Why Helen Thomas, but not Henry Kissinger?

Sami Jadallah

Sami Jamil Jadallah, 2 Jan 2011

One has to compare the statements made by Helen Thomas and Henry Kissinger about Jews and Israel to see the hypocrisy and double standards that afflict official Washington, the media and public affairs in general in the US. Kissinger did not see any problem of Soviet Jews going to the gas chambers. Helen Thomas only asked why not the Jews of Israel go back to Poland and Germany where they came from. Kissinger was afforded the forum of the Washington Post to apologize for his statement while Helen Thomas was thrown to the wolves and under the train with every body from Obama on down doing their best to “delete” her outstanding contributions to professional journalism. Of course the answer to this hypocrisy is that one is an “Arab”, the other is a “Jew”, simple.

Shortly after meeting with Golda Meir at the White House in 73, Kissinger is quoted as saying to President Nixon “ The immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy, and if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern, may be a humanitarian concern”. The statement of course came out to the public after Helen Thomas made her comments to a rabid Rabbi who was pestering her and asking her opinion of Israel. This is exactly the conversation that took place between the Rabbi and Helen Thomas on June 7, 2010, (Wikipedia).

“Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?

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

Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?

Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland …

Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?

Thomas: They go home.

Nesenoff: Where’s the home?

Thomas: Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else[55]

Nesenoff: So you’re saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?

Thomas: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?

—May 27, 2010, RabbiLive.com [50]

Of course there was never a reference to the gas chamber, no indifference to sending the Soviet Jews the Gas Chambers, as suggested by Henry Kissinger, only calling for immigrating European Jews to go back to their countries of origin in Germany and Poland.

Kissinger offered his apologies in a Washington Post opinion page on December 26, 2010 widely republished around the world even in the Arab press and in the Israeli press. Kissinger argued his statement was taken out of context and offered this apology” Reference to gas chambers have no place in political discourse and I am sorry I made that remarks 37 years ago”. On the other hand Thomas made the following apology “ 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.”

Of course in a bloodthirsty media and politics, no one wanted to hear the apologies from Helen. Every one was out for her blood from President Obama to his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, to Arie Fleischer, to Lanny Davis, to Mike Huchabee, to Victor Davis Hanson to Kevin Smith of the Society of Professional Journalists. All of them found Helen Thomas comments to the pestering Rabbi as “ offensive” and “inexcusable”. No one dared to say the same thing to Henry Kissinger statements, which it seems that every one from President Obama on down found his words not worthy of comments or they all agree to his statement. Henry Kissinger did not mind if the Jews go the gas chamber and no one raised hell about it. Every one find Helen Thomas calls for the return of the Jews to Europe offensive and worthy of every drop of her blood.

It seems every one is jumping on Helen Thomas from Kevin Smith of the Society of Professional Journalist who is seeking and calling for “reconsider” the name of Helen Thomas for Life Time Achievement at their January 8, 2010 meeting. Even a group of Holocaust survivors who are by the way silent about Henry Kissinger statements about sending the Jews to the gas chambers were critical of the Arab American National Museum of Dearborn, Michigan for its plans to put out a “statue” of Helen Thomas. Even Wayne State, no doubt under pressure from American Jewish organizations and threats of cutting off private and public funding discontinued the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in Media Award.

The ironic thing is that no one in Washington or any where in the country is calling for stripping Henry Kissinger of his Noble Peace Prize he received in 1973 for his part and contribution to the death and murder of over a million Vietnamese and Cambodians and no one is calling for striping him of the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by the late Gerald Ford.

Henry Kissinger the “Jew” is offered every opportunity to explain his statement and offer an apology and that is the end of his indifference to sending the Soviet Jews to the gas chamber, while Helen Thomas the “Arab” is thrown to the wolfs with every one including President Obama is doing their best to “delete” her long contribution to professional journalism, her first as Dean of the White House Press Corps, the first woman officer the National Press Club, the first female member of the Gridiron Club.

