Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Ambush of Helen Thomas

But there are some who demand that we all accept a certain understanding of Israel. Everyone must, to avoid charges of anti-Semitism, agree on these points:

1. The establishment of the state of Israel was absolutely necessary, to prevent the annihilation of the Jewish people in a future holocaust. (This is of course an unproveable assertion. The global Jewish population today is about what it was in the 1910s---about 16 million---and if it is declining it’s mostly because of birth control and intermarriage. The prospect for future Auschwitzes seems minimal.)

2. The Jewish state must be within the boundaries of the ancient state of Israel, as it existed during the (legendary) reign of King David, as described in the Bible. It is the right of Jews to reconstitute that state, from which they were wrongly driven. It has always been theirs, no matter where they roamed. It is their “birthright” to live in Israel. (Tens of millions of Christian Zionists embrace this notion, noting that God, in the Bible, made the Jews his Chosen People and gave them that land. Enough said!)

3. The establishment of the modern state of Israel was the result of a just and humane struggle. The displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs was their own fault, or a consequence of propaganda from Arab regimes urging them to flee. (Israeli historians like the estimable Ilan Pappe have effectively disproven this.)

4. The occupation of the lands invaded in 1967 is necessary as a security measure against Arab anti-Semitism, irrational anti-Jewish hate. (You can maybe advocate withdrawal from the territories, and even promote a two-state solution, without being called anti-Semitic. But if you note matter-of-factly that the occupation is against international law, is cruelly implemented, and produces enormous suffering, expect charges of anti-Semitism.)

If you don’t agree that Israel is a moral exemplar and light to the world, “the only democracy in the Middle East” just attending reasonably to its security needs against a world that is (for no good reason) hostile to itself, you can be hounded, harrassed, intimidated, discredited, denied tenure, fired. Helen was fired. That’s the real outrage here.