June 13, 2010 – Columbia MO By David Rosman
Reporter for RABBILive.com: “Any comments about Israel?”
Helen Thomas, grand dame of the White House press corps: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine… it’s not German and it’s not Poland. Remember, these people (the Palestinians) are occupied and it is their land.”
Was Helen Thomas wrong? Is she anti-Semitic? Should she have been the target of the White House, the conservatives, the liberals, the Jews and the Christians?
I would firmly answer “No,” and an informal Washington Post poll shows that 91 percent of the people agree with me.
First, Helen has the right to her opinion, as do you and I. The fact that she (and I) is more public than the average Joe and Jane make her remarks larger than life. However, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects her right to answer honestly to an honest question.
Second, I believe that Thomas is right in her assessment of the population of the Palestine. A very large percentage of “new” Israelis are from Europe, Russia, and the United States. They are Jews by heritage and belief, but not Palestinian by origin.
Ari, a Palestinian Jew from modern Israel and a friend of mine, traces his family in the Palestine for 10 to 12 generations. In the late 1980s, we were discussing Israeli-Arab relations. His position is something I now believe.
Ari told me that before the European Zionist movement, Jews and Arabs lived in relative peace. Arabs and Jews knew they were brothers and sisters under the skin and treated each other with guarded respect.
The European influence caused an imbalance to occur. European Jews were expanding territory and taking Arab lands by force. The European, Russian and American influences fed any anti-Semitism that lied under the surface in the Arab community. The British and United Nations “stealing” of land to create a new nation only enhanced hatred.
Today, I know that Ari was right.
Many years ago, while still practicing Judaism and on the board of directors of my temple, I was invited to join a trip to Israel for 10-days. The cost was quite reasonable, the timing was perfect and my ex-wife (a Southern Baptist) and I knew most of those planning to go. Yet without hesitation I said I would not accept the offer. When asked why, I said that I refused to go to any country that practices a form of apartheid worse than South Africa. Like Thomas, I was asked to “retire” early from my post. I was persona non grata.
It is not the people of Israel at whom I am angry. It is not the immigrants forced to leave their home countries because of their religion. It is not those who are afraid to speak up because their rabbinic and Islamic leaders are blinded by their unholy piousness, forcing their religion into every aspect of life.
I am angry with the government of Israel for their tactics and prejudice, not unlike the intolerance Jews suffered under many other governments. I am angry with all who believe that God had given the land to other sects, while forgetting His previous promises. I am angry at the orthodoxies in all three Abrahamic faiths blinded by their personalized and politicize interpretations of their holy books. I am angry with those who believe that the Messiah (or second coming) rests solely on the existence of a Jewish nation and support the existence of a nation solely based on religion.
I am a Jew by heritage but a devout Humanist by faith. I do not hate Jews or Arabs or Muslims or persons of any other faith. I hate those who use their “faith” and holy books to excuse their wanting to make war, demand suffering and to redefine ethnocentrism for the worse.
Helen Thomas gave her opinion. If her boss did not like what she said and fires her, so be it. (see Jake Sherlock’s commentary in the Columbia Missourian.) However, the President and the American people should know better. It is America’s “Blessing of Liberty” that give Thomas, and all Americans, the right to speak her mind. The First Amendment reinforces it. Opinion, whether or not popular, is cherish in the United States and “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
Right or wrong, Helen wins.
David Rosman is a professional speaker, columnist, an award winning editor and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and New York Journal of Books.com.