Lessons from the Helen Thomas Episode
Helen Thomas’ parents were of Lebanese origin. But because she was born in Kentucky 90 years ago, the Arab-American tag was not attached to her name. She was always known as American, was, in fact, every cell and sinew an American, and so had no difficulty in climbing up the ladder of successes, achievements and acknowledgements. After graduating from WayneStateUniversity she started her career as a copyist on the now defunct Washington Daily News, and joined United Press International 5 years before the Second World War.
For more than a decade she wrote radio news for U.P.I, covering President-elect John F. Kennedy in 1960. She was included in the White House team, and was there until May 2000. In July 2000 Thomas became a columnist for the Hearst News Service – where she continues (although the latest situation – after the honest remark – is unclear). During the years she covered Kennedy. She was the first woman to close a presidential news conference with the traditional “Thank you, Mr. President.” She covered every president of the United States from the last years of the Eisenhower administration until the second year of the Obama administration; a long innings indeed.
She served as President of the Women’s National Press Club in 1959 – 60, and she was the first woman officer of the National Press Club after it opened its doors to women members for the first time in 90 years. In addition, Thomas became the first woman officer of the White House Correspondents Association in its 50 years of existence, and served as its first woman president in 1975-76. She also became the first woman member of the Gridiron Club in its history, and the first woman to be elected its President in 1993.
In 1968 Helen Thomas was named the “Newspaper Woman of Washington” by the American Newspaper Woman’s Club, and in 1975, she was named the “Woman of the Year” in communications by Ladies Home Journal. She has also received the Matrix Award from the Women in Communications, and the World Almanac named Helen Thomas as one of the twenty-five most influential women in America.
She received numerous honorary doctorate degrees, some of the most recent from Brown University, St. Bonaventure University, Michigan State University and the George Washington University. In addition, she has been a commencement speaker at dozens of colleges and has delivered lectures on the White House and the Presidency throughout the country.
Helen Thomas traveled around the world several times with Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton, and covered every economic summit. In February, 1972, she was the only newspaperwoman to travel with President Nixon to China during his breakthrough trip. Since then, she has been to China on many subsequent presidential visits.
She received numerous awards and more than 30 honorary degrees during her long-spanning journalistic activity. In 1986 she received the William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit from the University of Kansas. Thomas received an Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media from the Freedom Forum in 1991. The White House Correspondent’s Association honored her in 1998 by establishing the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2000, her alma mater, Wayne State University, established an award for journalists in her honor, the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity award. In 2007, Thomas received a Foremother Award from the National Research Center for Women & Families.
By 2010 she had done a memorable job as a journalist. She was respected, admired and became voguish. She became known as the “Sitting Buddha” because she was always there in the same seat, decades after decades, and was so wise. That position gave her the courage to ask, back in 2006, President Bush a question that raised the eyebrows for the first time. Free Press, yes, freedom for the senior most journalist yes, but for once in her career she did not seem to have been obedient to the shackling rules concealed behind the façade of free press. Or was it intentional? She asked Bush:
“I’d like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet…your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth…what was your real reason? You have said it wasn’t oil…quest for oil, it hasn’t been Israel, or anything else. What was it?”
Bush responded with his usual propaganda ploy, what nobody in politics ever believed as true: War on Terror. He stated as a reason for the invasion that Saddam Hussein chose to deny inspectors and not to disclose required information. These were of course as much lies, as the ‘War on Terror’ slogan is. Nevertheless, Helen Thomas was criticized by some commentators for her temerity to nail a President publicly, and behave as if the Press was free. She was now in the eye.
In February 2009 Helen Thomas fired another shot. She asked the newly-elected President Obama whether any Middle Eastern country possessed nuclear weapons. Obama evaded a direct answer by saying that he did not want to speculate on the matter, although, it was acknowledgement that was required of him and not speculation. After all, every educated American knows that Israel has nuclear weapons, in hundreds. But in the West, unless you state it in clear, unambiguous, “two plus two is four” kind of terms, truth does not exist and, conversely, whatever is said is ‘the truth,’ so long as you – as the deliverer of the statement – do not admit it as false; thus we have a history, which, in its details, is as true as a Michael Parenti would accept as true – but, perhaps.
This nuclear issue is a sensitive one. But in 1960s, President John F. Kennedy was pursing in the U.N. the agenda of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. In a historic U.N. vote, even the U.S. agreed—over Israeli objections—to make the Middle East a Nuclear Free Zone.
That treaty would mandate that Israel dismantle its nuclear arsenal. An idealistic young U.S. president was vigorously pursuing that goal when his life was brought to an abrupt end, without an inquiry commission discovering why the charismatic leader was ruthlessly finished off before global cameras. It is believed that the President was about to disclose too much about certain hidden organizations, with hidden agendas who decided his removal.
