Middle East Conflict

Helen Thomas’ Overblown Israel Affair

June 10, 2010

Multiple Pages
Helen Thomas’ Overblown Israel Affair

Last Thursday, somebody stuck a video camera into the mug of legendary White House reporter and commentator Helen Thomas. She was taking a walk on the White House lawn, apparently with a friend. Thomas was asked to comment about Israel. Somewhere else on the White House grounds, a get-together was celebrating Jewish Heritage Day. Based on the subsequent video, it appears that Thomas may have consumed an after-hours, medium-sized martini with a large olive or maybe a glass of white wine. She was relaxed, unwary, and in a good mood.

Thomas’ comments were off-the-cuff and out-of-the-office. They hit the internet in a few days. They were posted by Matt Drudge on June 4, in screaming headlines: WH PRESS QUEEN: JEWS GET OUT OF ISRAEL, GO BACK TO POLAND! Oh, the horror. The video went viral.  The blogosphere and wing-nut talk radio exploded with outrage, shock, the gnashing of teeth, vitriol and hysteria. The clueless news readers at Fox News were ashen. ADL honcho Abe Foxman was having a cow, or pretending to have a cow, calling her suggestion “bigoted” and showing “a profound ignorance of history.”

Ari Fleisher, a professional spin doctor and Bush Jr.‘s White House Press Secretary, who helped lie us into Iraq, termed Helen’s comments “unacceptable” and urged that she be fired to “send a signal.” The world was about to rotate off its axis, and everyone who was anyone in the meretricious world of politics and in the establishment media—left, right, and center—was kicking grandma Helen down the stairs, including her co-workers in the White House press pool. She became radioactive overnight. Indeed, a few days later, Helen Thomas had been dumped and forced into retirement. The thought police had triumphed and were crowing.

<object width=“300” height=“243”; style=“float:left; MARGIN: 10px 10px 10px 10px”/><param name=“movie” value=“http://www.youtube.com/v/RQcQdWBqt14&hl=en_US&fs=1&”>

<embed src=“http://www.youtube.com/v/RQcQdWBqt14&hl=en_US&fs=1&” type=“application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=“always” allowfullscreen=“true” width=“300” height=“243”></embed></object><p>The official exchange:

Somebody or other: “Any comments about Israel? We’re asking everybody today.”

Thomas: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine….”

Somebody or other: “Ooh! Any better comments about Israel?”

A friend of the victim, off camera: “Helen is wild.”

Thomas: “Remember, these people [the Palestinians] are occupied, and it’s their land. It’s not German, not Poland.”

Somebody or other: “So where should they go? What should they do?”

Thomas: “Go Home!”

Somebody or other: “So where’s home?”

Thomas: “Poland. Germany.”

Somebody or other: “You think the Jews should go back to Poland and Germany?”

Thomas: “And America…and everywhere else.”


Now I am not acquainted with Helen Thomas, but I am pro-alcohol. It is good for the heart muscle. As in everything, it is a question of dosage. My guess is that Helen’s customary forthrightness was enhanced by a drink. No problem there. Especially since she was soon to celebrate her ninetieth birthday, still went to work at the White House, where she confronted a fog of misinformation, and yet had managed somehow to remain compos mentis.

But what Helen Thomas said in just a few words went to the heart of the conflict in the Middle East. Her insight was so obviously important and relevant to those who knew the facts, that the only way to counter it was with ridicule and denunciation. The aftermath of the Second World War ushered in a post-colonial era. The British and French empires collapsed. All over the world, the trend was for self-determination and freedom. And yet on the back porch of Europe, with the imposition and recognition of the Israeli state in Palestine, we had just the opposite, an unabashed neocolonialist enterprise. This enterprise has been led from the start by Jewish immigrants to Palestine from eastern Europe and Russia, especially from Poland. This is a simple fact of history. Take a look at the names and faces of all the presidents of Israel since 1948.

Based on the ideology of Zionism, the enterprise has very negatively impacted the native inhabitants of Palestine, the indigenes, the people already there. Again, perfectly obvious to those in the know, especially the perpetrators. This is not rocket science. There are Palestinian refugee camps all over the region, outside the West Bank—in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Gaza itself is one large refugee camp. The refugees in the camps and those in Gaza want to go back to Palestine, most of which is now called Israel, most of which is populated with east European and Russian Jews or with American Jews of east European and Russian background.

The entire project is generously funded and enabled by Washington, thanks to opportunistic, career politicians, including the current occupant of the White House. This unnatural state of affairs, the dispossession of the Palestinians, has been extant since 1947/48. It has been exacerbated by the 1967 war and its aftermath, in which Tel Aviv formally annexed east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights from Syria, and embarked upon the colonization and military occupation of what it calls Judea and Samaria, funded in part by tax-deductible contributions from U.S. taxpayers, in addition to routine largesse from the U.S. Congress.

Helen Thomas is an American of Lebanese background. Perhaps the remarks which instantly terminated her illustrious career can be viewed as a defense of her fellow Semites, the Palestinians. Yet, her remarks have been branded “anti-Semitic” by the usual hypocrites in the Israel-first nomenklatura who hold sway over the U.S. Congress and the White House. Again, this is not a Right v. Left issue. And it is not a religious issue either. It would be nuts to make U.S. foreign policy based upon an interpretation of the Bible. There are sects of orthodox Jews who are vociferously anti-Zionist.

The Jews from eastern Europe and Russia are not Semites. They have only the most remote, if any, racial or ethnic connection to the ancient Hebrews, who were Semites. This was first pointed out by Arthur Koestler in his book The Thirteenth Tribe and has recently been affirmed by Professor Shloma Sand, himself a Polish immigrant to Israel. Take a look at Bibi Netanyahu and at his charming foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. Netanyahu’s background is Lithuanian and Polish; Lieberman is from Moldova, in the former Soviet Union.

So when Helen said “Get the hell out of Palestine” it was no doubt a visceral reaction to decades of injustice. She may have wanted to indicate that the Jews who rule in Palestine are there by right of conquest. “Remember, these people [the Palestinians] are occupied…it’s their land.” In fine, Israel is not the result of natural historical developments in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Second World War, as is commonly assumed by the innocent and uninformed. Rather, it is the product of Zionist influence in power centers outside of the Middle East, going back to 1917, especially in London, Moscow, and Washington.

When the controversy first arose, I remarked to a friend that no one appeared to be addressing the substance of what Thomas had said, only denouncing the fact that she said it, taking for granted that her remarks were prima facie bonkers. My friend is a recovered alcoholic and a psychologist who specializes in addictive personalities. His response: “Helen Thomas is now and has been a left wing, senile, gasbag. People often judge us by our friends. Wake up.”

I forgot to mention that my friend is addicted to “right wing” gasbags Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, among others, and takes them seriously. Like them, he reduces everything to a Right v. Left problem or, even sillier, to a Republican v. Democrat issue. A more balanced response came from another, apolitical friend, a young mother from midtown Manhattan, who e-mailed me: “Can you believe she got fired? Ridiculous! You can’t say anything these days.”

Most likely Helen was suggesting that the Zionists make a strategic retreat, let the Palestinians back into their own land and villages, and attempt restitution for past misdeeds. But for certain, now that she is off the Washington merry-go-round, Helen Thomas should write an article or a book to explain what she meant. She owes it to her country, to herself, to the Palestinians, to the Jews, to world peace, and to the general proposition that there is a right and a wrong. In the meantime, she deserves a martini.

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