Jews for Helen Thomas


Here they are, in front of the White House, led by Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin.

They segue in three minutes from the sympathetic to the questionable to outright spin.

The sympathetic: Benjamin’s appeal to remember Thomas not for the "30-second soundbite" that ended her career and instead for "the probing of the lies that led us into the war in Iraq or the questioning of civilian casualties in Afghanistan."

That’s an argument that works: Thomas stood out since the Iraq war for asking discomfiting questions when other journalists were holding back. Jamie McIntyre says she speechified instead of asked tough questions that would have elicited revelations. He resents the implication that the press rolled over. Too bad. The evidence that Saddam was bluffing was in place as early as 2002. Hans Blix — among others — made the case in early 2003, before the war. It didn’t become a storyline until early 2004. Almost no one (there were notable exceptions, but they were exceptions) bought it until President Bush’s handpicked inspector said so. That’s kind of the definition of "rolling over."

Thomas stood out. Maybe she speechified, but she was getting facts out on national TV when she speechified. It is indeed regrettable that this record was subsumed to her ugly call on Israeli Jews to "go home" to Poland and Germany.

The questionable: Thomas’ "50-plus year record of a very probing journalist," a "legendary journalist at the top of her field."

What is this based on? She was (and I am) a wire service hack. All honor to her. But she was ensconced in the establishment before UPI spiraled into irrelevance; what did she break? She acknowledges cozying up to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, when other journalists were risking lives and careers to expose the Vietnam debacle. The truth is, she had a late life reinvention as an outsider. Good for her. But let’s not go overboard.

The spin: "She was suggesting, really, that the Israeli occupation of Palestine should come to an end;" and "what she meant to say … Israel should not be an occupier."

Please. She was talking about Jews generally, not West Bank settlers particularly. She said they should "go home." The rabbi asked where that is. She didn’t say "Israel." She said Germany and Poland.

"What she meant to say" couldn’t have been clearer.

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