Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The lynching of American Arab journalist Helen Thomas

Bookmark and Share


The lynching of American Arab journalist Helen Thomas
By Ray Hanania

Helen Thomas has survived attacks from every president of the United States, from Eisenhower to Obama, but alas, the champion of Middle East truth could not stand up to this country’s fanatically pro-Israeli media and movement.

It was an amazing display of what Israel and its power players consider important in this world.

They didn’t hesitate to destroy Thomas’ outstanding career in journalism over a few exaggerated comments she made – Abe Foxman the bigoted head of the Anti-Defamation League celebrated in total rapture when he heard the news that Thomas had resigned.

I mean, she’ll turn 90 years old in August.

Yet the same legion of verbal stone-throwers who pilloried Thomas remained defiant in the face of criticism of Israel’s military murder of nine civilians aboard several boats in international waters that were trying to bring food and medicine to the 1.5 million besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s defenders like Elliott Abrams have tossed in the word “Lynch mob” to define criticism of Israel over the Gaza flotilla massacre. But the truth is the phrase is more appropriate for what has happened to Helen Thomas. It is supporters of Israel who are doing the lynching, this time stringing up an 89 year old little old lady on a tree of hypocrisy under which Israel can do no wrong and on the basis of words of criticism of Israel that have been wildly distorted and taken out of context.

And Helen Thomas’ comments were clearly taken out of context and distorted into an ugly mass of anti-Semitism.

What perfect timing, 11 days after the fact in the eye of a storm of criticism over Israel’s killing of nine civilians including one American whose death drew hardly a whimper of shock from other Americans or the mainstream news media. Not even as much as a whimper of indignation from the American Congress or media that screams when someone criticizes Israel as they line up to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from AIPAC related PACs,

Truth is on the side of Helen Thomas, and here is what she said. The “interview” took place on May 27 at a Jewish Heritage Celebration at the White House – I wonder how many Palestinian Heritage Celebrations the White House has hosted over the years?

Thomas was approached by an active anti-Palestinian Rabbi and blogger who asked, “Any comment on Israel? We’re asking everyone today.”

The blogger didn’t ask, “What do you think of Jews?” as most news media falsely reported. The question was specifically about “Israel,” a sovereign nation that apparently can do no wrong.

Thomas responded forcefully but with a laugh: “Get the hell out of Palestine.”

Was that the comment of someone saying the “Jews” should go back to where they came from as was reported falsely and repeatedly by the mainstream and pro-Israel media? No. She never used that word.

Helen Thomas said what many believe, that Israel should get the hell out of Palestine, and that means the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Yes, the West Bank that Israel occupies and the Gaza Strip that Israel imprisons.

The comment from Thomas elicits a laugh from the Rabbi, although the media ignored his laughter and instead perniciously characterizes Thomas’ response as “cackling.” The Rabbi then jokingly or sarcastically follows up with a leading comment and question:

“Oooh! Any better comments on Israel?” The blogger laughs and so does another woman whose voice is heard in the background.

Helen Thomas then says, “Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land. Not Germany. Not Poland.”

“So where should they go,” the Rabbi, who knows exactly where he is leading the witness asks.

“Go home,” Thomas replies.

“Where’s home?” The Rabbi asks.

“Poland. Germany.”

Knowing he has a good story at this point, the Rabbi changes the context from “Israel” to “Jews.” He says, “So you’re saying the Jews should go home to Poland and Germany?”

Quite a change from what she said. But Thomas, who is walking out of a White House reception past a gaggle of reporters and bloggers, casually brushes off the insertion of a word she did not use, and repeats what she said to the original question.

“Go home to Poland. Germany and America and everywhere else.”

Who is Helen Thomas talking about?  Strip away the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hatred that exists in the mainstream American media, and the bullying policies that critics of Israel must face, and any fair person would say she was speaking about the settlers who live in the lands occupied by Israel in 1967, like the Gaza Strip, which was the context in which the discussion began.

But that’s not what Israel and their pro-Israel activists enjoy.

Americans are not allowed to have an open debate about Israel in this country. If you do, watch out. The lynch mob is waiting.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.)

1 comment:

Salomon said...

I usually enjoy all your articles and tend to agree with most of your views, as I'm a big fan of your anti-extremist philosophy and your passionate moderation. I love that you tend to attack extremists from both sides.

However, I gotta say that in this case I was sorely disappointed. I think you are trying beyond hard to see this in a positive light. Even with an open mind, I couldn't help but understand that Thomas simply said "Israelis should go home," and when prodded for a definition of home "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," is certainly not a satisfactory answer. If she was really referring to the settlers, she could have said "home to Israel proper." Also, a seasoned reporter like her should know the connotations of using Jews, Poland, and Germany in the same sentence, especially when calling for Israelis to go home.

Was she ambushed? Seems like it. But her answers are far from what I would consider a scion of moderation. She seems far from being a passionate two-stater. Hence, having you defend her so strongly, as a self-described passionate moderate, is beyond disappointing.