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Tilting at Windmills

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June 7, 2010

HELEN THOMAS RETIRES IN FACE OF CONTROVERSY.... Following up on this morning's item, columnist Helen Thomas has announced her retirement, after recent remarks in which she said Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go to Poland, Germany, and elsewhere.

Ms. Thomas, a columnist for Hearst Newspapers who has frequently been critical of Israel, had apologized for the comments. She made them to a rabbi who interviewed her on videotape outside the White House during a celebration of Jewish heritage in May.

The decision to retire, effective immediately, was announced by Hearst Newspapers, which syndicates her column. Ms. Thomas will turn 90 on August 4.

This was clearly the right call, and under the circumstances, it seemed increasingly clear that the writing was on the wall. Thomas had been dropped by her speakers' agency; upcoming appearances were being cancelled; the White House was unlikely to call on her ever again; and perhaps most importantly, the board of the White House Correspondent Association was considering whether to revoke her front-row seat. The board was not likely to deliver a response Thomas would like -- in a statement, the WHCA called her comments "indefensible."

Thomas, in other words, had no choice but to resign.

As I said earlier, Thomas has had quite a run -- she's covered 10 presidents -- and deserves accolades for being a trailblazing media figure.

It's sad, then, to see her end her historic career on such an ugly, offensive note. It's one thing to bow out gracefully after a storied career; it's another to quit after making anti-Semitic remarks on camera.

It's tempting to think a story like this would have reverberations, signaling contempt for bigoted rhetoric in polite society. But I suspect Pat Buchanan and Glenn Beck are not exactly nervous about the Thomas developments, and Fred Malek will remain a powerful player.

Steve Benen 1:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (99)

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Ironic. Pat Buchanan can go on MSNBC this afternoon and say, "Helen Thomas said nothing wrong, indeed, I agree with her." He would probably get a raise!

Posted by: Stuart Shiffman on June 7, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing Helen said is anti-Semitic. Helen believes the modern state of Israel is a colonial creation of the West founded with no historical justification and settled primarily (at least initially) by European Jews with only a tenuous and possibly mythological connection to that land. Now that assertion is debatable, but there's enough evidence to back it up that it seems ridiculous to dismiss it out of hand by calling Helen's statement "anti-Semitic" or "bigoted."

Posted by: vanya on June 7, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Her retirement is way overdue. It is a shame she couldn't recognize that. It is a cautionary tale, for all of us, to try to end our careers on a high note. Now she has stained her otherwise impressive career.

Posted by: Greg on June 7, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, you can have correspondents carrying water for a corrupt administration hell bent on war, but you say something untoward against Israel and you are cast into outer darkness where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth.

What a Banana Republic we live in.

Posted by: ChrisNBama on June 7, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

It's tempting to think a story like this would have reverberations, signaling contempt for bigoted rhetoric in polite society.

Except she's not being punished for making bigoted remarks. She's being punished for making provocative political remarks from an Arab perspective. Or to put it another way, why is bigoted anti-Arab rhetoric perfectly acceptable to the same people who faint every time someone is honest about their opinions of Israel?

Posted by: Christopher on June 7, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, like other commenters on this blog, I'm very interested in your perspective on the Flotilla incident. Did you post anything on it that I've overlooked?

Posted by: ChrisNBama on June 7, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

At the risk of being politically incorrect, I don't believe that being anti-Israel is the same as being anti-Semitic. Thomas' comments were definitely anti-Israel, but in my mind, that's as far as it goes.

Posted by: Chris on June 7, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I am very interested in why Helen's comments are being uncritically accepted and passed on to us as factually "anti-semitic".

Provocative...? Even rude, Yes. But anti-semitic...? I don't think so. Let's all be perfectly clear and remember that it was Western European Germans who committed the genocide against the Jews.

Yet somehow, it's ethnic Arab Palestinians who have ended up being herded into bantustans to to somehow expiate this crime.

That a career professional like Helen Thomas is being prima facia branded anti-semitic for merely pointing out this illogical fact is a pretty telling situation.

Posted by: STEVECONGA on June 7, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

That you and others would applaud Helen Thomas' retirement, yet not call for the immediate and summary resignations/retirement/firings of a host of other more abusive and serial liars, bigots and the like is hypocritical. Helen made one comment in bad taste, admitted she crossed a line, and she is, in essence, fired. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Fleischer, Beck, Limbaugh, and the list goes on, continue their vile, contemptuous, bigoted lies and innuendoes, and are barely condemned, relatively speaking. I am disgusted by the clearly hypocritical calls for her removal from her various positions, while we are continually lied to by sitting congresspeople, former Vice Presidents, former half-term governors, sitting governors, etc. and we get a limp-dick dressing down of them, at the most.

The Gusher in the Gulf continues, and these same self-righteous people claim they cannot do their jobs because BP and the Coast Guard deny them access. If you cannot or will not do your jobs, find another business. Don't sit on your self-righteous high horse and call a journalistic icon anti-semitic. As others have said, she may be anti-Zionist, but so what? At least she speaks her mind.

Do your jobs and change the narrative of the AIPAC media, or STFU!

In Disgust,
st john

Posted by: st john on June 7, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

I agree her comments were offensive and crossed the line and regret that her career ends this way. However, it's indicative of the continued double standard for liberals who are driven out for their mistakes versus the conservatives who are rewarded. Some of the difference, of course, is that she is a reporter, not the sort of provocateur pundit that those who are rewarded for bigotry are. But when Tom Tancredo, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan still get seats at the table after saying far worse things, you realize it's not the bigotry that is punished, it's the liberalism. I would argue that the object of bigotry makes a big difference, but Beck, Limbaugh and Buchanan are huge anti-semites - and they do just fine.

Posted by: Kija on June 7, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Helen Thomas is old enough to remember that German and Poland is where more Jews were killed in the last century than all the other countries put together. For her to say "go back to Germany or Poland or wherever you came from" is simply astounding.

Following her logic, should white Americans go back to Europe?

And of course, if you go back far enough, Jews _were_ from Israel/Palestine.

Sheesh!

Posted by: A DC Wonk on June 7, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Of course she is 'retiring.' The only position you're allowed to hold regarding Israel in the US is 'Boys will be boys. Shrug.'