With reference to Israel, and things being so obvious, being there for more than half a century, witnessing the hypocritical behavior, being the conduit narrating series of lies from the government to the public worldwide, watching at close hand deceitful statements by Administration after Administration, Helen Thomas must have felt close to being sick. In American political corridors, if you are not a downright double-speak, you are nothing. But Helen Thomas was now nearing 90. In the words of a columnist, “Helen Thomas knows the scope and scale of Zionist operations inside the U.S. She saw it firsthand through ten presidencies from both major U.S. political parties.” At the moment she was ready to retire, and so must have been in a mentally relaxed state. This could have been the reason why she dropped the gauntlet she wore for close to 70 years and let slip comments, on May 27, 2010, while the White House was in a Jewish Heritage Celebration (yes, in White House, and not in Tel Aviv Knesset) – to a Jewish Rabbi David Nesenoff:
Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?
Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?
Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland …
Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?
Thomas: They go home.
Nesenoff: Where’s the home?
Thomas: Poland. Germany.
Nesenoff: So you’re saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?
Thomas: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?
That was a bomb-shell. It was an insider’s truthful voice. It was a crime. She was a traitor. Her agency immediately dropped her name as a client. Her co-author announced that he “will no longer be working with Helen on our book projects”. Her scheduled speech at a School was canceled. A former Governor said her remarks were “outrageous, anti-Semitic, racist, indefensible” and told Thomas, “maybe it’s time for you to go home.” The White House Correspondents’ Association called her comments “indefensible.” The Society of Professional Journalists who awarded her the “Award for Lifetime Achievements” is considering withdrawing the Award.
WayneStateUniversity, which offers the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in the Media award, strongly condemned what it called her “wholly inappropriate comments.”
President Obama whom some Americans are now referring to in derogatory terms for good reasons, said her remarks were “offensive” and “out of line”. Recognizing her long service covering U.S. presidents, and calling her “a real institution in Washington, he said that it was a “shame” her celebrated career had to end in such controversy.
It was a starkly dark day for the USA that a highly distinguished American was forced to retire from a proud career because she spoke the truth about – not any, but – a ‘particular’ foreign country. It has been made obvious that an American can criticize anybody and everybody, any country in the world and every country, any American policy and every policy, but cannot utter a word of truth about Israel, Jews, or Zionism. An American citizen, no matter how high he or she rises, is nothing, if he or she cannot salute the Israeli flag and go on the knees before the dictates of the Israeli Knesset.
We do not have another example in history of a free State under the stranglehold of another State to a degree that a disapproved word, not by an ordinary citizen, but by a distinguished personality, cannot be uttered without punishment.
If we take into account the fact that the total number of 47 (out of a House of 100) senators defended Israel’s cold blooded murder of civilians, at night, in International Waters, on food-carrying “Freedom Flotilla” to starving Palestinian men, women and children (chocolate is one of thousands of banned items) – justifying it as “entirely lawful blockade,” an “act of self-defense,” and, “The U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel in our fights against violent extremism” – if we take into account this fact, then, the story of enslavement of the nation, and (what Paul Craig Roberts calls “prostitution” of its politicians) is complete.
Paul Craig Roberts is a matured economist, who has authored 8 books and numerous articles, who was a co-founder of Reaganomics, and who served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration writes:
“Israeli government leaders have publicly bragged for decades about their control over the US government. US Admiral Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after whom the F-14 “Tomcat” jet fighter was named, declared publicly: “No American President can stand up to Israel.”
Allegedly, the US is a superpower, but in fact it is a puppet state of the Israeli government. Witness, for example (the examples are numerous), the fate of the Goldstone Report on Israeli war crimes committed in Israel’s assault on Gaza during December 2008-January 2009. Goldstone is a Zionist Jew and a distinguished judge. He was given the task by the United Nations to investigate the Israeli attack on Gaza. Being an honest person, he provided evidence of Israeli war crimes.
What was the result? The bought-and-paid-for US Congress voted, on the instructions of their master, the Israel Lobby, to deep-freeze the Goldstone Report by a vote of 344 to 36.
Amazing, isn’t it, there were only 36 US Representatives who were not owned by the Israel Lobby.”
No independently minded journalist can have a career in print or TV media. You defend the Washington/Tel Aviv line, or you are out of work.
Helen Thomas’s episode reflects the complete truth of Senator William Fulbright’s repeated statements (way back half a century ago, in a meeting in 1967) that the Jews control the Senate (www.originaldissent.com). If anything, the control has increased several times over. Muslims over the world should take into account of this episode, and draw not only the right kind of conclusions about the control, but may also consider: Could the USA, so dutifully bent backward to please a State it created, which it arms, finances and shields from international Law, ever be friendly to any Muslim state? Was Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations a historian’s musings, or Foreign Policy Script dictated by a foreign power?