Thank Goodness That Menace has Been Handled

Everyone is now safe:

Helen Thomas announced on Monday that she is retiring, moments after the White House Correspondents Association said it was considering stripping her of her front-row press room seat.

Tthe 89-year-old so-called “dean of the White House press corps” had caused an uproar after making remarks in May suggesting that Israeli Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and return to Germany and Poland “or wherever they came from.”

Personally, I am quite relieved there is no one critical of administration or Israeli policy left in the WH press corpse. Not that there is any difference. All those pesky questions about Afghanistan and Iraq and human rights were kind of annoying and got into the way of more substantive stuff, such as questions like this:

Q: Can you talk about the criticism that the President isn’t making that emotional connection with people over the spill?

***

Q: Does the White House believe that it was a mistake for the President not to meet with fishermen or other local business people during his last visit?

***

Q Did anyone in the White House yell at him {BP’s Hayward} for making those comments?

I think our democracy will be stronger and more informed as a result of this. if only she’d had the common sense to call them goat fucking child molesters.

378 replies
  1. 1
    El Cid says:

    It’s never a wrong time to talk about blowin’ up Arabs, Muslims, and anyone else who sort of look like or sound like ’em.

  2. 2
    MBSS says:

    in a related story all members of the white house press corps will be provided with courtesy stenotypes and xanax before all press conferences.

  3. 3

    so-called “dean of the White House press corps”

    Wow, that’s some snotty wording there.

    And I hate how the White House Correspondents’ Association controls who gets access to the peanut gallery. I know we obviously don’t want the White House controlling access, but the WHCA controlling access is just switching one corrupt power structure for another.

    Maybe they should have a weekly lottery to see who gets in and just have as many outlets apply as want to.

    I wonder how they apportion the seats?

    Ah, from the WHCA website: “A nine-member board of directors, elected by correspondents, addresses access to the chief executive; coverage arrangements; work space arrangements; logistics and costs for press travel to accompany a president on the road. Information about our OFFICERS and BOARD MEMBERS is available on our site.”

    Who will fill that position? I have some suggestions (which were posted last night):

    Ezra Klein
    Chris Hayes
    Amy Goodman
    Rachel Maddow (she’d never take it, though)
    Steve Benen
    Kevin Drum
    Duncan Black
    Joshua Micah Marshall

    Feel free to add to the list.

  4. 4
    EFroh says:

    This is so sad. The apology should have been enough. Thanks for all the great reporting you’ve done over the years, Helen. We’ll not see your like again.

  5. 5

    I just wished we had more pics of a shirtless Obama at the beach. That alone should have been enough to clean up the environment, save Wall Street, get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and kick start the economy. The fact that it didn’t proves that Obama is clearly much worse than Bush.

  6. 6
    Jules says:

    The real question now is who will get her seat in the front row?
    The Villagers will be buzzing about this for weeks.
    I predict a high level of buffonary and asshattery…

  7. 7
    Svensker says:

    This makes me very sad. And tired.

    Helen Thomas retires in disgrace after making one emotional comment that she should not have made and for which she sincerely apologized.

    Ari Fleischer, et al, fucking kill thousands of innocent Iraqis with their war mongering and they not only don’t apologize, but they crow about their blood thirsty deeds. They pay no price and are feted, promoted and rewarded.

    Something is really wrong with us.

  8. 8
    Silver says:

    Maybe Jeff Gannon can get his seat back? Someone should tell Gibbs he gives a mean bj…

  9. 9
    catclub says:

    At least Pat Buchanan still has his job.
    On the liberal MSNBC

  10. 10

    @arguingwithsignposts: I’d probably vote for Jesse Taylor, but you better have your snark detector operating and full force. Follow Jesse on Twitter for a while to get a feel for how awesome that would be.
    @Svensker: Her mistake was not killing a bunch of peace activists. But saying some hateful things about Jews and Israel is just another sign the terrorists are winning.

  11. 11
    RP says:

    Oh for god’s sake. I can’t believe people are upset about this. Her comment was ridiculous and indefensible.

  12. 12
    Lolis says:

    @Svensker:

    Here, here.

    Her comments did not reflect her best moments and were poorly worded. She has apologized. It is a sad day when Lanny Davis and Ari Fleischer win any battle, especially one that involves the voices in the media. We need more obstinate screwballs who question US imperialism and Israeli dominance, not less.

  13. 13
    Paul L. says:

    Balloon Juice/ Media Matters excuses/Talking points for defending Helen Thomas Jews Back To Germany/Poland quote.
    Out of Context.
    Ambush interview.
    Edited video.
    She mentioned the [Israelis/Illegals in Palestine]can go to America. And everywhere else..
    The Reich Wing wingnuts are hypocrites.
    Reich Wing wingnuts are attacking and mocking the appearance and age of a poor 90 year old woman.
    Patrick Buchanan denies the Holocaust and defends Hitler.

    Glennzilla

    The noble courage so many are exhibiting in standing up to 89-year-old columnist Helen Thomas is so very impressive. Bold and risky.

  14. 14
    The Dangerman says:

    There was no choice; she had to retire immediately. An apology would never be enough.

    Contrast the departure of Coach Wooden, full of grace and wisdom to the end, to the “departure” of this nonagenarian (thank God for spellcheck).

    There are things one simply cannot do; with the sensitivity of the Holocaust still too fresh in our minds, telling Jews to go home to Germany and Poland is way, way, way over the top.

  15. 15
    Dan says:

    She apologized because she got in trouble, not because she doesn’t believe what she said. She volunteered it, it wasn’ t like she was tricked into saying it or something.
    It should be possible to have people in the white house press corps who are both willing to ask serious, incisive questions and not batshit insane.

  16. 16
    tavella says:

    “Someone was mean to me, so I can oppress whoever I like and no one is allowed to say boo to me!”

    Screw that.

  17. 17
    LD50 says:

    @Silver:

    Maybe Jeff Gannon can get his seat back? Someone should tell Gibbs he gives a mean bj…

    Dunno about that, Gannon’s ads clearly stated he was a top.

  18. 18
    EconWatcher says:

    RP:

    People make the accurate point that Buchanan has said some equally ugly things and hasn’t paid a price. But I agree with you, that just means he should have been held to account. It doesn’t mitigate this.

    What she said was truly ghastly and should be a career-ender for anyone in the media. Go back to Germany and Poland? She is an educated person. I assume she knows why so many people left Germany and Poland for Israel–and what happened to so many who didn’t.

    Josh Marshal seems to agree. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.c.....?ref=fpblg

    I’m not Jewish, but I would hope you don’t have to be to see how ghastly the comment was.

  19. 19
    bemused says:

    I would love to see a junior high school class take the place of the press corps for one Q & A with Obama. I think it’s safe to say students would put the press corps to shame when it comes to relevant, substantive, current event questions. And I can’t imagine the teacher of that class letting the students get away with questions like the press corps did ask as John referenced above. “Come on, people, get serious. You can do much better than that.”

  20. 20
    Butch says:

    There’s no doubt it was a dumb thing to say but I think we need to distinguish between statements made over time that would indicate a consistent bias (or worse) versus the one-time gaffe.

  21. 21
    Elizabelle says:

    RP: yes, Helen’s comment was ridiculous and indefensible, but it is one public comment made after years and years of, very honestly, real public service as an actual journalist.

    This is a tragic end to an amazing career.

    I think Helen believes what she said and let the veneer drop.

    Saying something idiotic in public does not mean that she was not experiencing real pain over many of Israel’s policies, particularly toward the Arabs who have the misfortune to live there too. Many with family ties that long predate 1948.

    As many of us on Balloon Juice hated what our wonderful country descended to under Bush-Cheney, why must one always defend Israel over every single action, even the indefensible ones?

    Again, Helen’s comment was dreadful. She’s apologized, and needed to.

    But this is overreaction, and it’s painful to see.

    And yes, Helen should retire. She’s 90 and probably not at the top of her game any longer.

    Maybe David Gregory can return to that seat. His talents, um, speak for themselves.

    We’ve seen the WH press corps descend into farce, too — along with many questionable “journalists” (journo-celebrity-infotainment complex, $$$$$). Am sure that pains Helen too.

    Helen deserves to apologize, but does not deserve the pile-on.

    Of a 90-year old woman who’s been right more often than wrong.

  22. 22
    liberal says:

    @Dan:
    A common Arab viewpoint (Thomas is of Lebanese descent) is that the Israelis are European colonialists. Yes, it denies the legitimacy of the Zionist project, but that doesn’t make it “batshit insane.”

    Not that I subscripe to the view that current-day offspring of colonialists should necessarily return to where they came from, but given recent events in the Middle East, I can see why someone like her might have this kind of outburst.

  23. 23
    The Dangerman says:

    @Butch:

    …versus the one-time gaffe.

    {Ex aerospace dude here, so pardon the acronyms}.

    There are CLE’s and CEE’s and LIFER’s (low intelligience fuckers expecting retirement).

    A CLE is a career limiting error or gaffe.

    A CEE is a career ending error.

    Her’s was a CEE; she had to go.

  24. 24
    ajr22 says:

    @tavella: How about “Someone tried to systematically wipe my people off the face of the earth.” Kinda different than someone being mean.

  25. 25
    Corey says:

    Really stupid thing to say, but seriously, how many wingnuts glibly respond to Palestinian suffering with some variation on “Well, they can move to Jordan/Egypt/Syria” or “Arabs have the whole rest of the Middle East to live”.

    I mean, that has to be in the top 5 wingnut rationalizations of Israeli behavior, no? And it’s functionally the same statement.

  26. 26
    Mark says:

    @RP

    I have no problem with Helen Thomas being pushed into retirement. But if the standard is that columnists who advocate ethnic cleansing need to retire, then the right is going to lose a whole lot more bodies than the left. One standard for all, please.

  27. 27
    MBSS says:

    i think the obvious inference from HT’s statement is that she would prefer that all jews be sent by train to auschwitz ovens. give me a fucking break.

    she wants to end an illegal occupation not kill all da joos. no need to extrapolate beyond the facts in order to knock off the one reporter who actually does her job and respects the profession enough to do so.

  28. 28
    4jkb4ia says:

    Department of Fact-Free Speculation

    Helen Thomas was uniformly a hero because she would get up and ask these cranky questions. But she has probably lost the purity of her hero status because of what she said. Anyone who spoke of her as one would have to denounce this one remark. If you know that you are a discredit to the people who are depending on you it would be very hard to keep going and being a working journalist if you are 90 years old. This never stopped Gore Vidal but he has a life and an audience in Europe.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    EconWatcher says:

    liberal:

    A certain historical event does indeed make it bats%& insane to say, “Go back to Germany and Poland.”

  31. 31
    Kryptik says:

    I honestly don’t disagree with her being forced into retirement after the comment. What’s a shame is that serial offenders who have done and said worse, with no impetus to apologize in the way Thomas did, are not only not held accountable, but not even questioned or concerned with even an illusion of consequence.

    Please, no double standards. One standard will do just fine. If Thomas had to go, then why can’t we ask the same of nitwits like the State Sen. of SC who went out of his way to call a gubenatorial candidate AND Obama a ‘raghead’? Or the city councilman who stirred up racial controversy over an innocuous mural, and then blamed the racial tension on the mural itself? Or what about Erik, Son of Erik, who is a walking horror machine of punditry?

    Please, I can deal with Thomas being forced out of things. But if she has to go, eject a whole lot of other bastards with her, please, please, please.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    @MBSS:

    You are very, very wrong there.

    Which never stops anyone from commenting on the internet. So carry on, it’s your first amendment right.

    But I am sure Helen does not think that, at all.

    And it’s goddamned ugly of you to put those words into her mouth.

    What she said was already bad enough.

    MBSS: On further reflection: were you being ironic? If so, my apologies for taking the bait.

    If you were serious, though, response stands.

  33. 33
    Person of Choler says:

    Too bad. I’ll miss the old geezette. She blurted out the unadorned version of the opinion of many of the bien pensant, rather like the crazy aunt at the reunion who rattles on about embarrassments in the family history that the respectable members want hushed up.

  34. 34
    liberal says:

    @ajr22:
    How about “the agents responsible for the Holocaust were European, and as an issue of justice it’s not clear why Arabs living in the Middle East had or have any relative responsibility in the matter.”

  35. 35
    RP says:

    People make the accurate point that Buchanan has said some equally ugly things and hasn’t paid a price. But I agree with you, that just means he should have been held to account. It doesn’t mitigate this.

    Right — that’s an indictment of MSNBC, et al. It has very little to do with Thomas. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    A common Arab viewpoint (Thomas is of Lebanese descent) is that the Israelis are European colonialists. Yes, it denies the legitimacy of the Zionist project, but that doesn’t make it “batshit insane.”

    As thousands of people have pointed out over the years, by this logic, every person of european descent living in the US, Latin America, Australia, and many other places are “colonialists” who should move back to their home country. That’s batshit insane in my book. You can’t unring the bell.

    Besides, what made Thomas’ comment particulary offensive was the reference to Poland and Germany.

  36. 36
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    I don’t know what Thomas’ complaint is. The Israelis earned the right to move into Palestine when they blew up the King David Hotel in 1946 and showed the British just how serious they were about it.

    Ninety six people, including passersby on the road, were killed, but that was just collateral damage. Freedom, remember, isn’t free!

    Of course, nowadays we call that sort of thing terrorism, but that was then, and this is now.

  37. 37
    Ryan says:

    This is indeed ridiculous. She says those living in the occupied territories “Palestine” should return to where they came from, when asked “Poland, Germany?”, she replies “Yes, and America and everywhere else”. This isn’t a quote from her, but an exchange. Is it entirely defensible? No, but at least put it in context.

  38. 38
    Dan says:

    @liberal. Thomas is of lebanese descent. Presumably she knows that thousands of jews were also forced out of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, etc… when the State of Israel was created.

    Yes, I do think it’s batshit insane that someone could say with a smile on their face that jews should just go back to the countries they nearly were exterminated from. Even many palestinians understand the distinction. They ask why they should suffer for european crimes. They don’t say the jews should go back to germany.

  39. 39
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @MBSS: Are you being serious, or is that very, very deadpan snark? Because IMHO Thomas’s comment has fuck-all to do with the Holocaust. At worst it’s straightforward anti-Zionism: i.e., European Jews should have stayed in Europe to begin with and should go back there now. It’s a testy thing to say, a little bit Reconquista-ish, and doesn’t do anything remotely helpful in terms of the current situation, but it has _nothing_ to do with the Holocaust. Nothing.

  40. 40
    MBSS says:

    @Elizabelle:

    sorry if you misunderstood me. i tend to rely heavily on snark and sarcasm. i’m defending her against those who would impugn her motives. she has a long history, and she has never been accused of being anything aside from a stellar and extremely critical and perceptive reporter.

  41. 41
    LD50 says:

    @liberal: Phil would say that since Ahmadinejad hates Jews, Jews have more right to Israel than the Arabs do.

  42. 42
    liberal says:

    @EconWatcher:
    An event for which the Arabs have no responsibility.

    Furthermore, it’s not at all clear, even as a matter of history. IIRC Stalin wanted to give a good chunk of Germany to the Jews. (Yes, he would have had self-interest in that.)

  43. 43
    Resident Firebagger says:

    Obviously I’m not a mind-reader, but I can’t — and don’t — believe that Helen Thomas suggested the Jews go back to Germany and Poland, circa 1940. And it’s not like saying that blacks should go back to Africa. It’d be more like saying that white people (whose ancestors slaughtered the native Americans) should go back to Europe.

    An inarticulate and ill-advised comment? OK. But I think the reaction to Thomas’ statement is way overblown. And I think the usual suspects are making more of it than it is for the usual reasons.

    Of course, I don’t think Jimmy Carter had anything to apologize for either…

  44. 44
    The Dangerman says:

    @Kryptik:

    But if she has to go, eject a whole lot of other bastards with her, please, please, please.

    No argument from me on that one.

    While we are on the topic of ejection, Israel should stop it’s settlements in the occupied territories, plan for razing of the settlements currently in place, retreat to it’s 1967 borders, and recognize the newly formed Palestinian State even if that isn’t reciprocated.

    Pretty simple.

    Discuss.

  45. 45
    Violet says:

    What a total mess. I’m sorry that Helen Thomas’s career ended in such a way. But what she said was awful and if it’s the kind of thing that would get a less respected reporter fired, then she should be subject to the same rules. After an illustrious career, it’s sad that she didn’t get a proper retirement celebration. She should have kept her mouth closed. I bet she wishes she did. And it’s sad for us that someone who will ask real questions is no longer there.

    What really irks me is how she, or anyone, had a “regular seat.” Give me a freaking break. It should be a lottery to get in and a lottery for seats. Every day, those who have proper credentials have their names put into a lottery. Names are chosen at random. The order of choosing determines your seating order. Everyone may not get in. End of discussion.

    That would mean that anyone had a shot at the front row. And anyone who met a certain minimum criteria could be eligible to ask a question. So just the average person off the street wouldn’t be eligible, but if you were a reporter from some local paper who happened to be in D.C. for some reason, you could put your name in the hat. Maybe you’d get to ask the President a question!

    The country would benefit from fresh questioners. The President would benefit from hearing questions from people outside the D.C. bubble. And the D.C. press corps might even pick up an idea or two from someone outside the Village.

  46. 46
    Tonal Crow says:

    She was wrong and so are you, John. Her “apology” didn’t address why she made the remark . http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....es-apology . I’m glad that she resigned. Wouldn’t you want someone to resign who made, say, a similar remark about American blacks and Africa (and issued a similar non-apology)? I sure would. And finally, that there are other people in the press who should resign doesn’t say yay or nay about Thomas.

    BTW, what she said was not “critical of…Israeli policy”. It was hateful. And you should apologize for characterizing a hateful comment as policy criticism. You know better.