Posted by: doubtful on June 7, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Helen believes the modern state of Israel is a colonial creation of the West founded with no historical justification and settled primarily (at least initially) by European Jews with only a tenuous and possibly mythological connection to that land.

If that's what she believes she should resign for being a blithering idiot since every part of that is utter fantasy.

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Helen Thomas's comment was most certainly anti-Semitic because it suggested that Jews in Israel who were refugees from the Holocaust go back to those places. She obviously is losing her mind, and it's too bad she did so publicly.

Unfortunately, Israel is now pursuing policies grimly reminiscent of fascism. The Holocaust is, more and more, seen as just another historical horror, rivaled by massacres of the Khmer Rouge, the Armenian genocide, Rwanda, Stalin's and Mao's crimes, Congo, the genocide of the Native Americans, etc. People are starting to wonder why Israel gets special dispensation for whatever bad acts it decides to engage in, when other societies need to move on and behave as decent international citizens.

Posted by: Sapient on June 7, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

I know you won't and probably can't, but we are waiting for your explanation of the term "anti-Semitic" in this context. Just exactly how where her words "anti-Semitic?" Rude and wrong isn't the same as anti-Semitic. If you think they are you should share your wisdom with the rest of us. Not many of us get the use of the term in this context.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 7, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's tempting to think a story like this would have reverberations, signaling contempt for bigoted rhetoric in polite society.

LOL

Posted by: Monty on June 7, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

What is truly shocking is the degree to which Americans uncritically accept the rationale for the existence of the Israeli state. Because Jews lived there 2000 years ago they now have a right to land where other people had been living for many centuries. What makes that OK?

Let's do a thought experiment. For well over 1000 years Constantinople was the heart of Greek culture. Even after the Turks conquered it, it remained the most important Greek city, and to this day the Patriarch of the Greek Church resides there. The city is the symbol of Greek religious life. As you may know, most of the Greek population was brutally expelled in the 1920s, many of those who were left were beaten in pogroms in the 1950s and fled, today the Greek population in Istanbul is a few thousand. So, like Jews, Greeks have suffered historical injustices. Like Jews, their holy city is in the hands of a foreign culture. Yet if Greeks invaded Istanbul tomorrow and forced the Turkish population into refugee camps would I be considered a bigoted Greek hater for thinking that invasion was a further injustice? Would anyone on the American left support Greece in that example?

Posted by: vanya on June 7, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like you crossed the line accusing her of anti-semitism. Sorry but criticism of Israel is not being anti-semitic.

Posted by: jstuddle on June 7, 2010 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Did you post anything on it that I've overlooked?

Yes, is there some sort of short answer to the question as to why a remark from Ms. Thomas garners much more 'ink' here than the U.S. citizen getting shot 4-5 times in the head by Israeli commandos? Or the editor of the Jerusalem Post's 'funny' spoof video regarding this incident ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10253357.stm ) ?

When this latest incident was still fresh, I was suprsied who little attention it received here. For every new development there was more and more item like the Paul McCartney brouhaha or the standard mention of the GOP saying something lame.

I know this blog's main focus isn't IR, but still...

Posted by: shroup on June 7, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Again, I fail to see how this is "bigoted" rhetoric. Are you simply swallowing the AIPAC-driven media narrative, or do you actually believe this shit?

The White House Correspondents Association needs more reporters willing to call US Imperialism and Israeli apartheid what they are. not fewer.

Posted by: rageahol on June 7, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

"For her to say "go back to Germany or Poland or wherever you came from" is simply astounding."

Well, that is, in fact, where most of the Ashkenazi settlers came from. She could have used more tact, but she did not say "go back and die". That is simply you projecting. It seems to me a reasonable argument to ask why Germany and Poland (and Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and France) should not have provided restitution to Jews in the form of land and money instead of getting to ship people off to Palestine and complete the job Hitler set out to do.

Posted by: vanya on June 7, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

criticism of Israel is not being anti-semitic.

Sure. And criticism of Palestinians is not being racist, either, yet we get that all the time.

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'll second the sentiment that anti-Israel is not anti-Jew. (I got a right, I'm a Jew). I've generally supported Israel and defended its right to exist for a long time (I am about 10 years older than the state itself) since I understand in my gut why its creation was necessary at the time.

But my distaste for many of its actions (beginning with the siege of Beirut in 1982) and my growing disdain for the religious fanatics, too many of them American, that cannot or will not see their own motion toward an apartheid state built on force and oppression (or at worst, desire it) has given me second, third and many more thoughts. I know many Israelis share my feelings (I read Ha'aretz almost as often as the WaPo, and with less unease) but even as Ariel Sharon seemed to note before he was incapacitated, the present governing coalition seems hell-bent on a course that will ultimately destroy the Israel that so many of us hoped would be.

Of course, Arab intransigence is part of the mix, and Holocaust memory has played a huge role...but if we Jews have pretensions to intelligence and seichle (practical wisdom, street smarts) we would hope to, over almost three generations, find a way to relative peace. The Germans and the French, and the French and the English, the Japanese and the Chinese, the Japanese and the Koreans, the Afrikaaners and the Native Blacks, all have found ways past centuries of historical animosity, with grievances on all sides, to co-existence, if not to active co-operation. If it is too late for that in Israel, the Israelis themselves certainly have a part of the blame for it.

I don't see a practical way to liquidate the Israeli State, nor do I think it is right to do so. But there are days when I entertain the notion, for at least a few minutes. And the rabid support of people like the Xianists whom I abhor in all ways does not make me feel any better.

Still, and I hope for a long time, America has been the promised land for the Jews. (That includes Canada and a lot of Latin America too.) It would be a double shame and an irony too cruel if the behavior of the racists who now dominate the Israeli government should manage to turn that sour too.

Posted by: jrosen on June 7, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to know who among us is not frustrated by the actions of Israel?

I cannot help but think that the Israelis have long decided that the "Golden Rule" does not apply to them.

Where is their decency.

