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The Hate of Helen Thomas: Jews Should Go Back Home To Germany

| 49 Comments

You simply couldn't make this up. I give you Helen Thomas, acknowledged Dean of the White House press corps, at a White House Jewish Heritage Celebration:

And the thing is, it's not really surprising. Just someone who chose to say out loud the logical endpoint of Islamo-leftist opinion about Israel, and the way many on the left feel.

Back to Poland and Germany. Just let that sink in for a second.

Of course, Helen Thomas issued a statement later:

"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."

It has no permalink, but is currently at the top of her site.

I'll begin by noting the term "last week." The videotaped statement was made on a Tuesday. Which leads to point #2.

This apology was an utter and complete lie, to an extent that would embarass the most hardened politician.

If her apology was true, she wouldn't have said what she said in the first place. While laughing. This statement, and her videotaped statement, cannot coexist in one belief set. And it's not like someone born in 1920 could possibly be ignorant of what "go back to Germany and Poland" means.

If her apology was true, she would have apologized that day, or the next day.

Every word of her "apology" is a lie, beginning with the word "I". The only thing she deeply regrets is the need to tell that lie, in order to preserve her job and reputation.

It should preserve neither.

The most likely defense mounted by her apologists is obvious: she's old, and doesn't know what she's saying. My response is 2-fold. One is that if this is true, she should be fired right now. People who don't know what they're saying can't be in a job that revolves around saying things.

The second is that this may be an argument for lowered inhibitions, but it won't make people say things they don't believe. Helen Thomas was asked an open-ended question, and then an open-ended clarification question. She responded with her real beliefs.

A belief that Jews, uniquely among nations, have no right to exist. No right to security. And ultimately, no right to live, save at the sufferance of others.

That's the real Helen Thomas. And she's not alone.

49 Comments

Why is anyone surprised that this babbling idiot is an anti-semite? When she was younger she was a babbling young marxist/racist. Now she is an old babbling marxist/racist.

For Hurst to still employ her is a disgrace to Hurst--but the again the Hurst background fits her to a T.

Israel can't even defend herself and most of the world jumps all over her. She is alone--has always been alone and must do what is good for her.

Alan

Awww, Helen is worried about the Jewish people! /sarc

Zings like these should motivate us to work morning, noon, and night to get cleaning out our political house and set our affairs in this country in order! Look out Helen a house might fall on your witch costume!

Zings like these should motivate us to work morning, noon, and night to get cleaning our political house and set our affairs in this country in order!

Helen Thomas could totally make amends by issuing this statement:

Let me be totally honest with you - i.e., let's pretend that this is a cocktail party in Georgetown and we are all good "progressives".

We are totally committed to "the Palestinian cause", by any means necessary.

It has nothing to do with the Palestinians. If an actual Palestinian walked across our lawn, we would call the police. It has nothing to do with justice. We have nothing but contempt for the national aspirations of people - such as the Iraqis and Iranians and Lebanese - if it runs counter to our political prejudice. It has nothing to do with religion. We don't believe in God and we despise all religion, except when we can use it to further our political prejudice.

We are committed to "the Palestinian cause" because it is violent and because it is anti-American, and we have been taught all of our lives that this constitutes a superior morality. We have nothing but hatred for anyone who disagrees with this belief.

We under that the Holocaust really happened. We really do. But it doesn't serve our political purposes, so we don't fucking care.

She is looking like one of a haunted mansion residents, and though bats aren't circling her head...

Time to retire, babe.

Looks like Helen or Hearst drew the same conclusion.

She's accomplished a lot, and at age 89 deserves to step down. Judging by the video, she's still very sharp.

I haven't read her and my knowledge of her is limited to the eccentric thorn in the side of press secretaries, as portrayed in the Stephen Colbert tribute to her during that infamous but delicious Narional Press Club mugging of George W Bush.

Whether effective, or not (and I don't know enough to judge), she seems to have had a penchant to stand up to authority and kick it in the shin. There's not enough of that going on these days in the Presidential Press Corps.

Rachel Sklar has an article at the Huffington Post professing disillusionment with Thomas in light of this video. I think its misplaced. In the video here, Thomas is doing nothing different than what she's always done. She's kicking taboos in the shin, and she's doing it with a provocational flair. What's more, she's doing it straight up: right in the face of the rabbi, his two sons, and the camera. Criticism always feels harsher when you identify with the target of criticism. But the fact is, criticism of Israel is a taboo in this country. It's hard to do it without being attacked as an anti-semite. The firestorm caused by her comments, I think, says more about us than it does about Helen Thomas.