With actions like these it makes one wonder if there is separate treatment of “Arabs” from that of “Jews”. Perhaps every one is telling us something we already know. When it comes to Israel, be careful, no one has the right to dare to speak. Welcome to America.

Sami Jadallah

Sami Jamil Jadallah

Born in the Palestinian city of El-Bireh ( presently under Israeli Military Occupation, Armed Jewish thugs and settlers). Immigrated to the US in 62. After graduating from high school in Gary, Indiana was drafted into the US Army ( 66-68) received the Leadership Award from the US 6th Army NCO Academy in Ft. Lewis, Washington. Five of us brothers where in US military service about the same time. Graduated from Indiana University with BA-72, Master of Public Affairs-74 and Juris Doctor-77, and in senior year at IU,was elected Chairman of the Indiana Student Association. Sami Jamil Jadallah is an international legal and business consultant and is the founder and director of Palestine Agency and Palestine Documentation Center www.palestineagency.com and founder and owner of several business in technology and services. Sami also runs an online website (Jefferson Corner)

Khalid Amayreh – Castro is right, so is Helen Thomas


Khalid Amayreh, 23 June 2010

Zionist supremacists from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles are ganging up on two elderly targets these days. The first is the 84-year-old Fidel Castro, a man who apparently made up his mind about Zionism more than six decades ago. And the second is 89-year-old veteran American journalist Helen Thomas.

Castro’s crime was a few passing remarks he uttered recently, saying that the Swastika has become Israel’s real flag.

    “It would seem that the Fuehrer’s (Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s) Swastika is today Israel’s banner.” The ex-Cuban leader added that “the hatred felt by the state of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they wouldn’t hesitate to send the one and a half million men, women and children of that country to the crematoria where millions of Jews of all ages were exterminated by the Nazis.”

As to Thomas, she has been vilified and demonized for saying that all Ashkenazi Jews who had immigrated to Palestine from their native East European states, such a Poland, should go back to their native homelands.

Castro and Thomas didn’t cry blaspheme. Their remarks, though courageous, are factually true.

When speaking of the Swastika becoming Israel’s banner, Fidel Castro was only voicing what millions of people around the world are saying and whispering. In the final analysis, when Israel thinks, behaves and acts like Nazi Germany, Israel can be and should be compared with Nazi Germany.

For so many years, Israel and her immoral supporters and spin doctors have been utilizing the holocaust to justify Israel’s own slow-motion holocaust against the Palestinian people and other peoples in the Middle East.

Now, given her manifestly nefarious behavior, one can safely state that Israel is indulging in actions and behaviors that qualify her for the Nazi epithet. To be sure, this is not a new discovery. In a certain sense, one can claim that Israel has always been a Nazi state in one way or the other.

In the final analysis, the extirpation and partial annihilation of an entire people from their ancestral homeland is a Nazi act par excellence. Even Jews recognize this fact.

Hence, Israel and its hypocritical supporters can’t have it both ways, namely behave and act like as the Nazis behaved and acted, and at the same time continue to enjoy the fruits of the holocaust industry.

In the final analysis, European Jewry didn’t perish in order to leave propaganda ammunition for later-day Zionists to cover up genocidal crimes against another Semitic people, the Palestinians.

Castro’s courageous remarks have actually been echoed by many Jewish leaders both in Israel and abroad.

For example, Sir Gerald Kaufman, the veteran British Labor MP, remarked a few years ago that “Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism.”

Kaufman compared the actions of Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip with the Nazis who forced his family to flee to Poland.

Kaufman, who was brought up as an Orthodox Jew and Zionist, argued eloquently that Israeli crimes made the Star of David look like the Nazi Swastika.

“My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her hometown. A German soldier shot her dead in the bed.

“My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.”

And, one might add, nor did they perish in order to provide a cover for Israeli soldiers massacring innocent aid activists in international waters in order to starve and savage 1.7 million men, women, and children in Gaza.