  47. 47
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Violet: I like your random-assignment idea. The White House press corps does need serious shaking-up.

  48. 48
    Joseph Nobles says:

    If I were concerned about optics, I would see one of the fiercest critics of American policy towards Israel being forced into retirement a week after Israel raided the Gaza flotilla.

    But then again, what she said was pretty close to an endorsement of ethnic cleansing (removal of an group by force or intimidation from an area, making the area more ethnically homogeneous). And she was looking right at the camera when she said it.

    Who gets her seat? The correspondent with the most seniority, I’d say. Would that be Lester Kinsolving?

  49. 49
    liberal says:

    @RP:

    As thousands of people have pointed out over the years, by this logic, every person of european descent living in the US, Latin America, Australia, and many other places are “colonialists” who should move back to their home country. That’s batshit insane in my book. You can’t unring the bell.

    My point is that you might find it batshit insane, but the people on the receiving end of the colonialism don’t.

  50. 50
    RP says:

    Obviously I’m not a mind-reader, but I can’t—and don’t—believe that Helen Thomas suggested the Jews go back to Germany and Poland, circa 1940.

    To be clear, I agree that she probably didn’t mean to invoke the holocaust or Germany and Poland circa 1940. I just think it was a stupid and thoughtless comment.

  51. 51
    ajr22 says:

    @liberal: I never said they did, however I think the statement “people were mean to the jews, so they think they can opress others” is a bit of an understatment. Someone not calling you back is mean, someone trying to exterminate your people falls into a different category.

  52. 52
    El Cid says:

    @RP: The anti-colonialism movement around the 3rd world from the 1940s to 1970s didn’t give much of a damn who thought the bell couldn’t be unrung. Most of them achieved independence. Not all of them went too well, but by the mid-1960s the Palestinian nationalist movement saw themselves more in the vein of an independence movement rather than a Pan-Arabist movement.

  53. 53
    liberal says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    But then again, what she said was pretty close to an endorsement of ethnic cleansing (removal of an group by force or intimidation from an area, making the area more ethnically homogeneous). And she was looking right at the camera when she said it.

    And this is different from Israeli policy (and American support thereof) in the West Bank, how?

  54. 54
    The Gimp says:

    @LD50: And Phil would be ignoring the fact that Iranians are Persian and not Arab, to boot. But hey, they all look alike, amirite?

  55. 55

    Americans simply do not understand or care enough to even *try* to understand anti-colonial passions in the Third World. Our Revolution is so distant, and historically distinct from the independence struggles of the 20th century, that we feel no kinship with that wave of decolonization. On the other hand, Arabs, and Indians, and Africans, and Latin Americans generally do adhere to anti-colonial politics.

    Incidentally, if logically Helen’s comments would require American whites to return to England, Germany, Ireland, and Poland – so what? I don’t think anyone should have to retire from a lifetime of distinguished service and *resistance* to political lies and oppression, for simply uttering such a notion.

  56. 56
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    I just think it was a stupid and thoughtless comment.

    And as we all know, Balloon-Juice stands squarely against stupid and thoughtless comment.

  57. 57

    Am I the only person who doesn’t really care for Helen Thomas? I mean, considering how useless White House correspondents are, it’s kind of pathetic how long she did that job.

  58. 58
    Ash Can says:

    I’d like to see her write a tell-all memoir now.

  59. 59
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @RP:

    by this logic, every person of european descent living in the US, Latin America, Australia, and many other places are “colonialists” who should move back to their home country

    Um, people have said this, repeatedly. It’s a staple of indigenous people’s movements on the radical side. They’re generally criticized for being incendiary and for not having a pragmatic notion of how such a thing would be accomplished, but it’s hardly “batshit insane.”

  60. 60
    stuckinred says:

    @Brien Jackson: Thanks for that, who gives a flying fuck? Just another reason for everyone to run their mouths about their agenda on the whole middle east cluster fuck.

  61. 61
    MBSS says:

    @liberal:

    ding, ding, ding.

    israel, as we speak, is ethnically cleansing gaza and putting palestine “on a diet” with an illegal blockade, yet the uproar is over an octogenarian whom some presume believes that the same should be done to israelis.

    ironic? no, this is standard operating procedure in this country, and lukid israel. rovian, machiavellian, black is white politics.

  62. 62
    stuckinred says:

    Here, read the live blog of the iPhone 4 rollout, much more interesting.

  63. 63
    jews to germany says:

    @RP:

    I defender her saying it because, you know, she’s right.

  64. 64
    liberal says:

    @Dan:

    Presumably she knows that thousands of jews were also forced out of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, etc… when the State of Israel was created.

    I could be wrong, but IIRC much of that transfer came later. Some of it was (IIRC) instigated by the Israelis themselves; e.g. ISTR there was some kind of plot in Egypt to get the authorities there to crack down on Egyptian Jews.

    Not that I don’t find those transfers reprehensible. I’m just saying that, if they’re like most people, Arabs are going to put their own ethnic concerns first above the (mis)fortunes of others (in this case European Jewry).

  65. 65
    Michael says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    Am I the only person who doesn’t really care for Helen Thomas? I mean, considering how useless White House correspondents are, it’s kind of pathetic how long she did that job.

    thank you – I thought I was the only one.

    Sadly, there aren’t any journo jobs for sharp, younger smartasses, which is why all we have are aging pundits and useless stenographers.

  66. 66
    Tonal Crow says:

    @MBSS: Israel’s misdeeds don’t excuse Thomas’s misdeed and subsequent non-apology.

  67. 67
    stuckinred says:

    @Michael: Put Matt Taibbi in that seat, he’ll light their asses up!

  68. 68
    Lolis says:

    @Resident Firebagger:

    This.

    Germany and Poland are not currently under Nazi rule, the people who try to pretend that Thomas’ comment that Jews returning to their previous homes were equivalent to sending them home to die are hurting my brain. Please stop.

  69. 69
    liberal says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    It’s a staple of indigenous people’s movements on the radical side. They’re generally criticized for being incendiary and for not having a pragmatic notion of how such a thing would be accomplished, but it’s hardly “batshit insane.”

    Thanks—your restatement of my sentiment is better than I put it.

  70. 70
    LD50 says:

    @The Gimp: I assume to ‘Pancake Rachel’ Phil, a raghead is a raghead.

  71. 71
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Actually, I think they do. On a blog that supposedly prides itself on freedom to speak, that’s a pretty absurd remark.

    Sixty years of bellicose behavior with its attendant record of death and destruction don’t measure up against a smartass remark by a cranky old lady?

    Amazing. Tell me you wrote that tongue in cheek.

  72. 72
    stuckinred says:

    @Lolis: It was a m-e-t-a-p-h-o-r. Your head oughta hurt if you can’t figure that out.

  73. 73
    eemom says:

    @stuckinred:

    yeah, it’s really starting to seem like “home” around here, eh?

    Sorry to keep evoking FDL — I just have so many great recollections of all those threads where you were like, the only one who was even remotely sane when you interjected with these kinds of comments.

    That poor dude “macaquerman” over there now on Siun’s threads — he is so obviously reasonable and polite, and still the lunatics jump down his throat. Dunno why he bothers. Dunno why anybody bothers, including me.

  74. 74
    liberal says:

    @MBSS:

    israel, as we speak, is ethnically cleansing gaza and putting palestine “on a diet” with an illegal blockade,

    I don’t think they’re doing active ethnic cleansing in Gaza, because Israel evacuated the settlers (under Sharon). And the blockade is of Gaza, not the West Bank.

    Furthermore, to qualify my remarks about the West Bank, it’s “go slow” ethnic cleansing. About as clever a way to go about it as could be imagined.

  75. 75
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Wouldn’t you want someone to resign who made, say, a similar remark about American blacks and Africa

    That’s a terrible analogy. It would be more analogous if someone of, say, Ojibwa heritage said that white Americans should go back to Europe; or maybe if someone white said that Latinos should leave the US and go back to Mexico… _which people do say all the time_ without causing a media firestorm. The scale of the outrage on this seems all out of whack. WHich is not to say that there shouldn’t be outrage, but, _this_ much?

  76. 76
    Elizabelle says:

    @MBSS:

    Thank you, MBSS. Suspected that after reading through your comment again.

    And thank you greatly for letting me know.

    Lovely how a person’s life, and 70 years of a professional career, come down to this remark.

    I would imagine she’s made others over the year, and we will soon find out, via the internet.

    But let’s place that against the genuine curiosity and information-gathering that drove her career.

    She didn’t get her prominence through looks or connections.

    Last, talk about hitting a third rail.

    Maybe the silver lining will be a more honest discussion of Israeli-Arab relations, because the truth and justice does not lie on one side alone.

    Never has.

  77. 77
    MBSS says:

    @stuckinred:

    taibbi? i second that emotion. chris hedges or glenn greenwald would be fun, too. also

  78. 78
    liberal says:

    @Lolis:

    Germany and Poland are not currently under Nazi rule…

    Relatedly, I was reading something today somewhere about how Israel was not happy when at some point in recent years emigration from Eastern Europe to Germany was higher than to Israel, and some in the Israeli establishment were happy when the Germans cut down on immigration.

  79. 79
    stuckinred says:

    @eemom: This shit brings out the worst in everyone. Buncha sanctimonious know-it-all pinheads.

  80. 80
    Flugelhorn says:

    To those of you citing Buchanan and his actions in order to defend Helen Thomas…

    This is something you should understand by now, but I will say it anyway to help mitigate further false equivalencies.

    Helen Thomas is a JOURNALIST.

    Pat Buchanan is a PUNDIT/Commentator/Shock Jock/Thisguysaysoutlandishthingssowecangetratings. He is not a JOURNALIST.

    As a journalist, Helen should know better than to go on the record with an opinion. In this case an idiotic one. The fact that she did go on the record, and with a fairly good amount of vigor at that, only serves to prove that it is time for her to retire. Any seasoned reporter should have been quite aware of the bear trap that was lying in wait. The fact that she could not see it shows her dotage, OR reveals her arrogant lack of caring due to her elevated station and she thought she could act on anything with impunity. Regardless, it was time for her to retire.

    Thank you and move along.

  81. 81
    MBSS says:

    @liberal:

    point taken. i should have said genocide in gaza.

    “go slow” ethnic cleansing is all the more devious and diabolical, and it moves toward the same end.

  82. 82
    Emma says:

    RP: Israel itself was “unringing the bell.” We did it for them because we were so horrified about what we had nearly let happen in Europe. But Palestine was NOT empty land, and the jews hadn’t been there for millenia, other than as citizens of Jordan or Turkey or whatever. We gave them a country anyway.

    I am firm believer in the right of Israel to exist in peace. I’m also a firm believer that Israel will never have it as long as their policies towards the Palestinians remain what they are.

  83. 83
    John Cole says:

    @Flugelhorn: Actually, Helen Thomas is a columnist and pretty much exactly like Buchanan in that regard. She is only in that seat out of respect.

    You might want to check on shit like that before getting all high and mighty on people.

  84. 84
    MikeBoyScout says:

    I am glad Helen Thomas was around as long as she was. She was a damn good reporter.
    Some think it is a pity she retired this way. Maybe.
    I think it says something about the way she viewed her position. When she made a mistake and appeared unprofessional, she resigned.

    My prediction. That’ll be the last time that ever happens in the White House press corp.

    Another historical achievement for Helen.

  85. 85
    liberal says:

    @Flugelhorn:
    LOL! Journalists utter idiot and reprehensible opinions all the time and don’t get called on it.

  86. 86
    stuckinred says:

    @Flugelhorn: Quit bothering us with facts will ya?

  87. 87
    Jim C says:

    @RP:

    To be clear, I agree that she probably didn’t mean to invoke the holocaust or Germany and Poland circa 1940.

    [Even The Liberal] Joe Klein did: “It was the first thing I thought about when Helen Thomas said that the Jews should go back to Poland. Back to Auschwitz.”

  88. 88
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    Maybe the silver lining will be a more honest discussion of Israeli-Arab relations

    Maybe. Only four years ago, criticism of Israel on these pages would result in a chorus of catcalls and chest beating defense of that country’s insane policies.

    Today, that’s changed pretty dramatically. That could just be a shift in the demographics of the blog, or it could be a sign of enlightenment, that maybe six decades of “God is on our side(tm)” rationalizations for ugly behavior are finally taking their toll.

    Disclaimer, GIOOS(tm) is a slogan on both sides of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

  89. 89

    @ajr22:

    How about “Someone tried to systematically wipe my people off the face of the earth.” Kinda different than someone being mean.

    So let me see if I understand the logic of Israel and its relationship to the Holocaust. The Germans tried to wipe out the European Jews so we had to help the survivors establish a colony in the Middle East. And now everyone is supposed to uncritically support Israel in everything they do because of the Holocaust.

    Really, if I were an Arab I’d be kind of pissed off if a bunch of Europeans and the United States said “Yeah, Germany tried to kill all the Jews and we didn’t do anything about it and now we feel bad, so we’re going to help them establish a colony in Palestine.”

  90. 90
    Tonal Crow says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay: It’s pretty hard for me to conceive of anything that justifies the promotion of ethnic cleansing. As for the rest, I am not attempting to create equivalences between Israel’s misconduct and Thomas’s comments, only to note that one does not excuse the other.

    And on freedom of speech, please tell me where I am requesting governmental action — or even the pressure of a private boycott — to force Thomas to speak or not speak, resign or not resign?

  91. 91
    liberal says:

    @Emma:

    We did it for them because we were so horrified about what we had nearly let happen in Europe.

    I’m not so sure about that.

    “We” is really the British, and they opened up Palestine to Jewish immigration long before the Holocaust.

    Furthermore, it’s not clear to me how horrified “we” were (unfortunately).

  92. 92
    stuckinred says:

    Helen Thomas (born August 4, 1920) is an American news service reporter, former Hearst Newspapers columnist[2], member of the White House Press Corps and author.

    FORMER columnist, that is not the role she was in at the time of her brilliant statement.

  93. 93
    soonergrunt says:

    My problem with the whole thing is that Ms. Thomas’ unfortunate gaffe will be used to excuse Israel’s behavior.

    Israel murders a bunch of unarmed (or lightly-armed at most) activists in international waters on a foreign flag vessel.
    Helen Thomas said something in the heat of emotion that we all cringe at.

    One does not equal or excuse the other, but that’s what happens.
    “Helen Thomas said something mean about jews so it’s OK to murder unarmed civilians in an act of war in international waters!”

  94. 94
    liberal says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:

    Really, if I were an Arab …

    There’s your error. You’re not allow to attempt empathy for the Other.

  95. 95
    Throwin Stones says:

    It should be noted that in her last WH briefing, as so many before it, she was the only reporter to ask when are we getting out of Afghanistan.
    This while other professionals focused on is the President mad enough? Is he playing catch-up? Did you see Jon Stewart’s mocking of the president? Did the president have a cigarette? Etc, etc.

  96. 96
    Reggie Syriac says:

    @liberal:

    There are more Jews living in Germany now than there were in 1939. Of course, they are all self-loathers who have fallen under the spell of Islamofascist Turkish immigrants who, like their counterparts in France and the Netherlands etc, will destroy the fabric of European culture any day now.

  97. 97
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @Jim C:

    Really, he said that? That would explain why Thomas included America in her list of places where jews should return home?

    Clearly, she was talking about modern Europe, not the Europe of the Third Reich. Germany is listed as about the 8th largest jewish population and is growing if my quick reading of the Google is correct.

  98. 98
    Cacti says:

    Shame, shame on you Helen for having the temerity to suggest that dumping the solution to a European problem onto the lap of Middle Eastern Arabs was ill-conceived.

    You are worse than Hitler and deserve a special spot in the 10th level of hell.

  99. 99
    MBSS says:

    when i referenced auschwitz previously this @Jim C: is the type of thing i meant.

    and joke line is not alone. this is the inference that is being derived from her comment across the series of tubes.

  100. 100
    KXB says:

    An unaccomplished writer loses her job. I don’t really give a crap. I find it hard to distinguish between this statement and a bunch of Arizonians telling Hispanics to go back to where they came from. Criticize the government of Israel all you want, but telling people to go back where they came from is ugly in any language at any age.

  101. 101
    MBSS says:

    or this @Cacti:

  102. 102
    stuckinred says:

    @stuckinred: @stuckinred: Oops, it said “Former” as of today.

    “Less than two months later, she joined Hearst Newspapers as a columnist, writing on national affairs and the White House.”

  103. 103
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Jim C: Some people might find some satisfaction in the idea of returning to the spot where an evil government tried to exterminate them and saying, “Fuck all y’all, I live here now.”

    I go back to the idea that _a lot_ of Jews were not too keen on Zionism because it might mean giving up on fighting for equality in the places they lived. It was not a foregone conclusion that migrating to Israel was the best thing for “the Jews.” I’d be curious to know when that tipping point in favor of Zionism happened.

  104. 104
    Emma says:

    Liberal: I was trying to assume the best possible motive. Sometimes I am ridiculously naive, I know.

  105. 105
    Morbo says:

    @stuckinred: You do realize that it didn’t say “former” until today, right? EDIT: Ok, then.

  106. 106
    sunsin says:

    @liberal: It is truly amazing how right-wingers who are always calling on us to be tough on crime and not accept excuses like “he had a bad childhood” under any circumstances will put forward essentially the same excuse for Israel’s behavior.

  107. 107
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    tell me where I am requesting governmental action—or even the pressure of a private boycott—to force Thomas to speak or not speak

    You aren’t. Any more than Thomas is suggesting “ethnic cleansing.” Telling somebody to go home is not quite the same thing as arresting them and shooting them. Is it?