Roland:
She's kicking taboos in the shin, and she's doing it with a provocational flair. What's more, she's doing it straight up: right in the face of the rabbi, his two sons, and the camera. Criticism always feels harsher when you identify with the target of criticism. But the fact is, criticism of Israel is a taboo in this country.

So telling Jews to go back to the sites of Auschwitz and Treblinka is just "criticism of Israel", and that sort of criticism is just "kicking taboos in the shin"? Like making network TV shows about lesbians?

Noted without comment, but my real problem is your use of the word "flair". Please view the video clip (above) and recall that flair means natural skill or finesse. Is the expectoration of ignorant-ass anti-Semitic spleen becoming such an art form that we need drama critics to judge it? If so, how would you compare this to the Rudolf Hess speech in Triumph of the Will?

Oh, for the days when the Dixiecrats were kicking the establishment in the shins. Whether its over shipping the jews back where they come from or keeping our schools segregated, sticking it to the man is its own reward.

Anyway, I think the most interesting part of this story is that once again a guy with a flip phone (not sure if he was wearing pajamas) scooped our alleged journalism elite... on a source they have been literally sitting next to for decades.

Just maybe the FTC will keep that in mind with whatever machinations they are working on to 'save' journalism. Although somehow I think they will draw a far different lesson.

Criticism of Israel is not taboo in this country-- I see it and hear it all the time. Some of it is justified.

Criticism of Israel is taboo among Republicans, maybe.

Either way, telling the Jews to go back to Germany and Poland is a little more than "criticism," Roland. Don't you think?

Marcus:

I'm a supporter of Israel and a supporter of the two state solution.

Thomas was asked whether she has any comments about Israel, to which she replies: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people [the Palestinians] are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germany, it’s not Poland.” [Where should they go?] “They should go home, to Poland, Germany and America."

Going back to Germany or Poland or America, or Russia for that matter, in 2010 is not going back to the Holocaust. The ediotrializing on the video is trying to make that connection, not Thomas. Thomas is questioning the historical or biblical justification of Eretz Israel. She's pointing out that the creation of Israel displaced the local Palestinian population, and she's suggesting that the rights of Palestinians living in Palestine in the first half of the 20th Century trump any biblical claims to a greater Israel for the Jews. Being of Lebanese descent it's understandable that she views the issue from a Palestinian perspective. That's not a crime.

Here's an article noting that Huckabee has made similar comments that Palestinians should get out of Palestine. My understanding is that a substantial minority of Israelis are desirous of a "Greater Israel" between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. It's also my understanding that there are active campaigns of harrassment, containment, confiscation of land, and discrimination aimed at Palestinians in the West Bank with the purpose of bringing this about.

Competing historical claims notwithstanding, the fact is that Jews are not going to leave Palestine, just like Palestinians are not going to leave Palestine. Piling on Helen Thomas is not going to help anybody to work this out.

Roland, I think there are two conversations going on here.

The first is a meta-discussion about whether one is allowed to criticize Israel, and how, and whether Helen Thomas is over the line. The second is the actual discussion of Israel's policies regarding the Palestinians.

For the latter, see my response in the other thread; Huckabee is exactly the sort of person I'm talking about on the right. I support Israel, also, but not unreservedly, and not without criticism of my own.

For the former, though... not to put too fine a point on it, but I think you're wrong.

First, there's really no American cultural taboo against criticizing Israel. There is, as I said, a Republican, and somewhat religious/rightwing taboo against it, but that is not an American taboo. Lots of people in this very forum ahve spoken up in support of, but with criticism of, Israel. And it's really not hard to find pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli positions and rhetoric in the United States, these days.

Second, it is true that Helen Thomas did not make an explicit call to send anyone to another Holocaust. However, no one with even a cursory understanding of 20th century history-- and a shred of humanity-- could fail to connect the dots between what Thomas said, and how close it came. No one needed to tell me how to interpret that video. I saw it, and my eyes bugged out in disbelief that anyone educated could say that, and be unaware of the larger historical context.