And now the Helen Thomas’s story. Responding to a passing question, the elderly veteran White House correspondent said that the ultimate solution for the Palestinian question should see European Jewry return home, to Poland, even to America.

Well, what is wrong with this most logical observation? For sure, some Jews have the right to live in Palestine, as equal and dignified citizens, but not as masters of violence and land thieves.

However, Jews, or more correctly descendants of converts to Judaism originating in the Khazar region, have no automatic right to claim Palestine as their patrimony especially if that dubious right is exercised at the Palestinian people’s expense.

Even religiously and theologically, there is no religious text in the Old Testament stating that the Almighty promised Jews a homeland in Palestine. There is a promise to the Israelites but not to Jews. Needless to say, the Israelites and Jews are not the same people since there are more Israelites, or descendants of Jacob or Israel, who are non-Jews than there are Jews.

Indeed, there is ample evidence that hundreds of thousands of modern-day Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Israelites? So, is it logical to say that Khazari converts have more right to Palestine than these Arabic-speaking Muslims and Christians who have been living in the land from time immemorial, certainly centuries before an Austrian Jewish Journalist envisioned a “Jewish” homeland in the land of the Palestinians.

Of course, Zionist leaders, who are actually pathological liars with little or no rectitude , can continue to repeat the stale historical lie, that “this is our eternal homeland.”

But the truth is that Palestine has never been the exclusive homeland of Jews. And the wheel of history doesn’t stop rolling.

  • Khalid Amayreh is a journalist based in the Occupied Palestinian town of Dura.

As Israel kills and maims, outrage is directed at Helen Thomas


Alison Weir: CounterPunch Anitwar.com

Contrary to reports,
Helen Thomas never said the word “Jews”

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer
reportedly helped orchestrate attack
Whenever Israel commits yet another atrocity, its defenders are quick to redirect public attention away from the grisly crime scene.

Currently, there are headlines about allegedly anti-Semitic comments made by senior White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Pundits across the land evince outrage at her off-the-cuff 25-second statement made to a man who appears to be holding a camera right in her face.

Thomas issued a public apology for her words, but this was insufficient to assuage the wounded feelings of powerful antagonists, and she has now retired from a long and distinguished career.

Before we examine her comments and evaluate their possible validity, let’s look at other recent events having to do with Israel.

On May 31st Israeli commandos killed at least nine unarmed volunteers attempting to take humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

According to eyewitness reports and forensic evidence, many of these aid volunteers were shot at close range, including a 19-year-old American citizen killed by four bullets to the head and one to the chest fired from 18 inches away.

Israel immediately imprisoned eyewitnesses and hundreds of other aid participants, confiscated their cameras, laptops, and other possessions, and prevented them from speaking to the press for days. Among the incarcerated were decorated U.S. veterans and an 80-year-old former ambassador who had been deputy director of Reagan’s Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism.

When they finally emerged and were able to tell their stories, many described horrific scenes of Israeli commandos shooting people in the head, of those tending the injured being shot in the stomach, of people bleeding to death while flotilla participants waved white flags and pled for help.

They also described being beaten brutally by Israeli forces, again and again – including those on ships that, in the U.S. media’s judgment, experienced “no violence.” A 64-year-old piano tuner from California, Paul Larudee, described hundreds of Israeli commandos boarding his ship. When he refused to cooperate with them, soldiers then beat him numerous times both on board the ship and after he was imprisoned on land.

Eventually he was taken by ambulance to an Israeli hospital. He wasn’t treated, however, and Larudee believes he was taken there because Israel didn’t want media to see his black eye, pronated joints, bruised jaw and body contusions.

Marine veteran Ken O’Keefe described similar beatings while in Israeli custody. In his case, the public was able to see his bloodied, battered face in video clips and still images – but only on the Internet, since American mainstream media failed to report on his press conference or to publish the many still photos of his injuries.