    But look, dude, you are on a blog where the hosts can call out an entire American state based on the actions of a few redneck idiots up in the mountains, and yell “fuck off an die” to 6 million people who had nothing to do with those actions …. and nobody will challenge him. One wonders just what the regard for freedom of speech is here these days? You can condemn a million people because you are pissed off if you run a blog but you can’t make a cranky remark about Israel in the days after the blockade incident, without being asked to give up your job? Shit, we had people saying Fuck Israel right here on these pages a week ago … including me. So what?

  108. 108
    RP says:

    @John Cole:

    Well, which is it? Is she a reporter asking questions or a columnist? I know that she’s technically been a columnist for a while, but in that case she shouldn’t have a seat a the press conferences. Letting her remain in that seat out of “respect” is kind of silly.

  109. 109
    stuckinred says:

    @Morbo: I’m not trying to fool anyone. I put a mea culpa up three minute before your post.

  110. 110
  111. 111
    RP says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    This is just semantics. I think saying incendiary stuff that isn’t tethered to reality is insane. YMMV.

  112. 112
    Will says:

    The greater irony is that, according to the statistics, lots of Jews in Israel are doing exactly what Thomas suggested. There’s been a huge exodus of middle-class Jews to Europe, Canada and the U.S., and a lot more Jews from the former Eastern Bloc and Third World are choosing to settle in the West than Israel.

  113. 113
    Ash says:

    Can’t say I’m sad to see her go. When you get that old I guess your filter just slips sometimes and you let rip what you really think. And what Helen Thomas thinks is apparently some tired myth about how all Jews should just get their asses back to Europe, you know, where not all of them come from.

    It would be fantastic to see all the assholes who are given a platform each day to spew their bile get similar treatment, but I can’t give her a pass that I wouldnt’ give to one of them.

  114. 114
    Flugelhorn says:

    @John Cole:

    A columnist is a journalist who writes pieces that appear regularly in newspapers or magazines.

    Tell me how a columnist is not a journalist? Also, tell me how Pat Buchanan is a journalist? Or a columnist?

    Perhaps you should go back and do a little research yourself, John.

    @stuckinred:

    Actually, she WAS a columnist for Hearst at the time of the statement. You are pulling from a Wiki article that was already updated witht he resignation.

  115. 115
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @MBSS:

    this is the inference that is being derived from her comment across the series of tubes.

    Frankly, that’s because _way_ too many defenders of Israel find ways to turn criticisms of Israel into defenses of the Holocaust. And it worked! Right as Israel is catching some heat for their actions, suddenly the big news is that a media figure said something untoward, which (apparently) negates the whole groundswell of criticism of Israel.

  116. 116
    liberal says:

    @RP:
    You’re asking for a bright line where there isn’t any.

    Witness Novakula, Dana Milbank, etc etc etc.

  117. 117
    stuckinred says:

    @Flugelhorn: Fuckin A, read the goddam blog. . .101!!

  118. 118
    4jkb4ia says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    After the Holocaust. My husband desperately wants to see a time-travel book where someone tries to warn the rabbis in Eastern Europe to let more people go to Palestine even if this secular “Zionism” thing is scary.

    And there are people like the Satmars who have never bought in.

  119. 119
    eemom says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    There was another major reason a lot of Orthodox Jews weren’t “keen on Zionism,” which is that they believe the Jewish state isn’t supposed to exist until the Messiah shows up, and that the existence of a secular Israel is blasphemous. I think I have that right.

    I also think the Holocaust WAS the tipping point, though I am less certain about that.

    However, IIRC there are still some ultra-Orthodox who believe that today, who show up at conferences with Ahmadinejad.

  120. 120
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Flugelhorn: Doesn’t Pat Buchanan have a syndicated newspaper column? Or am I getting him mixed up with Cal Thomas?

  121. 121
    Cacti says:

    Helen Thomas has been an existential threat to the fragile Jewish State for far too long.

    Maybe now the 20-something year old IDF holocaust victims can get back to shooting civilians in the back of the head in “self defense” without criticism.

  122. 122
    Flugelhorn says:

    @liberal:

    I will test your assertion and ask for one opinion from a journalist. I do not doubt there are a few out there. The difference is a GOOD journalist reports the facts. The only reason I ask for you to provide one is I want to be sure it actually came from a journalist.

    Half of you think O’Reilly, Hannity and everyone on Fox News is a journalist. Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere.

  123. 123
    4jkb4ia says:

    @eemom:
    I learned in 2006 at the GOS that I am such a poor Israel advocate that I have no business showing up in any of these threads anywhere.

  124. 124
    stuckinred says:

    Here’s another wiki entry, doesn’t say shit about any columnists!

    The White House Press Corps is the group of journalists or correspondents usually stationed at the White House in Washington, DC to cover the president of the United States, White House events and news briefings. Their offices are located in the West Wing.

  125. 125
    MBSS says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    exactly, because they are being victimized into perpetuity.

    when Furkan Dogan was being shot multiple times in the head and in the body the IDF commando was probably thinking to himself “this neo-nazi is trying to victimize me.”

    BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

  126. 126
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I think Buchanan is a columnist but I am not sure that he is a syndicated columnist with a regular schedule.

    Of course, you might be confusing him with Bay Buchanan, who is actually a persona. Bay and Pat are the same person.

  127. 127
    liberal says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    The difference is a GOOD journalist reports the facts.

    LOL!

    By that standard, a “journalist” for Pravda who merely relayed official statements was a good journalist.

  128. 128
    MBSS says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    cal thomas, uncle pat…same difference. xenophobes with enormously large heads.

  129. 129
    wengler says:

    Well they threw granny under the bus.

    This is all about that front seat. In politics as in life it is important to realize the motivations that drive people to do things. Trent Lott resigned over the Strom Thurmond comments because a faction of the Senate GOP had been gunning for him for years and broke down their unified front to push the story to firestorm levels.

    Helen Thomas not only got the front seat but traditionally got to ask the first question, which also meant she got to stray off of the pre-approved script if she wanted to. She was never a supporter of Israel and often asked critical questions about them even though they never really made it to the wider media.

    A lot of the people here think that her comments were horrible, but again you need to be reminded that Helen Thomas was 28 years old before there even was a state of Israel. It’s probably not as concrete a thing in her mind as it is in commenters here. From her childhood to early adulthood Palestine was administered by the British with competing factions vying for its future. The fact that it would become a Jewish-dominated power that occupies and harasses the Palestinian Arabs within the mandate borders was neither pre-ordained or desirable when Helen Thomas was very much an adult.

    From the long view the creation of the Israeli state, the waves of immigration first from Europe, then from Africa and Asia, and then from the former Soviet states and the US are culminating in current form into emigration to the US and Europe. People don’t want to live in countries that do batshit insane things that make their security worse and their individual futures up in the air.

    Hell more people would’ve left the US under Bush if they could’ve because he and his merry band of crazy bastards killed and tortured and terrified at every opportunity. But the US is pretty damn big and moving to other countries from here is really hard without resources.

    In the end the chummy club of stenographic enablers, the same one that sold the Iraq War, the same one that brown noses and backstabs at every opportunity, threw the really old lady under the Israeli bus.

  130. 130
    Svensker says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    BTW, what she said was not “critical of…Israeli policy”. It was hateful. And you should apologize for characterizing a hateful comment

    What about Tom Friedman and his “Suck. On. This.” comments ? Or Ann Coulter calling Arabs “towelheads” at a Republic event? Or Bill Kristol with his “throw some shitty little country up against the wall every few years” comment? Where was the outrage about those comments? How many of those people lost their jobs and were ostracized? Answer: none, because it is perfectly acceptable in this country to saw awful things about Muslims. So why the different standard for what Helen said?

    I’m not saying two wrongs make a right. I’m just dismayed by the one-sidedness here.

  131. 131
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @eemom: OK. I may be overlaying a W.E.B. DuBois vs. Marcus Garvey frame onto the debate over Zionism, then: the contrast between fighting for equality and justice as a disenfranchised, diasporic minority population, on the one hand, and undoing the diaspora by establishing a new refuge somewhere else, on the other.

  132. 132
    Tonal Crow says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay: Thomas advocated Israelis disbanding their own state. That’s certainly not as extreme as advocating someone else doing the disbanding by force, but it is still advocating a form of ethnic cleansing.

    On the other point, there’s little similarity between a member of the White House press corps — whose very position imbues her stories with a significant level of credibility among much of the public — and a little-known blogger, still less between a press corps member and anonymous blog commenters.

    What’s your point about freedom of speech again?

  133. 133
    Flugelhorn says:

    @stuckinred:

    No need to get snippy. These shitty blogs do not update real-time. If I am posting something I will not see the latest until I submit it.

  134. 134
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    90 year old journalist terrorizes United States and Greatest Ally Ever, Israel, with intemperate remarks, subdued with tasers, forced into Shady Acres.

  135. 135
    liberal says:

    @eemom:
    IIRC the relationship of Jewry to Zionism has a complicated history, was perhaps a reflection of the surrounding more general changes in ethnic identity with the creation of the European nation-state, etc etc. I’m sure a bunch of interesting books have been written about that stuff.

  136. 136
    sunsin says:

    @liberal: It’s amazing what you find in used bookstores sometimes. I have before me a copy of a magazine published in Britain called The Realist, volume 2 number 9, December 1929. I’m not familiar with its history, but since one of the contributors to this issue was B. Malinowski, I would suspect it was a serious publication.

    The very first article is entitled “Palestine,” by Sir Martin Conway, first director of the Imperial War Museum and a member of Parliament. He writes,

    If Palestine, Syria, and Egypt were handed over to a great Arab Confederation which would inevitably come to include Iraq and Arabia, the intolerable medieval condition would be revived which the effort of the Crusades endeavored to break down. There would be erected a great Arab barrier across this main trade route of the Western world…. Moreover, however many [Jews] may settle in Palestine, they will still be an island of Jews in a sea of Arabs. They must depend on Great Britain for support, and we must guarantee them safety and peace. This interdependence will make Palestine an efficient trade route and carrier between East and West. The more Jews settle in Palestine and the more capital they invest in that country, the cheaper and easier will be our task to maintain open the highway of the world and defend at one and the same time Palestine and the Suez Canal from local disturbance and foreign aggression. (pp. 311-312)

    So the idea of Israel as a Western outpost to keep the Ay-rabs in line has nothing to do with the Holocaust. It was current when Hitler was nothing but a raving crackpot in Munich beer halls.

  137. 137
    liberal says:

    @Svensker:

    Answer: none, because it is perfectly acceptable in this country to saw awful things about Muslims.

    Yep.

  138. 138
    Libby says:

    Helen crucified for one ill-advised reaction to a highly charged incident while a real anti-Semite and all around bigot like Pat Buchanan is allowed to spew his wrong-headed tripe on a regular basis without criticism. One might conclude there’s a different standard for an old, not particularly attractive woman of Arabic descent and a pompous, ill-informed, lily-white Son of a Confederate Veteran. Pathetic.

  139. 139
    4jkb4ia says:

    Also I forgot to say that David Katz wrote in “Words on Fire” that there was a conflict between people who thought that the future of the Jewish people in modernity was with Yiddish culture and where they lived and people who thought that the future was with Hebrew culture and Palestine. So after the Holocaust Yiddish culture is dying. It’s not an alternative in that generation.

  140. 140
    Flugelhorn says:

    @liberal:

    Hey, brain trust. If Pravda actually REPORTED THE FACTS, as was in my quote that you lifted, THEN THEY WOULD BE GOOD JOURNALISTS.

    As they did not report the facts and knowingly regurgitated falsehoods, they are not good journalists.

    Really John. Is this the level of reader you have these days? Maybe you should retire.

  141. 141
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    a member of the White House press corps—whose very position imbues her stories with a significant level of credibility among much of the public

    You have got to be kidding.

    Jake Tapper. David Broder. Chuck Todd.

    Formerly,

    Wolf Blitzer for the Jerusalem Post.

    John King.

    Brit Hume.

    That’s right, Brit Fucking Hume.

    Come on, get serious.

  142. 142
    stuckinred says:

    @Flugelhorn: I stay snippy.

  143. 143
    liberal says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    As they did not report the facts and knowingly regurgitated falsehoods, they are not good journalists.

    LOL! Guess you’ve never read any of the discussions about American “He said, she said” journalism.

    The fact is that journalists everywhere hide under a cloak of objectivity when they quote official sources.

  144. 144
    Elizabelle says:

    @Emma:

    Very well said.

    The silence on addressing your last sentence is deafening.

  145. 145
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Svensker: Wingnuts should get the same treatment (for similar comments) that Thomas got.

  146. 146
    Betsy says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Because IMHO Thomas’s comment has fuck-all to do with the Holocaust. At worst it’s straightforward anti-Zionism: i.e., European Jews should have stayed in Europe to begin with and should go back there now. It’s a testy thing to say, a little bit Reconquista-ish, and doesn’t do anything remotely helpful in terms of the current situation, but it has nothing to do with the Holocaust. Nothing.

    How can you possibly say that? Gee, I wonder why all those Jews left GERMANY and POLAND. FFS.

    Look, I am not a Zionist (I am Jewish), I am not and have never been a defender of hawkish Israeli policy. I fail to see many differences between what Israel’s doing and apartheid. I have always been frustrated by the knee-jerk accusations of anti-semitism that people like Dershowitz love to fling about whenever someone critiques Israel. Moreover, as a feminist historian of the 20th century, I have long admired the hell out of Helen Thomas. But this is ridiculous. Her comment was incredibly offensive, and any major news figure who said it should have to resign. End of story. The fact that there’s a double-standard here sucks, and I certainly think there’s a fuckload of right-wingers that need to be resigning on that basis too. But that doesn’t mean that what she said was not a big deal or really harmful.

  147. 147
    liberal says:

    @4jkb4ia:
    Yeah, like I said in another comment here, the historical relationship between Jews and Zionism is a long and complicated one.

  148. 148
    Tonal Crow says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay: That you or I find press corps members — or pretty much the entire MSM — utterly lacking in credibility does NOT mean that much of the public thinks the same way. That’s just how it is.

  149. 149
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    Also, tell me how Pat Buchanan is a journalist? Or a columnist? Perhaps you should go back and do a little research yourself, John.

    Mr. Buchanan is currently a columnist, political analyst for MSNBC, chairman of The American Cause foundation and an editor of The American Conservative.

    That’s from his Web site.

    So now that we’ve established that that was wrong, how about Marty Peretz?

    Are you going to lecture everyone about the difference between a magazine journalist and editor and a “real” journalist like Helen Thomas? What is Peretz, a “personality”?

    What Helen Thomas said was despicable, John said so, everyone said so. But face it, there’s a double-standard staring you in the face and you don’t want to admit it.

  150. 150
    Ash Can says:

    @Svensker: This. I find that I’ve been so desensitized by the words and deeds of other people employed by the various news media that — now that I know the context and what her actual words were — I’m genuinely surprised to see Helen Thomas commit professional seppuku over this. Good grief, if every WH newsie who said something insensitive and tone-deaf were to retire over it, WH press conferences would consist of Robert Gibbs, a couple of visiting high school students, and someone from the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil.

  151. 151
    Pat says:

    I doubt Helen will have any trouble finding someone to publish her guaranteed best seller of all the Washington goings on (dirt) she has witnessed over the years. Considering how her long career had to end so suddenly, she may be rethinking tidbits to include that otherwise would not have made it into the narrative. Just a thought. A scorned woman and all that…..and besides if you have the stamina to still be around at 89 years old you should be able to say whatever the hell you want and not have to apologize to someone half your age for it!

    Anyway, Helen, God bless!

  152. 152
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @MBSS:

    exactly, because they are being victimized into perpetuity.

    I don’t know if I’d put it that way. But there’s something very interesting about how persistent the idea has been that Israel is justified in taking whatever course it takes because of the Holocaust. The US doesn’t look the other way when Bosnian Muslims throw their weight around.

  153. 153
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    it is still advocating a form of ethnic cleansing

    No, it isn’t. Voluntary emigration is not “ethnic cleansing.” It’s emigration.

    Ethnic cleansing is a term that has come to be used broadly to describe all forms of ethnically-motivated violence, ranging from murder, rape, and torture to the forcible removal of populations

    Despite your reliance on the tactic of proof by repetition, Thomas did not suggest anything like ethnic cleansing. What she did suggest is that the Israelis basically took over and by force and that’s what the conflict is all about. Whether you agree with that or not, up to you.

  154. 154
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Seems to me that real tragedy here is that the standard of journalism in the WH press corpse has fallen so low that a 89 year old lady (who in most other fields would have been honorably retired a decade ago) and who shot off her mouth in a very ill considered and offensive fashion will now be sorely missed in terms of the quality of the questions posed from here on out because there is nobody even remotely approaching her caliber who can make it through the gauntlet of Villager approval to actually gain a seat in the room.

    If there were any justice in this world, she’d be replaced by Glenzilla. That would provide the double benefit shaking up the press + the WH on the one hand, and on the other hand of teaching Glenn the benefits of being concise and to the point.

  155. 155
    MattR says:

    @Betsy:

    How can you possibly say that? Gee, I wonder why all those Jews left GERMANY and POLAND. FFS.

    So are you implying that they would be subject to the same (or similar) conditions if they went back to Germany and Poland now? Because if not, then the reason that the Jews left Germany and Poland is not that relevant.

  156. 156
    twiffer says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: we’d all be better off if the jews had been thinking straight and decided their homeland was really some place more tropical (and less desert), like tahiti and that’s where they were moving to. well, all except tahitians that is.

  157. 157
    Svensker says:

    Then of course the fucking Israeli government helps distribute a racist, disgusting youtube mocking the ship they boarded and the people they killed, but that causes no outrage either.

    Unless Ari Fleischer will be making a statement asking for those people who distributed that video to resign from the Israeli government.

