Organized attack on most revered member of White House Press CorpBy Dan Lieberman
Like a cat ready to pounce, the Israel Above All clique has been waiting for its chance to snare America’s most senior journalist, the redoubtable Helen Thomas. One false move and she is trapped. The attackers only exposed themselves; the extent to which they will go to stifle opposition to Israel’s policies, the extent to which they are able to quickly organize their attacks, the extent to which they are able to publish false information, the extent to which they are capable of controlling media, and the extent of their self-immolation.
A careful analysis of the incident reveals a backfire and, as the truth of the incident emerges, hopefully a fair and honest America will plead for the return of one of the White House press corps most revered journalist; an 89 year old and ever brave woman who cemented the highway for other women into the higher echelons of journalism and serves as an encouragement for senior citizens by showing them that life is not over until capitulation. As her return is urged, those who initiated this injustice (imagine attacking an 89 year old woman) should be politely asked to depart from public life so they no longer misuse public trust to damage others.
(1) Helen Thomas did not relate the statements as they were reported by the media.
(2) Helen Thomas didn’t say anything more than something to generate a spontaneous tête á tête with a reporter.
(3) Many major Americans: presidents, congressmen, media commentators and reporters have made worse statements by several magnitudes and have not generated similar vehemence, abuse and result; except when the remarks accused Israel, as did Helen’s remarks.
(4) Helen Thomas only made a few remarks, which others interpreted for their convenience as recommending ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Israel has had consistent policies of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Those who attacked the few words from Helen have never contradicted Israel leaders’ words recommending expulsion of Palestinians nor Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing.
Start with Helen Thomas’ statements and the reporting of them.
Although media headlines quoted MS. Thomas as having said “The Jews should get the hell out of Palestine,” and “go home to Germany and Poland,” the dean of White House correspondents never used the word Jews nor uttered the quotes as they were presented.
The complete video of the verbal exchange between Ms. Thomas and the reporter shows that she was asked her thoughts on Israel. “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” she answered in a jocular manner. “Remember, these people are occupied. It’s their land. It’s not Germany, not Poland.” She was subsequently asked: “What should they do?” and not “What should the Jews do?” She answered, “They should go back to their land.” To the next question: “Where is their land?” Helen replied, “Germany, Poland.” It is the interviewer who then says provocatively, “So you say the Jews should go back to Germany and Poland.” Helen adds. “And to America.”
Before examining how the dean of White House correspondents is being singled out for censure and why the censors are suspect, let’s examine the statements.
First of all, an antagonistic expression towards Israel does not merit the usual attempt to attach the anti-Semitic label. Israel contains only Israelis, many of whom happen to be Jews. Some Jews are Israelis. Most Jews are not Israelis. It is obvious that Ms. Thomas was not referring to Jews specifically (an interlocutor assumption), but to those who had come from afar to occupy a land. Are Helen Thomas’ statements that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and “these people are occupied,” unique? Probably many of the world’s citizens have similar sentiments. Actually, many of Israeli and Russian Jews have been going to Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany contains a large immigration of Jews during the last decade.
Due to one expression, must the dean of White House correspondents be pilloried? Maybe Ms. Thomas was thinking of Israel the oppressor, which has already thrown most of the early Palestinians out of the area and daily tries to get rid of more – not by words, but by actual deeds. Maybe she was thinking of meritocracy Israeli laws that throw its Palestinian citizens aside – few college scholarships, unable to purchase land, no public housing, no mortgages, no legal marriages performed on Israeli territory between a Jew and non-Jew.
Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George H.W. Bush during an administration that featured the most outrageous prevarications and deceptions, which led the nation to catastrophe, and Lanny Davis, advisor for sheltering President Bill Clinton’s somewhat immoral conduct, adjudicated Helen Thomas’ inquisition.
On CNN, after an introduction by CNN interviewer, who showed how fair he was by characterizing Ms. Thomas’ statement as anti-Semitic, Fleischer, overflowing with rage, said: "Helen's statement calling for the religious cleansing of Israel is reprehensible. If this isn't bigotry, what is? What she said is as bad as someone saying all blacks should leave America and go back to Africa. Hearst Newspapers should do the right thing and let Helen go."
Note that Fleischer used the term “blacks” and not African Americans. Note also that African Americans were brought here against their will, have been citizens for generations and have not taken anyone else’s land or expelled them. Is Ari’s comparison sensible, and doesn’t it defeat what he is trying to say?
Lanny Davis quickly entered the air waves with almost identical remarks: “Helen Thomas, who I used to consider a close friend and who I used to respect, has showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot. She has a right to criticize Israel… However, her statement that Jews in Israel should leave Israel and go back to Poland or Germany is an ancient and well-known anti-Semitic stereotype of the alien Jew not belonging in the land of Israel that began 2,600 years with the first tragic and violent Diaspora caused by the Romans. If she had asked all blacks to go back to Africa, what would the White House Correspondents Association's position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials - much less a privileged honorary seat?"
The two men proposed similar charges of anti-Semitism, compared Helen’s words to all “blacks” to go back to Africa, and repeated words that the media used, but Helen never said. Davis added a controversial story; violent Diaspora caused by the Romans. Who issues these vituperative macros and repeats controversial history?
Are these legitimate rebuttals or a continuous and concerted abuse by scheming attackers?
Here is the introduction to a Letter to the Editor that appeared, during March 2010, in The Beacon, a Montgomery County, Maryland, senior oriented newspaper.