Other gruesome photos available to the American public only on the Internet are of Emily Henochowicz, a 21-year-old American student whose eye and eye socket were recently shattered by Israeli forces. She has since had her eyeball removed, three metal plates inserted in her face, and her jaw wired shut.
Henochowicz was not on the flotilla; she was taking part in a nonviolent demonstration against the Israeli assault when an Israeli soldier shot a high-velocity teargas canister into her face.

A Swedish citizen standing with Henochowicz said, “They clearly saw us. They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

Henochowicz is not the first to have been shot by such a canister.

Thirty-year-old Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahmeh died when an Israeli soldier shot one at him while Abu Rahmeh participated in a demonstration against Israeli confiscation of Palestinian farmland. A video of this is also available on You Tube; U.S. networks have also chosen not to broadcast this.

Californian Tristan Anderson was shot in the head by a similar canister while he was taking photographs following another demonstration. Part of Anderson’s brain was removed and he was in a “minimally responsive state” for 6-7 months.

He is now in a wheelchair, has almost no movement in his left arm and leg, is blind in one eye, and his mental functioning is significantly reduced. Photos of the shooting are also available on the Internet.

Since at least 2006 Israeli forces have closed off Gaza to the outside world, essentially imprisoning 1.5 million men, women, and children, and denying them foodstuffs, medicines, and building materials, as documented by such agencies as Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Christian Aid, which said that Israel was using food and medicine as weapons.

One of the multitudinous victims of this illegal siege is five-year-old Taysir Al Burai, who suffers from an acute neurological disorder and requires round-the-clock care. According to the UK Guardian, he could be cured if Israel would allow him to leave Gaza, but to date his parents’ repeated requests have been denied.

Another victim is 7-month-old Mohammad Khader, whose swelling in the brain required specialized treatment unavailable in Gazan hospitals depleted by the Israeli siege. His distraught parents’ applications asking Israel to allow them to travel abroad were similarly denied. Their tiny son died a few days ago.

Such stories go on and on.

Thomas’s “outrageous” statement
Yet, the rage we see in the U.S. media is directed against none of this. People shot in the head, eyes and brain parts destroyed, the elderly beaten, small children and infants caused to suffer and die, parents to grieve – none of this has caused a hint of anger. In fact, most of it has been considered of too little importance even to report.

Instead, media reports are filled with outrage at “anti-Israel” words spoken by 89-year-old Helen Thomas.

In Thomas’s lifetime Israel has ethnically cleansed over a million people, replaced them with colonists from around the world, committed dozens of massacres, tortured thousands of people, killed and maimed untold numbers of children, mangled limbs, and committed outrages on women, old people, the weak and the infirm.

It has assassinated people throughout the world, invaded numerous countries, spied on the U.S., killed and injured 200 American servicemen (the anniversary is this week), and tortured and imprisoned Americans. All while receiving more American money than any other country on earth.

For years, long before her recent words, Thomas has been the target of Israel’s vicious American volunteers, the Zionist blogosphere abounding with nasty slurs on her looks and her Lebanese ancestry, this latter also consistently emphasized by the media, despite her Kentucky birth and upbringing.

One of the reasons for the ferocious animosity toward her is the fact that Thomas is one of the very few mainstream reporters to challenge the neocon engendered lies that led the U.S. into wars that have caused massive death, destruction and tragedy and to continue to expose ongoing policies of violence and cruelty.

As the same groups and individuals who pushed the US into attacking Iraq have in recent years been escalating their efforts to push the U.S. to now similarly decimate Iranians under the pretext that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons, Thomas’s questioning attempted to elicit from Obama the fact that Israel already posses nuclear weapons. While the rest of the press corps has conspired in the cover-up of this fact and others, Thomas worked to expose them.

Not surprisingly, the many people complicit in these manipulations, such as former Bush spokesperson Ari Fleischer, have led the charge against her.

It is useful to examine the video and context of Thomas’s allegedly “anti-Semitic” comment.