  158. 158
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    That you or I find press corps members—or pretty much the entire MSM —utterly lacking in credibility does NOT mean that much of the public thinks the same way.

    By any measure you want to use, “much of the public” probably has no idea who these people are. And news media typically and traditionally are rated somewhere after used car salesmen on polls measuring who people trust.

    The public retained a deep skepticism about what they see, hear and read in the media. No major news outlet – broadcast or cable, print or online – stood out as particularly credible. There was no indication that Americans altered their fundamental judgment that the news media are politically biased, that stories are often inaccurate and that journalists do not care about the people they report on.

    Just one of many such recent blurbs on the subject. But wait, there’s hope ….

    And, perhaps paradoxically, a public that said it relies to a large and growing extent on the Internet for news gave it particularly low marks for credibility.

    Heh.

  159. 159

    Hello Balloon Juice.

    We are a tiny blog, filled with people who got shafted by Craig Crawford long before Helen Thomas was thrown under the bus.

    We wuz first!

    (We are, most of us, Obama primary supporters who got disrespected once too often on Craig’s CQ-hosted 2008 “Hillary Derangement Syndrome” blog. As in, “Hillary can do no wrong. And Obama is arrogant and looks funny.” You have seen that behavior before. Which is why Ballon Juice is such a pleasant alternative.)

    Mr. Crawford enabled the hostile atmosphere, and participated in it, while claiming to be impartial and “objective.” And then he sanitized the 2008 threads, mostly to protect the guilty. Shucks, folks.

    On backchannel, we are so small, it’s occasionally stultifying in there.

    Please come visit and say what you will. We have a thread up on the Helen issue this very minute.

    Best,

    Dog

  160. 160
    grimc says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Thomas advocated Israelis disbanding their own state.

    That’s one conclusion to jump to. Another one is that it was a remark about Israel’s aggressive immigration policies and the settlements on seized land that they result in.

  161. 161
    Tonal Crow says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay: She went beyond advocating voluntary emigration, into denying Israel’s legitimacy: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Polish.”

    However you account the history of the area constituting modern Israel, many peoples — including, but not limited to, Palestinians and Jews — have lived there over many centuries, and all have some claims to the area.

  162. 162
    Svensker says:

    @Pat:

    I doubt Helen will have any trouble finding someone to publish her guaranteed best seller of all the Washington goings on (dirt) she has witnessed over the years.

    It will be a small publisher, then. The big ones do not like to rock the boat when it comes to I/P and Helen is now radioactive.

  163. 163
    Betsy says:

    @MattR:

    Because those “go back where you came from” type of remarks generally indicate that the people came there voluntarily. It’s hard to call the exodus from Europe under threat of extermination a “voluntary” one.

  164. 164
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    What Helen Thomas said was despicable, John said so, everyone said so

    Uh, no. I am not saying so. I think it was just a cranky remark, but doesn’t even begin to rise to the level of “despicable.”

    Not even close. “Despicable” is the combination of knee-jerk support for Israel by the United States, and the rush to silence anyone who dares to challenge that support. That’s despicable.

  165. 165
    Tonal Crow says:

    @grimc: If that’s what she meant, she could have clarified it in her “apology”. She did not.

  166. 166
    Joseph Nobles says:

    Is there one place I can go to check off calling all crappy remarks crappy to then get permission to say Helen’s comment was also crappy? Because if there’s not, please imagine that there is and I’ve already been there, gotten the T-shirt, and signed up for a monthly donation.

    Also. Saying that Helen’s comment was crappy and pretty close to endorsing ethnic cleansing is not the equivalent of reloading the guns for the Israeli soldiers as they shot up the Mavi Marmara. Get a grip, people.

  167. 167
    geg6 says:

    Wow. BJ has turned into AIPAC or something today.

    I want someone to show me anywhere in that clip or anywhere else where Helen Thomas is advocating:

    a) the forced relocation of European Jews in Israel to anywhere at all in the world, let alone Germany or Poland.;

    b) that any Jews anywhere, let alone immigrant Jews from Germany and Poland in Israel, be sent to those countries for extermination;

    c) that she does not support the right of the country of Israel to exist.

    I really don’t understand how educated people who claim to be the reality-based left or center-left have inflated a badly worded statement that makes an understandable if controversial argument about those populating the settlements into the idea that Helen Thomas is calling for the genocide of the Israeli Jews.

    I didn’t like how she said what she said. But she said something, now that I’ve seen the entire thing, that many people say about the people who are populating the settlements. Many of the settlers are recent immigrants to Israel, from European countries and Russia and the U.S. I don’t support the settlements, the settlements are illegal and immoral, and I think the people in them should go back to wherever they came from or to actual Israeli territory which includes neither Gaza or the West Bank. That this is controversial on BJ astounds me.

  168. 168
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    If there were any justice in this world, she’d be replaced by Glenzilla Amy Goodman.

    Fix’d.

  169. 169
    Tonal Crow says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay: And where does internet news come from? Oh yeah, mostly the MSM.

  170. 170
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Betsy:

    I wonder why all those Jews left GERMANY and POLAND

    It seems to me that Helen Thomas’s point was that they _shouldn’t_ have left. The idea that Israel is the remedy for the Holocaust is, when you get right down to it, pretty strange, because it displaces and relocates to the Middle East a horrible episode at the heart of Europe. Did any other population that was systematically massacred get compensated with a nation _elsewhere_? It was a unique remedy.

    At any rate, I think the fitting reaction to what Thomas said is more like, “Hey, dumbass, how is that supposed to happen? You can’t un-ring the bell, and let’s talk about dealing with Israel/Palestine in the here and now.” But I don’t think she was saying “Polish Jews should have stayed in Poland to get exterminated in camps,” she was saying “Polish Jews should have stayed in Poland after the camps were liberated rather than coming to Israel.” So I would prefer to see her get criticized for what she actually said.

  171. 171
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Joseph Nobles: This.

  172. 172
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    She went beyond advocating voluntary emigration, into denying Israel’s legitimacy:

    I’d be more inclined to support israel’s position myself if the country hadn’t been founded basically on terrorism and wasn’t the most bellicose nation on earth today. Whether they should retain the land they are on, I am not prepared to say one way or the other. It’s not my fight. But I think they are flirting with losing credibility as a legitimate member of a peace-seeking world community. And rightly so.

  173. 173
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Duh.

  174. 174
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    If there were any justice in this world, she’d be replaced by Glenzilla Amy Goodman Terry Gross.

    Fix’d.

    Fix’d.

  175. 175
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    many peoples—including, but not limited to, Palestinians and Jews—have lived there over many centuries, and all have some claims to the area.

    On this (rather open minded view), we agree.

    I take it one step further: NOBODY in the region has a “God given right” to anything there. Nobody in the region has the standing to speak for God, or enlist Him in their fight.

    If we could get those people to agree to that, then we might get somewhere. Until then, you are probably looking at yet another 60 years of this endless shit.

  176. 176
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    1) What she said was crappy.

    2) There’s a double standard operating and other people who say equally crappy things about other groups of people don’t have to resign/retire because of it.

    If you really find that those are two wildly conflicting thoughts that you have trouble reconciling then you must find the Internet a very confusing place in general.

  177. 177
    grimc says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    And if she really believes in the dismantling of Israel as a country, she could have said it straight out in the first place. She didn’t.

  178. 178
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Betsy:

    It’s hard to call the exodus from Europe under threat of extermination a “voluntary” one.

    Wait, what? The Nazis didn’t expel the Jews to Israel. The extermination was over. Jewish emigration to Israel was, yes, _entirely_ voluntary, no scare quotes necessary.

  179. 179
    Tonal Crow says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay: There is no God.

  180. 180
    El Cid says:

    If by “legitimacy” one means “the same recognition in international affairs that other nation states receive as part of regular foreign relations, international laws, and institutions,” then, yes, I “recognize” Israel’s “legitimacy”.

    If it means my according to a nation state some abstract philosophical right to exist, then, no, I don’t have to do that, nor do I have to do that with any nation. In that abstract sense, no, I don’t recognize Israel’s “legitimacy”. Nor Cuba’s. Nor Germany’s. Nor China’s.

    In order to negotiate a lawful settlement to Israel’s illegal and monstrous occupations of Palestinian territories, there’s no need, either, for those parties recognized by the international community (via its institutions, and not merely at the say so of the U.S. or Israel) as representing Palestinians, need not in the slightest recognize an abstract “right to exist” by Israel, any more than Israel must recognize a “right to exist” by a Palestinian state (which by this point will be no more than a joke), any more than Venezuela has to recognize the U.S.’ “legitimacy” or “right to exist” in order to trade with and sell oil to the U.S.

  181. 181
    kay says:

    Chuck Todd said Thomas is a columnist, not a reporter. He’s a member of the WH press corps, so he should know.

    So she’s really exactly the same as Pat Buchanan.

    Buchanan must retire, under the “Helen Thomas Rule”.

    I don’t really give a rat’s ass what either of them do, but if we’re going to have a national consensus on this, we should probably be somewhat consistent.

  182. 182
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Blasphemer!

    Okay, after five years here, I agree with you on that.

    :)

  183. 183
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @geg6: I think it depends on whether you hear/read “Palestine” as “the rightful name of the place now called Israel” or as “the occupied territories whose people are called ‘Palestinians.'”

  184. 184
    Emma says:

    Tonal Crow: Everyone who has lived in an area at one time, no matter how far in the past, has a claim to an area?

    We should apply that to the US. The Algonquians would like New England back. No, let’s apply it to Europe. The North American Arabs would like Al-Andalus back.

    Yes, I’m being a smart-arse, but really. Considering all the backing-and-forthing human populations have done over the centuries, “claiming” anything you haven’t got in your grasp is a strange concept.

    Which is the problem. Israel was given a certain amount of land, but it doesn’t seem happy with what it was given. It keeps on spreading out, basing its claim on a property deed given by a God millennia ago. Other people’s claims… well, sorry. You’re God’s stepchild.

    Again, I firmly believe in Israel’s right to live in peace. It’s just that its current government doesn’t believe in the same thing.

  185. 185
    Svensker says:

    @geg6:

    This a thousand times this.

    And now I’m done. Today is my day off and I have wasted most of it being pissed off and posting. And somehow while I was wasting it, the maid neglected to do the dishes, the laundry, the vacuuming, the gardening and he didn’t go to the bank either, nor run any errands. Bad, bad maid.

  186. 186
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Wait, what? The Nazis didn’t expel the Jews to Israel. The extermination was over. Jewish emigration to Israel was, yes, entirely voluntary, no scare quotes necessary.

    That’s a strange definition of “entirely voluntary”. Europe’s remaining Jews were deeply traumatized and still scattered among many of the very people who had attempted to exterminate them. Antisemitism was still common. While they could have chosen to remain (and many did), I have some difficulty with the idea that the choice to leave was entirely free of coercion or its remnants (PTSD, anyone?)

  187. 187
    liberal says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    Is there one place I can go to check off calling all crappy remarks crappy to then get permission to say Helen’s comment was also crappy?

    You’re not fairly framing the issue. I and many like-minded commenters here would agree that her remarks were “crappy.” That’s not the issue. The issue is, were her remarks somehow unthinkable/beyond the pale/impermissible/etc, especially given her own ethnic identity and the fact that other people say worse things with nary a peep from anyone, etc etc.

  188. 188
    celticdragonchick says:

    @EconWatcher:

    A certain historical event does indeed make it bats%& insane to say, “Go back to Germany and Poland.”

    Not a good moment for her, without a doubt…but I could point out this tidbit from Juan Cole:

    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.)

    http://www.juancole.com/

  189. 189
    Betsy says:

    @geg6:
    @FlipYrWhig:

    Transcript of the exchange, just so we have the whole thing (as posted to the web, anyway – if someone has a longer version that I didn’t see please share):

    Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today–

    Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

    Nesenoff: Ooh. Any better comments?

    Thomas : Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land, not German and not Polish.

    Nesenoff: So where should they go? What should they do?

    Thomas: They should go home.

    Nesenoff: Where is home?

    Thomas: Poland. Germany.

    Nesenoff: So you’re saying the Jews should go back to Poland and Germany?

    Thomas: And America, and everywhere else.

    I’ve seen people argue that she was referring only to the settlements, and I don’t know. My impression was that she was using “Palestine” to mean the entire area, including Israel. Geg6, no, she wasn’t advocating forcible emigration, but if you interpret it the way I did, it’s still a pretty horrible thing to say.

  190. 190
    maus says:

    Personally, I am quite relieved there is no one critical of administration or Israeli policy left in the WH press corpse.

    Allowing non-teabag contrarians into journalism would mean the destruction of the media as we know it! Many people might even lose their jobs. People would expect… informed opinions.

    @Betsy: So, do we have a further response from her clarifying and giving proper context? Or is this all outrage and silence.

  191. 191
    Betsy says:

    @Betsy:
    Blockquote fail. Sorry.

  192. 192
    Joel says:

    It was just cause for Thomas’ resignation.

    Still waiting on the same from Beck, Coulter, Buchanan, Gaffney, so on..

  193. 193
    Betsy says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    @Tonal Crow:

    That’s a strange definition of “entirely voluntary”. Europe’s remaining Jews were deeply traumatized and still scattered among many of the very people who had attempted to exterminate them. Antisemitism was still common. While they could have chosen to remain (and many did), I have some difficulty with the idea that the choice to leave was entirely free of coercion or its remnants (PTSD, anyone?)

    Not to mention the fact that many left before or during the Holocaust, as a way of escaping.

  194. 194
    Betsy says:

    @Joel:
    This.

  195. 195
    liberal says:

    @El Cid:
    Well said.

    Funny how “the right to exist” is language only applied in the context of Arab recognition of Israel, but never the reverse, and never in any other context.

  196. 196
    eemom says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay:

    I agree with that too. I take issue with people talking about Israel “colonizing” the place as though Jews were purely invaders and not indigenous to the region (as, for example, were the ancestors of all of us of European descent to THIS region). The fact is that Jews and Arabs coexisted there peacefully for centuries, which makes the current mess all the more tragic.

    It’s also true, as that nice reasonable person said on the other thread, that ALL the so-called nations in the Middle East and Africa were the product of arbitrary line-drawing by various colonizers.

    And I think a line needs to be drawn (different kind of line) between those who argue that Israel should retreat to its 1967 borders, which I also agree with, and people who think Israel has no right to exist at all. I’ve seen both those views espoused on these threads.

  197. 197
    Betsy says:

    @maus:

    do we have a further response from her clarifying and giving proper context? Or is this all outrage and silence.

    Nope. All she’s said (that I know of, and again, I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong) is this:

    “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. 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.”

  198. 198
    licensed to kill time says:

    Helen Thomas has seemed increasingly dotty lately and it’s probably a good time for her to retire. But it seems to me that an awful lot of people are reading their own personal bias/outrage/fear into her remarks, ill-advised though they were. It’s all over the map, “what she meant”.

  199. 199
    maus says:

    @geg6:

    That this is controversial on BJ astounds me.

    I’d say that due to the current media slant, I’d be surprised to see anywhere that’s not niche (Socialist-specific discussion sites, etc.) where there isn’t some amount of controversy. I believe that here there’s signifcantly less controversy than you’d find elsewhere.

    And really, aside from a few, dedicated and frothing drones, the majority of people are being reasonable IMO.

    Or possibly my expectations are hideously low!

    @Betsy: A reasonable apology, but I do wish that she could properly express herself without being hampered.

  200. 200
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    But she said something, now that I’ve seen the entire thing, that many people say about the people who are populating the settlements.

    I think most Americans have a reading comprehension problem. For some reason they read “Jews should get out of Palestine” as “Jews should get out of Israel and board a time machine to Nazi Germany. Thanks to this reading disorder an old lady is being demonized for something she never said.

  201. 201
    liberal says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay:

    If we could get those people to agree to that, then we might get somewhere. Until then, you are probably looking at yet another 60 years of this endless shit.

    Right. So the first priority of us as Americans is to untangle ourselves from the ever-deepening mess there by eliminating aid and related perquisites to Israel.

    Doesn’t mean we should boycott Israel—we should have a reasonably friendly relationship with it, just as we do with lots of countries. But we should distance ourselves from this nastiness.

  202. 202
    celticdragonchick says:

    @twiffer:

    we’d all be better off if the jews had been thinking straight and decided their homeland was really some place more tropical (and less desert), like tahiti and that’s where they were moving to. well, all except tahitians that is

    Tahitians can be (historically speaking) notoriously, ahem, friendly with light skinned visitors. 300 years of British sailors certainly didn’t mind.

  203. 203
    Betsy says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:
    Shawn, as I said above, my impression, and that of many others, was that she was using “Palestine” to refer to all of Israel, not just the occupied territories. The fact that she followed it up by saying “It’s their land, not German and Polish,” rather than “It’s their land, not Israel’s,” is what gives that impression.

  204. 204
    Maude says:

    @Tonal Crow:
    What she said was full of pure hate. Poland and Germany?
    Death camps. Final Solution.
    I wonder how her statement is viewed by survivors of the Third Reich.

  205. 205
    eemom says:

    Not to mention the fact that many left before or during the Holocaust, as a way of escaping.

    The very, very fortunate ones.

  206. 206
    geg6 says:

    @Betsy:

    Nope, sorry. I don’t know of anyone other than Hamas and their ilk who call all of Israel “Palestine.” Palestine is the land that corresponds to the 1967 borders. That is what I and everyone I know means when they talk about Palestine.

    I look at this map and see injustice and illegality and all manner of bad acting on the part of Israel:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....nts%29.png

    Israel, in the instance of Palestine, is a criminal nation, AFAIC.

  207. 207
    liberal says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    Yes and no. The local populations weren’t exactly thrilled about Jews post-war.

