Helen Thomas is really, really old

John Cole posts this video (an expanded version of the one stirring up all this controversy) of Helen Thomas answering some questions about Israel and journalism:

Well, it’s not exactly the most sensitive thing to say, obviously, and more to the point even though it’s obviously not a call for a second Holocaust it’s just not a terribly bright position to take publicly given the controversial nature of the Israel/Palestine debate. And John may be correct that this is a whole lot of sound and fury, but it certainly isn’t helpful to suggest the solution to the middle-east problem is to expel the Jews. That’s about as helpful as suggesting the Israelis should just keep occupying more and more land in the West Bank. Or, as Adam Serwer notes:

Any American who is going to argue that Israeli Jews should "get out" is going to have to be willing to advocate for the return of all the land west of the Mississippi River to Native Americans, since the provenance of the land on which America stands is far more legally dubious than that of the Jewish state.

Jon Chait has more on the outspoken Whitehouse correspondent. He doesn’t paint a very flattering picture. In the end, like Robert Byrd, I think it was probably time for Thomas to go one way or another.

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32 thoughts on “Helen Thomas is really, really old

  1. when, and if i reach 89 freaking year old, i expect to say a lot of cranky, obscene and vulgar things. that seems to one of the benefits of being really old.

    the other obvious point is that nobody is going to be fired for saying the Palestinians should get out or are all terrorists or are all scum. hell people get paid good money for that.

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  2. Helen’s a commie-Jew hater, but, hey, we’re all entitled to speak freely. It’s a bit harsh to pitch the old bitch out on her arse,….at least I think.

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    • @Bob Cheeks, for the record, I don’t think she should be fired for saying what she did. I think that what she did was not only ignorant but stupid and did more harm to whatever cause she probably wanted to help than it did good.

      That said, she said something spectacularly ignorant and stupid and she ought to know that there are things that are so ignorant/stupid that if one says them on camera, one’s enemies will go apeshit and one’s defenders will be stuck with the unpleasant job of using defenses like quoting Mencken’s defenses of defending scoundrels and vague appeals to principle.

      I’m not surprised that her comrades told her that they wouldn’t throw her under the bus if she went there herself.

      I’m not surprised that she went there herself.

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  3. JB, I love it when you wax eloquent. For me I love it when people do extreme stupid, particularly in a ’cause’ they believe in…kinda lets you know where these clowns are really coming from..I hate to inhibit extreme stupid because of that.

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  4. Now that Isreal exists and people have built lives there telling them to get out is a bit much.

    On the other hand I challenge anyone to tell me that world wouldn’t be a better place if we had created the new jewish state/homeland in florida instead. The Isreali state would have nothing surronding it other than a friendly nation to the north and ocean.

    It is too late for that though.

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  5. Pirate and Trum: And I thought I was the only one with the weird idea of giving the Jews land in Southern Arizona. It’s too late to move the entire Jewish state lock, stock and barrel, but suppose land were made available, and members of the new generation in Israel were encouraged to move there. A sort of Homestead Act, free land, special trade benefits, etc. As a bonus, the Jews could handle the immigration problem along that part of the border.

    The Orthodox would refuse to move, of course, but suppose over time, as the new state grew, and the old one saw how much safer it was to live there than in the midEast…?

    I know the idea seems crazy, but hasn’t it been abundantly proven that only a truly counter-intuitive idea is going to change anything in the mideast?

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  6. Being ensconced in dissertation land, this is the first I’ve heard of this. It’s a nasty thing she said. But, given the servility of the Washington press corps today, it’s a shame to lose the another burr under the saddle.

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  7. What if a group of Native Americans DID demand that their lands should be “reclaimed”… or they at least demanded back a sizable portion of the Eastern Seaboard? Or, say, a modest 10% chunk of each state, Hawaii excluded?

    Or, for that matter, what about the Romani (or “gypsies”)? They could claim back their native homelands in India. They can justly claim that they have been severely persecuted and discriminated against (and still are).

    Or the Australian Aborigines could ask all the descendants of European settlers to “get the hell off our native land”.

    Or…

    But you can see this sort of reasoning goes nowhere.