A man, apparently holding a camera right in her face, asks for her comments about Israel. She says, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land…” He interrupts her and asks where they should go. She responds, “They should go home. To Germany, Poland, America, and everywhere else.”

While Thomas has since apologized for her hasty words and many Israelis have the right to continue living where they are, the reality is that Israeli settlers did, indeed, come from elsewhere; they are, in fact, illegally occupying Palestinian land (a fact acknowledged even by the U.S. State Department); and international law does require that they leave.

Many commentators evince particular anger at Thomas’s inclusion of Germany and Poland as places to which Israeli colonists should return, suggesting that Hitler is still in control and waiting to pounce.

The happy fact is, however, that World War II and the Nazi holocaust ended well over half a century ago. In Poland today there is a vibrant Jewish revival with a 10-foot tall Menorah being lit in the center of Warsaw during Hanukah, and Germany has become, according to the New York Times, “a country where Jews want to live.” In fact, in recent years more Jews have chosen to immigrate to Germany than to Israel.

Thomas’s call for colonists to return to America (this destination was left out of many articles) is far from outrageous given that a great many West Bank settlers are from the U.S.

Overall, reporting on the incident has largely departed from the standard journalistic practice of quoting people from both sides of an issue. Quotes from Thomas supporters are missing, even though the You Tube page featuring the infamous video contains a large number of comments supporting her. In contrast, quotes from Thomas’s detractors, almost all of them Zionists, are ubiquitous, but generally fail to divulge the speakers’ frequent conflicts of interest.

For example, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz quotes Jeffrey Goldberg without mentioning that Goldberg is an Israeli citizen who served as a prison guard at an Israeli prison that held hundreds of Palestinians without charge, some killed in cold blood by the prison commander.

Mainstream media organizations do not seem to have investigated reports that the man who videotaped Thomas, Rabbi David Nesenoff, also made an offensive video featuring himself and another man impersonating a buffoonish Catholic priest and Mexican immigrant.

Similarly, news reports that a high school had disinvited Thomas as a graduation speaker almost never inform readers that many of the school’s parents and students wished Thomas to remain, even though this unreferenced group may represent a majority of the school. Members of this group have created a Facebook page, “Helen Thomas should have been our graduation speaker,” that states:

“The purpose of this group is to quietly but firmly protest the ability of a small minority to impose its will on the larger group through engaging or threatening to engage in disruptive discourse. This group affirms a belief in reasonable discussion and feel that in this scenario, a clear minority was able to override a larger majority by distorting the issues and discussion.”
Replacing Thomas at the upcoming graduation ceremony will be CBS’s Bob Schiefer, who has close family ties to George W. Bush and has rarely, if ever, challenged administration falsehoods that sent the nation to war and that keep it there still.

Regarding his reporting on Israel-Palestine, media watchdog Fairness and Accurate In Reporting (FAIR) issued an alert in 2006 objecting to Schiefer’s “shallow, dismissive coverage of complicated and tragic events.”

It is not known who will take over Thomas’s front-row seat at White House briefings. Given the record of the current press corps, it is likely that Israel partisans are breathing a sign of relief.

One more obstacle to the Zionist juggernaut has just been removed.



* Additional information has come to light about Ari Fleischer’s significant role in initiating and orchestrating the attacks on Thomas. According to Washington Post blogger David Weigel, Fleischer emailed numerous journalists about the video and gave quotes to anyone who asked, “a simple gesture that poured rocket fuel on the story.”

* Nessenoff has removed his original video from You Tube. He has now posted a longer version on his website:

The moral failure of American liberals


Jonathan CookJune 10th, 2010
The ostracism of Helen Thomas, the doyenne of the White House press corps, over her comment that Jews should ‘get the hell out of Palestine’ and ‘go home’ to Poland, Germany, America and elsewhere is revealing in several ways. In spite of an apology, the 89-year-old has been summarily retired by the Hearst newspaper group, dropped by her agent, spurned by the White House, and denounced by long-time friends and colleagues.