Third, again, even without an explicit call to another Holocaust, "Send the Jews back to Germany," registers on my mind about as charitably as, "Send the Blacks back to Africa." It is stunningly callous. It is stunningly naive of how real people act in the real world. It displays stunning ignorance of the history of why those people are where they are-- which is to say, not exactly by free and unconstrained historical choice. And it displays a level of contempt that implies to me that the speaker does not fully regard the objects of her speech as people, but as actual objects, to be uprooted and scattered to make someone else's life easier.

And fourth, in that sense, yes: There is a purpose to piling on Helen Thomas. She may be unlucky to be at the center of this firestorm, rather than other deserving individuals. But better late than never, and better her than no one.

"and she's suggesting that the rights of Palestinians living in Palestine in the first half of the 20th Century trump any biblical claims to a greater Israel for the Jews"

Does it then follow that the rights of the Jews in the second half of the 20th century trump any claims of the Palestinians in the first half, using that logic?

The vast majority of individuals living in Israel today were born there. Does the fact that their parents or grandparents weren't necessarily bear on their rights?

I realize this is a bit silly because most of us do strongly believe in a 2 state solution- but the point of the Thomas clip is that some of us (even in the politest of company) obviously don't, and obviously think that there is a realistic path of tossing out two or three native born generations of Israel in a way that they would ABHOR if it were being discussed about a different region and people.

Suggesting that a second generation Mexican go home would never pass for legitimate conversation. Why is what Thomas said a shred different?

Mark:

It looks like population in Israel in 1948 was 806,000 and population increased ninefold between then and 2007. By comparison, U.S. population increased by .8 and world population roughly doubled over the same time span.

Although the vast majority of Israelis today were born there, they mostly are descendents of immigrants who arrived since '48. Meanwhile, behind the fence in Gaza are 1 million Palestinians who are refugees from the Nakbah (as they would have it)and their descendants.

At the start of 1967 no Israelis lived in the West Bank; today there are more than 350,000 Jewish settlers and others taking advantage of Israeli subsidized housing in the West Bank (about 17% of the population). Another 210,000 Jews live in annexed East Jerusalem. Expulsion of Palestinians from their land is an ongoing process, this is not over.

You are right, the Arizona electorate notwithstanding, in the U.S. a suggestion that second generaton Mexicans go home would not pass for legitimate conversation in most places. There is much concern that among powerful elements in Israel today you can take this less and less for granted, and some worry that in the Jewish establishment in the U.S. many are failing to properly denounce that kind of "conversation."

The Helen Thomas comments are certainly not polite conversation. I agree they are out of line. However, there is something troubling in the fact that many of the loudest voices (I'm projecting a bit here) who are professing to be shoked by Helen's comments are the same folks who are withholding their outrage at Avigdnor Lieberman's "conversation." I doubt that Rabbi Nesenhofer, a political and newssavy guy, was surprised. Thomas has been a longstanding critic of Israel. Where's RabbiLive.com's video on Lieberman, or the settlers?

As the tag, says, I'm done now. Too much HT!

Roland, before 1967 the West Bank was not "Palestine", it was territory occupied (and later annexed) by the Kingdom of Jordan. The Palestinians living there, and in East Jerusalem, were Jordanian subjects. Palestinian nationalism was forbidden.

They were given citizenship by King Abdullah I, who was then murdered in Jerusalem by Palestinian assassins.

The population of Israel includes 1.5 million Arabs. Many of these are Palestinians who fled to Israel for safety after the Jordanians brutally repressed the Palestinians in 1970.

But who gives a crap, right?

Not your buddy Peter Beinart, that's for sure. His main interest is keeping American Jews roped into the Democratic Party, alongside the Hamas supporters and psychotic teenagers in kaffiyeh. His secondary interest is poisoning relations between Israel and their supporters in the US - Jewish or otherwise.

Roland, I realize you're trying to let the conversation run down, so don't take this as an attempt to rope you back in; while I'm using the thrust of your argument as a springboard, it's really just that-- a springboard to vent frustration on a larger phenomenon that has annoyed me, lately.

And that phenomenon is the tu quoque deflection dance:

The Helen Thomas comments are certainly not polite conversation. I agree they are out of line. However, there is something troubling in the fact that many of the loudest voices (I'm projecting a bit here) who are professing to be shoked by Helen's comments are the same folks who are withholding their outrage at Avigdnor Lieberman's "conversation." I doubt that Rabbi Nesenhofer, a political and newssavy guy, was surprised. Thomas has been a longstanding critic of Israel. Where's RabbiLive.com's video on Lieberman, or the settlers?

