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Reminiscences


Influenced from a Distance

Send your reminiscence to jstone@catalyticdiplomacy.org

Max Holland, August 31, 1989:
[On discovering I.F. Stone’s Weekly]
I do recall being stunned....I felt like I had stumbled across, or been let in on, a big secret. Someone who was fearless about trying to tell the truth.

...in the fall of 1971, I decided that my first subscription as an adult would be to the Bi-Weekly. I parted with my $5 and eagerly awaited the first issue. It came, I devoured it, and immediately looked forward to the next one.

Four years later, I was living in a kibbutz in Israel when I had my first letter-to-the editor published in the Jerusalem Post. I [had] noticed an item in the Jerusalem Post which described the successful tour of the Israeli Philharmonic in South Africa. I immediately wrote a letter of protest–I would like to think with all the outrage Izzy would have mustered. And when it appeared in the paper, and people started to debate whether I was right or wrong, I learned a lesson that Izzy had obviously learned so long before, the power of the printed word.

[He describes the effect it had on him to see Jerry Bruck’s documentary about I.F. Stone, which he characterizes as his “third” encounter from a distance with I.F. Stone.] That third encounter with Izzy was the catalyst for my decision to go into journalism. I started out at the Lincoln Nebraska Star as a copy boy, then obituary editor, music critic, and eventually, copy desk editor. In 1976, I arrive in Washington, a city that Izzy considered the Mecca for journalists, where good stories abounded if only you were willing to dig for them.

Through a mutual friend, I eventually got a chance to meet Izzy, and hear first-hand some of the principles that guided his work. If I had to reduce them to two, they would be don’t get too close to your sources, and history is no vice.


Gregory Orfalea, October 3, 1989:
In our few chance encounters, I felt time stop as it does in the presence of great men and women. And I felt in those few frozen, yet warm, moments accepted into something one might call The Secret Society of Human Beings.

[He describes a New Outlook conference in 1979 on the Camp David Treaty] Izzy, of course, blossomed in such a setting. If there was courage called for, I.F. Stone was there. As one of the very earliest critics of Zionist “Manifest Destiny” in the occupied territories, I am sure the road he hoed in the Jewish community and conscience was a lonely one....I took note of the importance of being self-critical of one’s own community when it goes awry. If one was informed, and did it with love, as Mr. Stone, such stances served the truth. So the potshots I have taken from the Arab American community for some things I have said do not wound quite as much with such as example as Mr. Stone’s to guide me.”


How I Lost College But Found Knowledge
Barbara Bick describes how, during World War II, she was persuaded by a colleague at the Alien Property Custodian government agency to leak to I.F. Stone (at P.M.) materials showing that the agency was returning the frozen assets of the Nazi chemical cartel, I.G. Farben to top managers of I.G. Farben who had become American citizens. The FBI was called in to investigate the leak. Eventually, Antioch College, which she was attending, questioned her and suspended her and she lost her College education. She concludes:

“I have indeed, missed opportunities which a college degree would have provided. But I can say that the knowledge gained that year has been a keynote of my life. Trust no government. A free press, courageous journalists and an alert citizenry are the only guarantees for a democratic society. I.F. Stone was the most eloquent exemplar of that political wisdom. I am honored that Izzy became a life long friend.”