The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

A Gaffe: saying the truth in the worst way possible

As with Helen Thomas when asked what she thought about Israel.  “I think they should get the hell out of Palestine.”

Israel is a colonial power occupying a land whose population was, prior to their getting rid of many of them, majority non-Jewish.  This is why “right of return” is a non-starter, because if all the people pushed out of Israel were allowed to return…


America’s Future Now: We have to get the public to support us to make Obama do the right thing


Not Fighting Alito and Roberts Mean the End of Your Democracy


  1. Celsius 233

    Another victim of Israel.
    Helen speaks the truth and get pilloried. Besides Israel’s self destructive paranoia and aggression; the U.S. is also being irrevocably damaged
    by it’s unbridled support of Israels criminal behavior.

  2. Mad Hemingway

    I guess Obama is Netanyahu’s poodle.

  3. Z

    I guess Obama is Netanyahu’s poodle.

    He had him house trained by aipac.


  4. anonymous

    Helen really stuck her foot in it. But she’s right. If I was an Israeli, I’d be making plans to get the hell out of there. The current course of Israel can’t end well for anyone. I wonder how many secular Jews are tryng to do just that.

    I remember a few decades ago reading that a huge number of Israelis had dual citizenship, mostly in the US. But with all the immigration from Easter Europe and the middle east, and the passage of a generation, I wonder how true that is anymore.

  5. anonymous

    Israel is a colonial power occupying a land…

    Is that the best framing for describing Israel? Can a better case be made for describing them as the new South Africa, an apartheid state? Wouldn’t a colonial power at least let the occupied have access to some court system, for example?

  6. I agree with the last comment. Israel is the new South Africa. They will never have peace until they integrate.

  7. DupinTM

    It’s so sad for all the reasons stated above that we’ve lost the only person with the cojones to ask a good question, made all the more tragic given that I couldn’t name a single possible successor. Seriously, I have next to no clue who else is even in that press room. I think I once heard the ginger tool Chuck Todd, but that’s about it.

    Can she even pick her replacement? An Amy Goodman handoff of the seat would be a delicious twisting of the knife as a goodbye move, far worthier of Helen than some kind of teaching career where she could only teach young journos a fierce nihilism given her ouster.

    Reading the comments, I agree with the title of the post and the idea that smart, forward thinking Israelis would/should be planning ahead. The one statistical breakdown I’d like to see about all this isn’t a military breakdown of Af/Pak adventures w/o Turkey, or tank fights, but the demographics of Israel’s political elites. Do the Netanyahus/Avigdors expect to die before the shit hits the fan for real, a la South Africa (Botha)? B/c given the world response, and more precisely the turning of the younger Jews (in Israel and here, on J Street) against this ever more stark an apartheid system makes it clear that this incompetent aggressiveness can’t go on for 10 more years.

    I know I just said something I myself (and prolly everyone here) has believed at one point or another about everything the U.S. and/or Israel has done, but how this can’t end up within 5 years tops under our new Hooverian overlords with massive boycotts by everyone else in the region escapes me.

  8. Mad Hemingway

    From 1917 to 2006, here is how much Palestine has shrunk.

  9. alyosha

    My only consolation with Helen Thomas is that she was up in years and sooner or later had to retire. Hunter Thompson killed himself a few years ago, Bill Moyers retired earlier this year… who’s left?

  10. jawbone

    My hope is Helen Thomas will at least blog.

    But who will ask those inconvenient questions of power? Sure as hell won’t be anyone on NewsHour; Jim Lehrer is much to considerate of power for any of that pesky questioning.

    I bet Obama and Gibbs are breathing a sigh of relief.

  11. Stephanie

    Mr Gibbs added: “Obviously those remarks do not reflect the opinions of most of the people in here, and certainly not of the Administration.”

    So what? Does Gibbs think her job (as an opinion columnist) is to reflect the opinion the opinion of the administration? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised, since the administration seems to think that’s the job of news writers.

