On Helen Thomas

June 7, 2010 8:34 am

I had figured I’d ignore the Helen Thomas blow-up. But now since she’s retiring and was presumably forced out, I don’t feel right not addressing it.

I’ve heard numerous attempts to, if not excuse, than at least mitigate her comments. And they don’t fly. This was awful comment. Yesterday I was at a family event and one close friend of ours who was understandably unhappy about this episode noted that his father lost his wife and children in Poland and barely managed to get out alive before settling in Palestine and starting a new family — of which this son was the first child.I didn’t need that example. I know the story pretty well. But, how to say it? Things didn’t work out that well in Poland. And there’s a dark comedy about all the folks in Europe now yelling at the Jews to “get out of Palestine” after their great grandparents were yelling at the Jews to “go to Palestine” and get out of … take your pick, Poland, Austria, Russia, Romania etc.

Relatedly, I can’t help but notice that statements like these seem to come out of people very late in life. It’s like a pattern. Our internal censors atrophy deep in old age, though that only suggests that unspeakable views were earlier kept under wraps.

This is a bloody history, filled with a lot of suffering by Jews and Arabs alike. The West Bank is full of people whose grandparents were kicked out of Jaffa and Haifa and other now-Israeli cities. And where do the Mizrahi Jews go? Should they go back to Iraq? Iran? Syria? And Egypt? Can they get their homes back? It’s a bloody history and there’s a way to solve it — along the Green Line. And people need to go back to living in the present not in history.

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