Helen Thomas And The Middle East


I have always loved Helen Thomas, and still do. She is the epitome of what a reporter should be.  Her decades at the White House allowed for the nation to have better information, and closer scrutiny of issues that otherwise would not have been made as clear to the citizens.   

I am one of those who actually watched the press conferences from the days of President Ford onwards, and enjoyed them. When a teenager I thought asking a pointed question of a national leader was perhaps one of the best jobs one could have.  Over the years I was drawn to  Helen Thomas and her contemporary, Sarah McClendon, who  also had a very frank, and impressive journalistic style.  Those two ladies could make any press conference quite grand.  When it came to Thomas I am not sure what first attracted me.   It may have been her recognizable face, her first question to start the conferences, or her insistence at getting an answer to the actual question that she posed.  The one thing I quickly grew to love was that even in the midst of serious issues being discussed, when it came to Helen and Sarah, memorable moments were just waiting to happen.  Holding those we elect accountable can be informative and fun.  They proved it.

Then came the statement from Helen Thomas that to some has knocked the planet off its axis.

What Helen Thomas stated about who should live in Palestine last week is not that jarring if one thinks about it beyond the confines of the last roughly 60 years. I think the Balfour Agreement in 1917 was the start of a wrong path.   I am not sure, but suspect that Thomas might share that view.  Having said that, I think the whole Middle East is remarkable for the complexity of cultures and politics, and I wish for a resolution that is fair for those who were displaced and treated as second class people in their own lands.

But having stated  what I think, or what Thomas said, is not anti-Semitic. It runs counter to Israeli policy for sure, but that is different from being against a group of people. I differ with Israel all the time, but never have I made statements, or do I feel in my soul, anti-Semitic in any way. I just don’t.  I do have strong pro-Palestinian feelings, and know that a homeland with full rights is essential for long-term peace.  To pretend, as many do, that policy in the Middle East is sane or rational just because Israel desires it  is misguided and costly. That has been proved over and over again.

For Helen Thomas it was costly to say what she did.  She may not have been as artful in all her words as she might have been, but the foundation of the fact that Palestine was taken from the Arabs is not in dispute. 

Israel does now exist, and we need to work at resolving the issues that result from this fact. 

Just as those words are true, so are these that follow.

Helen Thomas will always be the reporter’s reporter.  She will also now be a lightening rod. 

All in all, a damn fine life she can be most proud of.

7 thoughts on “Helen Thomas And The Middle East

  1. Surprised that you have not been labeled an anti-Semite for recognizing the humanity of Arabs.

    Against Israeli, rightwing miliatarism = Anti-Semitism

    Facts are for haters.

    Ignorance is truth.

    1. Mal,

      Oh, it has been strongly inferred about me many times.

      But then when I struck back on those who claimed the Holocaust never happened there were ones that said I was nothing more than a Jewish sympathizer.

      Must be doing somehthing right to be slapped by all sides.

  2. GB Hero

    Don’t know why everyone is so worked up about what she said, it’s not the first time she has made such a hateful statement, her anti Semitic attitude have always been known.

  3. On the right-hand side of your blog is a statement to boycott Arizona Diamondbacks to thwart echoes of apartheid.

    Do you believe Israel is demonstrating apartheid policies towards Palestinians now? If so, would you boycott Israeli-made products?

    1. Yes, I do think there are apartheid type policies at play. I think a remarkable and spot on read about this topic was written by Jimmy Carter, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid ” His book sits on my shelves. As to a boycott of products I think if one were underway I would support it. However I am not aware of any huge boycott of this type.

  4. Solly

    You are too kind and dismissive of the dotty old bag’s remarks. The Jews should go back to Germany and Poland? Um, what happened there that would make this such an outrageous statement? It’s sad when someone with a distinguished career hangs around too long and becomes an ornament or an embarrassment.

    1. Patrick

      you get right to the point. Nobody claims her comments about policy are racist, but her suggestion that jews should go back to germany and poland–where they were thrown into the crematoriums–is. Her words are not just “un-artful”; they are clearly racist, and to deny this or to avoid this is to condone them. Thomas said these things at a celebration of jewish culture; what would she say on 4/20?

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