Helen Thomas and the Zionist Albatross

Helen Thomas and the Zionist Albatrosswar, and in 2006 hearing Condoleezza Rice’s analogize Israel’s slaughter of 1,200 Lebanese civilians to “the birth pangs of the Middle East”. And, the piece de resistance the U.S. occupation and wholesale destruction of the high civilization of Iraq and the U.S. military’s abuse and torture of the civilian population.Like other ethnic groups in the U.S., Arab Americans have transnational ties to their countries of origins. When Israel attacks innocent civilians in Gaza and Lebanon with American made and donated F16s, phosphorus and cluster bombs, Arab Americans psychologically absorb the assault and annihilation, because it is more than likely they have close relatives and friends residing in these countries.With well over a century of emigration to the U.S., Arab Americans have proven themselves as loyal Americans, who like Helen’s parents and my paternal grandparents sought and became U.S. citizens. Shortly after 9/11, Noam Chomsky remarked that being anti-Arab, e.g., making overt racist comments against Arabs is considered legitimate; whereas, being anti-Black or anti-Semitic, is not. This is not to say, that racism does not exist against African Americans or Jewish Americans, just that if racist remarks are expressed openly it is rightly denounced as unacceptable. Lamentably, anti- Arab and anti-Muslim racism is not uniformly condemned in the U.S. or abroad.For example, where was the public censure of Ann Coulter when she remarked that “press passes can’t be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the President”?Numbering over three million in the United States, Arab Americans are asking for a fair shake like any other U.S. citizen and a more balanced foreign policy towards Palestine. Ms. Thomas’ outcry embodies a half century of frustration and mental occupation that Arab Americans feel as their voices of historical truth is pilloried, discredited, and dismissed as either delusional or Anti-Semitic. Are not Arab Americans a part of America’s participatory democracy that as an under-represented minority are penalized and ostracized when they speak out against social and political injustice perpetrated against them and their sisters and brothers in the Middle East? Ms. Thomas has apologized for her remarks to the novice interviewer/filmmaker Rabbi Nesenoff. Yet, while defending Helen Thomas’ freedom of speech, the Society for Professional Journalists deems her remarks as “inappropriate and offensive”. Why then is it not considered equally reprehensible when  Rabbi Nesenoff, a man of the Book, has not apologized to the Mexican American community after a widely circulated you tube, entitled “The Mexican Weatherman” pictured him delivering a hokey and racist impersonation of a Mexican priest. Nesenoff justified his off color comedy stint under the pretext of getting into the spirit of Purim./1/ While for some of us he was fanning the flames of anti-immigrant rhetoric that helped to fuel the present climate of hatred behind the recent Arizona shootings. In light of the enormous contribution that Helen Thomas has made to the field of journalism, the context in which she spoke candidly should be rightfully recognized and her media awards restored back to her name.  Or does our country’s unwavering allegiance to the Zionist ideology irrevocably trump and excoriate any truth-telling of Palestinian suffering?