Helen Thomas is the dean of the White House press corp. She made a mistake the other day by declaring that, in her opinion at that moment, the Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and return to Europe. Palestine is "not German, its not Polish" she added. Unfortunately, the whole thing ended up on a YouTube video.
As a result of this indiscretion she has lost her business agent. Lanny Davis, President Clinton’s White House Counsel said that Thomas should be "stripped of her honors for having crossed the line of freedom of speech." Davis declares that Thomas "has shown herself to be an anti-Semtic bigot." Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer called on Thomas to be fired from her post and her White House press credentials revoked. He also called her an anti-Semitic bigot. B’nai B’rith’s international President Dennis Glick and Vice President Daneil Marlaschin accused Thomas of being an ally of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and being part of a cabal seeking to "delegitimize Israel."
There are several issues to be considered here.
1. Obviously Thomas was angry over the Israel’s piratical attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla and her remarks were made in that context. Thus, at the same time she lambasted the Obama administration for its tepid response to the murders of nine aid activists on the Mavi Marmara by Israeli commandoes. We all make exaggerated statements during fits of anger most of which, thankfully, do not end up on YouTube. But we also know that the vast majority of the time these statements do reflect our overall worldview. I once heard a respected Middle East historian, delivering a talk at an annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association, say that the world would be a better place if all of Israel broke off and slid to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Was this man a bigot? Hardly. He was also Jewish. And he was not a "self-hater."
Thomas offered an apology stating that she regrets the "comments I made last week regarding Israelis and the Palestinians." There is no doubt that she really does regret it, considering the hot water it put her in. She also goes on and says that "they do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon." Given her fifty plus years of honest and penetrating reporting there is no reason to doubt that this last statement represents the real Helen Thomas–when not confronted with horrific Israeli behavior. The accusations of bigotry and the calls for the ruination of her career are way out of proportion and, when coming from Zionists such as Fleischer, Glick and Marlaschin they are undoubtedly opportunistic.
2. Now, since we are on the topic of bigotry, let’s consider the behavior of the Israeli Jews on this level. After all if we are to label their critics as bigots, we should take a look at the basis for the criticism. The bitter truth is that Israeli Jews have spent the last 65 years systematically discriminating against Israeli Arabs and, as far as the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories go, they have set up a system of control that smacks of apartheid. Recent surveys of Israeli Jews show that a good number of them do not want Palestinians as neighbors or allowed to live in the same apartment blocks as they do. Israel’s school textbooks have purposely eradicated the Palestinian history of the place they now call the Jewish state.
This discriminatory environment is promoted by the Israeli government. This is how the Israeli journalist Mya Guarnieri describes the situation, "The continued maltreatment of Palestinians puts every Israeli’s freedom at risk on a daily basis. If your government disregards the rule of law, disenfranchises your neighbor and tramples his most basic human rights, how can you expect that your own freedoms will remain intact?" But freedom in Israel is seen, by the Jews, as a strictly ethnocentric privilege. Thus, when Israeli Jews call Israel a "Jewish state" they mean it quite literally. This is not to say there are not fair minded and humane Israeli Jews who know that the society they live in is seriously perverted. There are. They are just a too small minority.
In other words, Israel as now constituted and operated is a state where in the majority are active or passive bigots. That conclusion is suggested by the evidence (evidence backed up by most of the world’s human rights organizations, including those in Israel). That being the case, I assert that Israel today is a racist place and should be transformed from a "Jewish state" to a democratic secular state, a state where all its citizens have equal rights. That does not require all of Israel’s Jews to go back to Europe, or to be drowned in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It just requires the destruction of the ideology of Zionism.
If the folks at B’nai B’rith got hold of this I will bet dollars to donuts that they would have conniptions and call me an anti-Semitic bigot. That seems to be the way it goes in our world.
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|