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Chan Lowe: Helen Thomas steps in it

helen.gifHelen 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.

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The comment Thomas states in the cartoon would be equivalent to telling black Americans to go back to Africa. Thomas' actual comment was equivalent to telling black Africans to leave Africa.

Good point, Chan!

this cartoon is a bad example of irony!! nobody in the media would praise her and want to give her a raise had she said the opposite!! the American media is hardly Israels friend! she has bashed Israel in press briefings with loaded psuedo questions since I can remember!! she has a mean streak in her and this was just the final straw!! since she is not a native American maybe she should leave the United States and move back to Lebanon were her parents were born!!!

I think a lot of people forget just how old Thomas is...she was already a reporter when Israel was formed! It is not really outrageous for someone who was there and saw the Jews migrate to Palestine to say that the Jews therefore need to leave Palestine.

Israel always gets a free pass. To criticize them in any way is interpreted as 'anti-Semitic'. That's a shame.

Guess some folks don't know history.

"a patch of earth that both Israelis and Palestinians belong to"?! :-o
Time to read some history books, Chan.
The askenazi jews who predominate in these territories do NOT 'belong' to that "patch of earth". Check out Shlomo Sands book.
"The chance that someone who lives in Hebron today and speaks Arabic is a direct descendant of a Jew in ancient times is 1000 times greater than the possibility that I am descended from a Jew," -- Shlomo Sand.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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