    Thus, e.g. in Poland (NB: there were some Poles who heroically tried to save Jews), there were definitely instances of progroms after the war was over.

  208. 208
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    That is because there are a number of people getting mileage out of saying there are no maps that say “Palestine” or identify it as a country.

    Hence, a weird modern version of Manifest Destiny is in play where Israel gets to undercut the formation of an independant Palestinain State while using that as a basis for taking more and more land and claiming there is no Palestinian State.

  209. 209
    liberal says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay:

    I’d be more inclined to support israel’s position myself if the country hadn’t been founded basically on terrorism …

    That’s not a reasonable criterion. Many, perhaps most, modern states were in some way founded on terrorism.

  210. 210
    eemom says:

    @Maude:

    It is also interesting that Angela Merkel was extremely restrained in her comments about the flotilla incident.

  211. 211
    JimF says:

    Let’s look at a little history here.

    1. >=8000 B.C. earliest evidence of civilization.
    2. 2000 B.C. Phoenicians of Tyre entered the area, became known as the Land of Canaan.
    3. Between 1800 and 1500 B.C. Hebrews left Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan.
    4. According to the Bible, Moses led the Israelites, or a portion of them, out of Egypt. Under Joshua, they conquered the tribes and city states of Canaan.
    5. ~1000 B.C. King David conquered Jerusalem and established an Israelite kingdom over much of Canaan including parts of Transjordan. The kingdom was divided into Judea in the south and Israel in the north following the death of David’s son, Solomon.
    6. 586 B.C. The Babylonians conquered Israel.
    7. 539 B.C. The Persians conquered Babylon including Israel.
    8. 338 B.C. Alexander the Great conquered the Persians.
    9. Upon his death in 323 BCE, his empire was divided among his generals. At first, Judea was ruled by the Egyptian-Hellenic Ptolemies, but in 198 BCE,the Syrian-Hellenic Seleucid Empire, under Antiochus III, seized control over Judea.
    10. 167 B.C. The Israel revolted and formed a semi-autonomous kingdom under Rome.
    11. ~61 B.C Rome directly invaded and Israel became a client state.
    12. 135 A.D he Romans drove the Jews out of Jerusalem, following the failed Bar Kochba revolt. The Romans named the area Palaestina, at about this time.
    13. 638 A.D. Palaestina conquered by the Caliph Umar.
    14. 1071 A.D. Seljuk Turks conquered Jerusalem.
    15. 1099 A.D. Crusaders captured Jaffa and Jerusalem.
    16. 1187 A.D. Saladin conquered Jerusalem.
    17. 1291 A.D. The Crusaders left Palestine for good when the Muslims captured Acre.
    18. 1517 A.D. Palestine became part of the Ottoman Empire.
    19. 1920 A.D. After WWI, Britain received a provisional mandate over Palestine.
    20. 1947 A.D. After WWII, The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended that Palestine be divided into an Arab state and a Jewish state.

    So out of a 3947 year history of that region, Canaan existed for ~1000 years, Israel exited for ~1135 years and Palestine for 1812 years. Who had a greater right to the territory?

  212. 212
    El Cid says:

    @Maude: It did certainly sound like something full of hate. It certainly sounds like she wants the entirety of what was once for a while called “Palestine” for non-Israeli Jews [to be for Palestinians]. Once said, she would no longer ever be able to practice professional journalism, hence a wise choice to retire.

    On the other hand, there’s nothing more wrong with hating Jews and wanting them thrown out of Israel than hating Arabs and Muslims and wanting them thrown out of Palestinian territories, particularly the regular cries of ‘let them go to Jordan and Syria, etc.’

    Expressing hatred for or the open desire for genocide against Arabs and Muslims is equally bad as anything which sounds like a desire to expel Israeli Jews or worse.

  213. 213
    kay says:

    @Joel:

    Buchanan

    He’s what I don’t get. Many, many absolutely incredibly offensive statements going back 20 years, where he has demeaned or demonized nearly every minority in this country.

    He’s been absolutely brutal to African Americans, for example. One of the best things I have ever seen on television was Buchanan’s face when Obama won the Virginia primary. A little piece of him died.

    Yet. He makes millions of dollars a year, is on television, and is a columnist.

  214. 214
    geg6 says:

    @Betsy:

    she was using “Palestine” to refer to all of Israel, not just the occupied territories. The fact that she followed it up by saying “It’s their land, not German and Polish,” rather than “It’s their land, not Israel’s,” is what gives that impression.

    So you jumped to a conclusion about what she meant (without an ounce of evidence to back it up) and you and a lot of other people are perfectly willing to demonize the woman for your, almost certainly, faulty and biased conclusion that she hates the Jews and wants to kill them all.

    WTFever.

  215. 215
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    I think most Americans have a reading comprehension problem. For some reason they read “Jews should get out of *Palestine*” as “Jews should get out of *Israel* and board a time machine to Nazi Germany. Thanks to this reading disorder an old lady is being demonized for something she never said.

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine:

    a conventional name used, among others, to describe a geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands.[1]

    That would include at least Israel proper, Gaza, and the West Bank, and is consonant with http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/his.htm?OpenForm .

  216. 216
    El Cid says:

    @JimF: Except there’s not any proof of either the Exodus or, for that matter, Jewish slavery in Egypt. At least unless it’s been found very recently.

  217. 217
    liberal says:

    @celticdragonchick:
    Actually, the irony is that Israel’s actions (particularly the occupation) in 1967 might have cemented the concept of Palestinian nationality. From the intertubes:

    The breaking point for De Gaulle was Israel’s launching of the 1967 war against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. He had urgently implored Israel not to attack. But Israel ignored him and attacked on June 5. As late as May 24, President De Gaulle had prophetically warned Foreign Minister Abba Eban: “Don’t make war. You will be considered the aggressor by the world and by me. You will cause the Soviet Union to penetrate more deeply into the Middle East, and Israel will suffer the consequences. You will create a Palestinian nationalism, and you will never get rid of it.”

    (emphasis added)

  218. 218
    JimF says:

    @215 El Cid, that’s why there is no date at #4 and I don’t count the territory as Israel until 1000 B.C.

  219. 219
    Betsy says:

    @geg6:
    Excuse me, but speaking of evidence, could you point to where I said anything remotely resembling that? I have been trying to remain civil and reasonable throughout, and not demonize or mischaracterize those who disagree with me.

    And secondly, I actually do think this is evidence of a kind, if not conclusive:

    “Thomas : Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land, not German and not Polish.
    Nesenoff: So where should they go? What should they do?
    Thomas: They should go home.
    Nesenoff: Where is home?
    Thomas: Poland. Germany.”

    If she were using your definition, then, why wouldn’t she have said that “home” was Israel? Why wouldn’t she have said “it’s their land, not Israeli?”

    And not to make this the battle of dueling anecdotes, but I have known people Thomas’s age to refer to the entire area as Palestine.

  220. 220
    liberal says:

    @El Cid:
    Well, he did say according to the Bible.

    :-)

  221. 221
    JITC says:

    @geg6:

    Sorry geg6, but her comment was out of line.

    No, she didn’t advocate a force relocation, but she advocated for Jews to leave Israel. She didn’t want them to be exterminated upon arrival in Germany or Poland, but neither do the racists who want black people to “go back to Africa.” Finally, by referring to Israel as a whole (not just the occupied areas) as Palestine, she denies the right of Israel to exist. If she just meant the occupied areas, she would have said “get the hell out of Palestine and stick to the original borders” rather than suggesting they go “back” to other countries.

    I’ve agreed with Thomas on many issues over the years. I’ve defended her right to her opinion and her in-your-face rhetoric even when I disagreed with her. But this is not ok.

    Seriously, this IS just like some one saying that blacks in America should “get the hell out” and go back to Africa. If a member of the press said that they’d rightly be forced to resign.

  222. 222
    Betsy says:

    @geg6:
    Also, you seem to be mistaking me for someone who is a defender of Israel. I’m not and have never been. I have expressed disgust with its actions on many, many, many occasions. So if you could possibly separate your feelings on that from the critique of Thomas’s comments, that would be nice.

  223. 223
    Violet says:

    Given that the most notorious and horrific concentration camps during the Holocaust were in Poland and Germany, and the Germans were in charge, those two countries were extraordinarily bad choice of countries to use as suggestions as to where Jews should “go back to.” Her addition of America, which sounded a little bit like an afterthought, didn’t really take away from suggesting Jews go back to those two places.

    Had she said instead that Jews should go back to Ethiopia and Argentina, it might not have provoked the same reactions.

  224. 224
    liberal says:

    @eemom:
    You find that interesting?

  225. 225
    liberal says:

    @Violet:

    Given that the most notorious and horrific concentration camps during the Holocaust were in Poland and Germany…

    Just as a point of history, while there were notorious concentration camps in Germany, IIRC the biggest of the horrific death camps were all in Poland. (At least, in terms of the deaths of Jews. Not sure about things like deaths of Soviet soldiers.)

  226. 226
    El Cid says:

    @liberal: 1967 has indeed been generally seen (inside and outside Palestine) as having represented the final turning point from pan-Arab nationalism to an independence-seeking Palestinian nationalism. Well, if you don’t count the various new Palestinian guerrillas groups’ immediate attempts to dominate various parts of Jordan, which was quite unwise.

    Many observers have found themselves wondering who was worse for Palestinian nationalist aspirations — Israel, the US, neighboring Arab states, or the various Palestinian leaderships themselves. Hard to say. Still hard to say for the present.

  227. 227
    EconWatcher says:

    Geg6:

    If she were just criticizing people from Brooklyn who decide to make aliyah and then push some family of Palestinians off their olive grove in the West Bank, then I’d be all with her. But that’s not what she said. She invoked Germany and Poland.

    And I didn’t say that she was calling for a Holocaust. I’m saying it’s ghastly and grotesque to say Israelis should go back to Germany and Poland, given what it was that caused their relatives to leave in the first place and go to Israel.

  228. 228
    Maude says:

    @eemom:
    Yes, it was mild.
    Another thing that I thought of is Helen Thomas remembers the first pictures of the death camps that were shown at the end of WWII.

  229. 229
    liberal says:

    @JITC:

    Seriously, this IS just like some one saying that blacks in America should “get the hell out” and go back to Africa.

    No, actually, it is not.

    It is like a Native American saying the whites should go back to Europe.

    In the case of African-Americans, their ancestors came here as immigrants just like European-Americans, almost as early as the earliest Euro-Americans, and in many cases far earlier.

  230. 230
    liberal says:

    @kay:
    Yes, it’s a mystery, but so is the fact that so many people think of Thomas Friedman as some kind of intellectual.

  231. 231
    PeakVT says:

    @geg6: Here’s a much more detailed map (warning: PDF).

  232. 232
    MattR says:

    @Betsy:

    Because those “go back where you came from” type of remarks generally indicate that the people came there voluntarily. It’s hard to call the exodus from Europe under threat of extermination a “voluntary” one.

    I am not sure why it is relevant whether or not it was a voluntary exodus. What seems much more relevant is if the conditions that led to the exodus still exist. If I leave my town to avoid a flood, that is not voluntary. If three weeks later the flood waters have receded and my friend tells me to go back home, he is not advocating that I drown in a flood.

  233. 233
    aRedCard says:

    So who gets Helen’s seat?

  234. 234
    sherifffruitfly says:

    For myself, all of those seemingly excellent Afghanistan questions from her are put in a substantially different light, now that I realize how much she hates Jewish folks.

  235. 235
    Church Lady says:

    Now Helen can pull up a stool at the bar with Imus, Rush, and anyone else in the public eye that says something stupid and then pays the price for it and bitch about how she was wronged. Boo fucking hoo.

    And for those equating Thomas with Rachel Maddow’s Uncle Pat…..Last time I looked, Pat not only is not occupying a front row seat in the White House Press Room, he’s not there at all. If you’ve got a problem with Pat, write MSNBC, but trying to make the two of them equal is just stupid.

    Hele is 89. Time to go and this was just the excuse needed to kick her wrinkled old ass to the curb.

  236. 236
    Betsy says:

    @liberal:
    Actually, neither is a very apt comparison. Europeans, as a group, sought to conquer America for gold and God. They came entirely voluntarily. Africans, as a group, were brought here (mostly) involuntarily and oppressed for centuries, and have never, as a group, dominated any other group here.

    Jews went to Palestine under considerable duress, unlike whites coming to America. They then established themselves as a ruling class, unlike blacks in America. Thus, neither comparison really works, IMO.

  237. 237
    kay says:

    @EconWatcher:

    I don’t think she’s been effective at that job for a very long time, so I’m not a fan. If I needed an advocate on Iraq (and I did) I wouldn’t have chosen her. That forum sucks for a real answer, and she never got one.

    I actually think she stuck around longer because of the gross self-congratulatory clique that is the WH press corps.

    There’s no one they love as much as themselves, and their own myth.

  238. 238
    JimF says:

    Why does everyone assume she hates the Jews? Remember she was 28 when Israel, which hadn’t existed for 1800 years, came back into existence.

  239. 239
    eemom says:

    fwiw, Golda Meir once said something to the effect of why the hell did Moses pick the only place without oil under it to settle down in.

  240. 240
    JITC says:

    @EconWatcher:

    I see where you’re coming from here, but I don’t believe she was going so far as to wish the Holocaust on Israelis.

    However, she was going so far to believe that there should be no Israel, even within the original borders.

    I have strongly disagreed with many of Israel’s policies over the decades. Specifically, this blockade is ridiculous. From a humanitarian perspective, I don’t agree with punishing an entire people in order to get back at a government. But more importantly, as a supporter of Israel’s right to exist, as a supporter of a two-state solution, and as someone who prays for peace there every day, I know this blockade is COUNTER-ACTIVE. It’s emboldening Hamas, not weakening it.

    None-the-less, Thomas’ statement was ridiculous horrible. It’s exactly like saying that all this racial strife in the U.S. will end if all the blacks just go back to Africa.

  241. 241
    El Cid says:

    @liberal:

    In the case of African-Americans, their ancestors came here as immigrants just like European-Americans

    Immigrants, yes, but, it might have been a bit different.

  242. 242
    geg6 says:

    @JITC:

    No, she didn’t advocate a force relocation, but she advocated for Jews to leave Israel. She didn’t want them to be exterminated upon arrival in Germany or Poland, but neither do the racists who want black people to “go back to Africa.” Finally, by referring to Israel as a whole (not just the occupied areas) as Palestine, she denies the right of Israel to exist. If she just meant the occupied areas, she would have said “get the hell out of Palestine and stick to the original borders” rather than suggesting they go “back” to other countries.

    The point has been made several times today, but this is not a valid comparison. Nobody forced anyone to go to Israel in chains. Nobody. Sorry, don’t buy bad arguments.

    You don’t know that she was referring to Israel as a whole as Palestine. I didn’t hear her say that. Please provide a link if that is true.

    @EconWatcher:

    She also said (paraphrasing) to the U.S. or wherever. Sorry, but I don’t see it the way you do. Poor choice of words, but she was led there by her questioner. Which may, possibly, have been a set up of an old woman.

    @Betsy:

    “Thomas : Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land, not German and not Polish.
    Nesenoff: So where should they go? What should they do?
    Thomas: They should go home. Nesenoff: Where is home?
    Thomas: Poland. Germany.”

    What is being occupied? Hmmmm. Let me think. Hmmmm. Could it be the Palestinian territories that are being occupied by Israelis? Gee, ya think? Wanna take a peek at that map I provided for you earlier? Let’s look at those borders of what are agreed upon by all to be Palestinian and then look at where Palestinians are actually being allowed to live. And then look at what is inside the gaps between those two things. Could it be? Are my eyes deceiving me? Could those be Israeli occupiers of Palestinian land?

  243. 243
    MattR says:

    @Betsy:

    Jews went to Palestine under considerable duress, unlike whites coming to America.

    You are ignoring the fact that there are quite a few white folks in this country (going all the way back to its founding) who came here to escape persecution of one sort or another (ie. under duress)

  244. 244
    kay says:

    @Church Lady:

    No, Buchanan actually worked in the White House, and trades on that daily, so that is a difference.

    He actually makes a buck off the Presidency. Surely you didn’t miss it? I don’t think he goes a paragraph without mentioning his official role. Senior adviser to three GOP Presidents.

    Thomas never derived her credibility, and an entire lucrative career, off an official role in US government, so there’s that in her defense.

  245. 245
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @liberal:

    I think Irgun was a little more blatant than average.

    Even Israel’s own government called them a terrorist organization …. after, of course, Irgun had terrorized a path for there to be an Israel government. Tut tut, as they say.

    The best I can figure is that Israel’s existence is based on an ambiguous reading of the history of the region, tilted in Israel’s favor, plus sympathy for the jews’ plight in the Holocaust, plus the zealots’ insistence that God(tm) was on their side, plus a willingness to basically shove other people out of the way and then engage in a 60 year war with them over the conflict.

    With the exception of the Holocaust thing, that is basically the same exact rationale that the Palestinians have for wanting to be there.

    So there you go. The groundhog saw his shadow, and now we are in for sixty more years of war.

  246. 246
    sunsin says:

    @Emma:

    Everyone who has lived in an area at one time, no matter how far in the past, has a claim to an area?

    We should apply that to the US. The Algonquians would like New England back.

    Even better, let’s apply it to the Native American populations themselves. They regularly took land from each other in warfare, and most native nations were surrounded by a belt of territory of uncertain ownership that saw frequent clashes between different peoples. This is coming back to bite us in Canada now that some of the native land claims are finally being settled. The Nish’gaa, for instance, were one of the first groups to formalize a settlement, and when that settlement was made public, there was a howl from all their native neighbours, who said that the Nish’gaa had helped themselves to far more land than they had a historical right to. (As a matter of fact, I believe that aggregate native land claims in British Columbia amount to 110% of the total land in the province.)