Ms Thomas earnt a reputation as a combative journalist, at least by American standards, with a succession of administrations over their Middle East policies, culminating in Bush officials boycotting her for her relentless criticisms of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But the reaction to her latest remarks suggest that, if there is one topic in American public life on which the boundaries of what can and cannot be said are still tightly policed, it is Israel.

Undoubtedly, Ms Thomas’ opinions, as she expressed them in an unguarded moment, were inappropriate and required an apology. It is true, as she says, that Palestine was occupied and the land taken from the Palestinians by Jewish immigrants with no right to it barring a Biblical title deed. But 62 years on from Israel’s creation, most Jewish citizens have no home to go to in Poland and Germany — or in Iraq and Yemen, for that matter. There is also an uncomfortable echo in her words of the chauvinism underpinning demands from some Jews — and many Israelis — that Palestinians should “go home to the 22 Arab states”.

But Ms Thomas did apologise and, after that, a line ought to have been drawn under the affair — as it surely would have been had she made any other kind of faux pas. Instead, she has been denounced as an anti-Semite, even by her former friends.

The reasoning of one, Lanny Davis, counsel to the White House in the Clinton administration, was typical. Mr Davis, who said he previously considered himself “a close friend”, asked whether anyone would be “protective of Helen’s privileges and honors if she had been asking Blacks to return to Africa, or Native Americans to Asia and South America, from which they came 8,000 or more years ago?”

It is that widely accepted analogy, appropriating the black and Native American experience in a wholly misguided way, that reveals in stark fashion the moral failure of American liberals. In their blindness to the current relations of power in the US, most critics of Ms Thomas contribute to the very intolerance they claim to be challenging.

Ms Thomas is an Arab-American, of Lebanese descent, whose remarks were publicised in the immediate wake of Israel’s lethal commando attack on a flotilla of aid ships trying to break the siege of Gaza. Unlike most Americans, who were half-wakened from their six-decade Middle East slumber by the killing of at least nine Turkish activists, Ms Thomas has been troubled by the Palestinians’ plight for much of her long lifetime.

She was in her late twenties when Israel ethnically cleansed three-quarters of a million Palestinians from most of Palestine, a move endorsed by the fledgling United Nations. She was in her mid-forties when Israel took over the rest of Palestine and parts of Egypt and Syria in a war that dealt a crushing blow to Arab identity and pride and made Israel a favoured ally of the US. In her later years she has witnessed Israel’s repeated destruction of Lebanon, her parents’ homeland, and the slow confinement and erasure of the neighbouring Palestinian people. Both have occurred under a duplicitious American “peace process” while Washington has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into Israel’s coffers.

It is therefore entirely understandable if, despite her own personal success, she feels a simmering anger not only at what has taken place throughout her lifetime in the Middle East but also at the silencing of all debate about it in the US by the Washington elites she counted as friends and colleagues.

While she has many long-standing Jewish friends in Washington — making the anti-Semite charge implausible — she has also seen them and others promote injustice in the Middle East. Doubtless she, like many of us, has been exasperated at the toothless performance of the press corps she belongs to in holding the White House to account in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon and Israel-Palestine.

It is with this context in mind that we can draw a more fitting analogy. We should ask instead: How harshly should Ms Thomas be judged were she a black professional who, seeing yet another injustice like the video of Rodney King being beaten to within an inch of his life by white policemen, had said white Americans ought to “go home to Europe”?

This analogy accords more closely with the reality of power relations in the US between Arabs and Jews. Ms Thomas is not a representative of the oppressor white man disrespecting the oppressed black man, as Mr Davis suggests; she is the oppressed black man hitting back at the oppressor. Her comments shocked not least because they denied an image that continues to dominate in modern America of the vulnerable Jew, a myth that persists even as Jews have become the most successful minority in the country.

Ms Thomas let her guard down and her anger and resentment show. She generalised unfairly. She sounded bitter. She needed to — and has — apologised. But she does not deserve to be pilloried and blacklisted.

  • Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

Helen Thomas Deserves Praise


Paul Findley

Fearless, decent seeker-of-truth Helen Thomas, 89, the preeminent challenger of political power for a half-century as dean of White House correspondents, has resigned her position with Hearts Newspapers.  She acted in the wake of controversy that erupted when she told reporters “Jews should get the hell out of Palestine.”  While speaking plainly on behalf of the rule of law in Occupied Palestine, her message was submerged when reporters gave it an anti-Semitic twist by quoting words out of context.

It is a sad finale to an unprecedented career in aggressive, constructive journalism.  In her departure from the White House newsroom, America is the loser. The Washington press corps contains few with Thomas’ talent in challenging power close-up.

The fiasco start when Thomas made an extemporaneous burst of passion at a White House briefing in late May.  She declared, “Jews should get the hell out of Palestine.”  When asked where they should go, Thomas said they should “go home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else.”  Her intent was unmistakable:  Jews are unlawfully residing in Occupied Palestine and should leave.  She made no reference to Jews in pre-1967 Israel, where all Jews can lawfully reside.

Out-of-context reports on her comments stirred angry controversy.  Several commentators failed to report the words “America and everywhere else.”  This left Thomas’ quoted words suggesting only Poland and German, countries identified with extermination camps for Jews in World War II, as the only destinations for those Thom would expel.   The warped reports led Diane Nine, her longtime literary agent and friend, to cut ties.  She was uninvited after agreeing to be commencement speaker at a Washington, D.C. high school, and was falsely smeared as a bigot and anti-Semite by leaders of Jewish organizations.  Time columnist Joe Klein wanted her moved from her traditional front row seat to the back at future White House news briefings.  Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who served President George W. Bush, told reporters she should be fired by employer Hearst Newspapers or at least lose her White House credentials.

Attempts to link Thomas’ outburst to Nazi crematories are contemptible.  In denouncing Thomas, Klein and others mention only Poland and Germany as places Thomas wants Jews now in Palestine to go.  If they included “America and everywhere else,” as Thomas actually stated, the attempted linkage of past Holocaust crematories would be blurred if not lost.

True to her reputation, Thomas spoke up for human rights, the fundamental property rights of Palestinians that are violated at an ever-rising pace in Occupied Palestine by the government of Israel, with no serious opposition from the United States, Israel’s main benefactor.  Thanks to an intimidated U.S. media, most Americans are unaware of the plight of Palestinians, who are all Arab and mostly Muslim.  Almost all Jews who live in what is left of Palestine are euphemistically called “settlers” by U.S. media, not as unlawful occupiers.  By residing in Palestine, they violate international law, Geneva Accords, and clear stipulations of the UN Charter.  The rare exceptions are a handful of Jews who belong to a peaceful, independent sect.

This dark, undeserved cloud over the reputation of an unrelenting grand champion of human rights will have a silver lining if it awakens the American people to their own quiet, complicit role in Israel’s sustained violation of Palestinian rights.

I offer unique credentials in defending Thomas.  Although a lifelong admirer, I first met her in October 2009 at a dinner in Washington.   When I greeted her, she addressed me as They Dare to Speak Out Findley, using the title of my bestseller book published in 1985.  At my invitation she spoke this past April to a capacity, enthusiastic crowd at Illinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois.  While hosting her at dinner the previous evening, I found her a delightful, warm, compassionate human being dedicated to equal justice for all.

For her edifying outburst, Helen Thomas should be congratulated, not condemned.   It could prove to be one of her finest contributions in our nation’s often-faltering quest for justice.

  • Paul Findley resides in Jacksonville, Illinois.  He served 22 years as a U.S. representative from Illinois.  He is the author of a highly praised biography, A. Liincoln: The Crucible of Congress and four books on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the latest being a memoir tentatively titled, Taking the High Road: Confronting Bias, Bigotry, War. It is scheduled for publication next spring by Lawrence Hill Books.

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