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    • @Bob Cheeks, Thanks Bob. The article is a nice laundry list of the nice things that the settlers do for the Palestinians, Bob. It’s also useless and besides the point. Does the author touch on the fact that the settlements are maintained and supported by a series of guarded roads and checkpoints that divide and isolate the Palestinians regions around them? No. Does he touch on how the Settlements essentially nail Israel to the side of a demographic boat that is relentlessly sinking? Of course not. Do the settlers do nice things for the Palestinians that their society may currently be too corrupt and wasteful to do for themselves? I’m sure they do. I don’t care about the Palestinians so I’m not moved.

      His argument is that the settlements can’t be traded away except if the Palestinians come to abandon all violence, renounce the return of their (shamefully mistreated by other Arab states) refugees and accept the presence of Jews in their midst. This is so mind-bendingly nonsensical that it could only come from a supporter of the settlement movement. He says, in essence, that the only way the settlers should leave is if the Palestinians turn into a people that would accept them where they are. In essence “we’ll only leave when you don’t want us to leave.” This of course is insane. Beyond the fact that the presence of the settlements is a constant goad to the Palestinians who are least inclined to be hostile to Jews there is the basic underlying fact: those Palestinians/Arabs who hate Israel the most DON’T WANT THE SETTLEMENTS EVACUATED. They want Israel chained to this seething mass of angry impoverished multiplying and extremist people. They want the country impaled on the horns of the dilemma of democracy and demographics. Despite what they may say publicly they no doubt like the settlements where they are and respond with threats and violence to try and prevent conditions from allowing their removal.

      If Israel is so attached to the settlements, of course, they could easily and morally keep the lot of them. All they have to do is legally annex the West Bank and enfranchise their new Palestinian citizens. This of course represents serious problems. Israel is a democracy; enfranchising the Palestinians will give them a (big and growing) say in the Knesset. Israel is a modern country; enfranchising the Palestinians would endow them with a host of civil rights that would make it very hard to pen them in and restrict their movement and keep them out of the settlements. Israel, while small, is still too big to seal every inch of the borders. Absorbing the West Bank means that the refugees would start trickling and sneaking back into Israel intensifying the demographic problem. In short order Israel would become an Arab majority nation. Would we trust the Palestinians to deal gently with the sudden Jewish minority or to maintain the checks and balances of a modern western state? Maybe you are that optimistic Bob but I am not.

      None of this, obviously, is touched upon by the article. Instead there’s some feel good fluff along with some idiotic jingoism that plays right into hands of Israel’s’ enemies. The Jewish state is holding a ticking bomb in their hands and the settlers are in essence saying to their enemies: “we’re not going to trade away this bomb unless you give us something of value in return.” Their enemies of course are delighted that Israel continues to clutch the bomb and so are negotiating in bad faith if at all. This is irrational and stupid. Sure trading the bomb away for something of value would be better than just getting rid of it and getting nothing in return. But in the event that the Palestinians refuse to offer anything Israel should discard it anyways. Because whether it is the settlers tying the state to a road to demographic failure or a relentless walk to apartheid it is still a bomb and it is hurting them. The settlements need to be discarded. Not for the good of the Palestinians (though it’s nice that it’d probably help them) but for the good of Israel.

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      • @North, Thanks for the above.
        No, I’m not optimistic. In fact, I think the whole thing, given the actors, should be settled by the sword. Winner take all. Then, it’s all over with the least amount of silliness. Israel and the Muslims are no more going to settle their century’s old differences than the West and Islam are.
        Destroy your enemy…then, let your children live in peace.
        The Jews need to keep the settlements…they’re the only people in the region who can make a living out of the desert.

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        • @Bob Cheeks, The Jewish state can turn to the sword any time it likes Bob. There’s no one who could stop them if they put their minds to it. The Palestinians (and presumably Israeli Arabs) would be dumped en masse in Jordan and Egypt before the UN even managed to get a condemnation out. All the Israelis need to do is decide to stop being who they are and become something else. I would say something worse. But that is relative.

          The Jews need to get out of the settlements. There is plenty of desert in Israel proper that could flourish in their hands. They can keep their country and their souls; they just need a leader to show them the way (a thousand damnations on the blood clot that took down Sharon. Oh the irony, the blood soaked irony!!).

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