Posted by: MrsD on June 7, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Helen Thomas likely does not even believe that the Israelis should leave Israel. She does believe - like some Israelis - that the Israeli government should treat Palestians with more respect. She's right. And the latest developments likely led her to extreme frustration to the point of making clearly over the top remarks. It would seem the politicians in that region are as bad if not worse than some of the extreme politicians in our nation feeding on their bases. She should resign but we should not make her the enemy. The enemy are the extremist politicians in both the Israeli and Palestian governments who have been barriers to peaceful coexistence rather than conduits to making a better life for their people.

Posted by: pgl on June 7, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

DC Wonk wrote: "And of course, if you go back far enough, Jews _were_ from Israel/Palestine."

And of course, if you go back far enough, all human beings were from Ethiopia.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Almost half of all Israeli Jews have direct roots in other countries in the Middle East. Most were kicked out of their home countries by Arab governments around the time of Israel's war of independence.

Posted by: Chris S. on June 7, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

A DC Wonk said:
Following her logic, should white Americans go back to Europe?

No, only those who are now opposed to anyone else immigrating to the U.S.

And those whose ancestors arrived without green cards (including anyone who arrived before 1940) who complain about people who arrive in this country illegally.


Posted by: SteveT on June 7, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Helen made these comment concerning the Occupied Territory of Palestine not Israel. She was saying to Israel to get out of the territories. Listen to the You Tube http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza/sets/72157624098328099/

It was edited to present a position not unlike the old "Have you stopped beating your wife? " Context matters.

Only in America can these words become so twisted. It was the agenda of the Likud supporters to do a job on Helen after the flotilla attack to change the subject.

Posted by: Harris on June 7, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

To be clear: Thomas' remarks weren't anti-Israel, they were anti-Semitic.

What a horrible way to go out; decades of excellent reporting and she'll be remembered for 5 seconds of ugly stupidity.

Posted by: Monty on June 7, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Helen made these comment concerning the Occupied Territory of Palestine not Israel.

That was my understanding at first, but it's confusing, as I have no idea what Germany and Poland have to do with it, though.

Posted by: Christopher on June 7, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

-If only she'd cried "Fire!" in a crowded theater, instead.

As for "returning to whence we came," I'm now a white American, but I long for the days of yore, when my ancestors roamed the Serengeti Plain. AND I WANT MY CONTINENT BACK!

Posted by: DAY on June 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Her comments were wrong and dumb. But the opposite is fine in America today.

Comments favoring brutalizing, dehumanizing, oppressing and killing Palestinians will continue to be accepted.

Rather one-sided outrage, that.

Posted by: Andy Olsen on June 7, 2010 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Comments favoring brutalizing, dehumanizing, oppressing and killing Palestinians will continue to be accepted.

Where? When?

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

The settlements are populated in large measure by immigrants from Europe, United States and other lands. This was, I believe, was her reference. She was asked what words she had for Israel. She said to get out of the occupied territories.

Posted by: Harris on June 7, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think she has the right to speak her mind. I have always backed Israel. I am not Jewish or anti-semitic. They have a right to be there, but only fairly. They don't have the right to keep encroaching on others' territories.

Nor do WE have the right to keep on encroaching on others' territories whether physically, environmentally or financially. We should keep our damn greedy hands, nibby noses, and dirty feet out of other peoples' business. We seem to always profit at others expense and that is what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians.

Oh, I'm an ordinary Presbyterian who thinks others should have the right to believe as they will. However, if they want to stuff their beliefs down my throat, I will vomit on them and kick them in the balls.

Posted by: Karen in Houston on June 7, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

As others have pointed out, Ms. Thomas' remarks may have been anti-Israel but they certainly weren't anti-Semitic. I'm quite disappointed that Steve doesn't seem to know the difference. What's sad is that a fine career has been forcibly ended by a barrage of orchestrated hate. Meanwhile, Israelis fired 4 bullets into an American citizen and no one dares speak out. (And certainly wouldn't dare speak out now lest they risk the same kind of vicious attack that we just saw unleashed on Helen Thomas.) Very sad.

Posted by: 3reddogs on June 7, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

To be clear: Thomas' remarks weren't anti-Israel, they were anti-Semitic.

To be clear: No, they weren't.

Posted by: Toast on June 7, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Helen Thomas should not have been railroaded. She spoke candidly, apologized, and that should be it. Her career to this point has been stellar. That those who would fly to the defense of Israel have succeeded in ousting her for coming to the defense of the Palestinians - when what Israel is doing is so VERY wrong...well, that is simply indefensible.

Posted by: Limbaughs Diabetes on June 7, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I read about Helen Thomas' remarks and they were indeed way over the top, but they were understandable. She has been working in the White House since the Franklin Roosevelt administration, and she has been making over the top remarks all that time. In many ways she has been the conscience of the White House press corps, she has always come right out and said things that everybody else was afraid to say. I'd say the reason she is probably quitting now is that she is sick of having to put up with a weasly White House after having hoped for so long that a really decent administration would come along, and sick and tired of all the right-wing creeps that somehow seem to have gained intellectual and moral legitimacy they don't deserve from an information industry which places profit ahead of anything, like any other business. By the way, one of the people attacking her was Joe Klein. The lowest she could ever go will always be far above anything he could ever dream of, if he did indeed dream of anything other than power and money. The same goes for the Foxites and the Limbogs and the rest of the rabid right, along with the wannabes whose hatye mail appears under false names on the internet.

Well, she would probably have had to go sooner or later anyway, and I hope and expect that she will continue to work on things she believes in without having to slog the daily slog every day. For one thing, maybe she can work on a book or two. For another, maybe she can go on tour in a relaxed sort of way, and look at the lives that people live these days. I'm sure whatever she does she will do it well, as always, even if she does offend somebody or other from time to time.

Posted by: Christopher Hobe Morrison, Pine Bush, NY, USA on June 7, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Bravo, St. John!

I agree. Hipocracy is rife, truth is almost invisible, fairness is dead, honor and integrity only exist among those who have suffered in life.

Politicians, military commanders, banks and financial institutions and all their associated ilk are hag-ridden with hubris, over-weening egos, greed, deceit and cruelty. Stupidity is a venomous plague that seeps into their minds.

They don't act on anything that won't benefit them. There are no more statesmen --- just evil, souless midgets masquerading as people of honor.

