Helen Thomas and Dennis Ross


Turns out Vice Magazine conducted a Q & A with Helen Thomas before "Go home"-gate broke. Rather than wait for it to hit the presses, the magazine has posted the interview on it’s website.

Here’s the Israel-related portion. Apparently it’s not just the millions of Jews in Israel — she also wants Dennis Ross to pack his White House bags (no suggestion that he would need to leave the country — staying in Maryland would presumably be fine):

Is there somewhat more honesty with the Obama White House than there was with Bush?

You’re getting the same amount of dissembling from Robert Gibbs that you got from Tony Snow?
[laughs] It isn’t Gibbs’ fault. He’s getting orders. I asked the president last year, “Do you know any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?” He said, “I don’t want to speculate.” And I asked Hillary Clinton very recently, “In view of the pressure on Iran concerning nuclear weapons, do you know any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?” She said, “We’re for non-proliferation.” She kept talking, but of course she wouldn’t answer the question. So I don’t see much difference in terms of credibility or reversing the decision to ignore certain truths.

I’m wondering if you’re ever accused of being pro-Arab because you’re Lebanese-American?
A man asked me yesterday, “Do you think your background has anything to do with your views?” I said, “Absolutely. Of course.” I think I know more about it in terms of human society. But how about the Zionists? Do they have a background that would influence their opinion?

Well, do you think there’s been any real change with the Obama administration regarding American policy toward Israel?
No, I really don’t. It’s a facade. The administration wanted to take it as a personal insult when Biden was in the Middle East and Israel announced all this new housing in occupied territory, which is absolutely against international law. You cannot annex occupied land, at least under the rules of Geneva. Haaretz said it was 50,000 housing units. Well, certainly Washington had to react in some way. But I don’t think it’s lasting.

You don’t think Obama’s going to keep any pressure on Netanyahu?
I don’t think he can. I’ve seen moments like this before, when there was a real rift with Israel. Like when, under Bush 41, James Baker said, “They have my number, they can call me.” They say that, but then the State Department and American officials always go back. I mean, they have a guy like Dennis Ross at the White House now, who’s always been a part of the Israel lobby. They put him in charge of the whole Muslim world.

Not to kick someone when they’re down (and out), but… didn’t Ross get his big break under Baker? Wasn’t he advising Baker? Didn’t he later publish a book essentially calling Netanyahu a liar? Has any U.S. official worked harder in pursuit of a deal that would likey culminate in the creation of a Palestinian state? This isn’t to deny that between government jobs Ross held positions in what could be defined widely as the pro-Israel lobby, but to ask: So what? What’s his record?

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