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Helen Thomas

A long time ago I read somewhere that journalist should never become part of a news story.  It was supposed to be an unwritten rule that a journalist checks his or her humanity at the door when he or she picks up a microphone or a camera to shove into somebody else’s face.  I often think about this when I see news stories about black ice at night.  A local camera crew will setup their gear on a particularly hazardous road under particularly nasty weather conditions and just record all the cars about to crash.  They could step from behind the camera and warn people.  But that wouldn’t be good for ratings.  It’s so much better journalism, and voyeurism, when we see car crashes happen before our very eyes.

I am particularly disappointed when I see journalist try to act like they have absolutely no connection to a particular story.  I hate it when a black journalist acts like they have no clue why the black community may feel collective outrage when a high profile media personality lets loose a racial epithet against black people.  How many times have I heard something akin to CNN personality Tony Harris asking a black person something stupid like, why do black people care that Michael Richards uses the n-word when black people interrupt his comedy act?  Why won’t Tony Harris tell people how he feels about blatant racism being committed?  Then again, the way this CNN anchor jigs for the camera, he probably really has no clue how black people feel.

Back during the race for the White House between Arizona Senator John McCain and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin burst onto the scene with all the subtlety of a sledge hammer hitting a watermelon.  She was a very polarizing figure.  People who loved her could see her do no wrong.  People who didn’t care for her saw her every gaffe and likened her political interviews to nails on a chalkboard.  It was aggravating to see the media giving Ms. Palin the same attention that was being devoted to Mr. Obama as if they were equals.  Regardless of their personalities and abilities, one was trying to be president and the other was going to be the president’s sidekick.

The local news was reporting one of Ms. Palin’s many interviews where all she would say is the difference between her and a put bull and blah, blah, blah.  The interview ended and the local news anchor came back on camera.  It must’ve been a little too soon because the anchor was rolling her eyes as if she was hearing the stupidest thing ever uttered.  She caught herself a little too late.  I interpreted the news anchor’s facial expression as contempt for Ms. Palin.  And it was refreshing to see.  It appeared that the news anchor and I shared a similar perspective.

Today I discovered that Helen Thomas, the nearly ninety year old Washington reporter who has covered the White House since the administration of President John F. Kennedy, resigned as a columnist for the Hearst News Service, after sparking a furor when she said that the Jews should get the hell out of Palestine and go home to Germany, Poland, the United States, or wherever they may come from. It turns out that Ms. Thomas is of Lebanese ancestry and has a reputation for being particularly hard against the state of Israel.

Her controversial statement was made about a week ago.  Since then, many people have asked why this pillar of journalism would make such a statement.  Could the fact that Israel has an embargo against the people of Palestine and has made the news recently when Israeli commandos stormed a ship trying to break the three year old blockade and wound up killing nine Turkish activists who were Palestinian sympathizers?  Could it be the fact that Israel has killed and maimed thousands of Palestinians and continues to expand settlements in the occupied territory of Palestine?  And while just about every other news reporter wants to remain neutral and somewhat oblivious to the cataclysm brewing in and around the Gaza strip, Ms. Thomas is speaking her mind about the outrage we see.

Instead of just setting up a camera and letting the Palestinian wreck just happen, at least Ms. Thomas is doing something to bring more attention to what’s going on.  A lot of people have lost interest in what is happening in the occupied territory.  A lot of people simply can’t believe Israel would be the aggressor.  By tradition, our media paints the Palestinian people as the ones at fault here.  Poor Israel is just trying to survive while Hamas, the legal governing body of Gaza, promises to wipe Israel off the fact of the earth.  But if anything, it looks like Israel is trying to wipe the Palestinians and the Gaza strip off the face of the planet.

Ms. Thomas’ resignation is effective immediately.  This is truly unfortunate.  The woman doesn’t look like she has much in the way of locomotion.  But if there was a news conference featuring the President of the United States, you could bet that Ms. Thomas would be there.  At her age, she must have really enjoyed the job to keep going at it like she did.  That or she really didn’t have much of anything else to do.  I hope she continues expressing her opinion.  At her age, she’s old enough and cranky enough to let people know exactly how she feels without pulling any punches.  Now that she’s quit, her opinions just got a lot more interesting for me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - Posted by | Israel, Life, Thoughts


  1. It is sad that her career had to end like this.

    Comment by slamdunk | Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | Reply

  2. Well, all the back story aside here, I have to ask

    You appreciate her wearing her feelings, racist or not, on her sleeve and hope she keeps expressing her personal opinions. But when it comes to dumbass rednecks expressing their feelings, you’d rather they not wear it on their sleeve and would shut up.

    Isn’t this somewhat hypocritical, at least based on the prinicple?

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

      I think there’s a big difference between somebody using a racial epithet, referring to a minority as macaca or as a raghead, and somebody expressing an opinion about a political situation such as the Jews leaving Palestine. But in all honestly, I do believe I will defend somebody’s right to say something that I disagree with. If you were to say that the Jews have every right to kill Palestinians rest assured that I will disagree with you vehemently. I may not like your opinion, but I have to admit that you have every right to say it. Things I do agree with I will support. Things I don’t agree with I will confront. I don’t think that makes me a hypocrite. I think that makes me a person with a passion about his beliefs and ideas.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

    • One more thing!

      Although I will reluctantly recognize your right to be wrong, I will never tolerate racism.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. Okay, well I think I get what you’re saying. And yes, I fully believe she has a right to her opinion, which may be partially colored because of her lebanese descent. As for her being fired, or resigning, (however that was worked out in the back rooms of Hearst Publications), I will agree its all a point of contentious stupidity in the end.

    My point of her statement possibly being racist rather than political, is essentially what she said. I think she could’ve, with all her years of knowledge and experience, found a much better way to spotlight then tell them “to go back home…to Poland or Germany.”

