then suddenly vanished, revealing weeks later that the college authorities had asked him to leave, as his presence was causing them, ahem, difficulties.

I send this email to a fellow professor in Chicago: "Did Norman F make any kind of response to you? A year or so ago he was quite normal and corresponded with me, but this year he has not even acknowledged half a dozen emails and handwritten letters."


August 11, 2002 (Sunday)
Key West (Florida)

THUNDERSTORMS all night. I have replied to Dublin accepting: "I am greatly honoured by your invitation, and will not let you down or disappoint you in any respect."

My friend in Chicago replies: "No, Norman Finkelstein hasn't responded. I was struck by his unresponsiveness. Of course, he may be indisposed but maybe he has also been infected by the conformists and could not deign a reply. I know he lost a teaching position, at Hunter [College] I think, and he told me once he was destitute in Chicago." After a few kind words about "Churchill's War", vol. ii, which he is reading, he adds: "Good luck with conference. I think your speakers seem fine. Though I admit last year's crop was dynamite with all those academics."

Finkelstein's funking it saddens me immensely. He is a fine speaker. It is fatal to adopt a craven attitude when under attack from the international organised Jewish community (das Internationale Judentum, as an unfortunate German State-Secretary with little sense of his country's history latterly referred to it).

I certainly am not afraid of them but, in fairness to Norman Finkelstein, it does seem that the recalcitrant members of their own community -- the ones who refuse to hiss saf to their accomplices when there is quick money to be made -- have more to fear than most.


Previous Radical's Diary
Finkelstein interviewed by Beirut newspaper after his university sacks him
Finkelstein interviewed by Counterpunch after his university sacks him
 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

David Irving's ACTION REPORT

© Focal Point 2002 [F] e-mail: Irving write to David Irving