Also here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/17/536557/anti-palestinian-comments-too.html
I will say that the soundbite was rough. Especially the portion that keeps getting replayed. When you hear the whole thing, you get a bit more context and those who are keeping up with events in the Middle East see that it’s not quite as bad as it first seemed.
Edit 6/10/10: I have a bit of the comments below. They provide more context than "tell them to get out of Palestine", but this transcript of sorts explains it better. It seems it was a pretty lighthearted exchange and Thomas was definitely calling attention to the Occupation, not showing her anti-Semitic cards or that she was senile.
BBC's story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10259646.stm
She's not really calling for Jews to leave, but calling attention to the Occupation and blame that no one ever wants to mention in these parts. She was kind of getting at the fact that Israel and it's "democratic values" are a bit of a joke until it lets Palestinians go back home, just like Jews can go back to their homes in Eastern Europe, Europe, America, etc or stay in Israel as they please. The idea was totally in character and I totally can get behind her saying Israel is occupying Palestine, but the wording was oh so wrong.
I wish she hadn't gone out on that note. She's done a lot for women in journalism and has been the only one asking the hard questions at various times- about Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel.
Thomas’s point was that Palestine is occupied and no one will say that in the US. Perhaps one approach is to say something a little stronger or more provocative than one’s actual opinion. People certainly are taking notice. Ideally, since Jewish terrorists took over parts of Palestine, kicked out the inhabitants and won’t let them go back home (and the ones who managed to stay don’t have the same rights as Jews), one could think the just thing to do would be to send Israelis packing or force them to allow the inhabitants to go home and have rights. Regardless of whether or not one thinks sending Jews packing is just or not, it is not realistic. Everyone knows this. Helen, I would imagine, knows this. This is the only fact on the ground I’d say that we have to honor. All other things Israel has done to create certain facts on the ground to prevent a Palestinian state, provoke violence, etc are absolutely on the table, however.
She probably did choose the wrong venue to express herself in this fashion. It was a Jewish heritage celebration at the White House in May. Prominent Jews were in attendance. If they included the likes of Pipes and Dershowitz, you can bet Thomas had heard more than a few incendiary things about Arabs, not to mention the rewritten, sterilized history that normally accompanies high praise for Israel. Even so, it was the wrong venue and poor choice of words. She really should have passed when asked "any comments on Israel?" by the good Rabbi wielding a video camera. A "no comment" would have done nicely.
In her defense, it kind of sounded like people with video cameras were baiting her and waiting for her. They begged her to go on. Everyone knows who she is, so it’s not like they were just asking random people. She wasn’t speaking for the White House or any publication. Not to mention that in context, she was talking about the fact that Israel is an Occupier and how many don’t even think about it that way anymore- if they ever did.
The two quotes are from this site:
(Soundbite of Internet video)
Rabbi DAVID F. NESENOFF (Founder, RabbiLIVE.com): Any comments on Israel? We're asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?
Ms. HELEN THOMAS (Former Columnist, Hearst News Service): Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Rabbi NESENOFF: Ooh. Any better comments on Israel?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Unidentified Woman: Helen has one.
Ms. THOMAS: Remember, these people are occupied, and it's their land. Not German. It's not Poland.
Rabbi NESENOFF: So where should they go? What should they do?
Ms. THOMAS: They can go home.
Rabbi NESENOFF: Where is their home?
Ms. THOMAS: Poland...
Rabbi NESENOFF: So the Jews...
Ms. THOMAS: Germany.
Rabbi NESENOFF: You think Jews should go back to Poland and Germany?
Ms. THOMAS: And America and everywhere else.
This is from the NPR Talk of the Nation link above-
My view exactly. Good points. Thank you, Lina:
LINA: First of all, I think that Helen Thomas is a human being before being a columnist or before being into whatever job she is doing, so she has the right to say her opinion. And we live in a free country. And, you know, she was hired to say her opinions and to be seated in that first seat. And everybody knew that she was controversial, but everybody liked her opinion. Plus, I would like to add a little bit about my opinion. You know, Palestine has been Palestine until 1948, until Israel existed. And it is an occupation. And I really feel that it is unfair that people don't recognize that it is an occupation.
CONAN: Do you think the analogies some drew, including Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary, was how would you have responded if she had substituted the words, African-Americans should go back to Africa?
LINA: Well, you know what, African-Americans did not occupy the United States of America. They were brought here as slaves. And they - if they would like to go back to Africa, that is their prerogative, but it is not the same - you cannot analyze apples based on oranges. It is not the same situation.
This blow up reminded me of an article I read with a quote by a film maker ( a Jew in fact) in a similar vein to Thomas’s recent soundbite. It probably didn’t hit as hard because it’s telling the person to go back to Israel instead of vacating it, but the idea is the same- it’s not theirs; they are occupiers.
It is pretty ironic that Thomas’s quote hit harder because of the idea of “transfer”. Israel is engaged in this form of ethnic cleansing and many are becoming more outspoken in endorsing it. It is seen as one of the keys, besides murder, to maintaining the Jewish majority that the Jewish state thinks it needs to “survive” as such.
How Israel Gives Jews a Bad Name
By SAUL LANDAU
“Long Live Israel,” scream the US fans. “Anyone who doesn’t like our team is an anti-Semite.”
I want to shout: “Go Back to Israel where you didn’t come from.”
The world is condemning Helen Thomas for her poor choice of words. But what about Israel’s supporters who say equally incendiary things? Are they asked to resign? Do we end their careers? Do we back away from them? No. On the contrary, we embrace them and appoint them to the US Institute of Peace! We meet with them (Avigdor Lieberman) and share and discuss as though they were some human rights champion- or at least not cautiously as an egregious human rights violator.
And unlike Helen Thomas, this guy is a virtual fountain of slurs and inflammatory language about Palestinians and Muslims. He compiles/compiled "dossiers" on all University professors that were "pro-Palestinain," were critical of Israel, taught or said anything in speeches that was "against" the Israeli hard line view. Why not call for his resignation from all things related to the Middle East? End his career?
"The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people. "
“The Palestinians are a miserable people,” he added, “and they deserve to be.”
About his USIP recess appointment by Bush:
“Palestinians invented terrorism”
Is this so absurd, there’s no need to comment? Or do people take this in stride?
It certainly didn’t ruin this joker’s career.
Nothing can, apparently.
I had never heard about this one. Where was the ruckus about that? Why not banish this guy and force the famous Dershowitz to denounce him?
“Hoenleie suggested that if Arab students are to be admitted to US universities their studies should be confined to "Liberal Arts, not physics and nuclear science". “
Remember what Rahm Emanuel's dad said about Arabs?
"Obviously, he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."
No one really considered it beyond the pale and a quick apology fixed everything right up. Was it because father and son have different views or because no one was bothered by a slur against an Arab? Honestly, I don't know. True, Emauel and his dad are different people, but I really don't know how different Emanuel's views are from his dad's at all.
Golda Meir, 4th PM of Israel, once said “there’s no such thing as Palestinians” and instead of denouncing her, many people embrace this nonsense. She’s considered a hero. Not a crazy lunatic.
Avigdor Lieberman (Israel's FM and Deputy PM):
Israel bans Arab parties, embraces ethnic cleansing
A step backwards for Israel; a step forward for EU
Clinton's meeting with the terrorist
If Hilary were KKK, what would our reaction be?
Palestinians stop rockets; Lieberman threatens against a Palestinian state