This is not an unreasonable question. But the answer, pure and simple, is that sometimes particular events just happen to go viral where other similar ones don't.

So it is unreasonable to grind a conversation to a halt by dragging out the innumerable examples of assholes on the other side (the current target in my circle of friends at work is Rush Limbaugh) and demanding ritual denunciation. We're not talking about Rush Limbaugh, today, or Huckabee, or Liebermann, or whoever. We're talking about Helen Thomas, because she's in the news for saying something unconscionable.

Bring up one of the others in good faith, somewhere else, and I'm likely to join the hazing.

Glen:

According to this Jordan.gov site:

"On April 11, 1950, elections were held for a new Jordanian parliament in which the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank were equally represented. Thirteen days later, Parliament unanimously approved a motion to unite the two banks of the Jordan River, constitutionally expanding the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan."

King Abdullah was assasinated in '51.

The '67 war resulted in another 300,000 Palestinians fleeing the West Bank for Jordan. I don't believe that after the Jordanian's expelled the PLO and other armed groups in '70-'71 there was substantial migration back to the West Bank. Do you have a reference? There was no migration to Israel as Israel has held fast on its law of (no) return. The increase in Arab population within Israel has been due to a high birth rate and the annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (97%) and just 3% (~36,000) due to immigration, primarily unification of families.

Thank you to Roland to confirming my point that Thomas' hate is not unusual, and with such a classically dishonest approach. I could not have done better.

Suggesting that Jews go back to Germany and Poland is "kicking taboos in the shin, and she's doing it with a provocational flair." Too bad more people can't be "with it," like her. She not demented for saying this, it shows she's "still sharp." You're a supporter of a 2-state solution, but Israel has no right to exist, and the Jewish people, unique among nations, no right to a homeland. They should live as a permanently displaced people, at the whims of the countries they live in, with no security of their own. The results of which experiment resulted in the international creation of the state of Israel, following the murder of 6 million. These beliefs are not vile, or hateful, just reasonable points of view. And is aimed not at Jews, but at Israel. All according to Roland.

But hey, don't call him a bigot.

Subsequent attempts to deflect the conversation do not change this core.

Bigot: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

Hate: : intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury b : extreme dislike or antipathy : loathing.

Joe: "Subsequent attempts to deflect the conversation do not change this core" does not sound particularly magnanimous or open minded. As for me, I've never been to Israel, but I care about the place. So one frets, one worries, and one wonders. Give me some information Joe.

As to intense hostility, I don't have that feeling when I look at the picture of Helen Thomas above, despite her saying stupid things . . . not because of. I harbor no hate for Israel. I admire what it has accomplished; I want it to succeed as a liberal place. I am married to a Jew and if I'm estimating correctly 80 percent of my friends are Jews. If we lived in the same city, I'd like to think I could count you among them. So . . . you're just going to have to trust me on this one, but you are off base with how you interpreted my posts above.

R

The problem is that people, all too often, don't work out the logical conclusions of their views, the implications of what they say and of what is said.

What did Helen Thomas say? That Jews should get the hell out of Palestine and go back to Germany and Poland and America?

Couldn't she have said that Jews should get the hell out of Palestine and go back to Tel Aviv and Haifa and Beersheva?

Apparently not. And why is that, exactly? Well, the answer depends on what one thinks of Helen Thomas, of what one knows about her, and, likely, of one's politics, generally.

One might ask, why should her opinion really cause so much trouble, especially when so many other share her views, with more doing so all the time?

And this question indicates how successful Palestinian propaganda has been in combination with a lying, misinforming and conniving mass media; in short, it indicates how perverse the situation has become.

There are ramifications. There will be repercussions. These are already clear to anyone who bothers to look and they will become mcuh clearer down the road.

The whole issue boils down to how one responds to the following:
"There is no peace between Israel and Palestine today because________________________.

And who's to say that Helen Thomas's view will not prevail?

But hey, don't call him a bigot.

No, I don't think I will.
Not on the basis of this conversation, anyway.

She's kicking taboos in the shin, and she's doing it with a provocational flair.

OK, Its sort of like a designer putting a very high slit in a skirt or a sheer blouse that exposes the braless model's breasts on the runway at his or her fashion show. I get it. thanks for the enlightenment.

What's more, she's doing it straight up:
Yeah, Dawg, hip-hop style.
right in the face of the rabbi, his two sons, and the camera.
More of the same, but I simply love the anti-Semetic, Rabbi and his family flourish.

