helen thomas 311.
(photo credit: Rabbi David F. Nesenoff)
Helen Thomas’s stomach-turning comments about the Jews returning to Germany and Poland, where six million were killed, are striking for their racism and insensitivity. Whether she said them out of senility or anti-Semitism is beside the point. Either way she has no business working for any respectable media organization or sitting as the senior White House correspondent directly in front of the president of the United States. When Don Imus made racially charged statements against a woman’s basketball team, candidate Barack Obama demanded he be fired. It will be interesting to see how President Obama, who could not offer a single word of support for Israel since the flotilla affair, will react.
One can only imagine the uproar against Thomas had she said that all
blacks should go home to Africa, or illegal immigrants to Tijuana. It
seems that Jews are the only group that you can attack with impunity,
because they are the only ones unwise enough to tolerate it. Better yet,
we’re the only group often filled with so much self-loathing that we
actually initiate many of the attacks.
FEW OF us are surprised that it is a coterie of Jewish advisers to Obama
who have joined him in condemnations of Israel over Jews building in
Jerusalem. This week The New York Times published an article by Michael
Chabon arguing that many Jews are “blockheads” and notions of Jewish
intelligence are highly overrated. He may be correct. But as I read this
strange screed from one of America’s most celebrated Jewish novelists, I
wondered if, say, Maya Angelou would ever pen an article about how many
black dumbbells there are. Attacks on one’s own seems to be an art form
perfected specifically by Jews.
Helene Cooper wrote a column in the Times asking whether Israel has
become a strategic liability to the US. She quoted many senior Jewish
political advisers to the Democratic Party who advised that if Israel
continues to embarrass the US, it might be time for the superpower to
distance itself from the little Jewish irritant.
The criticism made for interesting reading, implying as it did that
while Israel is an embarrassment to the US, its relationship with such
great human rights exemplars as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey ought to
be sources of downright pride.
Turkey merits special mention because not only does its media accuse the
American military of harvesting organs from helpless Iraqis, which they
cite as one of the reasons for the American invasion, but because Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees fit to call Israel barbarous,
lecture Jews about not murdering and refers to Hamas as freedom
fighters. Curiously, at the same time he was spewing his venom toward
the Jewish state this past week, the pope was in Cyprus where he was
being publicly begged by Archbishop Chrysostomos II, the leader of the
Orthodox Church of Cyprus, to stop the illegal Turkish occupation of
Cyprus, now in its 34th year, and protect Christians from growing
attacks by Turks.
Just prior to the pope’s visit, a Christian bishop had been stabbed to
death outside his home in the port of Iskenderun. The archbishop said
that Turkey had “barbarously invaded” Cyprus and “continues to carry out
its obscure plan, which includes the annexation of the lands now under
military occupation and then conquest of the whole of Cyprus. They wish
to make everything Greek and Christian disappear from occupied Cyprus.”
Of course, Turkey won’t even acknowledge its genocide of the Armenians, a
position that Obama has shamefully supported in order not to offend
Turkey’s belligerent leader.
Of course, Cooper’s article quotes J Street head Jeremy Ben-Ami whom
journalists have come to appreciate because of his consistency and
reliability in always saying something disparaging about Israel. In this
case he is quoted as saying “he represents Jews who... are raising the
issue of Israeli government actions as a strategic liability for the
I LIVED in England for 11 years and was sickened by the regular
abandonment of Israel by some of the most high-profile Anglo-Jews
whenever Israel’s actions became controversial. For those wondering why a
floodgate of anti-Semitism has opened in Britain over the last few
years, look no further than the fact that Israel’s greatest haters can
often point to Jewish critics as being much more strident than them. And
still it continues, with even high profile Jewish leaders like Chief
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks remaining mum on Israel even while it was
assailed by countless countries for enforcing a blockade against a
terror organization that has fired 10,000 rockets against it.
Still, I never believed that American Jewry would emulate this
cowardice. But Obama’s public abandonment of Israel is directly
traceable to the small price he pays among American Jews. On my radio
show, many callers contend that Obama is an anti-Semite. I condemn such
character assassination in the strongest possible terms. Obama has
elevated Jews to some of the highest positions, including his most
recent nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan.
Rather, the president’s inability to condemn Hamas and support Israel,
which is a stain on his presidency, results from his considerable moral
confusion and a misguided sense of right and wrong. Under Obama, America
has retreated substantially from president George W. Bush’s policies of
promoting democracy and human rights and has reverted to Kissingerian
realpolitik, ready to make deals with tyrants so long as it promotes an
artificial sense of peace.
But Obama can get away with it because American Jewry has become so
silent and so weak.
Whenever Israel undertakes controversial action, American Jews begin
writing op-eds in The Atlantic and The New Yorker about how the
oncemoral nation has lost its way. Funny how those same writers do not
condemn Obama’s policy of Predator drone strikes against Taliban leaders
that inevitably involve considerable civilian casualties.
Sorry guys. Israel is going to remain controversial, as one might expect
from any country under a constant existential assault from nearly all
its neighbors. When threatened by Hitler, Britain leveled whole German
cities. The US did the same to the Japanese. Israel has never even
pondered such actions, even as thousands of its citizens have been blown
The Jews who were murdered in Germany and Poland cannot speak out in
support of a Jewish state.
The rest of us, however, have absolutely no excuse.
The writer is founder of This World:
The Values Network
His new book,
Renewal: A Guide
to the Values-Filled Life, has just
been published by Basic Books.