A series of protests against Israeli policy and its support by AIPAC are planned in May to coincide with the AIPAC conference in the U.S. capital and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech there. The protests, under the heading “Move over AIPAC,” will include demonstrations opposite the building where Netanyahu will speak and Congress, and a series of lectures and meetings with critics of Israel, including veteran journalist Helen Thomas who lost her place in the White House press room after saying Jews should leave Palestine and go back to Poland, Germany and the United States. Thomas will give the keynote address at the Move Over AIPAC conference, and will receive an award from the women’s pacifist organization Code Pink, one of the hundred left-wing American organizations behind the conference.
On Friday night, a favorite cafe among progressives, Busboys and Poets, gathered letters to Gazans; the next aid flotilla in May will deliver the messages to the Gaza residents. A separate room in the cafe hosted a meeting of around 250 activists with Omar Barghouti, founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Barghouti, who recently released a book on BDS, was winding up a book tour that included Columbia, Harvard, Brandeis and other universities.
Helen Thomas: I thought Obama was Liberal Because He Is Black….Israelis are Ruthless, Running an Open Prison & Brutal Oppression
I went to Susan Rice, who is our representative at the UN. And I said, “how could you, how could you raise your hand in a veto?” She said, “I would have lost my job.” You are not allowed to annex occupied land under the UN and under international law. The blockade of Gaza is an open prison. The Israelis are ruthless and not only have they been, they have been allowed to be the cause of support of America. American Presidents are afraid to say no to Israelis. It is political suicide. Especially if you are running again, which of course Obama is.
Only President Carter had been brave enough, courageous enough, to take them on; against their brutal oppression of the Palestinians. The bottom line is you can’t take what doesn’t belong to you.
For all the military might and all the nuclear arsenal, the Israelis live in fear, there is no question about that, and even more so now because of the Arab uprising all over. They hate that, I’m sure, because they have always false thought that they would be the only Democracy in the Middle East. What kind of democracy makes most of the citizens oppressed and not citizens, lower class, taking their land, taking their homes, killing their children? Now, I think I should lighten up, don’t you?
I’ve always assumed that President Obama would be liberal because he’s black. What a false assumption that was.
Question: Why do you think Obama hasn’t said anything to help the Palestinians get any of their land back? Why do you think Obama has done nothing to help the Palestinians get their land back?
Thomas: Politics – once you get elected, he has to have billions, not millions of dollars, and you can’t antagonize your big bankers. I don’t think he has ever been a real liberal, not like I am a liberal, the good old days. I don’t think he really cares that much, I am sorry to say that.
Question: Can you please explain your comments from last year that caused you to retire from the White House press?
Thomas: I said the Israelis should go home, wherever it is. If it was Palestine, ok. But for everywhere else, to push people out of their homes, it is a horrible thing. Where is their conscience? I want to know. What right do they have to do that? To kill and to take someone else’s home and that is what they have done of the years. Even today they are bulldozing homes, killing children, killing the women, who are these people? How dare they? When is America going to stand up for the real international law? I mean absolutely, when we won WWII, we left, we didn’t occupy the other lands, we didn’t, but when the Israelis due with their military might, the US supports them, when they take what doesn’t belong them. And that is absolutely wrong. We provide them with the military money, we provide them with the money, they couldn’t exist one day without us. We are equally guilty.
Question: Do you think Jerusalem has become another settlement?
Thomas: I hope not. Jerusalem should be an international city. That was what was ordered for many years ago at the UN, except we abstained, I think. Of course Jerusalem is an international city. It should be owned by all religions and all the people.
Question: What solution do you offer for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Do you take a two-state solution or one-state?
Thomas: Well, I think we have to bow to the inevitable that they are there. But, I think we have to stop them from taking more and more land. And we also have to get them out of their illegitimate places: the West Bank, Gaza, and so forth. They have blockaded Gaza, they treat them like… There will be more and more flotillas and they deserve it.
Question: What steps do you think need to be taken to get the Palestinians out of occupation?
Thomas: Passive resistance, I think because there is no way to fight the Israeli military might. But I do think a real stand down on the part of the whole Arab world will put them in their place. I believe that we can do it. It worked with Gandhi, it worked with Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King during the height of the civil rights movement went to a restaurant that he knew was making a sit down strike and he made everyone of his supporters put their guns in the bag. Passive resistance works and it saves life.
Question: Why do you think there is such a huge disconnect with US media and with what’s going on over there (Middle East)?
Thomas: I think the Israeli propaganda is so effective and you won’t have a job in this country if you go against them. You can’t say one thing about Israel. I can call the President anything in the book; I’ve said that many times. Nobody says anything. I can call him anything. But, I cannot say one thing about Israel or you don’t have a job or you’re anti-Semitic even if you are Semite.
Question: Can you explain what the word anti-Semitism is and how it’s been missued in the media?
Thomas: That’s not what it is, but I sure know how it’s been missued. I think it dates back to Hitler and that’s the way they try to defame you, by saying you are anti-Semitic. I don’t hate anyone. But, I sure have had trouble not to in a lot cases. We are supposed to love each other, but how can you love people who hate?
Ben-Gurion, who was the first President Prime Minister of Israel said “show them no mercy.” Everything they did, village after village. The Israeli army was created by terrorist groups: Irgun,???, Haganah, who formed the Israeli army. They initiated terrorism, Begin bragged about it in his first book.
Question: How do you respond to a person’s claim that Palestine is their land since King David?
Thomas: Well Rabin said, “where’s the deed, where’s the deed?” G-d apparently doesn’t give deeds.
Question: What do you think of the rumors of the 3rd intifada? Do you think it will be successful?
Thomas: I’d like to see a stand down, throughout the whole Arab world. Passive resistance, resisting, blockading, stopping the whole ???. I think that’s the only solution. It’s the one that saves lives.
Question: Do you think it will happen?
Thomas: We need another Gandhi, or Tutu, or whatever.
Question: How do you feel about the popular demonization of pro-Palestinian events and supporters?
Thomas: That’s wonderful.
Question: The demonization of pro-Palestinian supporters.
Thomas: Dehumanization? How do I feel? Well, you’ve got a victim here.