A curse on all of them.

Posted by: Karen on June 7, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Now I entirely agree that Israel should remove itself from the West Bank and lay off Gaza.

But --giving the Palestinians enough rope to hang themselves is what they've been doing for sixty years and no matter how much they hang themselves Western media swallows it hook line and sinker that Israel is causing the problem.

The Palestinians are kept in the state they're in by the surrounding Muslim countries because it's their favorite tv show.

Israel can do nothing about it.

So if you're serious about addressing the issue you have two choices

1) everything about the Middle East has to change from the ground up

2) fuck the Jews.

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Ms. Thomas did not make anti-Semitic remarks on camera. I disagree with what she said (most Israelis were born in Israel and have no other home), but Pat Buchanan says worse on a regular basis and still has a career.

Her remarks were equivalent to someone with native American ancestry saying that American whites should go back to Europe.

Posted by: Joe Buck on June 7, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

But I suspect Pat Buchanan and Glenn Beck are not exactly nervous about the Thomas developments, and Fred Malek will remain a powerful player.

Not to mention the people who make a habit of suggesting the Palestinians go back to their "real" Palestinian homelands of Lebanon and Jordan. Funny, that.

Posted by: nubby on June 7, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Palestinians are kept in the state they're in by the surrounding Muslim countries because it's their favorite tv show.
Israel can do nothing about it.
Posted by: cld

REALLY?? Really, cld ... that's the position you want to take? There's absolutely nothing you can think of that the Israelis can do about all those the motherfucking carpetbaggers from Brooklyn who think they have more right to the olive groves than Palestinians?

Posted by: Gonads on June 7, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Alas, there comes a time when some people are just too old to carry on with their duties. There must have been warning signs which her employeers ignored and which led to this result.

Also, I agree that if Buchannon has said that, It would have been ignored, but we exprct more of the Thomas' than of the Buchannon's

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on June 7, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

To be clear: Thomas' remarks weren't anti-Israel, they were anti-Semitic.

I'm afraid we're going to have to ask you to show your work on that.

Posted by: nubby on June 7, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I know you won't and probably can't,

Why can't he? Other bloggers defend their statements all the time. It's called owning your words instead of acting like a verbal sniper.

As it happens, I think there was an anti-Semitic tinge to Thomas's words, and I've spent the last three years and most especially the last week riding Israel for crying wolf with the anti-Semitism every time someone makes a legitimate criticism of its horrendous foreign and military policy. But I explained why I thought so a couple of threads below. Surely if a random commenter can manage to support her statements, the guy whose blog it is can do the same?

So, okay, we know how you feel about what Helen Thomas said, Steve, but you've declined twice to explain why. Why don't you share with us how you feel about what the IDF did last week and what the blockade has done for the past three years? Do you have any opinion at all on those topics?

Posted by: shortstop on June 7, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Just wanted to add my name to the list of those who would like an explanation of how Thomas's comments were "bigoted" or "anti-Semitic." Anti-Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic (which doesn't even really make sense in this context, since the people on both sides of the conflict are "Semitic"), no matter what AIPAC would like you to believe.

Posted by: dbeach on June 7, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Still, and I hope for a long time, America has been the promised land for the Jews.

Little over five million Jews in Israel, surrounded by one and a half billion that see Israel as little more than a defense beachhead for the United States. And despite the fact that the odds for Israel's long term survival are negligible, almost no official in a position of power, no one in the traditional media, dare ask the obvious questions, or raise honest objections.

It's been over thirty years that the US Israel policy has been a principal cause of misery and suffering in the world. The only remaining question is how much longer it will go on and how much worse it will get before the Jewish State of Israel is overwhelmed.

Coming home to America is a very sensible alternative.

Posted by: NealB on June 7, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the whole premise of Zionism is that Jews have the right to tell Palestinians where they can and can't live.

It seems that if Helen Thomas' remarks discredit her that there should be some scrutiny and skepticism applied to Zionism too.

Posted by: No Likudnik on June 7, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

'defense beachhead for the United States'?

Seems more like the opposite, doesn't it?

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

gonads, There's absolutely nothing you can think of that the Israelis can do about all those the motherfucking carpetbaggers from Brooklyn who think they have more right to the olive groves than Palestinians?

I can think of a lot they might do about it, all of which would cause a civil war and none of which would have the least effect since all these external factors will continue to incite Palestinian anarchy and chaos until they can destroy Israel entirely.

Can you imagine them not taking advantage of an Israeli civil war?

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I recommend visiting Max Blumenthal's website for some analysis of the AIPAC and IDF propaganda campaigns around the Gaza flotilla. You likely won't get any analysis of that here, unfortunately, since it seems that criticism of Israel or deviation from the line of its ultra-right supporters in the U.S. is not going to happen; it might, like Thomas' remark, be construed as "anti-Semitic"--though,to any thinking person, hers was not.

Posted by: nancycadet on June 7, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

The debate here would be a lot more sensible if all the condemners here would actually read what she said and quit putting words and thoughts that she did not express into the statement. Nowhere is her comment is there a mention of Israel or any statement that anyone should get out of Israel.So the idea that she is condemning the existence of the state of Israel ranks somewhere between total idiocy and rank stupidity
the area referred to in her statement is Palestine or Gaza, you know that area where Jewish people are illegally settling on land that does not belong to them.
So for all you morally indignant people making moral judgments perhaps it would behoove you to have a clue as to what the hell you are talking about before making those judgments and before you pretend to know whats in someone else mind when they speak.

Posted by: grandpajohn on June 7, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing to me how people continually confuse "Palestine" with "Israel."

Seems to me that her comment wasn't about Israel proper. It was about Israeli encroaching, illegally, into Palestinian land. They're continuing to take land they don't own in order to set up settlements, and doing so by force and in violation of numerous treaties.

Was the crack about Germany or Poland uncalled for? Without a doubt. But she never, at any time, said Israel should be destroyed.

The fact so many -- including, apparently, Steven Benen -- are so willing to just blindly defend Israel, no matter how disgusting its actions, really does amaze me. Hell, we've bombed countries that did less than Israel does on a daily basis.