Criticism always feels harsher when you identify with the target of criticism.
Heavy, deep.

But the fact is, criticism of Israel is a taboo in this country. It's hard to do it without being attacked as an anti-semite. The firestorm caused by her comments, I think, says more about us than it does about Helen Thomas.

True the utter revulsion the comment caused say a lot for the American people.

On the other hand, this completely adolescent comment of yours says more about you than it does about either the American People or Helen Thomas, ie, Maybe you should revisit this tome of yours once you reach your sophomore year in your high school.

Why bother insulting the intelligence of the people who post here with something this shallow?

I was upset about this when I first heard it, but my opinion has changed the more I've thought about it. FDChief, one of the frequent commenters on Phil Carter's old Intel Dump site, makes the case that Thomas was fired mainly for speaking an inconvenient truth to power. I myself have problems with twisting what she said into support for the Holocaust as has been done, similar to how what Al Campanis said was turned into saying he was a supporter of racism. Furthermore, if she'd said what she said about the Turks in Kurdistan, no one in the U.S. would have cared.

Its unfortunate and unfair when a lifetime of service is remembered for a moment of weakness, with a statement made when we're in our waning years. Unfortunately, from now on she'll be remembered as an anti-Semite, just like Campanis is remembered as a racist, largely through misconstruing what they actually said.

tagyrn -
FDChief, one of the frequent commenters on Phil Carter's old Intel Dump site, makes the case that Thomas was fired mainly for speaking an inconvenient truth to power.

And you think he makes this case? I think he makes a fool of himself, and I will explain to you why.

He obviously sees nothing wrong with what Thomas said, though with a tinge of weasel-conscience he pretends to be fuzzy about the details. "Appears to concern some remarks", he thinks. No kidding.

Whatever she said, he is outraged that anyone took offense at it, and he lashes out hatefully at Judith Miller ("media whore") and William Randolph Hearst, who is long dead but must still be held accountable.

He is angry that people are "slagging off" on Helen Thomas. "She had an opinion and expressed it. That's pretty much the essence of freedom of speech." But wait - isn't slagging off on Thomas free speech? Not if you subscribe to the Asshole Theory of Free Speech: Assholes get to do all of the talking, and if anybody interrupts or contradicts an asshole, it's a free speech violation.

"Jesus wept, are we THAT spineless and timid?" he asks rhetorically. No, we are not, but he is. Adult persons who have friends, families, and jobs understand that you cannot say anything you want to whoever you want and escape consequences. That's not what the First Amendment guarantees. To expect the constitution to protect you from the just and logical consequences of outrageous remarks is spineless and timid, to say the least.

I'll skip his wretched understanding of the origin and history of Israel. Any wretch can get it off the back cover of a Noam Chomsky potboiler and memorize it in 10 minutes.

He finishes off with some more spineless and timid whinging about how darn tough it is to have a "discussion" about Israel, because you always get called an anti-Semite. At least, he apparently does. What an outrage that telling Jews to go back to Germany and Poland should evoke memories of Nazism, and destroy the "progress" that such a comment represents.

So much for him. As for Helen Thomas and her "lifetime of service", a coveted spot on the WHPC is not public service. And even within that elite she enjoyed conspicuous privileges. Nobody owes her squat.

I keep hearing about this "lifetime of achievement". Can anyone name three concrete achievements of Helen Thomas without using the word "first" or "woman"?

She's a vicious Jew-hater, speaking what she really thinks.

"It's their land".

Lots of Americans say they believe that about Native Americans, and how the US "stole" their land.

In some views it's more true about the US, but in some views it's more true about Israel.

It matters -- because to fight a Just War fight, one must be fighting for justice.
I think Israel has a Justice based reason to fight and kill for her self defense.

But her failure to force the Palestinians to surrender seems likely to mean that she's unwilling to fight hard enough to win, before the nuke cost of fighting gets too high to be Just War worth fighting. If fighting Muslims who don't have nukes is too hard, fighting those who do seems impossible.

Evacuation to America, New York or LA, seem a better option to me than accepting Iran getting a nuke and seeing 300 000 die in a mushroom cloud.

Re-occupation of Gaza, and really creating a human rights society, also seems better than Iran getting a nuke.

Here is the full uncut video, which is worth watching.

Here is the full uncut video, which is worth watching.

Thanks for the link, but it adds nothing to the debate except John Cole's bad temper.

