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Helen Thomas: ‘get the hell out of Palestine’

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 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.

UPDATE. After announcing her resignation, I hope she continues to speak up. She will be missed in the Press Corps. See my new post Thank you for your service, Helen Thomas.

Crossposted at PULSE

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16 comments on “Helen Thomas: ‘get the hell out of Palestine’

  1. Dean
    5 June, 2010

    Her point regarding “go home” may be too subtle for the collective paranoid psychosis in which many Jews take great pride. Jews do not have a God-given right to take someone’s home and call it their own. Two wrongs do not make a right. The right that Jews assert to the deed and title to the land of Palestine exists in their collective imagination and has no basis in international law or any other kind of law except for I me me mine law. I have never seen anyone produce a title search which resulted in a document showing the signature of God. We have only to take the Jews’ word for it that their claim is validated by the Bible.

    Jews thrive almost everywhere in the world except in those places where they have deliberately made themselves anathema – those places that have been bombed into submission by Americans urged on by Israel’s supporters in the “global war on terror.”

    Jews can “go home” anywhere in the world, except those places where they have made themselves unwelcome with their own behavior. Jews have the same freedoms and protections as everyone else. They have equal protection under the law uniformly across the West. As for how they are esteemed in the rest of the world, how could anyone legislate that?

    You really can tell the kind of tree by the fruit it bears. If not for Israel’s behavior the world would have forgotten long ago that Jews were ever considered anything other than upstanding citizens and pillars of the communities in which they live.

    Now, because Israel intentionally and incorrectly conflates Jewish identity with Israel’s existence, Israel’s brand has become the Jewish brand for many people around the world. How can anyone encounter any Jew without thinking of the horrible scenes coming out of Palestine every day? And it is Palestine no matter what many Jews assert. Renaming a thing does not change the thing itself. Forcing people out of their home through ethnic cleansing and then living there yourself without compensation or recognition of the right to exist of the original inhabitants is a crime against humanity.

    Helen is absolutely right.

    Viva Palestine.

  2. Phil
    5 June, 2010

    I would guess that many Germans would disagree with Ms. Thomas. Most of those Europeans do not want millions of religious/ethnic fanatics coming to their country.

  3. Dean
    5 June, 2010

    Israel’s existence is the root cause of the global war on terror.

    We should address the root cause.

  4. MJH
    5 June, 2010

    Ever since the fascist state of Israel was imposed by Euro-Americans on this good earth, the world has not experienced one moment of peace and harmony. I take Ms. Thomas’ command one step further: Fascist, parasitic Israel, get off the face of this planet and take all these rabid zionist jews and their supporters with you.

  5. Miriam
    5 June, 2010

    I find some of these comments disturbing; telling people to ‘go home’ is the language of fascism and racism.

    However, Israel is a racist, European colonial project supported to an unacceptable extent by the USA and Europe. Over the last 60+ years it has rendered any hope of a viable Palestinian state unworkable and impossible and this is unacceptable. The current occupation and blockade must stop as a first step to peace. Nobody has the right to use a religious book as title deeds to someone else’s land.

    The only workable long-term solution is a shared democratic state with equal rights for all citizens. Extremists and ‘fundamentalists’ will have to be helped to accept this by a truth and reconciliation process and the international community needs to intervene now to prevent more bloodshed and human rights abuses. This is long overdue and I urge anyone reading this to support the growing campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and to lobby their representatives to take meaningful action to bring Israel into line.

    The only context in which people might choose to leave a future Israel/Palestine state is if they cannot accept living in such a truly democratic state and abiding by its laws.

    Jews, as with members of any other religion or culture, have the right to live peacefully anywhere on the planet and frequently do. As it happens, most Jews wouldn’t live in Israel if you paid them to and it is true that, world-wide, anti-Semitism is thankfully at a very low level (whatever Zionists may claim) compared to Islamophobia which many Zionists actively promote.

  6. fempatriot
    5 June, 2010

    How about if the Jews just stay within the 80% of Palestinian lands granted to them in 1948? That area that was to be for the “state of Israel” instead of trying to grab the 20% of Palestine that was “given” to the Palestinians which Israel now keeps trying to steal?
    But yes, after WWII there was NO threat to Jews in Europe and they could have returned to their homes in Germany, Poland, etc. Instead, they chose to go to “Palestine” and turn it into Israel, a racist, apartheid state, calling itself “a Jewish state” of, for, by Jews only. There is no place for such racism in the world today. If South Africa and the USA can work to overcome prejudice–then why can’t “Israel”?

  7. Dean
    5 June, 2010

    Thanks for your comment Miriam. Well said. I agree with you that a truly democratic state is the only context in which justice can abide.

    I don’t support hostility towards anyone, but its refreshing to hear someone in the American media speak the truth, albeit bluntly and without calculating humanitarian sensitivities.

    Living as I do in a full-blown fascist country with a centrally planned economy for the benefit of corporations we’re quite accustomed to language from the right in the tone ‘If you don’t like it you can leave.’ Rudeness is the threshold of consciousness for many people I’m afraid.

    When someone like Helen identifies the root cause as succinctly as she has here, I would spare her the subaltern critique.

    It is not just that six million Palestinians in the diaspora cannot return to their homes while Jews from anywhere may accept automatic citizenship in Israel.

    5 June, 2010


    5 June, 2010


  10. Idrees
    7 June, 2010

    Paul Jay of the Real News Network has an excellent piece on the whole issue. Not to be missed.

  11. Michael Santomauro
    7 June, 2010

    Remember, Apartheid South Africa? Many of us in the left, including myself, would say:”Racist Whites should get out of South Africa, if they are afraid to give the Blacks equal rights.” If your ethnie is in power and cannot treat others with equal rights, then your ethnie should move somewhere else! Why should it not apply to the racist Zionist in Israel?–Michael Santomauro

  12. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » In Helen Thomas case, the world sees a taboo being enforced

  13. Jeff in Singapore
    9 June, 2010

    “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” — Nietzsche

    The Jews, in confusing themselves with the ancient Hebrews that were the forefathers of a minority of them, have wrestled with monsters for an eternity, both in reality and in their collective folklore, and have utterly failed to take Nietzschean care in doing so. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and doing evil unto others very often gives them reason to do evil unto you. How can any Zionist fail to expect blowback, when they themselves cling to the memory of what was done to them in times past?

  14. Jeff in Singapore
    9 June, 2010

    Abe, it appears that your caps lock key is not working. Perhaps you’re new to the Internet, but it has been a long-held matter of courtesy that such use of ALL CAPS constitutes shouting, and is ignored by virtually everyone.

    If you have a point to make, calm down, repair your keyboard and/or your thinking, and try again.

  15. thomas
    10 June, 2010

    the opressed always have the option to opress. a bully in a playground is often opressing people around them because when they go home they are opressed by their family. but to be more literal in my response. nazi germany killed millions of jewish people, now the jewish in palestine are doing the same thing to the palestinians. ethnic cleansing is disgusting in all forms. how dare anyone think they are better then the next person because of the god they worship.

  16. Lady K in Hollywood
    12 June, 2010

    JEFF! YES! That sums it up incredibly well. I am inspired by your words and have quoted you in a note on my face book profile. I hope you don’t mind and Thank you.
    Best, Lady K.

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This entry was posted on 5 June, 2010 by in Israel, Palestine, Video and tagged .

Timely Reminders

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