We know, we know, we’re supposed to be generous to the old and infirm, and act like Helen Thomas is some sort of national treasure, but Jewdar is not inclined to be generous, nor to show any deference to someone who expresses the views expressed by Ms. Thomas in her recent Playboy interview. Jewdar has two big issues.
The first, is that, despite her claims that she’s merely “anti-Zionist,” she seems to consider “Jews” and “Zionists” as synonymous, and thus seamlessly shifts from discussing “Zionists,” the “Israel lobby” and “propagandists against the Arabs” to declaring there’s an open Jewish conspiracy at work in America that runs the country. If that’s not antisemitic, we’re not sure what is, even if Ms. Thomas wants to claim that Jews are “Europeans” and not “Semites (and somebody might want to let her know that the word “antisemitic” was specifically made up by an antisemite to refer to Jews).
A little antisemitic conspiracy theory, however, is not the sort of thing to get Jewdar too worked up. More critical for us is her continued assertion that Israelis don’t belong in the Land of Israel and should go back to Europe. Let’s leave aside, of course, the fact that at least 40% of Israel’s Jewish population is descended from Jews who lived in the Muslim world prior to 1948, many of whom were suffering at times considerable discrimination in their own lands, and in some cases, were expelled. Rather, let’s focus on this one line:
“Sure, the Israelis have a right to exist—but where they were born, not to come and take someone else’s home.”
We don’t care how grand a dame or doyenne or whatever it is she’s supposed to be she is, somebody has to let her know that over 60 years has passed since the founding of the State of Israel. The average Israeli wasn’t born somewhere else, he or she was born in Israel. And they aren’t taking someone else’s home, they are living in their own homes.
While Jewdar believes in the establishment of a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza, and opposes the building of more settlements,etc. etc., we do so because we believe in human rights, and that the Palestinians who live in the West Bank are entitled to peace, and security and democracy. They don’t have a right to a state; they have a right to basic civil rights, and if Israel won’t give it to them within the framework of Israeli citizenship, then they need to let them have their own state.
Ms. Thomas, for all her blather, is no lover of human rights–rather, she is someone who seeks to redress the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the ’48 War (most of whom were not explicitly expelled or driven out by Israel but fled as a result of the war launched by the Arab regimes) by dispossessing millions of Israelis. Palestinians have rights; so do Israelis. It’s not because God gave us the land, or some Jews lived there for thousands of years, or we won it fair and square in a war. They have rights because they are human beings who live there now, and have the same rights to peace and security and democracy that Ms. Thomas would like to extend to the Palestinians. Jewdar finds it repugnant when Jews advocate the dispossession of Palestinians; we find it at least as repugnant when Arabs advocate the dispossession of Jews.
Ms. Thomas has had a distinguished career, and has plenty of laurels to rest on. But if she chooses to punctuate that career with statements that deny the essential human rights of millions of Israelis, then Jewdar is perfectly fine with remembering her for that. For a journalist, there should be no greater tribute than to be remembered for your words.