Holocaust Guilt can't last forever. Maybe once it's gone folks will realize that, while Israel has a right to exist, so do the Palestinian people.

Posted by: Mark D on June 7, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's about time the UN set up a homeland for displaced Native Americans. In light of the persecution and attempted genocide they've suffered, they deserve it. South Dakota is pretty sparsely settled, and it was once the home of significant numbers of Native Americans The Black Hills are sacred to them, so I think it is a perfect choice. Surely the non-Native Americans living in South Dakota will accept this with equanimity; I'm confident the new owners of the land will allow them to settle somewhere there.

Posted by: MikeH on June 7, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

She said, of the Israelis, 'they should just go home'.

Asked where home is she responded, 'Poland, Germany, and America. . .'

If she had been referencing only the West Bank and Gaza, why did she not say 'Israel'?

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

cld, I'm having trouble reconciling your statement that "everything about the Middle East has to change from the ground up" with the subsequent throwing up of your hands at the suggestion that Israel at least try to dial back its rogue expansionist faction.

Surely the flip side of "fuck the Jews" (am sure your conflation of Jews with Israelis was unintentional) is "Well, the whole non-Israel Middle East is batshit, man, so Israel'd be a fool to do anything to set off its equally crazy internal elements." Do you have any suggestions for "everything changing" that actually involve Israel also moderating its behavior in some way, or is your definition of "everything" different than the rest of the world's?

Posted by: shortstop on June 7, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

But I don't think Israel can do that without some kind of external stabilizing force in the West Bank to take the heat off.

I am certain it would lead to civil war and to risk that with an enemy poised to take immediate and violent advantage of the chaos on every border? I simply don't think they can.

That's why I think the only thing that can hope to have a positive effect would be a US occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza border. (I think Gaza itself would be an impossible occupation, too densely crowded).

The US could provide the backbone for the expulsion of the settlers and take a lot of the heat off the Israeli establishment for the responsibility and build credit with Arabs generally for having done it.

I think this would be the only thing close to a win for everyone.

And, in fact, I think the US should just do it unilaterally.

(And, no, my conflation of Israel and the Jews there was intentional because that's they're universally synonymous in the Middle East.)

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's obvious Steve Benen doesn't read his own readers' comments on this topic, several posts below. Of course, he is entitled to his own opinion, but about 98% of his readers strongly disagree with him.

Posted by: winddancer on June 7, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

'defense beachhead for the United States'?

Seems more like the opposite, doesn't it?

I was thinking in terms of the US sustaining Israel to defend oil interests in the Middle East.

Posted by: NealB on June 7, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

It seems many civil comments supporting Thomas have been taken down from this board. My comment about our turning a blind eye toward the Israeli nuclear capability was also taken down. I guess that crossed a line too...

Posted by: ajohng on June 7, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, enough with the "Anti-Semitism" comparisons! Does anyone realize that the Palestinians are semitic in origin? Helen Thomas' crime is that she's PRO PALESTINIAN! I'm surprised someone hasn't condemned her for being a "terrorist sympathizer" or some such shit.

Posted by: ChrisNBama on June 7, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Helen Thomas specifically said that Jews should get the hell out of Palestine, not Israel, so she shouldn't be accused of being antisemitic. There is nothing controversial, let alone antisemitic, about her suggesting that Jews, who have stolen land from Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, should go back home to Poland, Germany, America and elsewhere. I suppose she should have included Israel and Russia on the list of places where all Jews living on stolen land in Palestine should go back home to, but by her failing to do this don't make her an anti-Semite!

So if there's anyone who should be fired from his job, it should be former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer for falsely accusing Helen Thomas of being a Jew-hater. But since he got off the hook for being an aider and abettor to Bush's war crimes, I'm sure he'll have no trouble getting off the hook for defaming Ms. Thomas' character. Needless to say, this would've never happened had the American press not been under Israeli occupation.

Posted by: Cynthia on June 7, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I must note that many right-wing Israeli citizens also happen to be recent Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe, especially Russia. These immigrants are much more likely than native-born Israelis to be Likud supporters and backers of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's government. In general, the majority of them are not only vociferously advocating for increased Jewish settlement of the West Bank, but also and increasingly for stripping indigenous Israeli Arabs of their citizenship, as well.

We should remember that Helen Thomas is three months short of her 90th birthday, and that she actually began her career well prior to the founding of the state of Israel. In my honest opinion, her comments were that of an elderly journalist, and as is the case with most of us as we get older, we become less tolerant of longstanding and vexing problems, and can show remarkably little patience with those persons we've come to identify as part of the problem, instead of the solution.

Ergo, I've noticed that elderly persons who feel some sense of urgency sometimes feel compelled to dispense with tact to make their points, particularly when confronting policies that run directly counter with their own personal experiences and memories that were gathered over the course of a long lifetime.

Is Helen Thomas a liberal. Yeah, she probably is - so what? Should she retire because of this unfortunate controversy? Yes.

That said, is Helen Thomas some left-wing ideological zealot whose obvious bias against Israel clouds her judgment, as Ari Fleischer, et al., would characterize her to be? As Greg Mitchell noted in today's Editor & Publisher before his column inexplicably got pulled from the website, the lifetime sum of Helen Thomas' work product strongly suggests the opposite, that she has instead displayed persistence, tenacity and guts, and isn't at all afraid of saying what she feels that people sorely need to hear.

Ms. Thomas is no more biased against Israel than I am, as I have repeatedly spoken on behalf of Israel's right to defend its own people from the repeated shelling and rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon. In that regard, Hamas and Hezbollah are hardly benign entities.

Further, she is apparently no less willing than I am to give right-wing Israeli governments a perpetual mulligan when they pursue policies that will doubtless lead to the eventual isolation of Israel from the world community, not unlike the shunning experienced by pro-apartheid South Africa in the aftermath of the Afrikaaner regime's bloody crackdown on black nationalism, following the Soweto uprisings in 1976.

Back when I was in high school, one could make a more than reasonable case that the Jews in Israel were in fact victims, first of the Holocaust, and then of continued anti-Jewish bigotry in the neighboring Arab world.

