Helen Thomas, Fiction Writer

Larry Levin

Not 45 minutes after I passed a protest of about a dozen people with signs condemning Israel in plain view on the Delmar Loop, I returned to my office only to find this statement by Helen Thomas, former UPI White House correspondent:

“I hit the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive.”

I have no idea if Thomas in her heart of hearts is anti-Semitic, anti-Israel or what. But I know from personal and professional experience that her statement is patently untrue. I could list a thousand examples like the protest above, but here’s a few:

* Our publication. We’ve criticized Israel’s leaders plenty from time to time. Yes, we take heat from it, but so what? It’s our editorial voice and our opinions and we live by them. We have not been forced out of business as a result.

* National Media: Many national media have written critically of Israel’s positions. Ever read Roger Cohen in the New York Times?

*Nonprofit organizations: If you’re well read about the Middle East, no doubt you’ve read about Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street and the rise of his organization. Much of what comes out of the organization IS criticism of the Israeli government. Yet they have been able to attract voices in support. You don’t have to like J Street, but its presence would pretty well slam the nail in the coffin of the “criticze Israel and survive” argument. And that’s a JEWISH organization! How many others are out there slamming Israel on a daily basis, hundreds, thousands? Look at the Internet on any given day, Helen? Perhaps you should.

*Politicians: What was Joe Biden doing in the spring in his settlement condemnations? What did the White House take heat for earlier this year? Criticism of Israel. Have they survived? So far, and you can bet that the administration’s position on Israel is hardly its number one priority right now (whether it should be or not) — jobs and the economy are.

The point is,  Thomas is flat out using Israel as a scapegoat for her own personal bungling. She did not offer this last as a statement of opinion, but as a fact. And it is a false fact, and she knows it. My guess is she’s doing it to build additional public hostility toward Israel, which is her reputed history, and to make herself feel better about the ignominious end to her professional career.

We’ve pretty much had all we can take of you at this point, Helen. It’s time to do the right thing for the country. Quit talking.

At her chronological age, Ms. Thomas should be able to take her lumps and go home with grace and maturity. But since being purged for her offensive statements, she is insistent on being the story instead of covering it.