  247. 247
    liberal says:

    @sherifffruitfly:
    There’s no evidence she hates Jews per se. There is evidence that, as someone of Arab descent, she has some resentment against European Jewish immigration into the Middle East in the twentieth century. Those aren’t entirely congruent.

  248. 248
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Violet

    Given that the most notorious and horrific concentration camps during the Holocaust were in Poland and Germany, and the Germans were in charge, those two countries were extraordinarily bad choice of countries to use as suggestions as to where Jews should “go back to.

    Agreed. But I don’t think an 89 year old mind is swift enough to come back with a retort like “go back to Ethiopia”. The old girl really should have cut it off at “get the hell out of Palestine” and recognized the follow-up question for what it was: master baiting.

  249. 249
    liberal says:

    @El Cid:
    Absolutely. I mean “immigrants” in the most literal dictionary sense: they immigrated here. I’m not implying voluntarily. But whether their immigration here was volitional doesn’t bear on their “right to be here” (NB: I loathe that concept).

  250. 250
    Betsy says:

    @geg6:

    Geg6, I don’t understand why you’re ignoring the point that she said that the occupiers’ “home” was Germany and Poland, NOT ISRAEL. That suggested that she was referring to all of Israel as Palestine. Otherwise, why wouldn’t she have said that the occupiers should “go home” to Israel?

    I also don’t understand why you seem to think I disagree with you about the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. I only disagree about Thomas’s comments, because I can see no other way to interpret them, given the entire conversation.

  251. 251
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @liberal:

    I find that I think of Friedman as an intellectual about once every six months.

  252. 252
    geg6 says:

    Jewish settlers to the Palestinian territories include at least 1000 annually who immigrate from outside Israel. West Bank settlements increase by 5-6% per year and have done so since 2001. Settler population growth is three times that of population growth in Israel itself. The Israeli government encourages these settlements, especially among immigrants, with financial benefits and incentives.

    This is an occupation by any definition.

  253. 253
    PeakVT says:

    I don’t understand your optimism. Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it’s simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.
    __
    David Ben-Gurion, as quoted in The Jewish Paradox : A personal memoir (1978) by Nahum Goldmann (translated by Steve Cox), p. 99.

  254. 254
    liberal says:

    @Church Lady:

    Now Helen can pull up a stool at the bar with Imus, Rush, and anyone else in the public eye that says something stupid and then pays the price for it and bitch about how she was wronged. Boo fucking hoo.

    I don’t know much about Imus, but to compare Rush’s record for “saying something stupid” to Thomas’s and imply some kind of equivalence is pretty ignorant.

  255. 255
    liberal says:

    @LikeableInMyOwnWay:
    Hah hah.

    :-)

  256. 256
    liberal says:

    @PeakVT:
    Clever cite. That’s exactly getting at HT’s mindset: the traumas of her own ethnic group far outweigh those of another (i.e., Jews coming frm Europe).

  257. 257
    geg6 says:

    @Betsy:

    I don’t understand why you’re ignoring the point that she said that the occupiers’ “home” was Germany and Poland, NOT ISRAEL. That suggested that she was referring to all of Israel as Palestine. Otherwise, why wouldn’t she have said that the occupiers should “go home” to Israel?

    It does not suggest that at all. It only suggests that she was talking about settlers who came from Germany and Poland and the U.S. and wherever (funny how that part is always being left out of the so-called “quote”). I don’t disagree with her on the idea that the settlers should get the hell out and many of those settlers are immigrants that Israel enticed to steal Palestinian lands.

    That said, it’s not like I really give a damn about Israel or really any country in the Middle East, Jewish or Muslim or even supposedly secular, like Egypt. I wish they’d all blow each other up and rid us of their stupid, tribal garbage. The whole region could be wiped from the map and I wouldn’t blink an eye.

  258. 258
    nadifa says:

    Shame on all of you Americans, whatever happened to your “Freedom of Speech?”

  259. 259
    PeakVT says:

    @liberal: Is that what the quote is saying, or what you want it to be saying?

  260. 260
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @geg6:

    You don’t know that she was referring to Israel as a whole as Palestine.

    Thing is, in her youth, before there was an Israel, the whole area _was_ called “Palestine.” I think it’s a logical conclusion to draw that what she meant was that there’s no good reason for European Jews to have ended up in that whole British Mandate for Palestine area.

  261. 261
    geg6 says:

    @nadifa:

    The First Amendment does not say that there are no consequences for your speech. It simply says that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech and since Helen Thomas’ employer is not the U.S. government, they are free to fire her if they wish.

    I think they are asses, but then who in media isn’t these days?

  262. 262
    kay says:

    @liberal:

    Nah. If the public (meaning any minority group member) had known Pat Buchanan’s views when was on their taxpayer dime it might have gone a little differently for him.

    I think we can assume he was a racist mean-spirited pig when he was advising GOP President(s), and surely those GOP Presidents knew that.

    It was just pre-internet.

    He’s grandfathered in under the Special Republican Rule.

  263. 263
    El Cid says:

    @liberal: Depending on definitions, Native Americans are immigrants too. If you stick to homo sapiens, maybe only certain parts of Africa were really home. Or you could view sapiens as a colonizing population about 70K years BP, displacing erectus and neanderthalensis who were in most areas first. Back to Africa, sapien immigrants!

  264. 264
    geg6 says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Oh. Well, it’s logical to conclude something for which you have no evidence. Gotcha.

    I think the idea that a woman who has been writing about domestic and foreign policy for the last 60 or so years calls Israel Palestine because it was once called that in her teenage years and that no one has told her any differently since is probably right on the money.

    After all, she’s a just a dimwitted old lady who hasn’t kept up, right?

  265. 265
    maus says:

    @nadifa:

    Shame on all of you Americans, whatever happened to your “Freedom of Speech?”

    There’s plenty of federal Freedom of Speech.

    There is no corporate Freedom of Speech. There are no independent media conglomerates.

  266. 266
    Zandar says:

    @Jules:

    Assfoonery FTMFW.

  267. 267
    Emma says:

    Sunsin: And a good time will be had by all, I bet. Except the poor bastards charged with settling the claims.

  268. 268
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Church Lady:

    And for those equating Thomas with Rachel Maddow’s Uncle Pat…..Last time I looked, Pat not only is not occupying a front row seat in the White House Press Room, he’s not there at all. If you’ve got a problem with Pat, write MSNBC, but trying to make the two of them equal is just stupid.

    This is maybe the worst defense yet I’ve seen of anything having to do this situation. So…despite the fact that Pat Buchanan is a well-known, hateful, ignorant bigot, because MSNBC has not fired him yet, his bigotry–which I would contend is infinitely worse than Helen Thomas’ remark, based on quantity and quality–somehow isn’t terrible or grounds for being fired. Because he hasn’t been fired yet. And because he’s not a part of the White House Press Corp?

    Is this seriously your argument? Are you oblivious to how many times people have called for Pat Buchanan to be fired because he said something egregiously ignorant and offensive? The shit happens on the regular.

    Did you really use their employers as the standard for evaluating their rhetoric?

    That’s Jaws you just jumped there, Church Lady.

  269. 269
    Joseph Nobles says:

    Plus Major Garrett has had a jaunty seat cushion picked out for years.

  270. 270
    Church Lady says:

    @liberal: Does the ESPN/Donovan McNabb kerfuffle ring a bell?

  271. 271
    liberal says:

    @PeakVT:
    You mean, re Helen Thomas’ inner thoughts? Who knows for sure. Seems like a reasonable guess though.

  272. 272
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betsy:

    Jews went to Palestine under considerable duress, unlike whites coming to America.

    I think the Irish Potato Famine counts as “duress,” don’t you? The British convicts who were transported here from England didn’t have much choice in the matter, either.

    Sorry, but that was a particularly stupid thing to say if you know anything about American history.

  273. 273
    liberal says:

    @El Cid:
    Yeah, heartily agreed.

    Ultimately, we’re all Africans; rift valley is our home.

  274. 274
    liberal says:

    @Church Lady:
    I meant it in the other direction: Limbaugh has made many, many more outragoues statements than HT.

  275. 275
    liberal says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    And because he’s not a part of the White House Press Corp?

    Yeah, seems like CL made a big deal of the fact that HT was a member of the WHPC and B isn’t. Don’t really get that myself.

  276. 276
    maus says:

    @Mnemosyne: The Irish weren’t “whites” back then, and the convicts did not make up the majority of the initial population. She’s not ignoring those cases, but they were not at all the ruling and dominant class.

  277. 277
    Church Lady says:

    @Midnight Marauder: I’m saying that equating the two is stupid, but many are trying to do so. My sole point is that Helen Thomas, until today, occupied a front row seat in the White House Press room. Pat, most likely because of the inherent wrong in his expressed beliefs, does not. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has he ever been a working member of the White House press corps, which was what I do believe was being discussed. Now Helen no longer will have her seat, which is good, as she no longer deserves it.

  278. 278
    Church Lady says:

    @liberal: And Rush is not considered an esteemed member of the press, nor is he sitting in on Gibbs daily briefings and being called on to ask questions. Next strawman, please.

  279. 279
    maus says:

    @Church Lady: When did he ever “pay the price” for it, out of curiosity?

  280. 280
    liberal says:

    @geg6:

    I wish they’d all blow each other up and rid us of their stupid, tribal garbage. The whole region could be wiped from the map and I wouldn’t blink an eye.

    Now there’s a nasty comment. Thing is, all humans evince tribal tendencies, unfortunately. Appears to be part of our biological endowment.

    The reason I want to cut off aid to Israel is that it’s not good for me our my nation. Why do I put my nation first? Because it’s the polity I belong to. I don’t think it’s better than other polities (at least not in a knee-jerk sense—does have some advantages of course), and on a human level, I care just as much about the fate of people in those other places. But in terms of facts on the ground, we live in a world of nation states, and for those of us lucky enough to live in democracies, we have a special responsibility for our fellow citizens, by the mere fact that we do have influence on the political organization here.

    In other words: Since I have no vote inside Israel, I shouldn’t have to pay for the consequences of its actions. Responsibility and authority/power should be paired.

  281. 281
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Church Lady:

    I’m saying that equating the two is stupid, but many are trying to do so. My sole point is that Helen Thomas, until today, occupied a front row seat in the White House Press room. Pat, most likely because of the inherent wrong in his expressed beliefs, does not. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has he ever been a working member of the White House press corps, which was what I do believe was being discussed. Now Helen no longer will have her seat, which is good, as she no longer deserves it.

    Now see, I actually don’t think you know what you are saying anymore, because you are saying a lot of different things. Like this:

    I’m saying that equating the two is stupid, but many are trying to do so.

    is a very different thing from this:

    And for those equating Thomas with Rachel Maddow’s Uncle Pat…..Last time I looked, Pat not only is not occupying a front row seat in the White House Press Room, he’s not there at all. If you’ve got a problem with Pat, write MSNBC, but trying to make the two of them equal is just stupid.

    So, LITERALLY, your entire objection to the comparison is based on the fact that one is a member of the White House Press Corps and the other is not. Now, in the event that you want to retort and disagree with me, let me finish by quoting your initial reply to me, in which you proceeded to elaborate on your original point:

    My sole point is that Helen Thomas, until today, occupied a front row seat in the White House Press room. Pat, most likely because of the inherent wrong in his expressed beliefs, does not. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has he ever been a working member of the White House press corps, which was what I do believe was being discussed. Now Helen no longer will have her seat, which is good, as she no longer deserves it.

    Your “sole point” is wholly irrelevant to the comparison people are making. Like, irrelevant to the point that I am sitting here wondering, “What fucking thread has she been reading this entire time?”

    EDIT: Ah, it makes sense now. “…which was what I do believe was being discussed.”

    Nope. Not even close.

  282. 282
    liberal says:

    @Church Lady:
    Give me a fucking break. He has far more power and money and is disseminated far more widely than HT. Unless you think the WHPC is some godlike entity, which given that those briefings are almost completely idiotic and useless under any admin is crazy.

  283. 283
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @maus:

    Well, uh, he had to leave his little ESPN thingy, which was a crippling blow that was only partially assuaged by the billion or so dollars he’s earned since then.

  284. 284
    Jared says:

    John, I love your blog, but for what it’s worth, I think you’ve twisted yourself into a pretzel trying to defend H.T.

    To your first point, you and I would condemn an Erick Erickson, and urge his firing, BECAUSE of rhetoric like that; the logical response is not to put up with Helen Thomas in spite of such rhetoric.

    Further, it’s true that Thomas is old, and that “most old people” say crazy things, but then, “most old people” don’t have prime real estate in the White House Press Room.

    This, I might add, partly goes to why your comparison to Buchanan is inexact. Buchanan is a token hired by a network to caricature one side. (If you believe otherwise, ask yourself this: could MSNBC hire a David Frum or a Jon Rauch for a permanent spot? Of course. The brass knows this but it won’t happen. It’s cable, after all; ratings rule, and big numbers come in when someone shoots back at the insane ravings of Pat Buchanan. This is not to compare a brilliant left-leaner like Maddow to Buchanan. She is not a firebrand, not a screamer. But Buchanan is more prone to start the kind of loud arguments that Maddow always beats with, well, facts. The exchanges are intense, and people watch.). He does not work in the White House Press Room.

    As for Thomas’s tactics in the press room, they are separate from what, in my mind, made her an important figure for so long: that she proved women could make it in a male-dominated profession. She was a good beat writer (which, unfortunately, is all most White House reporters now are, and all a White House reporter had to be for a long time) but she asked ridiculously unsubtle questions that didn’t really draw their subjects out for the kill. A good questioner leads her subject into the open, THEN strikes. Thomas seemed to do a lot of striking (“Why are we killing people in Iraq?” is just such a strike) but little leading.

    Finally, it’s a weird thing to play down Thomas’s statement because, as you wrote, “it didn’t kill anyone.” When violence does not follow an extreme statement, does that then invalidate all concerns about it?

    She’s 90 years old, she’s not entitled to a gig covering the White House, and a Josh Marshall sits on the sidelines. Something’s wrong here.

  285. 285
    kay says:

    @Church Lady:

    Bullshit. Rush hosted the sitting Vice President of the United States, on his radio program, multiple times.

    Doesn’t get much more “esteemed” than that.

    Oh, and this guy:

    President George W. Bush has appeared five times on the program. The first time was during the 2000 presidential campaign. Then, in 2004, he “called in” to a live broadcast during the week of the 2004 Republican National Convention to give a preview of his nomination acceptance speech. He called in again in 2006. The fourth time was April 18, 2008, when Limbaugh asked the White House to speak with Bush to thank him for the ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI, which awed Limbaugh. The fifth call was during the show’s 20th anniversary celebration, in which then-President Bush (and George H. W. Bush and Jeb Bush) congratulated Limbaugh.

    Rush has had MUCH better access to US Presidents than Helen Thomas.

  286. 286
    Mnemosyne says:

    I do love that people have absolutely no idea why people who were dispossessed of their land 50 years ago with no compensation, forcibly resettled into refugee camps, and are currently being starved out without the actual ability to leave Gaza or the West Bank might be, you know, kind of pissed off about that.

    I especially love the people who don’t understand why Lebanese-Americans like, say, Helen Thomas, might not feel particularly friendly towards Israel after Israel’s actions in 2006. Because, of course, every action of Israel’s exists in a vacuum and is completely unrelated to every other action, but Helen Thomas is personally responsible for every action of Hezbollah.

    Sheesh.

  287. 287
    geg6 says:

    @liberal:

    all humans evince tribal tendencies

    Perhaps. But some of us conquer them. Others ramp them up to such levels that we get stupid shit like the Middle East. And FWIW, I’m much nastier than just this comment. There are whole swaths of the planet that I would happily vaporize if given a chance. Texas and Afghanistan, for instance.

    As long as my magic vaporizer doesn’t vaporize any innocent neighbors and I can use my USS Enterprise transporter to take any of the innocent out of harm’s way, I’m cool with vaporizing about half the planet.

  288. 288
    kay says:

    @liberal:

    When Helen Thomas hosts Obama., Biden and Secretary Gates, you let me know.

    Because that’s what Rush got. Despite his near-daily racist statements.

    I don’t have any problem with Thomas stepping down, but the idea that conservatives aren’t absolute hypocrites on this is bullshit.

    Ari Fleisher probably arranged the numerous Bush Administration appearances on Rush. Not one word from the Right.

  289. 289
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kay:

    But Rush is a mere entertainer, while Helen Thomas is an all-powerful journalist who makes the world tremble at her displeasure. :-)

  290. 290
    MattR says:

    @Mnemosyne: How many pills would Rush have to take before he would agree to switch positions with Helen Thomas (pre retirement of course)?

  291. 291
    Mnemosyne says:

    And in case people are clueless as to why Israeli settlements might be a particular sore point that Thomas was referring to, almost half of the settlements are built on land that legally belongs to Palestinians.

    But, hey, the forebears of today’s Israelis were forced to leave Europe, so it’s perfectly fair for them to expropriate other people’s property even though those people had nothing to do with them being driven out of Europe, amirite?

  292. 292
    PaulW says:

    Helen Thomas says anti-semetic remarks about Israel and is forced to retire.

    Pat Buchanan says anti-semetic remarks about Israel and practically writes love letters to Hitler, and he’s scheduling his next appearance on every talking head show out there.

    Hypocrisy much, Beltway assholes?

  293. 293
    Jim C says:

    It’s Back!

    It seems I’m the 100,000th visitor.

  294. 294
    kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I didn’t even know President Bush was conducting regular on-air confabs with Rush Limbaugh. I knew Cheney went on to discuss the nation’s foreign policy, but I didn’t know the actual sitting President was calling in to a blatantly racist radio program.