To be honest, I'm very hardpressed to make that case today, particularly when my own personal sense of decency is assaulted almost daily by Likud's continued provocation of civil conflict with indigenous Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, a policy of confrontation with Muslims borne of a hyper-religious Jewish orthodoxy that turned violently hardcore with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin in November 1995.

I've long since concluded that despite their many claims to the contrary, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Likud aren't really interested in protecting Israel from external threats. Rather, not unlike the late Yugoslav premier Slobodan Milosevic, they're all about maintaining their own political power domestically - even if that means violating, repeatedly and in turn, the civil rights of the country's various minority ethnic and GLBT populations, which can only further play right into the hands of Israel's very real enemies.

Anyway, that's my take and opinion on the subject of Helen Thomas' unfortunate remarks. And if that makes me an anti-Semite in the eyes of some people, well, I can't control what such people are pre-disposed to believe whenever they are confronted by the lengthening dark shadows cast by their own ideo-religious bigotries and / or racial intolerances.

Ultimately, I can only be judged by my own consistency and tenacity in adherence to my own principles regarding justice and fair play in the greater world community. Frankly, when it comes down to whether or not to speak truth to power, I must trust in and rely upon my own best judgment, and pick and choose my own battles.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on June 7, 2010 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

She said they should go back home, to Poland, Germany and America, but didn't mention Israel, so I don't think you can't say her use of 'Palestine' was intended to be restricted to the West Bank and Gaza.

Besides, if you look at the video you can see her bracing herself just before she says it like she's knows she's about to cross a line.

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

NealB I was thinking in terms of the US sustaining Israel to defend oil interests in the Middle East.

I just don't follow the argument. I think all oil companies in the Middle East are state owned. Surely supporting Israel causes more strain in our relations with oil producers than not supporting Israel.

Posted by: cld on June 7, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's tempting to think a story like this would have reverberations, signaling contempt for bigoted rhetoric in polite society.

This story will reverberate in exactly the way AIPAC wants it to reverberate: It will tell the members of the press corps that they risk losing their jobs and being branded as "anti-Semitic" if they dare to criticize Israel in any way.

Helen Thomas is being crucified as a warning.

Posted by: Oregonian on June 7, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

there is a more layered backstory here...

http://www.juancole.com/2010/06/jewish-gaza-aid-flotilla-planned.html

[...]

There are over 250,000 Jews in contemporary Germany, and more Jews immigrated to Germany in 2005 than to Israel. Four-fifths of them are Russian Jews who prefer Berlin to Beersheva. And, there are some Israelis among them who have similar preferences. In further evidence of how Israel can actually be bad for Jews, the Israeli government lobbied Germany in 2004 to restrict Jewish immigration. But there are now more Jews in Germany than there were in 1939 before the Holocaust. (True, there are not more than in the Weimar Republic, but that is where the trend line is going despite Israeli attempts to foment discriminatory immigration policies toward Jews.)

for references follow link

Posted by: Cynthia on June 7, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

The simple fact is that this considered by Washington Monthly (and the rest) to be "ugly and offensive" is because the colonialists happen to be Jews.

Otherwise it wouldn't have even made news.

Personally I support a binational state in Palestine and think that as long as Jews are ready to leave in peace with other peoples in the area of Palestine they should be able to stay on equal basis with everyone else. The problem is that most Jews in Palestine don't want this anymore than the blackfoots of Algeria: They want all or nothing.

Just look at polls in Israel's media. Most of the adult Israeli Jews are racist supremacists who want more ethnic cleansing and unequal treatment for both occupied area and Israeli Arabs. These are no goody-good saints, but nasty people, and they form the huge majority.

It tells a lot about US that one can call for ethnic cleansing of remaining Palestinians from Palestine and not to become an outcast, but remain a respected politician or a journalist, but if you dare to say the same about colonialist settlers you are forced to resign.

And if you really think that Jews have special right to Palestine because part (not all, which is also forgotten) of the population 2000 years ago were Jews, then I suggest that you in Washington Monthly give whatever you own back to the native peoples of North America and come back to Europe so that you won't become hypocrites.

Like your political leaders who declare again and again how they want to keep "Israel Jewish" - Doing so standing on land which was to remain in the hands of the Native Americans for 1600 years after the kingdom of Judea ceased to exist, and never understanding how stupid and laughable it is for them to support Jewish claims on Palestine.

And if you are so horrified about Thomas' words, why don't you look at some actual cases of ethnic cleansing. Like one of the most little noticed in the world, that of the Bhutani refugees in India and Nepal?

If Helen Thomas would have claimed support for ethnically cleansing them, you or pretty much anyone else in US media and politics wouldn't have neither cared nor known what she was about. Unlike when she attacked your sacred Zionist Gods.

Posted by: Raimo Kangasniemi on June 7, 2010 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

The whole dog and pony show being staged by the Zionist lovers using this manufactured outrage is designed for one purpose, to cover up the real inhumane and barbaric outrageous acts that are being carried out against the people on the west bank. Unfortunately it once again seems to be working .Where are the articles exposing the criminal acts if the IFD in this raid. Where are the condemnations of the Israeli acts of terrorism for that is exactly what this behavior is a terrorist act to instill fear.

Posted by: grandpajohn on June 7, 2010 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

I see offhand remarks are more offensive to WaMo than Israel killing a U.S. citizen in botched raid on international waters. Interesting choice of values.

First rule of WaMo: Bloodshed is okay. But remarks in poor taste or poorly said, deadly!

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 7, 2010 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

What bothers me most about the whole thing is that those who are left and still try to call themselves journalists did not even try to stand up for her right to free speech. Whether you agree with her point of view or see it as antisemitic, she still had a right to say it.

All these spineless, Lilly livered people who claim to be journalists have done nothing to make this country better, and in fact have worked to destroy the very principles this country was built on, like the right to free speech, they have bent and buckled at even the tiniest pressure to change their view or be restricted from press briefings.

It makes me want to vomit.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on June 7, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

The issue depends on what Thomas meant, because her comments are open to two interpretations, depending on what she meant by "Palestine":

1. If her definition of Palestine included the State of Israel, then her remarks cannot be defended w/o advocating Israel's destruction.

