Helen Thomas has had a long and distinguished career as a journalist, but there’s no condoning what she said on video yesterday, which is that the Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine.”
It was coarse, insensitive, and stupid. As one of my colleagues put it during an editorial board meeting, “It’s like telling American blacks they should all go back to Africa.”
Any reasonable person would agree that her comments were outside the pale. If one wishes to be charitable, one might ascribe the faux pas to Ms. Thompson’s advanced age (eighty-nine), and leave it at that. She was pushed out of her job for her transgression, and it was probably time.
All that having been said, it might be instructive for us to look at the above cartoon as a thought experiment. Had Ms. Thomas uttered the words depicted, rather than her actual ones, would she have been treated as harshly? Would she have lost her job? Would commentators have been lining up, as they are today, to pile on?
After all, the words in the cartoon are just as offensive, unfair, and reflective of a total ignorance of the facts on the ground, which is that the area in question is a patch of earth that both Israelis and Palestinians belong to. It would be a lovely thing if the two peoples could live in harmony, but since they appear unable to, the conflict arises over how to divide it.
Anyone who doesn’t agree that she ought to be treated the same in both circumstances might want to look to his own bias.