    Didn’t hear much about that, did we?

    I would have thought the scolds on the Right would have been screeching about the majesty of the Presidency, and how it was being demeaned.

    Did President Bush help Rush sell those “number beds”? He probably got a cut.

  295. 295
    kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The other funny part is Rush getting all weepy over the Pope.

    I bet he converts to Catholicism, now that he’s married again.

    It’s like a “fad” or something, in Right wing frequently-married family values circles. It’s counter-intuitive! They marry and divorce every 15 minutes, have no children, but they all want to be Catholic? What gives? I bet they’re looking for the “get out of hell” free card, don’t you think?

  296. 296
    Jenn says:

    I’d like to believe that she was referring to the settlements within the Palestinian territories, except that if that were the case, why wouldn’t she have used “Palestinian territories” rather than Palestine? When someone says “Palestine” to me, I think of historic Palestine, not the Palestinian territories. And it doesn’t make sense that Israel would’ve been left off the list of places for the Israeli settlers to return to, regardless of the percentage of settlers coming in from Europe and the U.S.

    Geg6, you could be right that she’s referring to the Palestinian territories, but the only person who knows for sure is Helen Thomas. The rest of us are interpreting her comments based on a really limited amount of text. My interpretation of her text obviously differs from yours. (The interpretation by some that she’s referring to 1940s era Germany and Poland is plain goofy – either because they WANT to believe it or because they didn’t wait around for the reference to America and everywhere else.)

    Regardless, what she said was crappy and unfair, even more so given the history of her 2 prominent examples. Sadly, all too many things relating to Israel/Palestine are crappy and unfair, for all sides.

    And there’s no doubt that the double standard needs to end. How these rightwing racist nutjobs like Buchanan stay employed is beyond me.

  297. 297
    Keith G says:

    The evidence:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlan.....onist.html

    Helen is not advocating the destruction of Israel or the hurting of Jews. She is saying that the Jews who are illegally occupying land in Palestine should go home from whence they came. And as has been reported for years before the HT comment, the settler movement is populated largely by recent immigrant to the area from Europe and the US.

    What we are witnessing is the high tech lynching of an elderly Lebanese American.

    She said nothing wrong and nothing bad. Its not even close.

  298. 298
    wengler says:

    @ Church Lady

    The fact that Helen Thomas got to sit in front and ask the first question matters to the White House Correspondents, not to nearly everyone else. The daily exercise of getting into the White House Press room and asking questions is nearly always boring and pointless. The White House press operations these days never make news this way, and the corporate media members of the press only really like fake scandals pre-approved by Drudge involving sex and Democrats.

    As anyone can imagine this job has status cachet but it’s extremely boring, so they entertain themselves with social climbing through brown nosing “exclusives” or similar navel gazing. Helen Thomas was a logjam that these middle-aged guys didn’t like very much and got special status despite not working for major broadcast or newspapers.

    So now she is gone and the Villagers rejoice.

  299. 299
    Dave says:

    Clever cite. That’s exactly getting at HT’s mindset: the traumas of her own ethnic group far outweigh those of another (i.e., Jews coming frm Europe).

    Well, well, well, PeakVT has been copying doctored Ben-Gurion quotes from Neo-Nazi websites.

    Here’s the actual quote, with the bits that VTPeak conveniently left out:

    ‘One day, or rather night, in 1956 I sat up at [Ben-Gurion’s]
    house till three in the morning. That night, a beautiful summer night, we had a forthright discussion on the Arab problem. ‘”I don’t understand your optimism,” Ben-Gurion declared. “Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: they thinkwe have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler,
    Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing:
    we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it’s simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out… ”

    The omission unsurprisingly alters the quote entirely to say the opposite to what VTPeak claims it says.

    Not a surprise though, given the ravening depths of jew-hatred to which BJ has sunk to. Concern-trolling on behalf of Turkish jihadists, and now a defense of a vile anti-semite. What next? How long before the Blood Libel makes an appearance on these pages?

  300. 300
    PeakVT says:

    @liberal: But it’s still a guess.

    All this wanking over what Helen Thomas may or may not feel in her heart of hearts is a giant distraction from a much more important issue, which is what is happening on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today, and every day for about the past four decades.

  301. 301
    PeakVT says:

    @Dave: No, asshole, I did not copy-doctor it. I c&p’ed it from Wikiquote.

    Go fuck yourself with a chainsaw.

  302. 302
    me says:

    @Dave: Nice strawman asshole. Don’t you have some Arabs to ethnically cleanse?

  303. 303
    EconWatcher says:

    Keith G:

    The West Bank is largely populated by settlers from Germany and Poland? Really? Because Thomas didn’t say anything about settlers from “Europe” (which might include the former Soviet Union, and might make some sense if you were referring to West Bank settlement). She said specifically Germany and Poland.

    No one put those words in her mouth. Those were her first two examples. It seems pretty obvious that she was referring to immigration to what is now Israel proper from Germany and Poland during and after WWII, and referring to the whole area as Palestine.

    She did tack on a reference to the U.S. But I don’t see how that changes the obvious meaning of her references to Germany and Poland. It’s conceivable, I guess, that she never really meant to refer to Germany and Poland at all–that those examples, with their connotations, just popped out for no reason. But I see no reason to infer that. And you’re twisting the record of what she actually said–Germany and Poland become a generic “Europe”–to sanitize what she said.

  304. 304
    Emma says:

    Dave: Whatever your masters pay you it’s not enough. Really.

    And if it’s all your own idea, all I can say that there’s a peculiar meanness of spirit to someone who bears false witness against his neighbor. Not to mention that it is flat-out forbidden in a certain book…

  305. 305
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Dan: You don’t know why Helen Thomas apologized. Don’t say you do, unless you don’t mind coming off like an obnoxious know-it-all.

  306. 306

    @Dave:

    Not a surprise though, given the ravening depths of jew-hatred to which BJ has sunk to. Concern-trolling on behalf of Turkish jihadists, and now a defense of a vile anti-semite.

    See, now you’re just flaming and name-calling, which is unbecoming. Many of the commenters on BJ are Jews who have been condemning Israeli actions re: the Turkish flotilla.

  307. 307
    Tonal Crow says:

    And now this thread has officially been Godwined. Good job, Dave. You’re a great help to Jews like myself who want to see Israelis and Palestinians living side by side, in their own viable states, at peace and in prosperity.

  308. 308
    EconWatcher says:

    Let me add that if Dave is on my side here, then I need to switch sides. But really, I’m just agreeing with Betsy. Dave is beyond the pale.

    And Dave’s supposed correction doesn’t really change the intriguing Ben-Gurion quote that PeakeVT offered. I hadn’t seen that before.

  309. 309
    Keith G says:

    @EconWatcher:

    …the obvious meaning of her references to Germany and Poland.

    Okay, I’ll bite. What was that obvious meaning? What was in the heart of this woman?

  310. 310
    Americanadian says:

    @Dave: And you still fail to differentiate between a nation getting pissed off because some of its’ citizens were SHOT TO DEATH in INTERNATIONAL MOTHERFUCKING WATERS and a band of loons holed up in caves in Afghanistan or in basements in Gaza. Not to mention that one of them was still an American citizen, even though he hadn’t lived here for the majority of his life.

    Honestly at this point I’m more afraid of running afoul of Israel than any other country in the world at this point. At least if Iran or North Korea somehow got their hands on me I could count on our government to give two shits about it.

    And since when does opposing Netenyahu’s stupidity, Avigdor Lieberman’s crypto-fascism, and the religious fundamentalism of Shas and the other ultra-Orthodox true believers translate into antisemitism? Or do you think they’re the only real Jews on the planet and our friends, family, classmates, and co-workers are somehow phony Jews?

  311. 311
    kay says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    I still haven’t gotten used to Turkey as an enemy of the US.

    Then, it’s only been 72 hours since the 180 degree spin, and I never thought Iraq was much of a threat, either, and still don’t.

    Could be years ’till I get it. Decades.

  312. 312
    eemom says:

    I wish we could just ask HT what she meant and be done with it.

  313. 313
    kay says:

    @eemom:

    I am so glad you stuck around. That’s all I have to add to this discussion, now that I’ve concluded my Pat Buchanan rant :)

  314. 314
    El Cid says:

    @Dave: It doesn’t actually make the statement say the opposite. All it adds is “they think” the European Zionists are taking “their country”, without Ben Gurion suggesting any reason, other than ancient myths, why they are wrong to think that.

    Quite a number of Israeli nationalists were pretty clear that they were going to take some territories and make it a country. They weren’t ashamed of it — just like the British settling in Kenya knew what they were doing, and weren’t embarrassed about it. It was a colonial project, and at the time (late 19th to early 20th century), that wasn’t viewed in the same way among Europeans (Zionist nationalists were Europeans) as it was post-1950s anti-colonialism (if you kind of lump Indian independence more to the ’50s than ’40s).

  315. 315
    PeakVT says:

    From Greenwald:

    UPDATE: As for the Helen Thomas condemnation fest and subsequent resignation today, the central issue — as both my Salon colleague Gabriel Winant and The American Prospect’s Adam Serwer adeptly document — is not the perception that she’s guilty of bigotry, but the wrong kind of bigotry. Anyone who doubts that should compare the cheap, easy and self-righteous outrage orgy against the powerless, 89-year-old columnist to the total non-reaction in the face of the incessant and ongoing anti-Arab bigotry of The New Republic’s Marty Peretz, or to the demands of then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey that the Palestinians leave the West Bank and go back to where they came from, and similar statements from Mike Huckabee (still gainfully employed at Fox News).

  316. 316
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @eemom:

    I wish we could just ask HT what she meant and be done with it.

    We don’t have to. Howie Kurtz already did:

    Reached at home, Thomas, 89, said: “I’m very sorry for my remarks. I think I crossed the line. I made a mistake.”

    No shit, Helen.

  317. 317
    eemom says:

    @kay:

    thanks!

  318. 318
    Ash Can says:

    @kay: Limbaugh convert to Catholicism? That’d be the day. If he’s talking up the pope, dollars to donuts it’s because he figures that if conservative Catholics are obtuse enough to defend the Church heierarchy through even the most blatant pedophilia scandals, they’ll easily fall for his bullshit hook, line, and sinker, and he can pad his audience numbers.

    @Keith G: No, she did do wrong. What she said was insensitive, tone-deaf, and offensive by any standards. It’s just that, after the barrage of equally (if not more) insensitive, tone-deaf, and offensive shit from so many other people in her profession, the fact that she’s the only one resigning in the wake of offense — and that no one publicly calling for her resignation ever called for the resignation of any other offenders — is infuriating.

  319. 319
    MattR says:

    @Midnight Marauder: You really think that explains what she meant?

  320. 320
    kay says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    She made a big error, in terms of her profession. She made herself the story.
    She should have to go just for that. There’s too much of it, in media. The lines are all blurry. It’s not about THEM, or their opinions. The WH press corps are the absolute worst offenders.
    If anyone should know that, it’s her. Why the hell is she giving an opinion on anything?

  321. 321
    kay says:

    @eemom:

    I was away all weekend so I couldn’t rush to your defense, but I saw some of your comments, and was hoping you didn’t get chased away.

    And, I know jack shit about the mideast, or religion, so there’s that problem, too.

  322. 322
    EconWatcher says:

    KeithG:

    “You’ll bite?” Gee, thanks. I can’t know for certain what’s in the heart of this woman, as my post acknowledged. But I know what she said.

    What she said was that people from Germany and Poland should never have come to “Palestine” and should go back where they came from. Since it would make no sense to refer to settlers coming from Germany and Poland to the West Bank–such has never happened in any nonnegligible way– her reference had to mean the immigration of from Germany and Poland to what is now Israel proper–what one calls “Palestine” if one believes that the Israeli state should never have come into existence.

    But you know what? I’m breaking a promise to myself never to argue with people who misstate the facts to fit their arguments. So let’s just leave it there.

  323. 323
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Keith G: My take is that she was venting that the whole situation would be moot if European Jews had never relocated to “Palestine,” meaning the territory held by present-day Israel, Jordan, etc., and wished that the European Jews would, in effect, go back where they came from.+

    @geg6:

    I think the idea that a woman who has been writing about domestic and foreign policy for the last 60 or so years calls Israel Palestine because it was once called that in her teenage years and that no one has told her any differently since is probably right on the money.

    The region was called “Palestine” for at least 2,000 years. Here’s the Wikipedia entry for Mandate Palestine. It seems to me pretty logical that a 90-year-old woman of Lebanese ancestry might use the term “Palestine” to refer to the disputed parts of the Middle East, and regret that European Jews had settled/been resettled there. Which has nothing to do with the question of whether the statement is beyond the pale or not.

    + Incidentally, I was wrong to characterize Jewish migration to Israel as “entirely voluntary” before. I forgot about clandestine immigration while the war was ongoing.

  324. 324
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jenn:

    I’d like to believe that she was referring to the settlements within the Palestinian territories, except that if that were the case, why wouldn’t she have used “Palestinian territories” rather than Palestine?

    Because, like a lot of people, she thinks that Palestine should be a separate country, not territory occupied by Israel.

    It’s actually pretty common for people to refer to the occupied territories as “Palestine” and for the Israeli government PR flacks to screech about it because legally there is no Palestine.

    Among other things, the occupied territories participate in the Olympics as “Palestine.” I have to admit, I’m surprised that you’re surprised to hear them referred to that way, though it is a more common usage in Europe than it is here in the States.

  325. 325
    El Cid says:

    @PeakVT: That is correct. Had Thomas stated something that came across as anti-Arab or anti-Muslim bigotry, nothing would have happened, and no one really would have cared. However, Thomas said something which did come across as pretty awful, and couldn’t have ever again be seen as some sort of acceptable journalistic figure, which doesn’t help if you aren’t a Thomas Friedman cheering on the U.S. military throwing some Arab/Muslim nations against a wall and being taught a lesson by having the shit blown out of their country because a tiny group of criminals attacked the U.S. on 9/11.

  326. 326
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @MattR:

    You really think that explains what she meant?

    I don’t think what she said needs an explanation, to be honest. It was entirely repugnant. She most certainly would (and should) have been fired if she had not resigned herself.

  327. 327
    kay says:

    @Ash Can:

    Limbaugh convert to Catholicism?

    I read his first book. It was weirdly compelling. He’s too antisocial for a church. Any church. He watches a lot of tv, basically. A LOT. He comes across as deeply uncomfortable and awkward. He might be slicker now.

    I bet he’s a horrible mess one on one, “live”, which might explain all the marriages.

  328. 328
    MattR says:

    @Midnight Marauder: That is fine and dandy. But eemom wanted to know what Thomas meant, presumably with the word “Palestine”. Admitting it was a mistake does not provide that explanation.

    @FlipYrWhig:

    My take is that she was venting that the whole situation would be moot if European Jews had never relocated to “Palestine,” meaning the territory held by present-day Israel, Jordan, etc., and wished that the European Jews would, in effect, go back where they came from.

    Am I the only one who thought this video felt similar to one of those wedding videos where everyone at each table is asked to give a message to the new couple? There seemed to be a lack of seriousness (for want of a better term) about it.

  329. 329
    El Cid says:

    @FlipYrWhig: FWIW, Gaza has been inhabited since around 1500 BC, and a major part of the Philistine civilization, after being a major Egyptian city, forming the 5 city-state of the Philistine “pentapolis”: Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza. There are certainly many, many groups with ancient roots in the area.

  330. 330
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @MattR:

    That is fine and dandy. But eemom wanted to know what Thomas meant, presumably with the word “Palestine”. Admitting it was a mistake does not provide that explanation.

    Fair enough. But again, I think her statements are quite clear in their meaning, particularly if you are familiar with Helen Thomas’ background, as FlipYrWhig pointed out:

    The region was called “Palestine” for at least 2,000 years. Here’s the Wikipedia entry for Mandate Palestine. It seems to me pretty logical that a 90-year-old woman of Lebanese ancestry might use the term “Palestine” to refer to the disputed parts of the Middle East, and regret that European Jews had settled/been resettled there. Which has nothing to do with the question of whether the statement is beyond the pale or not.

    For the record, I think EconWatcher had the must succinct description of what Thomas was actually saying:

    What she said was that people from Germany and Poland should never have come to “Palestine” and should go back where they came from. Since it would make no sense to refer to settlers coming from Germany and Poland to the West Bank—such has never happened in any nonnegligible way—her reference had to mean the immigration of from Germany and Poland to what is now Israel proper—what one calls “Palestine” if one believes that the Israeli state should never have come into existence.

  331. 331
    fucen tarmal says:

    three hundred and thirtieth!

  332. 332
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @El Cid: Thx. Mostly I was trying to focus on the name “Palestine” and why Helen Thomas might use it. But it seems like (a) Palestine = the whole area including the entirety of present-day Israel and (b) Palestine = the areas claimed by present-day Israel, usually called the “Palestinian territories” or the “Occupied territories,” are both plausible.

    I think the reference to Germany and Poland suggests migration by European Jews to (a) in the immediate aftermath of WWII… but the reference to America sounds more like she meant recent settlers in (b).

  333. 333
    maus says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    I don’t think what she said needs an explanation, to be honest. It was entirely repugnant.

    Explanations make it more difficult to read the outrage you want to read into her statement, I can see why you don’t want one.

    @Midnight Marauder:

    We don’t have to. Howie Kurtz already did:

    That’s an apology, not a clarification.

  334. 334
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @maus:

    Explanations make it more difficult to read the outrage you want to read into her statement, I can see why you don’t want one.

    I don’t know about outrage, but yes, I think it was worthy of her resigning, or being fired, if it came to that. I don’t think any of the explanations offered in this thread thus far in Helen Thomas’ “defense” change that.

    And I guess I should have put an asterisk that the quote she gave to Howie Kurtz was used somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Duly noted for the next time.

