Monday, June 07, 2010

A good question

Soccer Dad asks:

I was unaware of the story behind Helen Thomas's outburst against Jews.
But I wonder what was wrong about what she said. 
 As he points out, Thomas' comments - that the Jews should get out of "Palestine" because, presumably, they have no legitimate history there - is the exact same position held by Palestinian "moderates." They still refuse to consider Israel a Jewish state (as opposed to the old days in 1948, when they made a bit more explicit their feelings that their entire problem with Israel was that it was a Jewish state.)

Thomas' feelings are widespread in the Arab world. No one in the West expresses disgust, or even astonishment, when Palestinian Arabs say that the Temples never existed or that the Western Wall was built by the Umayyad Muslim dynasty and is a part of the Waqf. The strong reaction to Thomas' statements could not be because those who are now so offended find the statements themselves offensive. It must be something else:

Helen Thomas, then, didn't say anything offensive. The belief she espoused isn't the problem, it's that she's a Westerner who did. For some arbitrary reason, denying Jewish history is offensive for her to do; had she been a Palestinian politician there'd have been nothing wrong with her statement.

Joe Klein, (via memeorandum) who now tells Helen Thomas to go to the back of the room, regularly vilifies Israel and those defenders of Israel, who - for good reason - are skeptical about the intents of the Palestinians.

The question isn't really what was offensive about Helen Thomas's remarks, but what's innocuous about similar remarks made by Palestinian leadership? If it's wrong for an individual to say that Jews don't belong in Israel, aren't you courting disaster by creating a neighboring state founded on that very principle?
It's more than courting disaster - it is effectively legitimizing the very offensive principle, in this case, by saying that Jews have no historic ties nor religious rights to the holy places and the heartland of ancient Jewish kingdoms.

Why is denying history and historic rights offensive for Thomas and accepted for Israel's ersatz, "moderate," "peace partners?"