Thank you, Helen Thomas. Your hate filled anti-Semitism was refreshingly candid, and allows those of us who support Israel (if not Israeli policy) an opportunity to be equally candid in return. Not only did Ms Thomas call for the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and Gaza, something lots of Jews and Israelis support, but she demanded that all Jews living in Israel go back to wherever they came from.
Where might that be? Helen’s history extends only back to the mid-twentieth century and is decided Eurocentric. She wants Israeli Jews to go back to Germany and Poland. She wants them to go back to the death camps. But what about the hundreds of thousands who came from Arab lands? And why stop with the 20th century? Go back far enough and the Jews came from the very land that Helen wants them to leave. They can’t go home, Helen, they are home.
Enter former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. In his attack on Helen Thomas’ remarks he linked Jews in Israel to African Americans in America. Should they go home too?
Bad analogy. African Americans came here as slaves not colonizers. It isn’t African Americans who should go home, but European Americans. And I imagine there are many Native Americans (though not necessarily those in the casino business) who would be happy to see them do just that.
Ari Fleischer didn’t link Jews settling in Palestine with Europeans settling the Americas because that analogy reveals an ugly truth: rights are only rights when you can defend them. If Palestinians have a right to all of Palestine (including the State of Israel), then Native Americans have the right to all of America. Did Native Americans have a right to live unmolested in the Americas? Yes they did, but only until the Europeans could massacre them at will. Did the Palestinians living in Palestine have a right to live there unmolested? Yes they did, but only as long as they and their allies could defend that right successfully.
Native Americans killed as many Europeans as they could. It just wasn’t enough to stop them from taking their land. Arabs killed as many Jews as they could, but it just wasn’t enough to stop them from establishing their state. Welcome to the real world. Just as it is foolish to demand that European Americans return to Europe, so it is foolish to demand that Israeli Jews return to the countries from which they came. But it is only foolish because the people making the demands lack the military might to enforce their demands. Chances are Native Americans will never have the power to through out the Europeans. The word is still out on the Palestinians.
The treatment of Native Americans and African Americans is the shadow side of American exceptionalism; the treatment of Palestinians is the shadow side of Zionism. How these peoples deal with their respective shadows will determine the moral quality of their respective civilizations. So far neither is doing very well.
As for Helen Thomas? She should go home to Lebanon and give her house to the Native Americans who lived their first.