  335. 335

    there’s an important line between critical of israel’s policies and anti-semitism.
    that is to say, they are not the same at all.
    however, thomas crossed the line into virulence and anti-jewish speech. nisht gut (no-good), as it were.

  336. 336
    MattR says:

    @Midnight Marauder: Stupid moderated comments. I was very, very confused for a bit because I knew I read this comment from FlipYrWhig before yours but then I could not find it when I scrolled up to try and find it)

    @invisible_hand: I don’t see why this crossed into anti-Jewish speech. It was opposition to a group of Jews and their policies. There was nothing in it related to Judiasm or Jews as a whole.

  337. 337
    Bernard says:

    well, no one can criticize Israelis or the Jews after Hitler. the Jews have a “how dare anyone!” card which is used whenever anyone says anything “negative” about the Jews or the Israelis.

    the Israelis have shown they will always do whatever they want to do. that is why Iran is in next on the list.

    Helen Thomas just said something against the Jews. that is not allowed in our society, totally indefensible and therefore unjust. it’s a shame but i thought Turkey was part of NATO too. just the facts, ma’am.

  338. 338
    maus says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    I don’t think any of the explanations offered in this thread thus far in Helen Thomas’ “defense” change that.

    Not wanting context/clarification because none of the external explanations are satisfactory is silly.

    @invisible_hand:

    there’s an important line between critical of israel’s policies and anti-semitism.
    that is to say, they are not the same at all.
    however, thomas crossed the line into virulence and anti-jewish speech. nisht gut (no-good), as it were.

    What do you define as “anti-jewish”? Where do the current state and the current state settlements become integrated into the greater Jewishness? Serious question, I’m curious where people draw lines.

  339. 339
    grandpajohn says:

    For all of those who find the reference of moving back to Germany so horrible, perhaps you should avail your self of recent immigration data

    http://www.juancole.com/2010/0.....anned.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

  340. 340
    grandpajohn says:

    So the point of my post above is maybe you people who think you know what the fuck you are talking about while not actually knowing what you are yelling about so educate yourselves before running off at the mouth.And maybe she did know what she was talking about when she suggested Germany, but nah all the moralistic critics here know just exactly what she was thinking when she made her remarks.

  341. 341
    Ruckus says:

    @wengler:

    This. Always follow the power money.

  342. 342
    Bernard says:

    amazing to see the hatred exposed in favor of the Jews. the Jews are a sacred lot now due to Hitler. i wonder if anyone feel the same way about the American Indians. always fascinating to see how the “blessed” always changes as time passes.

    though i think the Israelis/Jews have a pretty good lock on “moral high ground.” i frankly can’t think of anything they haven’t done to the Palestinians that doesn’t rank up there with Hitler. except for the speed of the slaughter. i guess the Jews know how to get rid of the Palestinians, slowly rather than quickly like the Nazis did. win, win the way the Jews are going about taking over Palestine. slowly, steady, rather than cause an uproar. method to their “madness.” i am also amazed at how the Arabs stick it to the Palestinians. so much for brotherly love. lol

    got to keep the moral high ground on your “side.”

  343. 343
    jetan says:

    I just heard someone on CNN say, seriously, that Thomas’s problem was that in later years “she couldn’t separate her opinion from the facts.”

    Where to start.

  344. 344
    LD50 says:

    @JimF:

    So out of a 3947 year history of that region, Canaan existed for ~1000 years, Israel exited for ~1135 years and Palestine for 1812 years. Who had a greater right to the territory?

    So I assume this means you’re willing to leave America to give it back to the Indians, right?

    Or if you’re in Britain, you advocate giving England back to the Welsh?

  345. 345
    LD50 says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    See, now you’re just flaming and name-calling, which is unbecoming. Many of the commenters on BJ are Jews who have been condemning Israeli actions re: the Turkish flotilla.

    Ah, but “Pancake Rachel” Dave has decreed that even Israeli Jews who criticize Israel are anti-semites. I think God must have come down and given Dave exclusive copyrights to the term ‘antisemitism’.

  346. 346
    Joseph Nobles says:

    @PeakVT: Great Greenwald piece. We were young once, and supersoakers.

  347. 347
    El Cid says:

    @jetan:

    I just heard someone on CNN say, seriously, that Thomas’s problem was that in later years “she couldn’t separate her opinion from the facts.”

    “Now let’s turn to Pat Buchannan, Alex Castellanos, and Urk Urkson for analysis. Let’s start with you, Urk — did Helen Thomas have a problem separating opinion from fact?”

  348. 348
    Big City Mary says:

    Seems to me that the acceptance of the treatment of the Palestinians by Isreal is no different than the known (but not acknowledged) treatment of the Jews by the Germans.

    And the British decided to give Palestine to Jews in 1924 (Balfour) for the reasons sunsin gave above, long before the Holocaust-it took the Holocaust for the Jews to open to the idea.

    Really, which one of you will give up your personal acreage, without a fight, just because a government claimed imminent domain and gave away said acreage to an agrieved other person.

    Geez, the Cubans in Miami are still REALLY pissed and it has been many years since the Castro revolution.

  349. 349
    Ruckus says:

    karoli at C&L captures my sentiments about this whole mess.

  350. 350
    tkogrumpy says:

    @Ash: Once again, Helen Thomas did not say all Jews should go back to Europe or Poland Or Germany or Bergen Belsen. She said ” yes, and to America”

  351. 351
    Dr. Omed says:

    At least, now that Helen is gone, the WH press corp will no longer have a problem keeping a civil tongue up Gibbs’ rectum.

  352. 352
    drag0n says:

    Hooray for Helen Thomas for starting this conversation following the cold blooded killings last week.

  353. 353
    Another County Heard From says:

    @John Cole: But Buchanan hasn’t had a seat in the WH pressroom for the last 900 years. And Thomas wasn’t a columnist for the vast majority of the time she was there. Buchanan was a political operative before becoming a commentator; Thomas was, for years and years, a journalist.

    SHE brings up Germany and Poland, and though she didn’t say “in 1940,” her opening statement was that “They should get the hell out of Palestine.” Even if it was “innocent,” how would you take that reference if someone like Buchanan had brought it up? I agree that Israel deserves criticism, that the cries of “anti-Semitism” any time someone speaks ill of Israeli policies is ridiculous and counterproductive, that people are overreacting–many of them in a calculated way, for ideological reasons–but, come on. This was an Al Campanis moment. Thomas destroyed her credibility with this remark. I think it entirely appropriate that she resigned.

    Look, I hate Buchanan (and Beck, and Limbaugh, and O’Reilly), and they all have long records of making hateful remarks. But none of them occupied a seat in the WH pressroom. And none of them had any credibility to begin with–they’re partisan hatchet men, and always have been. I think Thomas’s position and reputation come with a higher standard (and yes, also a higher standard than Jeff Gannon, who did have one of those seats, albeit for months rather than decades).

  354. 354

    So I’m trying to find the exact quote. Was it really “The Jews should get the hell out of Palestine”?

    Was that it?

  355. 355
    Emma says:

    Another Country: They don’t have credibility WITH US. With large swatches of the rest of the country they do. Buchanan is especially problematic. He writes damn apologies for the Nazis and not even Rachel Maddow seems to think this is something to call him on. And he appears regularly on heavily watched so-called news shows for creditable (to large parts of the country) networks.

    I wouldn’t have known who the hell Helen Thomas was if she hadn’t insisted on tearing the Bush administration a new one whenever she could. She, that 80 year old woman, was the only one with gonads to call the president and his liars liars to their faces.

    And now she’s gone, while the hate spewers still get their multi-million dollar contracts and the country slides further into lunacy while the White House Press Corps plays squirt games with the administration. Congratulations to us all.

  356. 356
    JimF says:

    @344 LD50

    Not really, I’m just asking the question because Israel is trying to hide behind history in making their claim to that territory. They are on the path of “might makes right” and are simply trying to mitigate the negatives of that path.

  357. 357
    Mike M says:

    Back in 1995, I spent a few days in an Israeli settlement in Gaza. In the particular enclave I visited, nearly all the middle-aged adults were originally from Long Island. Most of them had lived there for 15-20 years, and saw themselves on a mission from God to reclaim the Promised Land. In the brief time I was there, many of the men felt obliged to read Old Testament passages to me in their LI accents explaining why this land was sacred and rightfully theirs.

    The houses were thoroughly modern and surrounded by the greenery that comes from active irrigation, not unlike a suburb of Phoenix, The settlement was enclosed by a high barbed-wire fence and protected by the Israeli army, but on the other side you could see dirt-poor Palestinians attempting to plow their bone-dry fields with donkeys. The contrast between the splendor of the settlement and the miserable poverty outside the fence shocked me. At the time, there was another cholera epidemic because Gaza city’s sewage system was inadequate and in disrepair. The settlers saw it as evidence of God’s justice.

    Even then, there was discussion about whether the Israeli government would close the settlements, and I felt bad that these people, whom I genuinely liked, might lose their homes, and I felt sorry for their children who knew no other place. But as I am not Jewish, I also thought silently to myself that they were wrong to have taken land from the Palestinians, and I thought it shameful that the Israelis were doing nothing to relieve the ongoing misery of the people they were occupying.

    Helen Thomas’s remarks were hateful and foolish, but I can understand the anger behind the words.

  358. 358
    Honus says:

    @KXB: not true. We say it all the time about the yankees down south here.

  359. 359
    drag0n says:

    Anyone who thinks that this does not mean that Helen has not found a new agent is fooling themselves. I don’t think this is the last we have heard about this…

  360. 360
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @mapaghimagisk: No. From memory, it was something like…

    Q: Any comments for Israel?
    A: They should get the hell out of Palestine.
    Q: Where should they go?
    A: Go home.
    Q: Where is home?
    A: Poland, Germany.
    [crosstalk]
    Q: They should go back to Poland and Germany?
    A: And America, and wherever else they came from.

  361. 361
    Jenn says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yes, of course I’ve heard the Palestinian territories called Palestine, but far more frequently I hear/read “Palestine” referring to the boundaries of historic Palestine. And taken in conjunction with the rest of what she said, I interpreted her as talking about greater Palestine vs. what are now the occupied territories.

    But as my next paragraph said, that was just my interpretation, and the only person who really knows to what Helen Thomas was referring is Helen herself. The rest of us are just generating an enormous amount of cybertext from a pretty limited amount of speech.

  362. 362
    TenguPhule says:

    there’s an important line between critical of israel’s policies and anti-semitism.

    Just as there is an important line between those call bullshit on the clucking idiots ragging on Israel and those who fanatically defend stupidity above and beyond the call of sanity.

  363. 363
    TenguPhule says:

    For all of those who find the reference of moving back to Germany so horrible, perhaps you should avail your self of recent immigration data

    JFCNTZYM. Telling any group of people living in their homes (often having been born there) to “go home” is offensive.

  364. 364
    MBSS says:

    let’s clear this up.

    here is the video. everyone seems to omit the part where she says very clearly “Remember, these people are occupied. And it is their land.”

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/06.....-awkward-t

    it is obvious that she is talking about the occupied territories, and the attempt to paint HT as someone who wants to dissolve israel and start up the trains to auschwitz is patently absurd.

  365. 365
    AngusTheGodOfMeat says:

    JFCNTZYM.

    Dude. Blast from our past.

    Jesus MYM was over today, working in the 110 degree heat. I was worried about him.

  366. 366
    Joseph Nobles says:

    Saying that Thomas was talking about Gaza and the West Bank is the most incredible straw man I’ve yet seen on this particular topic. She didn’t say go back to Israel, or even the 1946 borders. She said go back to Germany or Poland or America. And it was her proximity to power and her ability to sway public opinion that makes this pretty close to an endorsement of ethnic cleansing (of the intimidation variety, to be sure).

    Jeez, even Thomas knows she screwed up. And it’s 100% not fair that she takes the fall when Buchanan writes blithely on.

    But our side is better than their side. Thomas proved that by stepping aside when she finally crossed a line. It is no tribute to the right-wingers that Buchanan keeps getting a paycheck for TV and columns and whatever else. Shame on them, yay for us, and yay for Helen Thomas.

  367. 367
    El Cid says:

    There are two different, though of course connected, issues.

    One, the apparent offensiveness of what Thomas said. As it sounds, without too much interpretation of what she ‘really’ meant. Whatever she might have meant to say were she have had more time, etc., what it certainly sounded like she said was that Jewish Israelis should go back to the areas of Europe most of them were descended from, Germany and Poland.

    Two, the fact that the statement simply would not have allowed her — as someone who gives a damn about professional standards of journalism — to be seen as a reporter with a credible degree of professional objectivity.

    Her apology was really in line with the first issue, and her resignation the second.

    It’s still fine, however, for anyone to say that Palestinians should consider leaving for Jordan or Egypt, no matter where they were born, because, you know, fuck them, they’re worthless bags of dirt anyway.

  368. 368
    El Cid says:

    Here’s SadlyNo! reminding us that prominent liberal blogger Matt Yglesias — though, yes, a pundit not a reporter — can happily keep working and be respected despite advocating literal violent genocidal ethnic cleaning upon the Palestinian Arab population. From March, 2002:

    AFTER THE LATEST DEPRESSING news from the Middle East I think we have to start asking just how inhumane it would be for Israel to just expel the Palestinians from the occupied terroritories [sic]. The result would probably be out-and-out war with the neighboring Arab states, but Israel could win that.
    __
    All forced population transfers are humanitarian disasters, of course, but so is the current situation. It’s not like there’s not any room in the whole Arab world for all these Palestinian Arabs to go live in, it’s just that the other Arab leaders don’t want to cooperate.

    Yeah! Why don’t you get out of Israel, and go back to Jordan, or Syria, or Egypt, anywhere!

    What the hell! Why not ethnic cleanse the fuck out of those human bugs who appeared in Israel out of no where and at the same time blow the fuck out of the dirty brown people living next door if they don’t like us dumping these bugs on ’em!

    But, yeah, that Helen Thomas just went too far!

    Matt Yglesias should publicly apologize and resign. It would only be fair.

  369. 369
    Michael says:

    @kay:

    I read his first book. It was weirdly compelling. He’s too antisocial for a church. Any church. He watches a lot of tv, basically. A LOT. He comes across as deeply uncomfortable and awkward.

    Back when I was a fan, I bought his books, his newletters, his ties and watched his TV show. Hell, I even took 3 hours on the beach each day on my vacation to listen to his bullshit.

    Anyway, on his rise, he made an appearance on David Letterman. The dude was so completely awkward that it was weird, and I had a little voice in the back of my head telling me that there might be something a little wrong with him personality-wise.

    Thing is, conservatives will defend every one of his excesses and more. I’ve said it before and will say it again – he could be caught nude and snorting cocaine from the asscrack of a dead underaged male AND there could be video of the rough trade session, and a not-small-number of conservatives would defend him (most would blame the conduct on liberal society, although some would scream that it is a setup). Limbaugh fandom is very cultlike.

  370. 370
    liberal says:

    @El Cid:
    Good catch. Damn good catch.

  371. 371
    liberal says:

    @Another County Heard From:

    Even if it was “innocent,” how would you take that reference if someone like Buchanan had brought it up?

    Uh, there’s a difference. Thomas is of Lebanese descent. Her nastiness is regretable, and cannot be condoned, but can be understood. Buchanan? What’s his beef with Jews/blacks/whomever? That they keep Irish Catholics down in the US?

  372. 372
    liberal says:

    @MattR:

    It was opposition to a group of Jews and their policies. There was nothing in it related to Judiasm or Jews as a whole.

    Exactly. She’s pissed off at Israeli Jews, who she sees as colonialists.

  373. 373
    liberal says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    She most certainly would (and should) have been fired if she had not resigned herself.

    So, per El Cid’s observations in #368, should Matt Yglesias resign, too?

  374. 374
    liberal says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    “Many of the commenters on BJ are Jews who have been condemning Israeli actions re: the Turkish flotilla.”

    [blockquote fail]

    Yes, I was raised Jewish, but all that means of course is that I’m consumed with self-hatred, so his comment still stands. :-)

  375. 375
    liberal says:

    @geg6:

    But some of us conquer them. Others ramp them up to such levels that we get stupid shit like the Middle East.

    We (the US) indulge in deathly stupid shit, too. Iraq? At least 100,000 dead, millions of refugees. Vietnam? You could make a good argument that the US is responsible indirectly for the deaths of 4 million. Difference is that we’re so powerful and geographically removed from the shit we dump that the blowback is relatively limited. (Yes, 9-11, blah blah, but relatively limited.)

    And FWIW, I’m much nastier than just this comment. There are whole swaths of the planet that I would happily vaporize if given a chance. Texas and Afghanistan, for instance.

    Re “Texas,” heh.

  376. 376
    liberal says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Yeah.

  377. 377
    liberal says:

    @Jared:

    Further, it’s true that Thomas is old, and that “most old people” say crazy things, but then, “most old people” don’t have prime real estate in the White House Press Room.

    Really, what is this idiotic fetishizing of the WH Press Room? How much real journalism comes out of there?

    A good questioner leads her subject into the open, THEN strikes. Thomas seemed to do a lot of striking (“Why are we killing people in Iraq?” is just such a strike) but little leading.

    Right—the other correspondents there are such good questioners; see their excellent performance in the run-up to and in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. LOL.

    She’s 90 years old, she’s not entitled to a gig covering the White House, and a Josh Marshall sits on the sidelines. Something’s wrong here.

    LOL! TPM is evolving into a useless gossip sheet. And IIRC JM was one of those brave geniuses who supported the decision to invade Iraq, conflicted or no.

  378. 378
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    Many of the commenters on BJ are Jews

    Really? Not me. I was raised Episcopalian, which is why I don’t believe in god.

Comments are closed.