Helen Thomas: No Apologies Necessary

Helen Thomas’ statements were about policy, not people, and for that, we should not have lost her. To liken what Helen has said to racist rants inviting African-Americans to return to Africa is disingenuous at best, and more directly, a twisted misinterpretation designed only to silence opposing views to Israeli expansionism.

African-Americans have never been an occupying force, here of their own free will, to lord over others through terror and siege. African-Americans have never been assigned territory in America to reign over, supported by the largest military in the world, and guaranteed by an international body such as the United Nations. To liken Helen Thomas’ comments about Israel’s occupation of the Gaza strip, to comments telling African-Americans to “go back to Africa,” demonstrates a terrible misunderstanding of the plight of both the occupied Palestinians and the kidnapped African-Americans.

A more apt comparison may be to telling Americans to get out of Iraq, a land they occupied, battered, and controlled because of a manufactured threat. Likewise, the retaliation they have encountered because of their illegal occupation is being misconstrued, as in the case with Palestinian resistance, as cause, rather than the effect of their aggression.

African-Americans were not granted lands in America under the guarantee, and protection, of others, any more than they invaded America with ‘shock-and-awe’ under false pretense. Anyone making such comparisons is committing a grave injustice to African-Americans, Palestinians, and Helen Thomas.

Helen Thomas, White House correspondent for Hearst Newspapers, gave an interview to Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com at the White House’s May 27 Jewish Heritage Celebration . Rabbi Nesenoff posted a clip from the video on YouTube. Here’s the transcript:

Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today–

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

Nesenoff: Ooh. Any better comments?

Thomas (chuckling): Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land, not German and not Polish.

Nesenoff: So where should they go? What should they do?

Thomas: They should go home.

Nesenoff: Where is home?

Thomas: Poland. Germany.

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

Thomas: And America, and everywhere else.

Consider the conversation as if it were discussing the occupation forces in Iraq. Change Germany and Poland to the United States and the United Kingdom, or Canada. Realize that what Helen was recommending was that the occupiers return to their country of origin. Helen Thomas is making a statement against a nations foreign policy, not against individuals because of their ethnic group or race. Helen Thomas was not being anti-Semitic or racist. To disagree with Israel, or Israel’s foreign policy, does not make a person anti-Semitic.

The backlash against Ms. Thomas is “offensive and reprehensible,” to use Robert Gibbs words, that more appropriately describe his statement than Helen’s comments. Gibbs statement continues, offering further insight into the motivation behind the attacks against Helen Thomas, by explaining, “because they do not reflect the opinions of most of the people here, and certainly not the administration’.

Helen’s opinions were apparently wrong simply because they didn’t reflect the opinion of the majority. There was no hate speech, just an opinion about a nations foreign policy. Unfortunately, it did not agree with the majority, or, according to Gibbs, the administration. Therefore, a valuable, veteran, White House journalist of nearly sixty years and ten presidents, must be resigned and have her name smeared.

In response to the intense political and professional pressure, Helen offered the following statement:

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.”

An apology was not in order, but Helen Thomas offered one out of her strength of character. Her succinct and eloquent statement, “peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance,” demonstrates the wisdom and indefatigable spirit we will sorely miss in the press conferences.

Helen Thomas is a voice that we need to continue to listen for as she asks her questions, and probes for her answers. There is life after the White House press corps, and, perhaps there, Helen’s voice can ring even louder and clearer than before, with no apologies necessary.

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13 Responses to Helen Thomas: No Apologies Necessary

  1. Dolores M. Bernal
    +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Dolores M. Bernal
    June 7, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Bravo Liam. Bravo!

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Theowulf
    June 8, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Agreed. Further info here:

    http://fifthavenuegazette.blogspot.com/2010/06/helen-thomas-is-hero.html

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Amanda
    June 8, 2010 at 5:55 am

    “To disagree with Israel, or Israel’s foreign policy, does not make a person anti-Semitic.”

