Helen Thomas a victim of American media bias
By ALI YOUNES
Published: Jun 8, 2010 23:21 Updated: Jun 8, 2010 23:32
WASHINGTON: Truth must be told: Helen Thomas, the 89-year-old dean of White House correspondents is more courageous than the president of the United States, and most members of Congress, when it comes to speaking the truth about Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and about the extremist Israeli policies in the Middle East.
Thomas, who has been covering the White House since the time of President Dwight Eisenhower and in office for over 50 years, was forced to resign from her job as a columnist of Hearst Corporation when she was accused of "anti-Semitism" for allegedly making "anti-Israel comments".
During a "Jewish Heritage celebration" at the White House on May 27, Helen Thomas, was approached by an anti-Palestinian rabbi and blogger who asked her what she thought of Israel, a question she responded to by saying: "They should get the hell out of Palestine."
The blogger-rabbi then used clever verbal gymnastics to extract "incriminating evidence" and had her say: "Remember, these people are occupied. And it's their land. Not Germany. Not Poland."
He then asked her where should those Israelis go, Thomas answered: "Go home."
"Where's home?" the rabbi asked.
"Poland. Germany." She responded.
Helen Thomas answered the questions right, but the so-called mainstream media and Israel supporters in the United States shamelessly pounced on this 89-year-old lady who will be 90 in August and accused her of indulging in "anti-Semitism" when in fact she was not. Helen Thomas did not say or mean that Jews should leave West Jerusalem, Haifa, Yafa, Tel Aviv and Nazareth and go back to Germany or Poland, as the media made it out to be. The context of her words was, in fact, a reference to the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Israel since 1967.
Helen Thomas' statement does not differ much from the official US policy that considers the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal.
A year ago, President Obama went to Cairo and delivered a historic speech promising "a new beginning" between America and the Arab and Islamic world. The Thomas affair proves that the new beginning that Obama promised the Arab world is almost impossible to start when the US foreign policy in the Middle East places Israel over and above every other consideration. Any criticism of Israel, as this unfortunate event shows, is met with a vicious pro-Israeli "lynch mob" which is armed with prepackaged and ready-to-use indictments of "anti-Semitism".
For most people in the Arab world, the perception of the US is that it is a country that subsidizes the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and supports Israel no matter what Israel does. This perception gained credence recently when President Obama and his administration refrained from condemning Israel over its killing of an American citizen and nine other Turkish citizens on "Freedom Flotilla" that aimed to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Helen Thomas' forced resignation will further cow the mainstream media into not criticizing or questioning Israeli policies in the Middle East. It will also serve as a chilling reminder that the US media is not really free.
Ali Younes is a writer and Middle East analyst based in Washington D.C. He can be reached at [email protected]