There must have been a regular teleconference of Israel-hating leftheads convened to deal with this Helen Thomas crisis. I guess they assigned John Cole the job of making the perennially stupid "these comments were taken out of context" argument. His efforts aren't worth butt lint, though. Not that he tries very hard.

In a notable moment of frustration, Cole advises us all to "Grow up". What will we all realize when we "grow up", I wonder?

Glen:

What the video does make clear, I think, is that in this particular interaction on the White House lawn Helen Thomas displays no hatefulness towards the rabbi or his sons.

I also think that in this bruhaha many (I don't count you among them) have exhibitited much more hatefulness towards Helen Thomas than she exhibited towards Jews in this video. There is something hard hearted in this.

Whether this adds to the debate or not, everyone can make their own judgment.

"Evacuation to America, New York or LA, seem a better option to me than accepting Iran getting a nuke and seeing 300 000 die in a mushroom cloud."

If you think the jews evacuating Israel will mollify Iran, you're wrong. The better question is- if Israel didn't exist, who would be the next windmill for the Mullahs to tilt at? If Israel didn't exist, Islamofascists would have to invent it.

"Re-occupation of Gaza, and really creating a human rights society, also seems better than Iran getting a nuke."

In what world are these two concepts related? Again, if you think Iran is getting a bomb to avenge Palestinians, you aren't thinking clearly. Iran will pursue nukes if Israel falls into the ocean tomorrow. It is in their interest for the expansion of their power and ideology.

I don't think Thomas is an ant-Semite. I think she is an idiot. You'd have to be an idiot to believe (much less suggest) that the jews can or would or should leave Israel to go back to wherever they came from. That might have been possible or just for first generation immigrants (but again, never mention it in the same breath as our illegal immigrant problem!!!), but we are talking about several generations of people now who didn't choose to be born in Israel, but who were, and have as much right to the land as anyone can claim.

Thomas is being defended by idiots of like mind, who somehow believe this is possible (much less just). No reason to mistake stupidity for malice.

Roland? Give it up.

I won't offer an opinion on whether she "is" an anti-Semite in the sense of wanting bad things to happen to Jews, because I'm not sufficiently familiar with her work. But what she said was virulently anti-Semitic, and her apology was anemic, ringing false to just about everyone who read it.

And it's virulently anti-Semitic not in the active sense, but in the passive sense, as I said before, of treating people like objects.

A continued defense in depth of Helen Thomas starts to look a little weird.

For me, this is not about what Helen Thomas said, it's about how she was treated for what she said. The original video was packaged as a deliberate incitement of hatred against an 89 year woman for speaking her mind. This is about "The hate of Helen Thomas" in a very different way than is suggested by the title.

What she said was strongly anti-Israel. No matter how you feel about Israel, that's not the same thing as "anti-Semitic." The uncut video illustrates that nicely.

So if Thomas has said something along the lines of 'All Mexicans should go back to Mexico', that would be anti-State of Mexico, but not Anti-Mexican people?

a lifetime of service
Wow.

I'm with Phil Smith on this aspect. Precisely what service would that be, and to whom?

Mark:

We do have a similar dynamic here in the U.S. in this respect: We have ~11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., most of them from Latin America. Many folks advocate that these illegal immigrants should go back to Mexico, or wherever they came from. Arguments are made that it is racist to advocate such a position. For example, some would want to paint everyone who voted for the recent Arizona law with the racist brush. It strikes me that is clearly incorrect. Just because you want illegal immigrants to return to where they came from, that doesn't make you a racist.

With Israel, of course, you have a much more complicated issue. For Thomas to say that Jewish European immigrants have no right to be in Palestine is very different from saying illegal Mexican's should go back to Mexico; it's more like a Native American saying that Catholic and Protestant European immigrants have no right to be in America. It carries more controversey because a) Israel was established more recently, b) the Palestinian population is a much larger precentage of the overall population, and c) Israel is established as a Jewish state.

When you look beyond the internationally recognized border of Israel at the occupied territories, the claim of those who assert that the Jews have a right to all the land gets a lot weaker, and what Thomas says is not radical.

"a) Israel was established more recently, b) the Palestinian population is a much larger precentage of the overall population, and c) Israel is established as a Jewish state. "

I do not get this at all. Is it not blatantly obvious that the Jewish people are from the Middle East, ie: The Old Testament and Jesus of Nazareth

So present day Israel is just a singular event that just popped up in the forties of the last century? This is like fast forwarding while erasing geneology, history, culture, and lineage of millenia. It does not compute.