2. If, however, she meant what most of us refer to as Palestine -- ie, the lands that hopefully will be included in the State of Palestine -- the West Bank and Gaza, then she is absolutely correct -- the Isrealis should long ago have gotten "the hell out of there." Instead they have pursued their settlement policies since 1973, in continual defiance of international law.

It is high time for the U.S. to stop our funding of the Israeli war machine.

Posted by: Rosste on June 7, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

The sanity of the comments on this issue make me feel a lot better. Thanks, all.

Posted by: ulrich on June 7, 2010 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

All these spineless, Lilly livered people who claim to be journalists have done nothing to make this country better, and in fact have worked to destroy the very principles this country was built on, like the right to free speech, they have bent and buckled at even the tiniest pressure to change their view or be restricted from press briefings.

That's because leftists are not interested in free speech. Once you realize this, then everything else becomes clearer.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 7, 2010 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's too bad that Helen had to retire, for speaking her mind. She like myself and many people simply do not see Israel as being beyond criticism. Today if you say anything against the state of Israel, you are saying something against the Jews. This is absurd!

Posted by: Ken on June 7, 2010 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's sad this woman's wonderful career is now going to be tainted by telling the truth.. Fuck Israel..

Posted by: matt on June 7, 2010 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

There's nothing bigoted about telling people who STOLE land to give it back or leave..

I had an uncle who WAS in a German concentration camp complete with tattooed number and even he thought Israel was a bad idea that only got worse over the years RIP.

Posted by: matt on June 7, 2010 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Please, someone post an exact transcript of all of the exchange - the interviewer as well as Thomas - at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQcQdWBqt14&feature=player_embedded.
It's not what I expected; too bad she fell into the interviewer's trap.

Posted by: PLH on June 7, 2010 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I think you were out of line to call Helen Thomas's remark "anti-Semitic"; it was no such thing.

In Israel's half-century-plus, it has repeatedly had to use its full strength and (its superior technology) to fight off its immediate neighbors.

Now it has additional enemies. Iran may be concealing materials for two nuclear warheads. Turkey just lost civilians in the Gaza Flotilla. (The attack caused widespread outrage, not just among Muslim nations.) Israel may be in over its head for the next war.

This might be a very good time for Israel's people to relocate out of harm's way. Giving that advice need not be "anti-Semitic".

Posted by: Raven on June 7, 2010 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Suggesting a return to Poland and German is indeed antisemitic as she knows full well what happened to Jews in those countries. If she had only said they should leave Palestine - that could be accepted to mean leave the Occupied Territories, but her further statement leaves no doubt that she went too far.

That said, I am so tired of good people being punished for a single mistake while evil trolls like Rove and ghouls like Cheney and evil men like Glenn Beck are respected and lauded. Sarah Palin employs Nixon's man who purged Jews from their jobs in the administration. Pat Buchanan's antisemitic face is on tv once a week or more. No, accountability is a one way street in this country.

Posted by: Kija on June 7, 2010 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Except, Kija, a Holocaust would not happen *now* in Germany. Rather, German Jews received reparations, and German synagogues have been restored, while Nazi propaganda and paraphernalia are outlawed. Surely you are aware of all this?

Posted by: Raven on June 7, 2010 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK
Sean Scallon: "That's because leftists are not interested in free speech. Once you realize this, then everything else becomes clearer."

Thank you so much for once again showing us all why the modern American conservative movement is morally, ethically and intellectually bankrupt.

It's pretty hard to engage in the free expression of ideas with someone like you, who has nothing substantive to offer in return.

Likewise, it's difficult to respect as valid the opinions of people like you who love to complain, yet have little regard for principles, facts and knowledge.

And it's become problematic to converse with people like you, who possess a very healthy appetite for invective, propaganda and misinformation that disparage other points of view and parrot your own myopic and increasingly irrational concerns about the way things ought to be.

Small wonder that as the political heirs to such a compellingly ignorant political philosophy, today's Republicans would desire to rule yet disdain to govern, and would further prefer that our country should exist on a controlled diet of manufactured outrage, orchestrated hysteria, shopworn clichés and stale bromides.

That's my take on it. And if you have a problem with that, mi amigo pobresito, then I suggest that you go and complain to your inflatable datable, who only talks back and sasses you whenever you're off your meds.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on June 7, 2010 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Holocaust would not happen *now* in Germany -- Raven, @21:00

Now? No. Thirty years down the road? Who knows...

During WWII, Denmark and its population were very sympathetic to the Jews, very enlightened on racial issues. 10 years ago, I was revolted to the point of nausea listening to them talk about the "Muslim invasion"; standard anti-immigrant stuff -- they refuse to assimilate (won't learn the language, won't wear "normal" clothes), they don't take care of their own but want everything given to them at our expense, they're responsible for all the crimes -- you've heard it all here too, but aimed at Latinos.

Times change and with them the mood of the natives. One year they're happy to host the outsiders (Jews came to Poland *at the invitation of the king*, in 14th century), another year they're happy to slaughter them (I grew up hearing "Jews crucified Christ" and "Jews kill Christian children to bleed them for matzohs" on a regular basis and Easters were fraught, until most Jews left).

I've heard it said that "Home is where they have to take you in"; for Jews, that home is Israel, however awkward and artificial a construct it is. The thing is... To me, that home is Israel BEFORE 1967. That's the home it has every right to defend. The annexation of Gaza and the West Bank is, to me, as legitimate as the German Anschluss (spell?) of the Sudetenland.

What Thomas meant by "Palestine" -- just the occupied lands or the both Israel *and* the occupied lands - is an interesting question. My guess is that, because of her age, a cog had slipped momentarily and she meant the entire area. When she was growing up *all* of that area was called "Palestine" (and was under the British rule, IIRC). I'm 30 yrs younger than she is but still, in unguarded moments, will refer to "Congo Brazzaville" and "Burma" and "Siam" and "Peking", because that's what I learnt in school.

Vis "freedom of speech" or lack of it as regards Thomas. She's not -- literally -- in Siberia or some equivalent of it, the way she would have been in a pre-1989 communist country or in today's China. She's been hounded into retirement, instead. Can't even say it was a "premature retirement", given that she's almost 90. So, a liberal icon has retired, earlier than she might have otherwise. And she remained a classy lady to the end, apologising for her (really outrageous as well as unfortunate) utterance.

