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Defending the Indefensible

So word has just come down that Helen Thomas, venerated White House correspondent of 40 years, has announced her immediate “retirement.”  This in response to some less-than-politically correct words she uttered in reference to Israel’s latest over-the-top action to make sure the people it has crammed into the ghettos of its own making receive no medicine, food, building materials, or other necessities to make the daily hell of their existence even marginally less hellish.

I’ll concur that Thomas ventured into unfortunate territory when she suggested that the Israelis should just leave and go back to Poland or Germany – the historical context of Jewish experience in those particular countries made it inevitable that her comments would be portrayed as proving that she is more Hitler than Hitler himself.

But I sympathize with the underlying frustration that prompted those remarks.  The plain and simple fact is that Israel is maintaining a brutal apartheid regime, and has been for years.  Also fact:  Israel would not be able to do so without massive US aid and support.  While I am sympathetic to the aim of establishing a Jewish homeland which led to the creation of Israel following WWII, and while I understand that from its inception, Israel has been beset by enemies all around and this forms the logic underpinning our unconditional aid and support for the nation, our relationship has become that of an over-indulgent parent enabling an ill-behaved child whose actions continue to devolve further and further into bullying, brutality, and a general lack of  regard for not only the targets of the bullying and brutality, but for the indulgent parent as well.   As when recently the Israeli leadership decided to announce the news that they were approving the expansion of settlements on the very day Vice President Biden was in Israel to meet with leaders.  That’s the type of action you expect from an unruly and defiant child – not from the leadership of a country you continue to embrace as one of your closest allies.  For all intents and purposes, Bibi Netanyahu took out his dick and waved it in Joe Biden’s face, while chanting “nyah, nyah, nyah!!!”

And why shouldn’t he?  There is nothing Israel could do, it seems, that would cause the US to decrease the level of annual aid we provide to the country – or even prompt disapproval from our government.  Any criticism of Israel, no matter how justified or sound, prompts a round of screeching about “antisemitism” from the neocons who are still thick on the ground in political and media circles, from prominent Zionists, from AIPAC, which wields the power of a 4th branch of government, and from the right in general – ironic because they insert their screeching about “antisemitism” into their screeds about “American sovereignty” without even a hint of cognitive dissonance.

In the absence of criticism, Israel’s behavior has only grown worse.  The ironic result of trying to shield Israel of any and all consequences for its actions is that it merely makes more likely an eventual day of reckoning which will make any horror show you’ve ever seen look like a walk in the park.  Just as the unruly and defiant child who reaches the age of majority without behavioral intervention can be expected to quickly amass a string of bad debts, bad habits, and trouble with the law, a country which never faces any consequences for its actions will quickly fail once unconditional support is withdrawn.

And that day will come, though when no one knows.  For now,  US support of Israel remains unshakable, largely thanks to the parties already mentioned.  But the US doesn’t have the deep pockets it once had, and in a world with dwindling oil supplies where Israel’s actions complicate relations with the countries who have the largest reserves, it’s a situation which clearly will not be sustainable forever.  The US remains a superpower for now – but the next century probably belongs to the Chinese, who aren’t going to be particularly interested in propping up a government whose country has no resources to offer in return.  And the demographic trends favor the Palestinians, not the Israelis.

It’s long past time for the US to reconsider the notion of unconditional support, and even longer past time for Israel to reconsider how to best deal with the Palestinian “problem.”  If we continue along the recent trend, a failure to reconsider and adjust will lead to one of two places:  US complicity and aid in ethnically cleansing Israel of Palestinians, whether incrementally or in one fell swoop, as an Israeli minority tries to keep a growing disenfranchised majority under control, or a day when the lid blows off, and the Palestinian majority, under increasing oppression up until that very day, seeks vengeance and does a little cleansing of their own.

Seems to me that the best chance – indeed, the only hope – that Israeli Jews have for remaining in their ancestral homeland over the long haul is to make sure that when the day of reckoning comes and they are outnumbered, they are also treating their Palestinian neighbors as full-fledged human beings. 

If it’s antisemitic to point out such things, it’s reality being the anti-Semite, not me.

  1. June 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    This is the best blog post I’ve seen on this subject. I’ve been going crazy with [url=http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2010/06/9131/]blog authors I normally agree[/url] with banging on about Helen’s “Inexcusable Bigotry”, how what she said “turns my stomach and makes my skin crawl”, and how “Her words were bigoted, insensitive, profoundly ignorant, and painful to all Jews who had to flee such places”.

    I came to the same ‘ethnic cleansing’ conclusion myself, that a fresh genocide is inevitable without some lasting peace agreement, and Israel will never make the concessions necessary for that to be realistic unless the Americans start being even-handed with the Israelis and Palestinians. Going on a witch hunt for statements like this show that won’t happen any time soon, probably to the detriment of [i]both[/i] the Israelis and the Palestinians.

    P.s. I can only guess as to whether the code above will work or not, as I can find no help on what code is valid in these comments.

  2. Chris
    June 8, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    we continue along the recent trend, a failure to reconsider and adjust will lead to one of two places: US complicity and aid in ethnically cleansing Israel of Palestinians, whether incrementally or in one fell swoop, as an Israeli minority tries to keep a growing disenfranchised majority under control, or a day when the lid blows off, and the Palestinian majority, under increasing oppression up until that very day, seeks vengeance and does a little cleansing of their own.

    Oh, the Israelis know about the second possibility. That’s why they’re doing the ethnic cleansing thing already; current Israeli policy is to make life for the Palestinians so unbearable that they’ll eventually all leave.

    The only reason it hasn’t worked is that the Israelis’ Arab neighbors play as dirty as they do. For most Palestinians, exile has meant either life in a squalid refugee camp under equally miserable conditions, or life as a working underclass (the local Mexicans) in the Gulf states. That’s why so many Americans and Israelis get indignant about the way countries like Jordan treat the Palestinians; as long as life in exile is as bad as life in the West Bank, Operation Make Them So Miserable They’ll Leave is dead in the water.

    One way or another though, I think the cleansing’ll happen. The only country that can stop it is America, and like you point out, there’s literally nothing Israel can do that’ll stop America from goose-stepping unquestioningly in their support. It’s depressing as balls, but there it is.

  3. BDay
    June 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

    But Helen Thomas is a reporter. Reporters don’t get to express their opinions, as it taints the objectivity of their reporting. Whether you agree or disagree with the opinions she expressed, she did the right thing by resigning.

    • jennofark
      June 9, 2010 at 10:19 am

      I’ll not argue that, but will note that almost no one else in the press seems to hold themselves to that standard. Reporters expressing their opinions IN THEIR REPORTING is the norm, not the exception. Helen just happened to express one on the one subject that is completely taboo: Israel cannot be wrong. And she wasn’t reporting when she made the statement; she was being interviewed. She resigned because she is one of the few who recognize that reporters – real reporters – don’t get to publicly express their opinions. Which means, another one of the good reporters is gone.

      Now the not-so-good reporters who remain have moved on to squabbling over “who will get her seat” in the front row of the briefing room. I wish I was making this up. I’m not.

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