Wednesday, June 09, 2010

the ambush of helen thomas


Video - Russia Times on Helen Thomas sacking.

Counterpunch | Let’s say Thomas is saying that the Zionists should have stayed in Europe (where anti-Semitism has greatly diminished in the last half-century, typically flourishing now mainly as a result of Israeli policy towards Palestinians) rather than pursuing their agenda in Palestine under Turkish rule or the British mandate. Maybe she’s saying that it was wrong for the Zionists to terrorize Palestinians into fleeing their villages in the diaspora of 1948. Maybe she’s saying that it’s wrong for Israel to accept any Jew (as defined by the rabbinical establishment) as a citizen while denying hundreds of thousands of Arabs the right to return to their homeland. If so, many agree with her. I do, certainly.

But there are some who demand that we all accept a certain understanding of Israel. Everyone must, to avoid charges of anti-Semitism, agree on these points:
1. The establishment of the state of Israel was absolutely necessary, to prevent the annihilation of the Jewish people in a future holocaust. (This is of course an unproveable assertion. The global Jewish population today is about what it was in the 1910s---about 16 million---and if it is declining it’s mostly because of birth control and intermarriage. The prospect for future Auschwitzes seems minimal.)

2. The Jewish state must be within the boundaries of the ancient state of Israel, as it existed during the (legendary) reign of King David, as described in the Bible. It is the right of Jews to reconstitute that state, from which they were wrongly driven. It has always been theirs, no matter where they roamed. It is their “birthright” to live in Israel. (Tens of millions of Christian Zionists embrace this notion, noting that God, in the Bible, made the Jews his Chosen People and gave them that land. Enough said!)

3. The establishment of the modern state of Israel was the result of a just and humane struggle. The displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs was their own fault, or a consequence of propaganda from Arab regimes urging them to flee. (Israeli historians like the estimable Ilan Pappe have effectively disproven this.)

4. The occupation of the lands invaded in 1967 is necessary as a security measure against Arab anti-Semitism, irrational anti-Jewish hate. (You can maybe advocate withdrawal from the territories, and even promote a two-state solution, without being called anti-Semitic. But if you note matter-of-factly that the occupation is against international law, is cruelly implemented, and produces enormous suffering, expect charges of anti-Semitism.)
If you don’t agree that Israel is a moral exemplar and light to the world, “the only democracy in the Middle East” just attending reasonably to its security needs against a world that is (for no good reason) hostile to itself, you can be hounded, harrassed, intimidated, discredited, denied tenure, fired. Helen was fired. That’s the real outrage here.

“So we waited. And of course, during the waiting of it, the flotilla happened.” Yes. A 19 year old Turkish-American boy (among nine others) was shot to death at close range in the head and back in international waters by Israeli hijackers wo’ve subsequently claimed that that their victims wanted to “lynch” them. They effectively conveyed the message: “Don’t mess with Israel.” And then 89 year old Helen got ambushed (lynched?) by this innocent-looking kid on the street.

The message? Shut up, you critics of Israel, you terrorists, you anti-Semites!

I hope Helen Thomas keeps talking and writing. She’s understood and exposed the brutal realities of recent history, and is much too young to shut up now.