Posted by: exlibra on June 7, 2010 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

So, Helen Thomas' remarks were "ugly" and "offensive" as well as "anti-Semitic." I get the feeling Steve Benen is reacting to the aging face of Ms. Thomas along with the pro-Palestine content of her words. I heard on NPR tonight that the Thomas remarks were recorded in May, but released onto the net after the Gaza flotilla killings. Distraction, anyone? Perhaps Democracy Now's Amy Goodman will be next on the hit list. She doesn't seem to wear make-up or dye her hair (so unladylike) and she's a forthright critic of Israeli government (and U.S.) policies.

Posted by: nancycadet on June 7, 2010 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Benen--"It's tempting to think a story like this would have reverberations, signaling contempt for bigoted rhetoric in polite society. But I suspect Pat Buchanan and Glenn Beck are not exactly nervous about the Thomas developments.'

Thanks for the great opportunity to comment:
Cable tv viewers surely have tired of Pat Buchanan (nonetheless) allowed on MSNBC
as a (credible spokesman) from the (god-awful) Nixon era.
Further, it's exhausting watching him using his hands as if pounding out (unkind and outrageous) thoughts-- as if he is allowed to apply accompanying anger (captured by cameras) to bigoted statements--since that's what he does all the time. (YouTube, anyone?)
And his views go unchallenged by the anchors--((Mika, on Morning Joe, anyone??)
Joe Scarborough, to his credit, seems alarmed at times.

Rarely have I heard Pat Buchanan be challenged.
If he is on, I change to CNN or CSPAN.
He is no longer a neutral historian, despite his intelligence. It's always a mere spouting of bigotry, allowed on the network (as if he is revered) as an elderly spokesperson.

Posted by: Every time disgraceful on June 7, 2010 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

The irony Steve, is that you are much younger than people who were born in refugee camps and have never known freedom. They act out of a vestigial nationalism and yearn for a less humiliating existence. And we tsk, tsk. I think there is a poem carved at the base of a statue near Ellis Island that endorsed Helen Thomas' world view. There was a time when America defused the simmering world injustice by accepting the erstwhile refuse of the rest of "civilization." Now, we take sides. Cynically and un-ironically.

Posted by: Sparko on June 7, 2010 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

I sure wish people were equally incensed about Liz Cheney placing Turkey, a NATO ally and long-time friend to the US and Israel, into a new axis of evil. Those remarks should ban her from the Sunday circuit forever. Where is the outrage? Where is the blacklist?

Posted by: Jennifer on June 8, 2010 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

Might as well add my voice to the chorus . . . her words were not "anti-Semitic" and Steve Benen's credibility is very much in question.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on June 8, 2010 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

Anything said against Israel or Zionism is automatically racist, bigoted, and last but not least, anti-Semitic. No criticism is permitted. Israel will investigate all of its own actions. Israel is not required to pay any attention to international treaties or laws. Israel has a permanent Get out of Jail Free card.
So, Steve, when are you going to wake up to what's being done in our name ?

Posted by: rbe1 on June 8, 2010 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

If Thomas had a history with such comments, that would be one thing, but you can probably chalk this remark up to her being nearly 90. Quite a high price to pay for one inadvertent remark that becomes so common as one ages.

Posted by: bob h on June 8, 2010 at 5:29 AM | PERMALINK

"It's pretty hard to engage in the free expression of ideas with someone like you, who has nothing substantive to offer in return. Likewise, it's difficult to respect as valid the opinions of people like you who love to complain, yet have little regard for principles, facts and knowledge."

I rest my case. It's easy to cut off discussion when you take the intellectually haughty notion of believing the other side is inferior to you. You'll find me agreeing with you that much of "conservative" intellectual discourse is no such thing at all. But that still leaves plenty of writers, pundits, even bloggers outside of Conservative Inc. one can have a civil discussion with. But hey, if you wish to live above the clouds and cut off feel free to do so. It's not my concern.

By the way I see your Helen Thomas "anti-Semitic" forced retirement and raise you a university speech code, a South Park censorship and a Trent Lott ouster from his perch as Senate Majority Leader. For every Nat Hentoff, there seems to be treble the amount of people like you Donald, PC and proud of it.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 8, 2010 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

I figured there would be controversy over characterizing the remark Helen Thomas made as "anti-Semitic." It's a serious charge and falls into a very delicate area. Was the remark anti-Semitic, i.e., did it express hatred for Jews as a people?

"Anti-Zionist" may be closer to the mark, maybe even "anti-Israel" although there was no comment that an Israeli state should not exist at all.

I'm not seeing an expression of hatred or contempt for the Jewish people itself and therefore I think the label is inaccurate. I am not defending the content of what Ms. Thomas said -- repeat, I am not defending what she said. I'm questioning the way Steve Benen labels it here.

Posted by: Algernon on June 8, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

It's easy to cut off discussion when you take the intellectually haughty notion of believing the other side is inferior to you.

I doubt that Donald meant "the other side" as a whole. Sounded to me like he was specifically referring to you. You have consistently underperformed on the intellectual front in these threads. Simply put, your mouth and your constant, simmering anger are both quite a bit larger than your analytical skill.

Posted by: Mart on June 8, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Just a note-my first time reading this source...

The comments here are generally thoughtful and respectful and focusing on the deeper issues.

This is not the case with the shrill, hacking blather on the Huffington Post thread, nor is true of the mediocre hack Ari Fleischer.

Oh, and yes, Benen is only marginally competent and touch robotic and shrill.

And no, the sky god is not my god so the claim of right or chosen-ness has no truck with me.

So you really do have to play nice with others in the global sandbox to make be tolerated. Otherwise, we need to militate for the U.S. to pull our billions and billions of funding to slap Israel in line...simple, really.

Posted by: Max on June 8, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Simply put, your mouth and your constant, simmering anger are both quite a bit larger than your analytical skill."

Or it could as simple you just don't like what I'm writing. Fine.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 8, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

I don't like what a lot of people to the right of me write, Sean. Doesn't mean I think they're all dense and have problems controlling their unfocused rage and taking accountability. You are. You do.

Posted by: Mart on June 8, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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