Dear Helen Thomas
In biblical days, a person would see unusual marks on his or her skin, and the Torah instructed that person to go to the Kohain to see what the problem was. Now, the Kohain was a spiritual leader, a teacher, a mentor for all souls who came to him for guidance and instruction. What would he know about skin lesions and abrasions? I’ll be honest with you, during my 25 year career in the rabbinate, not one person ever made an appointment to show me their psoriasis, and had they done so, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of what to do. Why would someone go to the spiritual leader and not the doctor for the diagnosis?
Our Torah commentators teach us that in biblical days, these skin discolorations and abnormalities were a physical manifestation of a spiritual problem. The Kohain was well trained in looking at the skin and knowing what the person did wrong to merit such scabs. Almost always, these skin conditions were a result of Lashon Harah- gossip, slander, evil talk, using our communication skills for ill ends.
Enter Helen Thomas, long time journalist and reporter for United Press International (UPI), who had the distinction of not only sitting in the front row at every US Presidential news conference for decades, but also of being given the privilege of asking the first question following the President’s remarks. Perhaps Helen Thomas has worn long sleeves over the years, to cover the results of her private gossip about Jews as well as her recent public slanderous and outrageous remarks about Israel, Jews and Zionism.
In May, 2010, following a celebration of Jewish Heritage Month hosted by President Obama in the White House, Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLIVE.com interviewed Helen Thomas and asked, “Any comments on Israel?” to which she responded, now famously, “Tell ‘em to get the hell out of Palestine…remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land…they should go back home, to Poland and Germany and America and everywhere else...”
More recently, in an interview published in Playboy magazine, Helen Thomas has revved up her intolerance of Israel, Zionism, and Jews. I must admit, I haven’t read the interview (if it was not in obscene magazine, I might have read it). But I have read my share of articles quoting her remarks, and they are appalling, insulting, and incomprehensible to me considering her easy access to facts. Let me address Helen Thomas directly.
Helen, in this recent interview, you charge that Jews have total control over the White House, and the US Congress, and that everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli lobbies. Were that to be true, could it possibly be because the United States and Israel are two democracies that share similar views, aspirations and goals? Or could it be that Israel has a just cause in having been reborn by the United Nations as the Jewish state 63 years ago, and hasn’t had a moment’s worth of peace because most of the nations around her work daily at wiping her off the map? Do you think, Helen, that less than 2% of the American population can really have Washington in their pockets? And by the way, with all the money that the Arab countries have, why DON’T they have more effective lobbies to even things out for you? Maybe they should use the money to defend their own people and build them up, rather than destroy Israel.
Helen, last year you said that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go home to Poland, Germany and America. Helen, after all those years sitting at Presidential news conferences and having access to the quickest and most accurate information, how could you have missed the fact that since Friday, May 14th, 1948 at 4:00 in the afternoon, there is NO Palestine. On November 27, 1947, the United Nations voted for a partition plan to have a Jewish state in the ancient homeland which from that date on has been called Israel. In your mind, has nothing changed in 63 years? Has the reality of a Jewish state not sunk in? Is there a credible map of the world that has Palestine on it? Helen, you also said that Jews should go home to Poland and Germany. Yes, they were treated so well in their home, weren’t they? How many millions of Jews were slaughtered and gassed in their German and Polish home. Helen, the place Jews have called home for 3500 years is what you would want to see Judenrein. You’re certainly not the first. And speaking of going home, you are Lebanese…how would you react if people told you to pack up and go home to Lebanon, because you don’t belong here? I don’t think you would be so kind about it. By the way, in your interview you even said that “Israelis have the right to exist, but where they were born.” Israelis were born in Israel, hence their right to the land. Jews have lived continuously in Israel 10 times longer than they’ve lived in America, longer than they’ve live anywhere. Surely longer than your family has been in Lebanon.
You were asked, Helen, whether you believe there is a secret Jewish conspiracy at work in the United States. You responded by saying that this was out in the open. You assured your interviewer that everybody is in the pocket of Israeli lobbies which are funded by wealthy supporters including those from Hollywood. It’s the same thing with the financial markets, she claimed. There is total control.
Helen, did you mean that as a compliment? Did you mean to say that because Jewish values, ethics and teachings are so valuable and critical to the world that Jewish influence is a good thing? Did you mean to suggest that because Jews are so educated and moral and decent and spiritual that their all-pervasive influence is a GOOD thing? Or was your assessment an insult? Honestly, Helen, it sounded like the last thing you want is Jewish influence anywhere, let alone everywhere. You are sounding like a classic anti-Semite.
But of course, you claim not to be anti-Semitic. You said, “I’m not anti-Jewish. I’m anti-Zionist.” Helen, here is something that Jewish people and others of good conscience have learned- they are the same thing, with perhaps anti-Zionism being the current, often more acceptable iteration of anti-Semitism. To be against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, the Jewish homeland for millennia that has been victimized and terrorized since the very day of her rebirth 63 years ago; to deny the Jewish people their rightful biblical, historical, spiritual and legal homeland IS to be against the Jewish people. To bleed for so-called Palestinians while being blind to Arab terrorism that cannot accept ONE Jewish country- this is classic anti-Semitism. Helen, if YOU’RE not anti-Semitic, who is?
You have vocally and egregiously, and pitifully I might add, joined the chorus of recent high profile anti-Semites. Along with those who have been canceling performances in Israel, together with those who call for boycotts and divestments and sanctions against the Jewish state, side by side with colleges and universities in America that commemorated “Israel Apartheid Week,” you, Helen Thomas, now are the newest face on the Mount Rushmore of anti-Semitism, right next to Jimmy Carter and Louis Farrakhan. Frankly, you were in better company with fellow journalists than you are now.
Helen, you spoke to the right magazine, Playboy. Your comments were obscene and all too revealing. They left nothing to the imagination. You were stripped of all pretense, and stood naked on the side of classic, ignorant and acerbic Jew hatred. You thought you were fired because you spoke against Jews, which you thought only proved your point about our insidious influence. No such thing, Helen. Your comments said about any religion or group would have been equally offensive and worthy of your being let go.
Perhaps one day, Helen, you will come to see the beauty and the miracle of Jews and our survival, and appreciate what we have given to the world. If you have a sincere apology at that time, I, for one, would be happy to hear it, even if you apologized in Playboy magazine. Elan''s webpage is elanadler.com, where you can follow his blogs and radio show, as well as see the Rabbinic services he offers.