    Just like if some ignoramus told you to “go back home to Africa.” It’s pretty clear there is a racial motivation there, and cannot be blown off as anything else. Afterall, you aren’t from Africa, just as most of the Jewish population in Israel isn’t from Poland, Germany or anywhere else outside of Israel, despite whatever ancestral lineage one comes from.

    But to the larger point here, what she said was crass at the very least, but she has a right to say it, regardless of whatever anyone feels about it. It being heralded as anything but hateful in spirit I would have to disagree with, regardless of the situation in Palestine, which I think as a whole is misunderstood by a lot of people who are touted to be ‘in-the-know’.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Mike Lovell,

      Well said…


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Mike Lovell,

      I’ve been giving this a little more thought. One thing that I constantly hear from people who are offended by this blog is that I should take my ass back to Africa. I used to accept their suggestion and ask how much they would be willing to give to finance my family and I moving to Africa, but for some reason or another they would never follow through. I’ve gotten to the point that I simply delete the comments. It happens all the time. It’s no big deal.

      As far as Israel goes, it did not belong in Palestine. Israel owes its existence to the theft of land from the Palestinian people by some bureaucrat at the United Nations who arbitrarily drew borders without much thought behind the mess that was being made.

      On top of that, Israel is an aggressor against the Palestinian people. It is Israel’s policy that the death of one Israeli is worth a hundred Palestinians being killed. Israel is expanding settlements on Palestinian land. It is not being a very considerate neighbor. While it may be true Ms. Thomas’ comment was crass, Israel did not belong where it was settled and the region has been a hornets nest ever since.

      Why don’t the Palestinians go back to Palestine? Because a great portion of it is now called Israel.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

  4. Good points to be sure, especially about the idiots so offended they want you to move overseas

    As for Palestine now being called Israel, you also have to remember that once a long time ago, it was named Israel, and was quite the hornets nest back then…I’m not sure exactly when or under what all circumstances (afterall, way back when they used to get along a lot better, despite occasional flare-ups…of course the crusades kind of soured that…muslims, then the monarchs of europe going back to retake the land for Christianity, and back and forth over religious monuments and such), the Jews were run out of their homeland, which then became inhabited by Palestinians, who technically came out of places like Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, as well as some that were indigenous to that same area called Israel/Palestine. It was Jewish land far before any other group could make claim on it, at least as far back as my history learnings have gotten me.

    While the degree of overwhelming disproportionate force is definitely a point of contention, and surely Israel could find a better way to make the situation there more tenable, they have found almost all peace treaties to be broken, most often (but not always) by their enemies. someone once wrote something along the lines of this: ‘If the Palestinians laid down their weapons there would be no war. If Israel laid down their weapons, there would be no Israel.’ As to how true that is or isn’t I can’t make a credible argument.

    One of the other blogs I follow is by a professor of political science at the University of Maine…he recently wrote a post titled “What if Israel is Right?” and took a pretty pragmatic approach to things. He is also a liberal, and just a huge bit smarter than me in such arenas. Here’s the link if you’re interested:

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Mike Lovell,

      It may be true that Palestine was Israel before it was Palestine. But it is also true that the Jews called Germany, Poland, and elsewhere, home as well. If somebody at the United Nations decided to return the southwest United States back to the indigenous people of North America would we sit back and call it okay? Of course nobody would ever think to do such a thing. The military, political, and economic strength of the United States would never permit such a thing to happen. The Middle East is different. We can subject those people to the will of the west as easily as Israel can crush any uprising in Palestine.

      The vast majority of the world condemns Israel’s actions. If nearly the rest of the world would have its way Israel would face sanctions and reprimands by the United Nations for its aggressions against its far weaker neighbor. The only reason that it doesn’t happen is because the United States allows this hypocrisy of the Middle East to happen without even the most rudimentary consequences.

      After destroying the vast majority of the buildings in the Gaza strip last year, Israel claims it cannot allow building materials into Gaza because that could allow the Palestinian government to build military structures such as pill boxes. The problem here is that a pill box is a defensive weapon and not something that can be used as an offensive weapon. The government of Israel doesn’t want Gaza to be able to even begin to think about defending itself. It makes Israel plundering of the Palestinian people all the easier. And the denial of building materials gives Israel an excuse to apply an oppressive thumb.

      Trust me, Israel is in no danger of being eliminated by the people of Gaza. Gaza destroying Israel ranks right up there with a field mouse destroying an elephant. Gaza, like a mouse, could make a nuisance of itself, but Israel, like the elephant, is in no danger of being injured in the slightest. A broken peace treaty does not justify the type of oppression Israel is applying to Gaza. Nobody is saying that Israel is not entitled to protect itself. By all means, if Israel is in danger from another country it is entitled to defend itself. But when does defense of one’s country turn into brutal aggression against another?


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Mike Lovell,

      I just finished the article you suggested. A couple of points really struck me and brings home the point I’d like to make:

      “Israel has a strategic interest in finding a long term solution to this crisis as the existence of the Jewish state becomes more tenuous the longer the situation remains as it is.”

      “Israel needs a new approach. Besides lifting the siege of Gaza, a major humanitarian offensive should start with the goal of lifting up the Palestinian people. Israel needs to try to recast the situation as a humanitarian problem to be solved, rather than a conflict to be won. Israel cannot win this kind of asymmetrical struggle, and over time becomes more vulnerable. But working with the international community, Israel could reconfigure the discourse surrounding the conflict and undercut the extremists. The bottom line remains the same: one cannot be pro-Israel without being pro-Palestinian. The two peoples’ destinies are linked, they’ll sink or swim together.”

      Being the biggest bully in the yard does not sound like a long term solution when everyone else gets tired of being pushed around.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Reply

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