The doyenne of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas, 89, has raised a storm of controversy for saying that Jews should 'get the hell out of Palestine' and 'go back to Germany and Poland.'
American Jews have rightly been stung by the suggestion that Jews should go back to the countries that oppressed them and slaughtered them - Germany and Poland.
Now Thomas has apologised, saying her statements 'do not reflect her belief in the need for mutual respect and tolerance'.
According to Ynet News:
Thomas, who will be celebrating her 90th birthday soon, made the remarks in a talk with Rabbi David Nesenoff on the margins of an event held by President Obama last week to mark Jewish heritage month.
It was the writer Amos Oz who remarked that, before Israel was established, a favourite antisemitic slogan was 'Jews go to Palestine'. Now it is 'Jews get out of Palestine.'
In all the furore about Thomas's remarks, nobody seems to have picked up on the fact that most Israeli Jews were born in Israel; half the Jews of Israel don't originate from Europe at all, but the Middle East and North Africa. Does Helen Thomas really believe that Jews should go back to hotbeds of antisemitism in Libya, Egypt, Iraq and even Lebanon?
Thomas articulates the widely-believed propaganda myth that Jews are colonial imposters from Europe. ( Yet the results of a genetic study yesterday proclaim that Jews are a distinct population: even Jews from Europe are closely related to non-European Jews).
People are speculating on what Thomas's motive might have been for her outburst. It seems that her family came from Lebanon and that its original name was Antonious. There is a long tradition of Christian Arabs identifying with secular pan-Arab nationalism in order to escape their subjugated dhimmi status - indeed Christians like Michel Aflak were the driving force behind it.
Neither should one underestimate the antisemitism of some oriental Christians: their clergy have never subscribed to the Nostra Aetate document of the Second Vatican Council, absolving Jews from killing Jesus.
Yid with Lid has Rabbi Nesenoff's full interview with Helen Thomas (with thanks: Heather)
The myth of Jewish colonialism