    Helen Thomas is entitled to her opinion, as are those who defend Israel’s actions, no matter what.

    And I’m also annoyed by people using her age as an excuse for her opinions.

  12. anonymous

    I think using her age as an “excuse” is lame. But sometimes those of us getting older just say hey, fuckit, I’m gonna say what I think and stop trying to make nice. Being 90 years old and part of a long demonized group, I would be pretty pissed off at the delicate sensibilities of Israel’s defenders too. Especially in the last year as Israel’s treatment of Gaza suggests worse comparisons than South Africa, but to express that comparison would get one shunned from any discourse at all.

  13. Stephanie

    anon, I agree. But I think others are bringing up her age to dismiss her as old and senile.

  14. I think it’s more that they started as colonizers and are now having to learn to be natives–two generations have been born there, after all. The Israeli Jews have no more a place to go home to than the Jews of Europe did in 1945, which is what started the problem in the first place, no?

  15. Stephanie

    and I could add, at the “tender” age of 58, I’m also saying fuckit, I’m gonna say what I think and stop trying to make nice.

  16. anonymous

    Especially in the last year as Israel’s treatment of Gaza suggests worse comparisons than South Africa, but to express that comparison would get one shunned from any discourse at all.

    Recall that Jimmy Carter wrote a book titled “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid”

    Whether or not you get shunned depends on whose opinion you respect. I would prefer Carter’s company to Obama’s so I wouldn’t care if he “shunned” me. “Respectable opinion” still discourses with the war criminal Cheney.

  17. Formerly T-Bear

    So much for “” Disagree with what you say, but shall defend to extremis your right to say it””

    Maybe there should be a competition for replacement jingle.

    Like: You have your opinion, show me the facts, or shut up!

    Does Greshams’s Law apply to commentators?

  18. Robert H

    Regardless of how a person’s ancestors got to a specific country, at what point does that individual have a moral right to live there? One generation, two, ten? I am sure the 500 Nations would like nothing more than for everybody else to “get the hell out of” America.

    There is a recursive rule that can be established: anybody who has lived in country x less time than y generations ought to go back to from whence they came. Followed to its logical conclusion we would then attempt to cram the entire 6+ billion of us into eastern Africa for a millennium to give the rest of the planet a respite from our barbarity.

    Perhaps it is time to come up with a new paradigm to replace the concept of nation states…

  19. Zach

    Oh lord god, I am so very weary of people saying “well we butchered the American indigenes, back when, so we have no right…”

    Israel is genociding their population today. Today.

    If the US was gunning down, blowing up, torturing, savaging, kidnapping Navajo children at rodeos in New Mexio today, dont we think that would be an international issue?

    Answer: Yes it would and yes it should be decried and boycotted and embargoed sanctioned and stopped. Today.

    Instead Israel gets to endlessly cover their insane orgiastic butchery with a fine paper of “but we had to flee here / they did it to us first”. And we all nod our heads.

    Will someone please point out to me where in the Western World, today, ethnically and religious Hebrew peoples are being tormented and need to flee.


  20. S Brennan

    The timestamp at the beginning of the video reads, “White House, Jewish Heritage Celebration, May 27, 2010.” Israel began to catch a lot of heat for an attack on an aid ship on May 31. The video hit the media last weekend. And suddenly, everyone’s talking about Helen Thomas being mean to Israelis, when the story just hours before was about Israelis’ being way more than just mean to international peace activists. Mavi Marmara? What’s that, some new dish at the Olive Garden? We’ve all gotta talk about Helen Thomas now! The media has the attention span of a goldfish and the “freedom flotilla” was knocked right off the news.

    And, of course, there’s evidence that the rabbi who took the footage was a rightwing dick. RaceWire found video of the same man in a “comedy skit,” doing a racist parody of a Mexican immigrant. Of course, once that got out, Rabbi David Nesenoff pulled the video from YouTube. You don’t delete a video you’re able to defend. So, like Helen Thomas, it looks like Rabbi Nesenoff is guilty of some hypocrisy here. Perceived antisemitism is one thing, but undeniable anti-Mexican racism is another, more acceptable (if not defensible) thing, I guess.

