I have long been acquainted with the progressive “good people” who routinely go to those interfaith and church-sponsored lectures on the Middle East. They are compassionate in the extreme for Arabs who were displaced by the Arab-initiated war of 1948. They can wax eloquently on the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with information taken right off the Saudi embassy’s web page. And they have become self-proclaimed experts on the differences between U.S. generated “grants” and “loans” to Israel.
I have never yet heard them show compassion for an Israeli child killed by a suicide bomber or concern for the people of Sderot living in a perpetual state of siege. Somehow they sing in a chorus where everything Israel does is wrong and everything the Arabs do can be rationalized or justified.
The “good people” don’t know that Palestinian nationalism arose as a reaction to Zionism and that Arabs calling themselves “Palestinians” only occurred in 1968 when Yassir Arafat replaced Ahmed Shukairy as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which previously had been a front for Egypt’s hegemonic adventurism. Shukairy himself said that everyone knows that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria. Ironically, Palestinian nationalism follows Zionism by nearly a century, but don’t mention that at the peace and justice sponsored pot luck. It doesn’t settle well with the notion of Palestine as occupied land.
Helen Thomas’ candor reminded me of Marge Schott, the often indiscreet late owner of the Cincinnati Reds, who was quoted as saying that Hitler “was good in the beginning, but went too far.” An interview with Schott could produce other quotes that generated national outrage, like her condescending and racist reference to her “million-dollar n*****s.” Yet in much of Cincinnati, where a long strain of racism persisted, people tacitly supported Schott because she said what they thought and felt but were afraid to voice. Similarly, I fear it is more than her long career that generated such active collegial support for Thomas.
We live in an age where the media seem to conveniently forget that the blockade of Hamasistan is legal and Hamas has declared a war of ultimate destruction against Israel. The media has declared the blockade an impediment to peace and lionized the club-swinging and knife-wielding terrorists aboard the Turkish-flagged Marmara as “peace activists.” Reuters has just been caught again falsifying photos, this time cropping a knife from the hand of a Palestinian terrorist standing over a bleeding Israeli commando, whose blood was also cropped. After all, knives, clubs, and blood don’t go with Reuters’ view of “peace activists.” And much of the media have conveniently forgotten the difference between propaganda and journalism.
So an independent Jewish state trying to adhere to the principles of liberal democracy amid a sea of kingdoms and despots bent on its destruction does not sit well with the UN, the peace and justice crowd, or the mainstream media. In Berkeley, the only city outside the Vatican with its own foreign policy, there is debate about whether to condemn Israel for its actions in stopping the Marmara. There will be no debate over the forty-seven South Korean sailors killed by North Korea, the 140 Muslims gunned down by Chinese riot police, or the everyday violations of human rights in the world of Sharia.
Helen Thomas spoke what a vast number of people think: the Jews should get the hell out of Palestine. After all, those “good people” at the progressive church potlucks believe Jews are going to hell anyway. What difference does it make if they get there a little sooner?