Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ari Fleischer condemns Helen Thomas???

This week’s editorial in The Nation entitled Free Gaza summarizes:

The United States has had ample opportunity to change its one sided policy, which has resulted in continued warfare, occupation, misery and death for Palestinians and Israelis. Israel’s occupation would not have been possible without tens of billions in US military aid, without dozens of UN vetoes cast by Washington, without the State Department’s back-room strong-arming of other nations. It would not have been possible without the dishonesty of a US media establishment that habitually twists or simply refuses to report basic facts about the Israel-Palestine conflict -- and is often less critical then the media in Israel. It would not have been possible without the active collusion or cowardly silence of the vast majority of the Democratic Party and liberal policy establishment, which for too long has bowed under the intimidation of AIPAC and other right-wing Zionist organizations, including Christian Evangelicals, all of which claim to defend Israel but which in fact support the most retrograde forces in Israeli society – elements that are leading Israel on a path of self–destruction.[1]

Helen Thomas did not have to read a magazine to know that the press has not fulfilled its responsibility. In 2006, she wrote: “Have American journalists forgotten that their role is to follow the truth, without fear or favor, wherever it leads them”?[2] She has lived with US press deceptions for over 60 years. Perhaps she was frustrated by the biased and impotent media. Perhaps she “misspoke when she said, “Jews should get the hell out of Palestine”. But consider where she is coming from. As a child of Lebanon, she watched the 1982 invasion of her parental home with little condemnation of Israel by the US media. Robert Fish, described by the New York Times as “probably the most famous correspondent in Britain.” wrote:

“Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Shitila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians.”[3]

Does Ari Fleischer, who condemned Helen Thomas for not yielding to the party line, really not see a difference in African Americans brought to this country against their will and the brutal occupation of Palestine by Zionist Jews? If American blacks had invaded “our” country by force, stolen our nation by ethnic cleansing, and claimed 78 percent of our land, we might think it was a reasonable suggestion that they return form where they came. (A better parallel might be to send whites back to Europe and give the land back to the Native Americans.)

Perhaps Ari “misspoke,” or at least let his bias dominate any sense of justice and truth. This is the guy who publically judged Jimmy Carter, saying, “I honestly don’t believe the man has a moral compass.” And it was Fleischer, when working for George W. Bush, who over and over again, linked Saddam Hussein to Weapons of Mass Destruction in order to promote an unnecessary war against Iraq. And he questions the integrity of Helen Thomas?

Perhaps Thomas is also frustrated by the political impotence of our leaders and the Christian Right’s distortions of the teaching of Jesus. Obviously, she was not talking about Israel proper, (with or without a moral right to exist). Israel is here to stay, and rightly so. There are many Jewish children who have never known any home but Israel. But, there are also Palestinian children who have never known any home but Palestine. However, this has not prevented the leaders of Israel from calling for the “transfer” of non-Jews to Jordan, Syria or Lebanon, without a word of condemnation from Ari Fleischer.

Thomas Are
June 16, 2010

[1] The Nation, June 21, 2010, p. 3

[2] Helen Thomas, Watchdogs of Democracy, (Scribner, 2006) p. xiii.

[3] Robert Fisk, Why Do They Hate the West So Much, We will Ask, The Independent, January 7, 2009