Precisely what service would that be, and to whom?

To the American public, of course, the proper duty of the Fourth Estate. Her numerous honors attest that she did that well over a long career. I disagreed with her a lot of the time, but lets not rewrite history off of this one incident.

An anti-Semite would not have participated in a Jewish Heritage Celebration Day, where this incident happened, in the first place.

Roland, are you serious?

What the hell do you think Thomas was proposing when she said that the Jews should get out of Palestine and go back-- not to Israel, but to Germany and Poland?

Did you think the Knesset could make a deal with Alien Space Bats to pick the whole damn country up and plop it down in international waters off the coast of Germany, forming a self-sufficient little island nation, one painless night?

Or do you think maybe this would involve millions of people expending actual resources, picking up and moving half way around the world, individually, leaving behind their actual homes, their actual families, and their actual lives?

The former is "anti-Israel."

The latter, because it remembers that there are actual people being affected by this lovely little scheme, can fairly be called "anti-Israeli," or, in the modern vernacular, "anti-Semitic."

Stop treating these people like objects, Roland. And stop trying to make this about something other than what Thomas said. It's exactly about what Thomas said.

You haven't answered the question at all. I requested three concrete achievements that don't include the word "woman". I'll help you out. A link to a wikipedia article listing some honors is not an answer to that question.

Examples, please. What story did she break? In her multi-decade history of hectoring press secretaries, did she ever get one of them to slip up and tell a truth that was heretofore unknown? What, pray tell, did she actually accomplish?

Juliet:

Of course the Jews have a historical, cultural, religious, and genealogical tie to Israel . . . and so do the Palestinians.

Marcus:

Your description here, of course, describes a little how Israel was formed:

"Or do you think maybe this would involve millions of people expending actual resources, picking up and moving half way around the world, individually, leaving behind their actual homes, their actual families, and their actual lives?

Except it was less than millions. Population in Israel in '48 is reported at 806,000 (see comment #13, above). In the process, in 1948 somewhere around 700,000 people were forced out of their actual homes and families were displaced to live in refugee camps and exile. They and their descendants now live under Israeli occupation.

I think you are right that Helen Thomas's statement treats real Jewish families living in Palestine today as objects. That's wrong, and that's why it was appropriate for her to apologize.

Except it was less than millions. Population in Israel in '48 is reported at 806,000 (see comment #13, above).

And in 4004 BC, it was two. Big deal. The situation is what it is now. Solutions are implemented in the present. Forcing the Israelis to pick up and move doesn't reduce the quantity or the quality of injustice in the world, it just moves over to people no more deserving.

tagryn -

I think those of you who are arguing for Helen Thomas' status-by-seniority are missing an obvious point: it is incredible that a person who has been a top Washington reporter for 57 years, with access to the highest public officials, should have such a primitive view of Israel.

During that time she must have met hundreds of prominent people who could have vastly improved her knowledge of this subject with a 10 minute conversation.

Why did this never happen? Probably because she was (1) a woman, (2) a liberal woman, (3) a liberal woman of ethnic descent, and (4) the first this-and-that. So other liberals - the only people she knew - naturally declined to correct her, and instead celebrated her as "outspoken".

This is the end result of that condescension, and in that sense she is a victim. One of many.

What, pray tell, did she actually accomplish?

Reporting the news accurately over many decades. In the post-Watergate era that gets underappreciated, and won't win many Pulitzers, but it really is the essence of what day-to-day beat reporting is all about. Her former colleague Dean Reynolds has more about her career here, and while admitting she had a blind spot for the Israel/Palestine issue that eventually was her undoing, also states that she was careful to make sure it never colored her reporting.

Marcus:

I agree with your last comment 100%. Now, can someone please add a new post so we can change the subject?

Roland:
Now, can someone please add a new post so we can change the subject?

Not until you explain your point about King Abdullah I.

Until then I demand that all new posts be boycotted, and that the British get the hell out of Lower Scotland and go back to Normandy.

So, basically, she was a reporter and a pundit for a long time and that, in and of itself, is what you expect me to honor? That's just plain stupid.

...should have such a primitive view of Israel.

I would think that should be, "progressive view".....

Daylight in the swamp: Howard Kurtz gets it right with Fellow journalists let Helen Thomas down by not reining her in.

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