    And if Helen Thomas had to go, then what special magical protection does Pat Buchanan have? You want an actual, honest-to-goodness antisemite? There ya go. Or maybe someone can explain how advocating the expulsion of all Palestinians from Israel is logically different from what Thomas suggested? That’s Mike Huckabee’s argument. Where Helen Thomas basically made an unhelpful suggestion, Huckabee’s advocating ethnic cleansing. He still works at FOX. No big media controversy there. Fred Malek, Richard Nixon’s “Jew counter,” is a Republican powerbroker now. This fact is greeted with a yawn by the media. Helen Thomas, being a liberal, is different. She conforms to the media narrative that liberals hate Israel and, by extension and suggestion, Jews. If something contradicts that narrative, it’s just ignored.

  21. Robert H

    The very fact that we slaughtered several million “American indigenes” is the reason that we must speak out against what is happening in Palestine today. I am not talking about a necessary precondition of moral purity before weighing in on such issues: there is no group not stained by the wantonly let blood of others somewhere in their (most likely not too distant) pasts. It is not hypocritical of us to speak out against the atrocities being visited upon the Palestinians, partly in our names, because we ourselves are past masters of genocide; if purity were a precondition then no one would be eligible to protest and the slaughter would continue, unabated, without the slightest qualm. Theoretically the world acknowledged it had to change after World War II and theoretically it did. The reality, however, stayed much the same. In light of the Holocaust what the Israelis are perpetrating against the Palestinians is archly sardonic. It is occurring because America allows it to happen. Our species’s inability or unwillingness to pass on information crucial to its survival from generation to generation is terrifying, especially in light of the impending calamities ahead in the next century.

  22. someone

    And if Helen Thomas had to go, then what special magical protection does Pat Buchanan have? You want an actual, honest-to-goodness antisemite? There ya go.

    Buchanan may be an antisemite, but I think the article about the supreme court that he caught so much flack over raised some good points.

    Is it really diversity if there are no WASPS and a segment which comprises half a percent of the population has a third of the seats on the court?

    I realize that education is highly valued in Jewish culture, but… no WASPs at all?

  23. allys gift

    I’ve been turning over and over her remarks in my head and they don’t make any sense. The question was what she thought of Israel (a country) and she said “they” (people–Israelis? Jews? Palestinians? etc.) should get the hell out of Palestine, and laughed in a nervous sort of way. When asked if there was anything else, she turned serious and said these people are occupied, they’ve been living there for years and its’s not Poland or Germany. So is that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, or all of the Palestinian whether citizens or not, or what? When pressed on where the “Jews” should go, which she herself never mentioned, she said back home, to Poland, to Germany or America or wherever.

    The only way any of this conversation makes any sense is if she is talking about the creation of the state in 1948. There, I would agree, as did many Jews at the time, that Jews from Germany or Poland who are running from murderers, cannot then murder and chase out a 3rd party in a far away place. This is a cardinal sin of Jewish law and thus makes the very forming of the state of Israel as a “Jewish State” that must murder to survive as such, completely illegitimate and un-Jewish. I just wish she would have said it like that instead of the way she did.

  24. S Brennan

    Ally’s gift does a fantastic job of significant distortion & outright lying, but it’s all good because we are no longer talking about the 30 plus shots fired into the bodies of civilians on the high seas by trained Israeli soldiers.


    allys gift: “I’ve been turning over and over…she said “they” [a false quote, wrapped in a personal conjecture] should get the hell out of Palestine…The only way any of this conversation makes any sense [is if my interpretation the only one]…”I just wish she would have said it like [a racist would] that instead of the way she did [which requires torturous interpretation and lies].