    Of course it doesn’t. Israel and its foreign policy is open to criticism, in the same way as any other country and policies.

    “A more apt comparison may be to telling Americans to get out of Iraq, a land they occupied, battered, and controlled because of a manufactured threat.”

    That is the most inaccurate comparison possible. America (and its allies, although they are usually forgotten) invaded Iraq, another country, less than a decade ago. Many Israelis were not only born in Israel, their parents and grandparents were, too. Someone whose great-grandparents left Germany / Poland / Russia in 1920 is in no sense of the word German / Polish / Russian.

    And Israel is its own country, not an occupied one.

  4. -5 Vote -1 Vote +1yg
    June 8, 2010 at 7:58 am

    what a sick twisted person you are to even think the way you do.

    “The backlash against Ms. Thomas is “offensive and reprehensible,” to use Robert Gibbs words”
    Are you nuts? he said her comments were “offensive and reprehensible”.

  5. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Jim Atkins
    June 8, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Since what she said is the truth,why the big deal? Can’t the truth be spoken in America anymore?

  6. -13 Vote -1 Vote +1Robert
    June 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    How can anyone defend her! Anyone that does is sick in the head. She sounds too much like Adolf Hitler and the Muslims of today! Are you guys crazy? When did we switch sides. She is scum of the lowest form!

  7. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Littlered
    June 8, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Bravo Helen! I cannot understand how a group of people who suffered directly from “mans inhumanity to man” can inflict similar methods applied to them. I also don’t understand how the U.S. can support and finance a regime intent on borderline extinction of another race/religion. We are a two faced nation; best friends with Sadaam one day and hunting him down shortly after; invading a country not affiliated with any crimes against us , pilfering their national treasures, decimating their water, destroying their way of life and claiming all of this under the heading of national security. Well, we’ll see how history remembers us as it comes to Israel, our wars and of course, our next frontier – Korea. God Be With Us.

  8. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1LaCroix
    June 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Liam, you sir, are a fruit loop!

  9. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1tivika
    June 9, 2010 at 5:09 am

    I’m so very tired of anti-Zionism being confused with prejudice and the discrimination of being an anti-Semite. Why weren’t they given land somewhere in Kansas or maybe even the Catskills? Why aren’t the Israelites offered new lands now? Why are the Palestinians not offered the same?

    God is not, and never has been, a real estate agent.

    I’m also tired of people, specifically Americans, hiding their all too obvious hatred of Muslims behind a wall of pro-Israel cheerleading.

    Limbaugh and Beck spew hatreds that border on treason every day and they are untouchable, yet Thomas makes one comment that can be interpreted many ways, apologizes, and is given her walking papers. Ask yourself why.

  10. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Patriot
    June 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    It’s never wrong when the socialist progressive liberal nut jobs say something so far over the top that it’s quite undeniable. However, when a conservative says something that even remotely has any other connotation they should be ripped to shreds. Seriously, do you people have any morals at all? Is there no shame in who and what you will defend in the name of socialism and/or marxism? Liberalism is quite literally a mental disorder.

  11. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Brooke
    June 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    What the heck is all of this backlash over a heart felt comment about? Does everyone have to support Israel or get labeled a racist? I don’t and I’m not a racist. And I’m not alone. Yet if we speak out against this country that has no problem committing acts of terror, we get trounced on. So where is my free speech and the right to disagree and say how I truly feel?

    Get off her back everyone. She’s not stupid and stop acting like she said something no one else agrees with. Trillions of people do, me included. I agree completely with what she said about Jews getting the hell out of Palestine. It’s not theirs and never was.

    Why is everyone so dam scared about telling the truth about Israel and their Palestine occupation? It’s really quite astonishing. They occupy it and it doesn’t belong to them. Israel is a made up country that was given to the Jews and yet they claim Palestine as tho it’s theirs. It never was and never will be theirs.

    What the heck makes Israel so dam special that NO one can ever criticize them without being called a racist while they act like the terrorists they are.

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