Monday, June 7, 2010

Regarding Helen Thomas

She puts me in mind of Jimmy the Greek, back in the day. Particularly given that few present-day Israelis are of direct German or Polish origin, the notion that they should clear out and "go back" to those countries, from which such remnants of an earlier Jewish generation as survived the sieve of the Third Reich were justly grateful to flee, shows at best a tone-deafness to these historical sensibilities. And yet, and yet. Would Helen Thomas have entered retirement so abruptly had she weighed in on some different territorial/irredentist conflict elsewhere abroad?

The Kurds, for example: "Why don't the Kurds clear out of Turkey and move back to Iraq/Iran?" (Note that this game can be played with three corners)

The Tamils: "Can't they realize that Sri Lanka will never accept them? Why can't they just rejoin their fellow Hindus on the mainland?" (Alternatively: "The Sinhalese should just clear out and move down to southeast Asia with their fellow Buddhists.")

Or the Uighurs: "Surely these people can understand that they were never a logical fit with the Han Chinese. Why don't they just clear out and go live with the other Muslim camel-jockeys west of the Celestial Kingdom?"

See what I mean? Pretty darned offensive formulations, all of these, and any one of them might even have rated a public apology (although I doubt whether the Tamils have that kind of clout, and as for the Uighurs, the Cheney Shogunate demonstrated that these are to be shat upon with impunity). But Israel, plucky, (and periodically thuggish, although our own country has but slender ground from which to be censorious in these matters) little Israel, proves to be the third rail of foreign policy commentary.

I do not wish Israel ill, but I also do not wish it well in the sense that I am indifferent to its fate. I do not care whether the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka fails or prospers, and this indifference will not be taken by those who know me as a vile bias against the Tamils. An independent state for the Kurds carved out of Iraq, Iran and Turkey? OK by me. No state for the Kurds? Nichto problemo, and I trust that this will not be construed as Kurd-hatred. Autonomy for the Uighurs? I'm sure they care. I don't. A Jewish state in land also claimed as "Palestine?" Good luck with that, but no, I'm not prepared to subscribe.

Fortunately I'm not an elderly lady journalist who doesn't understand YouTube, and I suspect that HT ought to have retired some years back. I regret, though, that she had to go out on this particular banana peel. She deserved better.

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