Creating people's geographies
On the White House lawn just over a week ago, veteran Press Corps reporter Helen Thomas is asked by a rabbi* whether she had any comments on Israel. She replies: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied, and its their land.” For this off-the-cuff comment, the disingenuous response from the site RabbiLive.com and the Weekly Standard is to call her the predictable epithets. Keep in mind that Thomas was asked and responded about Israel, not Jews in general. More on this storm in a teacup over the fold.
Contrary to the video clip, which draws the Holocaust card yet conveniently neglects to mention the Palestinians, Thomas already knows that a number of indigenous Arab and other Jews had co-existed in Palestine with Christian and Muslim Arabs. She is clearly referring to Jews from outside the Middle East, from Russia, Poland, Germany and the United States, some of whom stay in the still expanding illegal settlements subsidized by the state — via US taxpayers. Though, as Phil Weiss points out, she isn’t explicitly referring to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, there’s also no indication she wasn’t referring to them either. She says Palestine: get the hell out of Palestine.
The next statement, strangely neglected in favor of a media frenzy fixation on the ‘go home’ bit, further inclines us toward the OPT rather than Israel ImProper: “Remember, these people are occupied, and its their land.” So it is not at all certain she is invoking a maximalist position, and why would she be referring to Israelis who have known no other home anyway, but rather to recent arrivals, those born elsewhere?
Regardless of speculation, people have every right to object to an israeli law that would see any of these Jews automatically granted citizenship and directly displacing and violating the rights of those actually indigenous to the area, the Palestinians, in the process.
The question posed at the end of the short clip is “Does Helen know that Jews lived in Israel way before the Holocaust?” The glaring fact of course is that before WWII and 1948, there was no modern state of Israel. It was Mandate Palestine: a land that was populated by a thriving Palestinian population, the majority of whom were driven out in their hundreds of thousands, with a great number murdered, by the zionist thugs who later established the state of Israel. This Prussia of the Middle East is propped up by gargantuan amounts of US military aid, refuses to make peace with its neighbours who have offered recognition of 1967 borders via the Saudi Peace Plan, has continued to encroach upon Palestinian land, regularly attacks its neighbours in assaults that kill hundreds, flouts international law, continues to build illegal outposts on stolen land, and has refused to define its borders to this day.
Thomas has nothing to apologize for. It is the Israeli regime, the illegal settlers (check out this charmer) and their enablers who owe the world — particularly Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians — an apology and restitution. At most, her choice of words may have been unqualifiedly quick and injudicious, particularly in the ill-advised choice of words ‘go home’. But ‘despicable’, ‘beyond disturbing’ and Judeophobic? The attempts to discredit her — which include rightwingnut calls for her resignation — are overblown. She’ll probably win even more fans with her courage, and her regret for causing offence is in stark contrast to the unremitting racism and unstinting support for ethnic cleansing and expulsion from the Israel-at-any-cost camp, from whom there is no apology.
We can only hope we are as plucky at 90 as she is, still asking sharp questions and holding US administrations to account far more than many of her fellow journalists. Thank you, Helen Thomas.
*According to the YouTube poster, Rabbi David F. Nesenoff approached Helen Thomas on the White House Lawn on American Jewish Heritage Celebration Day at the White House.
Crossposted at PULSE
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