by M. Shahid Alam
When veteran journalist Helen Thomas was asked recently if she had any comments on Israel, she shot back, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.” She apologized for the remark, but, as the campaign against her escalated, she chose to retire from her position as White House correspondent.
Putting aside the edginess in her words, does Helen Thomas’s remark deserve serious consideration?
Over the years, it has been receiving just that from many tens of thousands of Israelis, who have been emigrating from Israel, applying for emigration, or staying in Israel but holding or applying for dual citizenship. According to Arnaud de Borchgrave, half a million Israelis hold dual citizenship.
Although the Israel lobby expressed particular outrage at Helen Thomas’ suggestion that Israelis go back to Germany and Poland, many Israelis have done precisely that. In his book, The Seventh Million, Tom Segev writes that many thousands of Israelis have “requested and received German passports.” According to the Jewish Virtual Library, there were 118,000 Jews living in Germany in 2006. Another 49,700 lived in Hungary and 3,200 in Poland.
Disconcerting as some Zionists may find this, Jews have not stayed away from countries where they faced near extermination under the Nazis. Does this mean that these countries are now safer for Jews than Israel?