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'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Helen Thomas, Conservtaives and Israel

Helen Thomas announced her retirement earlier this week amidst some controversy over some remarks she made back in May saying that the Jews [Israeli’s?] should “Get the hell out of Palestine.” Not the most diplomatic way to put it, admittedly. She went on to say they should, “Go home” to “Germany [and] Poland.”

Now Thomas has had a long distinguished career. She’s 89 years old – by itself almost reason enough to retire, though presumably she enjoyed what she was doing. She’s always been known for a rather sharp tongue – which is why I will miss her, as she was not afraid to hold either party account able for their vices – so it’s not all that surprising that in saying something about a subject as controversial as Israel, she was probably bound to raise a few eyebrows. But there are two specific aspects of this whole mess that particularly bother me. I’d like to say my bit about them, but then also take a step back and look at what else might be going here, in a less partisan way.

The first, and most obvious problem, is the hypocrisy being shown by these so-called Zionists on the Right. How many times have were heard these same people complain about the Jews in Hollywood, the Jews on Wall Street, the Jews in the White House Cabinet, the Jews on the Supreme Court, the Jews in the ACLU, the Jews in Labor Department… It seems the only Jews these people DON’T have a problem with are the ones in Israel and Palestine! And beyond just anti-Semitic comments that are routinely thrown towards any Jews that are not actively shooting at Palestinians, how many voices on the right get away with ten times that level of bigotry – towards gays, blacks, Muslims, liberals, atheists – EVERY SINGLE DAY, and yet if anyone called for THEIR retirement? If anyone suggested that Rush Limbaugh, or Mike Savage, or Ann Coulter, or Pat Buchanan should step down over the hateful, bigoted, racist and homophobic rhetoric that they spew on a DAILY BASIS, you’d be laughed off the stage!

WHY? Why is it OK for Conservatives to trash every racial, religious, political and societal sub-group under the sun – including JEWS - but if a Liberal with a distinguished career, who’s had awards named after her, says ONE THING against Israel she has to retire?

That’s patently absurd. It’s completely idiotic! Which brings me to my second point…

Which is that: SHE HAD A POINT!

Now don’t get me wrong. At this point in history, any objective observer is forced to conclude that both the Israeli’s and the Palestinians have BOTH committed so many atrocities that each has lost their claim to the moral high ground years ago; DECADES ago. So it’s not as simple as “Tell ‘em to get the hell out of Palestine.” BUT… That would certainly go a long way towards resolving the immediate conflict. right or wrong, there’s no denying that. And I don’t see any reason why an American Citizen does not have the right to side with the Palestinians, considering the History of the region. I DON’T. And I don’t necessarily AGREE with Thomas’ statement. But she still had a point, and she still has the right to express her opinion. Outrage over her comments by the Right, IMHO, identify them as nothing more than hypocrites who love Israel, but hate (or at least have been shown to be perfectly willing to say disparaging things about) Jews.

And as for the idea that the remarks were insensitive because of the holocaust? Because they suggested that Jews go back to the countries that persecuted them? People: the holocaust ended over SIXTY YEARS AGO! The Nazi party has been OUTLAWED in Germany! And while I don’t think it’s the business of an American Journalist to tell ANYONE where to live, I don’t buy the holocaust reasoning because nothing would finally heal that wound, once and for all, like German and Polish Jews returning to their TRUE homeland, and those countries welcoming them back! Again, I’m not telling ANYONE where to live, but what better way to destroy the last remnants of Hitler’s legacy than for a couple million formerly German Jews to return to Germany, and reclaim the GERMAN heritage? It’s not as simple as that, I realize, but what a SYMBOLIC and SPIRITUAL victory that would be!

OK. Let me get off the topic of Right Wing Hypocrisy, and ignore Zionism completely and touch on one aspect of this that is actually a bit more sympathetic to her critics. A while back I had written a few harsh pieces that were critical of White, American Christians. And my post prompted one of my once regular commenters [Duta] to ask me why I hated my own race so much. Now… obviously I don’t hate white people. I’m white, my wife is white, my kids a white, and even within my relatively diverse community and office, pretty much all of my close friends are White. But there’s a reason that I’m proudly a member of what Sean Hannity calls the “Blame America First” crowd: Your own behavior is the only behavior you can control, and it’s the easiest to fix. Looking inward, examining how your own behavior contributes to the problems you face is a sign of enlightenment. A sign of humility. Having the automatic impulse to blame the other guys for all your problems? That’s a sign of nothing more than bigotry.

Helen Thomas is not a Jew. She’s of Lebanese descent. So while it’s not surprising that she’d be inclined to support the Palestinian position, it’s hardly something that should be automatically viewed as a principled stance. If Joe Lieberman had made the same comments? (Not that he would, but if he did…) he’d be far more likely to get a pass. Since he’s Jewish, his criticism of Israel is easier to accept as principled criticism, while his comments on the Palestinians are much easier to dismiss as bigotry. Likewise, Thomas was in a unique position to condemn some of the Palestinian tactics, and be taken very seriously – because she’s closer to that side! And it is exactly this lack of introspection, of basic self-awareness that so many on the Right utterly lack. Blaming America first does not mean failing to recognize that our enemies have committed heinous atrocities. It’s just making sure that WE DON’T and that we don’t fail to acknowledge it when we do. It would be like calling Dr. Bill Cosby a racist for criticizing the Black community. Does Dr. Cosby hate blacks? No, of course not. But he’s showing that he principled enough to take his own community to task for its problems. Now... if any WHITE PEOPLE who want to jump on that bandwagon? You’d better make DAMN SURE your own house is clean before you do!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware that in the eyes of the Zionist Conservative, Israel can do no wrong and Conservatives can do no wrong, and they’ll use any excuse available to take down ANY liberal, let alone one as well-respected as Thomas. It’s a shame that it happened, and I don’t think it should have.  I just believe I looking at these things from many different points of view, and I think I've fullfilled that principle in this case.