    Here’s the transcript from Rabbi David Nesenoff of

    Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today–… See More

    Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

    Nesenoff: Ooh. Any better comments?

    Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land, not German and not Polish.

    Nesenoff: So where should they go? What should they do?

    Thomas: They should go home.

    Nesenoff: Where is home?

    Thomas: Poland. Germany.

    Q: So you are saying Jews should go back to Poland?

    Thomas: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out who have lived their for centuries? See?

    I read the same text and see the Rabbi suggests to Helen that the settlers should go somewhere besides the Occupied Palestinian territories. When the “good” Rabbi asked Helen where is home she goes back to original line of Germany and Poland, then the “good” Rabbi speaks the hateful words he wants her to say. She didn’t say “Jews should go back to Poland” the Rabbi did. In fact her next line she asks “Why push people out who have lived their for centuries?”

    The hater here is the Rabbi.

  25. Bernard

    well the Jews have an inalienable Nazi Holocaust card they can play whenever they feel “threatened.” i do wonder what the younger Jews/Israelis think about the Palestinians and all those dispossessed.

    this is such fun for the powers that be. to have the truth spoken and then dismissed with “how dare they accuse me of being prejudiced!, Im Jewish. i can’t be prejudiced. i am one of the “chosen few.”

    it really is a crime all around that no one can call them on their hubris. i often thought the Jews should be given Germany after WWII, but as always there is no easy answer.

    what will have to be done is to force Israel to live with the Palestinians in Palestine or else the apartheid state will devour the Jews. the Jews are going to push the issue one day and some Arabs will decide one day enough is enough.

    what i am astounded at is the cavalier attitude the Arabs have towards the Palestinians and the Iranians.

    do the Arabs think the Israelis will stop in their attempt to “control” Iran and not go after anyone else who is “threatening” Israel.

    my Gosh, who can threaten Israel? with American military hardware and money, the Israelis are unstoppable in the military arena.

    i guess it will have to come down to the attack on Persian Iran for the Arabs to realize they are next. after all the hatred stirred by the Israeli occupation of Israel with America support, it’s just a matter of time before the war spreads from Iran all over the Arab/Islamic world. 9/11 was just a taste for America of blowback.

    that alone is worth relocating the Israelis. what kind of neighborhood is that to live in anyway. the well has been poisoned. it will take greater efforts to begin to trust someone like Israel when the history of the Middle East is one of Arab hostility to Israeli behavior. no matter the purity of Israeli intentions, the neighborhood is not one of hope and possibilities. since Arabs have been living there most of the recent Christian history, i see now what it is to stir up a hornet’s nest. unless the Israelis get rid of all the “hornets” they are going to be fighting hornets for a long time.

    amazing to think America is paying for all this. too.

  26. It occurs to me to wonder about the editing of the tape.

  27. Kaleidic

    read Mark Twain’s description of Palestine in the 19th century

  28. Formerly T-Bear

    For want of a better source than the perpetrators of this attempted smear upon the integrity of Helen Thomas, it might aid the comprehension to read the transcript of the remarks as well as the context of the remarks. Here:

    before so loudly proclaiming personal opinions.

    Warning: This exercise requires the skill of comprehension, not to be tried at home.


  29. allys gift

    S Brennan: we seem to agree and yet you attack me. Not sure why. my point was that I think Thomas’ comments are about the legitimacy of the forming of the state of Israel. I agree, as many did at the time, that forming nation-states 60 years ago by killing or chasing away the people who live there already is illegitimate. It’s even worse when it claims to be in the name of Judaism, which does not, in any way, condone such behavior. Being Jewish, that’s the part I can’t stand. Don’t see how it’s racist to simply not be a Zionist. I’m not a rabid nationalist about my own country. Why should I be one about Israel?

