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Goodbye Helen Thomas, I’ll Miss You

I know that people were offended by the comments that Helen Thomas made about Israel, but even the Jewish side of me thinks they weren’t that bad. And she did apologize. So to lose her job over it? Why Helen Thomas, and not Rush Limbaugh?

© Glenn McCoy

Personally, I like the idea of moving Israel to Baja California. Perfect solution to a seemingly intractable problem.



  1. Yeah, I thought that forcing her to retire went beyond the pale. What she said was easily misconstrued, and she should have had the sophistication to avoid it (or the soft power in her field to squelch it). But after decades of smart questions and a steel determination to reject fluff answers, she deserved a much better ending to her career.

    I’ll miss her: she showed more fundamental respect for her readers and her interlocutors than nearly all other reporters today. She assumed we were smart and assumed that her readers deserved solid answers.

    What we have now are sound-bites, fluff, and generalities. What we have now assumes that the news makers aren’t worthy of deep questioning and that the readers are too stupid to realize that what we get is mainly PR and cliches.

    So yes, I want Thomas back in her chair right in front of the President in the Press room. Sure, she made people uncomfortable. She made them think. That was her *job*.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  2. Hassan wrote:

    Actually I thought I heard her say Palestine is occupied by polish, germans, russians, and they should go back to their country. So apparently she was distinguishing indigenous jews to those who came later.

    And I am never able to understand (perhaps not being jew), why anti-israel (state) is equivalent to anti-semitism. Can someone explain why two are equivalent.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  3. Sammy wrote:

    I agree with Hassan above, but as to the question of why Thomas and not Limbaugh (et al), it’s apples and airplanes. She’s a journalist, the others are opinion-based talk shows. As long as they still continue to sell advertising and draw (naive, stupid, moronic, imbecilic) listeners/viewers, they won’t be losing their jobs anytime soon.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  4. Richard wrote:

    Hassan: For many (not all) Jews, Israel represents the survival of the Jewish people post holocaust. People can get pretty irrational and worked up when they see a direct link to the holocaust and even though I’m not in that camp, I understand it.

    To your question: some people think anti-Semitism is built into anti zionism: If you’re against Israel, you’re against all Jews. I don’t subscribe to this but some folks do.

    I’m Jewish but feel that Israel went too far in Lebanon and is blowing the Gaza situation. However, I live in relatively peaceful Connecticut and don’t have missiles landing around me or suicide bombers routinely blowing themselves up in my town. My opinion might be different if I lived in Israel.

    Gaza is a mess and whether or not you think Israeli policies made it that way, there are people there firing missiles into Israel.

    When groups like Hamas state publicly that they’d like to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth, some people take that seriously.

    As for Helen, she made a mistake, people make mistakes, and whether I like her as a journalist or not, I think she, like anyone else, is entitled to survive a mistake. However, as above, I understand why some people (Jews and non-Jews) might get worked up over what she said, given that it’s what Hamas wants to do as well.

    If memory serves, Gaza used to be part of Egypt and when Israel took that land during a war (like the US took land during wars, etc.) Gaza became part of Israel. It does seem odd to me that a country like Israel gives away this piece of land to attempt a peace settlement, it is inhabited by people who elect a terrorist group to run the land, and then missiles are fired into Israel from there. Hard to get bent at Israelis for being upset by this.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Minor corrections to some of the comments: Helen Thomas switched from being a journalist to being a columnist ten years ago. So the comparison with Limbaugh is not all that farfetched. See

    Also Hamas has recognized Israel’s right to exist, but only within the original 1967 borders. Dismissing Hamas by claiming that their goal is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth isn’t really helpful. See,7340,L-3249568,00.html

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  6. Laurie wrote:

    I’ve always maintained that when you reach the age of 90 (give or take), you should be able to say/have/do anything you want, legal or not (in many cases).
    The reasoning “HEY, SHE’S 90” should suffice in nearly every situation.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Agreed Laurie, except she made the mistake of not wearing purple. If you are 90 (or 89) and wear purple, people will let you say anything!

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink
  8. Richard wrote:

    “Dismissing Hamas by claiming that their goal is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth isn’t really helpful. See,7340,L-3249568,00.html

    Published 05.11.06. Not quite sure things have remained the same since.

    Personally, I dismiss Hamas because they’re an elected body that sanctions terrorism. They control Gaza yet missiles continue to be fired into Israel.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  9. Erin wrote:

    Hassan: I’ll go you one better. Why is being against the brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people the same as being anti-Israel, which is the same as being anti-Semitic? It boggles the mind how otherwise rational people routinely make this extraordinary and entirely unjustified logical leap. I’m totally opposed to the Gaza blockade. I find it morally reprehensible and strategically flawed. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-Israel, let alone anti-Jew.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink
  10. ebdoug wrote:

    Bush wanted a democracy in Gaza and proposed an election. Much to his chagrin, the people of Gaza elected Hamas to represent them. So be it. We got stuck with Bush, they got stuck with Hamas. Such is a Democracy.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  11. Lisa wrote:

    Interesting comment by Iron Knee about dismissing Hamas with statements that they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. If Israel said they want to wipe the Palestinians off the face of the earth they couldn’t retract it so easily as to say, well within certain borders maybe they can exist. Their party line is the same as always. What they concede publicly for the press about, “okay, they can exist if they have to” is not supported by firing non-stop rockets into residential areas.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink