An open letter to Helen Thomas

In light of your recent remarks that Jews must "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home," I think I should tell you about my parents' families.

helen thomas 311 (photo credit: Rabbi David F. Nesenoff)
helen thomas 311
(photo credit: Rabbi David F. Nesenoff)
Dear Ms. Thomas, I read on numerous Web sites the remarks attributed to you (and I did not see any denial) that we, the Jews must “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Germany or Poland. I am convinced that you are aware of the events which took place during the years 1939-1945 but, to be certain, I think it appropriate to tell you a little about my parents and their families.
My mother was sent to Palestine from Germany in 1933 with the rise of the Nazis to power by her farseeing parents. The British blockade, which prevented Jews fleeing the Nazi horrors from entering, made it difficult for her and only the pretext of coming on a tourist visit enabled her to enter and remain alive. Her older sister, Sarah, her husband and three children aged 12, 10 and seven did not succeed in finding a way of coming to Palestine and were sent by the Nazis to Poland and from there, their journey to the Auschwitz gas chambers, was short. I understand that it is there that you wish to send me.
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My father, who lived in Austria, also showed resourcefulness and immediately on the German invasion and sailed to Palestine. On the way – again the British blockade – he was forced to throw his passport into the sea so that, heaven forbid, they would not send him back to Austria, another country you wished I was moving to. His older brother and his wife, who did not go with him, were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.
My parents, who, as mentioned, with lifesaving initiative, fled from Europe before they were murdered, arrived in a desolated and barren country, worked in orchards, barely supported themselves and, by the way, were happy with their lot. In 1947 upon hearing of the UN resolution on the partitioning of the country, they danced in the streets, even though most of the area of Israel was torn from its sovereignty. For brands who survived the fire, it was enough.
The Palestinians and Arab countries, who gained most of the area,refused to accept the UN resolution and began a war to annihilate us.Only three years had passed since the liberation of Auschwitz and againwe – the Jews – faced the danger of annihilation. To our joy, 600,000Jews were victorious over millions of armed Arabs. It appears thatjustice has power and strength of its own.
IN THE 62 years of our existence, we have had seven wars, thousands ofterror attacks, buses which have exploded in streets, firing intoschools, mortars fired on kindergartens. Yet you wish to exile us backto the inferno, as if nothing happened 65 years ago in Europe, as ifour hands have not been stretched out for peace since the establishmentof the state?
We were victorious in the wars imposed upon us by Egypt and we signed apeace agreement with it after yielding all the territory and all theoil. We signed a peace agreement with Jordan. We yielded all theterritory and much water. We withdrew from Lebanon to the internationalborder and, in return, we received Hizbullah katyushas on our citizens.We left Gaza and in return, we received massive firing on our citizensin the South. Are you aware, Ms. Thomas, that many children from Sderotand the area around Gaza wet their beds until a late age out of fear ofthe Hamas missiles? And it is us that you wish to exile? Why? Becauseyou think that we are weak or because it annoys you that we are notdefeated?
As someone, who throughout his adult life has been a member of theIsraeli “peace camp,” notwithstanding you and your strange and angeringviews, my friends and I (and I hope also my government) will continueto turn over every stone and scour every corner to attain peace. Peace,which will enable us to the smallest extent to live and our neighbors,the Palestinians, to establish a country and to flourish and prosper.To achieve this, we are prepared to make great concessions, to giveback all the territories gained as a result of wars which our neighborsforced on us. There is only one thing we want in return – life. A quietlife, a life without terror, a life without missiles, a life like theone you have in Washington and which I, in Israel, also deserve.
The writer is an adviser to President Shimon Peres.