  30. S Brennan

    Allys gift,

    We don’t agree AT ALL, Helen wasn’t talking about the destruction of Israel, she was talking about getting Israel to leave the occupied territories. SEE

    UN Resolution 465

    UN Resolution 681

    UN Resolution 181

    When the settlements began in earnest under Begin, I predicted war eternal, my “American Jewish” friends said, “good…we are ready to fight until for a “greater Israel””. It’s the occupied territories that is dispute, right of return can be turned into the right of just compensation, Jerusalem is a bit tricky, but doable.

    But until Israel stops the Illegal Occupation, Illegal Settlements & Illegal “collective punishments” through siege tactics, the support of Israel will wane and as the US empire sets, the Israelis will find themselves in an untenable position and will rue that they did not sue for peace.

  31. DancingOpossum

    “read Mark Twain’s description of Palestine in the 19th century”

    Why? Because it’s since been debunked by actual historians many times over? Twain was a great writer but when he visited Palestine he had already fallen for the Zionist myth of “land without a people.” (The Zionist project was well underway by the time Twain visited.) To this day, supporters of Israel still trot out Twain’s clearly bigoted and ignorant memoir to explain away the dispossession and genocide of the Palestinians. The same trick was tried later by Joan Peters, with her ridiculous “From Time Immemorial,” initially lauded by historians (and, of course, Zionists) but now found to be a pile of embarrassingly fact-free fabrications.

    Alan Dershowitz, of course, still cites these two sources as unimpeachable. I think we can do better.

  32. S Brennan

    Ian check your “awaiting moderation”, three wiki links on UN resolutions

  33. Formerly T-Bear

    A comment that was made elsewhere.

    History and the world were a lot different when Helen Thomas learned it and the recalled facts are much different for her as well. To pass judgment upon the Lady set at today’s standards is perversely anachronistic, Helen was obviously speaking from anamnesis that most no longer share, and fueled by honest outrage at the inhumanity exhibited. The world has less integrity than Helen Thomas, and nary a foot to stand on to level criticism in her direction. If anything, Helen Thomas’ remarks were righteously drawn. On this, the world needs to listen, stifle its ill-considered opinions, and Respect an Elder.

    One last remark, what shabby treatment Helen Thomas ended her service, only adds to the light being shown upon the atrocities and wrongs being perpetrated upon a weak, proud, and honorable peoples. In that, Helen goes in a blaze of glory.


    From Al Jazeera today re Helen Thomas

    a temperate report, more light than heat.

    Does not it appear that Helen Thomas was accosted in a public place, unprepared for the interrogation, and responding to that unexpected trap being set by that zionist bigot? Good god, the camera was directly in her face, as was that religious swine. Cannot Helen’s discomfort at having her private space violated be seen?

    Helen Thomas has no charge that she must apologize for, none whatsoever. She has not consistently lied and dissembled to the world such as Israeli Zionists do, it is now expected of all their blathering. When was the last time you heard a item of truth coming out of Washington D.C. and its press, and don’t hold your breath until you do. The creation and twisting of offense to service a lie is not the standard that Helen Thomas is to be judged, nor should those who keep her to that twisted standard be listened to, such statements are the squealing of swine, despicable and morally reprehensible swine.

    It was the victim, Helen Thomas, that has lived a life of integrity and honorable service, no one else in this sad affair can claim the same. There are few people in the entire country that have the standing to pass judgment on Helen Thomas, and none of the commentators here are of that quality.

  34. …German officials are reluctant to admit Israeli pressure pushed their government to change its immigration laws. “They are not about to announce a blockade against Jewish immigration,” he said, for fear that it would be seen as “a new manifestation of anti-Semitism.”

    The Israeli government, concerned about the declining number of Russian Jews emigrating to Israel, has persuaded Germany to institute unprecedented measures restricting the influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, according to several Israeli officials.

    Prompted by an intense behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign waged by Israel, new immigration rules would grant residence only to Jews from the former Soviet Union who are under 45, fluent in German and financially stable. The rules, announced late last month, do not include Jews from other non- Soviet countries or any other ethnic or religious group. They are expected to take effect at the beginning of next year.

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