Saturday, June 5, 2010

Helen Thomas' comments and apology

            The question of Helen Thomas's recent remarks about Israel are interesting.  Here is an article on that from an Israeli web site:,7340,L-3899361,00.html  The provide a Youtube video of Helen Thomas making her statement that the Jews ought to leave "Palestine" and return "home" to Poland, Germany, the U.S. and "everywhere else."
            How could Thomas get by with saying something so politically offensive?  The article explains, "As a daughter of Lebanese immigrants, Thomas has not been hiding her sympathy for the Arabs and Palestinians in questions she asked at White House press briefings. She has referred to the lethal raid on the Gaza-bound Marmara ship Monday as a 'massacre.'
            Her comment about Palestine being "occupied" by the Jews is interesting.  There were Jews and Arabs living in the land when the British had their mandate and Balfour wrote his declaration.  And how do we differentiate between land that is "occupied" and must be return from land that is either conquered or colonized in some way and doesn't need to be returned?  Virtually every piece of land on the face of this earth was conquered, usually several times.  There is no race of people which has lived on their land since the beginning of history. 
            Mohammad did conquer the land from the Jews and as we know, land once conquered in the name of Allah must (according to Islam) belong to Allah forever, but the Jews were always in the land, even when they weren't running things -- and they used to run things before being conquered and having their land "occupied" by the Arabs.  And this is the term Helen Thomas uses, "these people [meaning the Palestinians] are occupied. It's their land . . ."
            I don't think her comments match the actual events.  When Britain had its mandate after World War I there were Jews and Arabs living together in Palestine.  The British seemed to like the Arabs a bit better than they did the Jews, but during World War II, the predominate view of the Arabs seemed to be Pro-German; which didn't help their cause as Britain was leaving Palestine.  Britain more or less left it up to the Jews and Arabs who were in Palestine as Britain abandoned it to "fight it out."  Which they did, with the results we are all familiar with. 

            Subsequent to the above, we read that Helen Thomas did offer an apology (from NY Daily News, :
            "Helen Thomas might do better to just ask questions. 
            "The grande dame of the Washington press corps put her foot in her mouth with an answer at the White House last week, suggesting Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else."
            "The jaw-dropping words from the 89-year-old Hearst Newspapers columnist hit the Internet on YouTube Friday and sparked a firestorm of controversy.
            "Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, sharply rebuked her. "Shame on Helen Thomas. She is certainly old enough to remember the Holocaust and the Second World War. She owes an apology to all victims of the Nazis," Steinberg said.
            "Thomas posted a lukewarm apology on her personal Web site.
            "'I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heartfelt 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, she wrote.
            "The daughter of Lebanese immigrants who has covered the administrations of 10 Presidents in a career spanning nearly 60 years made her controversial comments at a White House Jewish Heritage Celebration on May 27.
"Questioned about the Palestinians by Rabbi Nesenoff for, Thomas said, 'Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not Germany, not Poland.'"
The Thomas apology probably didn't impress the Israeli's.  Here is a response from one Israeli web site: :  "As most of you know, Helen Thomas, a long time stalwart in the White House press room decided to actually speak what’s on her mind instead of just reporting the news. By now you all know that she basically said all Jews should get the hell out of palestine and get back to where they belong, Poland and Germany. And like so many countless times in the past, when public officials make public mistakes they quickly issue a statement of apology. Ms. Thomas is a pro so she obviously issued a statement of apology within 24 hours of her truthful remarks. I personally believe that Ms. Thomas is an anti semite and despite being a ‘journalist’ always reported with a slant towards Israel. Remember the ‘Jenin Massacre’ which turned out to be far from a massacre. Where was her apology then, why didn’t she come out and say ‘oops, sorry Israel for saying you killed 500 civilians instead of the 11 terrorists that were killed’.
            "Helen Thomas enjoys a front row seat in the White House press room. She is over 90 years old and has sat in that room for the past 10 presidents. I think it’s time for Ms. Thomas to buy a condo in Century Village in Florida and play some shuffleboard with people her own age. If I were being interviewed I would say ‘Helen, get the hell out of town’.  By Shmiel Geffen"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First let me admit to not having read all of Lawrence's bravura trouncing of Helen Thomas. In truth I'm not actually sure who she is, though I have this vision of an octagenarian spinster sitting on the front row being laughed at by the 'press corp'.

I'm happy to admit that because my purpose isn't so much to defend Ms Thomas, but to have a good punt at Lawrence's established position on Israel and her many enemies.

Here's Lawrence's usual technique - create a strawman, burn him down. For instance, Lawrence will usually examine Qutb and use his views to establish a definition of Islamist viewpoint. He'll also use Qutb to define the left's stance on such matters, thereby linking the two together - Islamists and Leftists. Then, by pinning Qutb to the ground, he will also claim victory over those associated with him.

He uses a similar technique in a recent post when he refers, perhaps ironically, to 'peace-loving arabs' (in the guise of a leftist's view of the Israeli opposition). Naturally enough, such a description is quickly put to the sword.

What we don't see Lawrence do engage with the facts that aren't espoused by the Israeli-supporting establishment press. He won't, for example admit that there were such a thing as Jewish terrorists enagaged against the British after WWII. Likewise, he won't entertain the notion that the Israeli Navy fired upon the flotilla before they boarded it (in International Waters). Such facts are very uncomfortable for a person who likes to position himself against terrorism while forgetting that it has been a method used by poeple of very different political persuasions.

I'd like to add that I think Lawrence is actually a very interesting person and I like to read about his dog-walking escapades.