And hey… she’s still 89 years old.

So whatever else might happen, I wish Ms. Thomas a happy retirement. I sincerely hope she enjoys it! In the words of Master Yoda, “Earned it, [she] has.”

6 comments:

  1. It's almost impossible, in the corporate press in the U.S., to criticize anything the Israeli right does. Such criticism is simply not allowed to be aired in major outlets; anything that even smacks of such criticism that manages to leak out is targeted and shut down by the Israeli lobby in this country. It usually gets one labeled an anti-Semite. When the critic is Jewish, like Noam Chomsky, he is dismissed as a "self-hating Jew" by the same corner. And in government, you have to look to Big Oil to find a parallel for the sort of near-absolute power the lobby wields. You find MUCH more criticism of Israeli government policy within Israel than in the U.S.

    Gaza is under an illegal blockade by the Israelis, who have publicly announced they're trying to starve the region out (a war crime). A civilian relief effort bringing much-needed food and supplies to area was just subject to a murderous attack by the Israeli military--in international waters, an unarmed ship was attacked, boarded, and several people murdered by Israeli commandos, including a 19-year-old kid from the U.S., who was shot in the heart, then four more times in the head. And within days, nearly the whole of the U.S. corporate elite was parroting the lies of the Israeli government, that this measure was "defensive" and that this civilian ship--entirely unarmed--had fired first. Even killing a U.S. citizen isn't enough to ruffle the feathers of anyone in D.C. (presumably because the kid was living in Turkey and had an Turkish-sounding name). When the U.S. allows a foreign government to murder innocent American teenagers with impunity, that's a government with WAY too much pull in the U.S.

    A sidenote: Zionism is chalked up to a phenomenon of the right (and often equated with racism) because that's what has become the dominant strain, but there are many various strains of left or liberal Zionism. At its most basic, the left Zionists argue for a Jewish homeland that is a modern liberal democracy (such as the United States), while the dominant right Zionism argues for one in which Jews are a legally privileged elite, which is what exists in Israel now.

    I don't have much use for the idea of Israeli Jews returning to Europe, but they're going to have to get their jackboot off the throat of those they've been oppressing and come to a peace. The writing is on the wall. Jews are going to be outnumbered in Israel in a matter of years. Instead of dealing with this reality, the Israeli government had been doing things like putting up walls, and even adopting anti-miscegenation laws! And all the while, continuing to oppress those whose land they occupy.

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  2. Helen Thomas should say whatever she wants. So, should any other person - without being called names such as racist, fascist, hater, etc..I'm for complete freedom of speech, and "putting the cards on the table", so that we know exactly where we stand.

    What puzzles me about her is that despite her advanced age she has still been employed at a time when there are so many unemployed people in the USA!!

    Secondly, as a lebanese-born, living not in Lebanon, but in America, a country
    which has robbed its native indians of their land, taken people from Africa as slaves, and not returning them back after the abolition of slavery - may be, just maybe, she should have followed the golden rule: 'think before you speak'. Her grandchildren will sure live to hear: Go home! to Lebanon, (to Germany, to Poland, etc..). I have no doubt about it.

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  3. Classic,

    I hear you. And while some small part of me thinks the best way to deal with this would be to inform Israel that in 6 moths time (for example) we are cutting off all economic aid and military aid unless there's a humane sustainable solution. And I'd put the onus on Israel because (1) they're the ones in power and (2) the Palistinians DO have a legitimate claim. But I am also forced to recognize that at this point many of the people living in the region today are 2nd, 3rd, 4th Generation Israli's. They could no more "give the land back" that we could have given ours beck to the Indians. It human nature. So really it IS a big complicated mess, with no realy good, or at least not any SIMPLE, solutions.

    Which brings me to...

    Duta,

    You've touched on another part of the hypocrisy of America trying to act as a good faith negotiator in these matters. What right do we have, at this point to demand that Israel return the land to it's native people, when our country was built on us doing the exact opposite? On the other hand, 'supporting Israel' means, effectively, allowing the same mistake to happen twice. Again, difficult situtaion in which no one (including the U.S.) can clearly claim the moral high ground anymore.

    Also... I always thought that the "Golden Rule" was: The one who has the Gold makes the Rules! ;)

    Thanks for your comments.

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  4. "What right do we have, at this point to demand that Israel return the land to it's native people, when our country was built on us doing the exact opposite?"

    I was also thinking that Thomas' comments are strikingly similar to statements made by the right-wing regarding Muslims in America - they should go back to where they came from.

    I for one support Thomas. She made a simple statement to a complex situation, but she had a point. Considering 32% of Israeli Jews come from somewhere outside of Israel, to call her racist or an anti-Semite for such statements would be wrong. I would have loved to have heard Thomas elaborate rather then offer her resignation and apologize...

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  5. Kevin,

    Yes she DID have a point. Overly simplistic? Yes, absolutely. But it was a LEGITIMATELY DEBATABLE POINT. 10-20 years ago? She probably would have fought it out. But she's 89 years old. Christ, when I'm 89 I not only hope to 25 years retired - AT LEAST - I'll probably take up smoking as well.

    And you're right: RW'ers can disparage Muslims all they want (not to mention Jews, Gays, Blacks and anyone else) but if a Liberal says "boo" about ISRAEL? (Not JEWS mind you - ISRAEL) Oh, boy, Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of punditry.

    Thanks for your comment.

    (You too, TCM, Thanks!)

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