A Tribute to Helen Thomas

Sadly the renowned journalist Helen Thomas passed away on Saturday at the age of 92. In the following two videos we see Helen help Colbert roast Bush at the legendary White House Correspondents’ dinner in 2006 and, in 2010, in a Real News interview, we see her defend herself admirably after her resignation. For more of Helen on the Real News see here or for more on her passing see the following by Ralph Nader: There will Never be Another Helen Thomas.

Helen Thomas: The sin of silence

by Helen Thomas

Hats off to Richard Forer, who courageously and truthfully examines an alternate viewpoint in his book, Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion — A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.

Forer, who grew up in a secular, unaffiliated Jewish home, is the identical twin of a prominent member of an ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism, and was himself a member of AIPAC, America’s pro-Israel lobby. He knew where his allegiances used to lie — anything Israel did was justifiable in his mind.

During summer 2006, Forer visited the Middle East and underwent a profound spiritual transformation. He saw destroyed villages, displacement, land confiscation, imprisonment without trial, torture and other inhuman treatment of the Palestinians and knew he needed to share his truth.

So many Americans of Hebrew heritage cannot face the truth of the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians in the land they conquered and now occupy. Forer emerged from the struggle to realize that he could have been wrong. It takes brave people who are willing to abandon long-held beliefs that the Israelis could do no wrong. Somehow their victimhood justified their ruthless behavior toward the Palestinians.

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Helen Thomas and the Political Cleansing of America

by James Abourezk

You remember Helen Thomas?  She was the senior White House Correspondent who always opened Presidential press conferences and closed them by saying the magic words:  “Thank you Mr. President.”  Her Wikipedia entry cites her professional accomplishments:

“Helen Thomas (born August 4, 1920) is an American author and former news service reporter, member of the White House Press Corps and opinion columnist.[1] She worked for the United Press International (UPI) for 57 years, first as a correspondent, and later as White House bureau chief. She was a columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010, writing on national affairs and the White House. She covered every President of the United States from the last years of the Eisenhower administration until the second year of the Obama administration. She was the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and the first female member of the Gridiron Club. She has written six books; her latest, with co-author Craig Crawford, is Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do (2009).”

Helen was cashiered from her position as a Hearst columnist after she answered a question by a Rabbi with a video camera who asked her to talk about Israel.  She answered—honestly—that the Israelis should get the hell out of Palestine.  The Rabbi’s follow up question was, “Where should they go?”

“Back where they came from,” she answered, citing Germany, Poland, and elsewhere.

Now, we all know that those countries that were so murderous and cruel to European Jews are not what they were in the 1940s.  But, judging from the reaction of the media, and from Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, one would have thought that she was sending Israeli Jews back to the 1940s.  It was a media firestorm that engulfed her, sending a message to anyone else who might stray from the official party line on Israel.

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Getting Out of Palestine?

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?

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Cashiering Helen Thomas

by Ralph Nader

The termination of Helen Thomas’ 62-year long career as a pioneering, no-nonsense newswoman was swift and intriguingly merciless.

The event leading to her termination began when she was sitting on a White House bench under oppressive summer heat.  The 89-year-old hero of honest journalism and women’s rights, the scourge of dissembling presidents and White House press secretaries, answered a passing visitor’s question about Israel with a snappish comment worded in a way she didn’t mean; she promptly apologized in writing.  Recorded without permission on a hand video, the brief exchange, that included a defense of dispossessed Palestinians, went internet viral on Friday, June 4.

By Monday, Helen Thomas was considered finished, even though she embodied a steadfast belief, in the praiseworthy words of Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, “that anybody standing on that podium [in the White House] should be regarded with skepticism.”

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