Who hired Ari Fleischer to take out "antisemite" Helen Thomas?
Is anti-Zionism the same as antisemitism?
Journalism professor Dan Kennedy wants to show the justice of Helen Thomas’ ouster. He too is a journalist and wants the rules journalists must play by to be fair and reasonable so he delves into Thomas’ history, finds evidence of her antisemitism, and concludes she deserved to be fired … because she hates Jews.
Here’s the exchange Helen Thomas had with the interviewer:
Q: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everyone today.
A: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Q: Any better comments?
A: Remember, these people are occupied, and its their land, not German and not Poland’s
Q: So where should they go?
A: They should go home. Poland. Germany.
Q: They should just go back to Poland and Germany?
A:And America and everywhere else.
What’s is clear to me is that Thomas is standing up for the land rights of Palestinians, rights that were superseded by land rights assigned to the state of Israel by colonial empire Great Britain in 1948. To most of us, that is a settled question but to people in the middle east it is the source of great conflict and regrettably, a significant threat to US national security.
I detect no antisemitism in Thomas’ words, anti-ZIONISM yes but antisemitism no. And even if I did, I don’t see how she deserves to lose her livelihood for saying that she thinks the Jewish people should stop occupying Palestine, whether she means all of Palestine or the west bank that is currently (under international law) Palestinian land settled and occupied by Israel.
Ari Fleischer, who runs his own PR business for clients in politics, professional sports etc, is the one who amplified the issue and first called for Thomas’ ouster.
Watch the CNN Video and ask yourself, is Ari speaking for himself or representing the interests of a client? We know BP is spending millions to manage it financial liabilities in the PR battle over the spill in the gulf. Is Ari Fleischer representing AIPAC or the State of Israel in its PR battle for American hearts and minds in the wake of the Mediterranean blockade and PR disaster of the IDF commandeering an aid flotilla and killing nine civilians including a US citizen (with 4 shots to the head)? I don’t know if Ari is acting in his capacity as a paid flack regarding his demand for Helen Thomas’ ouster but I do know that’s what he does for a living-represent his clients’ public relations interests.
Ari: "She has crossed all lines, all boundaries, its just horrific"
Really Ari? Horrific?
Ari: "This is a type of discrimination, it’s a call for religious cleansing, that all Jews should get out of Israel"
Here Ari doubles down on hyperbole and introduces violence into the debate. "Ethnic cleansing" is ethnically-motivated violence, ranging from murder to rape. Helen calls for repatriation of Jews to their homelands in the context of having peace in the middle east, as unreasonable and insensitive as that approach would be. Ari raises the specter of violence in the conversation where it did not occur in what Helen Thomas said. Why does he want her words to strike the public as more inflammatory than they were on their own merit?
It’s more inflammatory hyperbole from Ari. She did not call for genocide, she called for Jews to leave Palestine. Her’s is an anti-zionist position, not an antisemitic position.
Ari: "Hearst should not continue to employ her."
Helen Thomas’ public apology.
“I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
She said the comments “do not reflect” her “heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance.
“May that day come soon,” she added.
Jews lived in Palestine before 1948 and Palestinians did not exclude them.
The state of Israel does exclude Muslims as citizens. One must be a Jew to be a citizen. Ari is quick to call Thomas discriminatory but slow to recognize that Israel discriminates against everyone except Jews. While Israel is a democracy it is not an open democracy like ours. It discriminates who it will have as a citizen based on religion. [The foregoing is not true. I apologize for not checking the facts beforehand and for my lack of consideration]
Israel is built on a piece of land that 62 years ago was Palestine and that colonial power Great Britain assigned to Zionists.
What bothers me most about what happened to Helen Thomas is how quickly normally reasonable journalists and opinion writers were to throw her under the bus when the accusation of antisemitism was leveled.
Dan wasn’t quick about it but he came to the wrong conclusion nonetheless.