11 June 2010

Helen Thomas and the New Challenge: Can My God Beat Up Your God?

(Portion of post title shamelessly stolen from Pastor Josh Patty)

Helen Thomas has reported the White House beat since Dwight Eisenhower was in office. She shows her age and, obviously, it’s about time for her to retire. On 27 May 2010, she appeared at the Jewish Heritage Celebration at the White House. Out on the sidewalk, Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.Com stuck a camera in her face for an impromptu chat. The transcript follows:

Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We're asking everybody today--

Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

Nesenoff: Ooh. Any better comments? [Does "better" imply "gotcha"??]

Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied, and it's their land, not German and not Polish.

Nesenoff: So where should they go? What should they do?

Thomas: They should go home.

Nesenoff: Where is home?

Thomas: Poland. Germany.

Nesenoff: So you're saying the Jews should go back to Poland and Germany?

Thomas: And America, and everywhere else

The interview took less than one minute by the clock. And in that time, she and insulted the Jews in the State of Israel, proving that she is an anti-Semite, and an all round nasty and very undeserving human being. The kindest things which have been said about her are that she should retire immediately and the little nametag screwed on her chair in the White House press room should be removed. We cannot tolerate disrespect of Israel.

Israel, formally created in 1948, occupies its borders by virtue of conquest. In this case it was moving in and conducting what was partially a guerrilla war. (The British called some of it terrorism at the time, but that’s the nature of guerilla warfare.) The primary difference Israel acquired its territory most other nations doing so is that the Israelis did it more recently. In 1967 and again in 1973, neighboring (Muslim culture) states went to war against Israel and Israel opened a can of whoop-ass on them, making large territorial gains in the process. The Israeli war machine was then and is now fantastically funded and gloriously equipped by the United States, and it is unwavering American doctrine that Israel is our friend in the Middle East and is a strong counterweight to the Arab/Islamic terrorist states and thus some sort of guarantor of peace in the region. No kidding, that’s the doctrine.

Like nearly all "the answer is easy" responses, Thomas' response was simplistic nonsense. Sorry, Helen, you could have helped God make the damn place and it still would be simplistic nonsense. We are all inheritors of invaders of some sort. Usually, we call them "explorers" or "bold discoverors," although sometimes we adopt some weird self-loathing and assign non-existent motives to people long dead in order to suffer angst which somehow satisfies our need for drama. (Yes, the Europeans brought the smallpox virus. No, it wasn't intentional. Yes, there is a record of the British sending blankets from smallpox patients to Indians. Once. It was not genocide. It was we have more people and we are much better armed and ain't life a bitch, which is a theme that has been repeated rather often in human history.) I live where pre-Columbian Indians whose self-designation we don't know were dispossessed by others, principally Shawnee, who were in turn dispossessed by mostly English-descended poor people looking for land, who acquired legal title, through which I now claim. I'm not giving stuff back to the Shawnee. On the other hand, I haven't invaded Pennsylvania lately because that would be uncivilized.

The Israelis PR mask slipped some when the annexation of Palestinian occupied areas got into high gear. While it was occupation by force, it wasn’t much opposed because the Palestinians as a society are economically poor and militarily nil. All the Israelis needed were a few tanks, a few bulldozers, and a whole lot of fencing material. They forced Palestinians out of their homes in many instances with near zero notice, bulldozed the homes, and moved Israeli citizens into new housing on those sites. Some of the destroyed structures were at least a century old. Lacking an army, the Palestinians also already used guerrilla/terrorist tactics, mainly bombing, so Israel can always point to the cowardly bombers as justification for moving in.

Not a lot of people in the United States are bothered by this. Not only is Israel that counterweight, Americans have always disliked Muslims. They’re not the ones who killed our Lord (that was the Jews, but it was a long time ago and we ignore that) (don’t be an idiot, that was sarcasm) there is also some sort of Biblical interpretation that says we need a State of Israel in good shape to set up the end times for the second coming of Christ. Whatever the reason, we shovel Israel money like coal into the boiler of a steam engine and if they do something outrageous we smile, nod, and pull our forelocks. We ignore the fact that they have nuclear weapons secretly developed (although it’s a pretty open secret that they really want their neighbors to know), forgave them for an obviously deliberate attack on the USS Liberty by air and sea which killed 34 United States sailors and injured 174. We also tolerate the Israel lobby as customers in that prettiest whorehouse in America, the U.S. Capitol.) Not that that’s so unusual.

The pundits applaud Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland (an upscale upscale DC suburb) for withdrawing the invitation for Helen Thomas to speak at the senior class graduation. Of course, the school could do that exercising somebody’s First Amendment right, although it’s not clear how the decision was made. And that is one hell of a lesson for high school kids. Let’s take a highly respected journalist who knows more about American government than anyone most of those kids will ever meet and refuse to hear any of her words about anything because she has an opinion contrary to an American shibboleth. Great job letting kids model independent thinking, huh?

And in the meantime, while we fiddle around with censoring opinions, the Middle East remains that Ultimate Fighting Challenge Octagonal Ring where everybody plays “My God Can Beat Up Your God,” with the assistance of the latest in projectiles, explosives, noxious chemicals and fissionables. We don’t hear from people of goodwill in the Middle East, because the true believers will kill them. Ask Sadat. (Muslim true believers.) Ask Begin. ( Jewish true believers.)

(Note: I would particularly welcome the views of Preacher Joel, Pastor Josh and Parson Jim, all of whom are religious leaders & accomplished scholars and men of good will who I think disagree with me on this issue. Disagree. First Amendment. Marketplace of Ideas. Got it?)

Pippa passes.



Rosary said...

How's that a new challenge, Roger? You know the 152nd verse is still the same as the first ;-)

Helen Thomas is a 92 year old woman descended from a country Israel still tends to throw bombs at. So was her answer really surprising? I doubt it. I'm guessing that no matter how sharp one is at 92, some of the tact filters are gone, and this brouhaha is a pretty much a molehill turned into a mountain, so we can misdirect Mohammed to the wrong place while Israel blithely keeps assassinating its foes...

Anonymous said...

good points, Rosary, And Roger, you should do a guest appearance on the Maddow show!!!