Home > Germany, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Poland, Rabbi Ben Kamin, Spain > You are sending us back to the wrong place, Ms. Thomas

You are sending us back to the wrong place, Ms. Thomas

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–Years ago, I waited for hours in a line at the Buckeye Book Fair in northeastern Ohio—just for the honor of saying hello in person to the gilded White House reporter Helen Thomas.  I purchased her book, which she was promoting, and she signed it for me, a process requiring about 2.3 seconds and the application of that processed smile.  A smile that—till the other day—meant something to me, as perfunctory as it was.

Helen Thomas was so cool, so irascibly able to distract and occasionally even scold several US presidents during press conferences right there in the White House.  Her knowledge and petulance almost secured her a lofty perch in the history of American journalism.  She had done more to advance the stature and parity and the dignity of American women than, say, Jennifer Aniston.

I am saddened that now she will be remembered as the latest-high profile casualty of the international virus, anti-Semitism.  But I am also just as committed that she be remembered as such because in ripping off at my people the way she did, like a street-corner bigot and illiterate, she violated every privilege she enjoyed for decades at the apex of Washington power.

The irony of Ms. Thomas’ outburst was its complete journalist inaccuracy and its historical bankruptcy.  She proposed that every Jew leave “Palestine” and go back to, say, Germany and Poland.  [This is the equivalent animus of many white Americans who have said about black folks—that they should just go back to Africa, as if we hadn’t dragged their forebears here in chains and as chattel in the first place.]

Helen, whom would we join in Poland?  The three million corpses or humps of ashes left over from the all-but complete extermination of Polish Jewry just 70 years ago?  And Germany?  Are you kidding? 

The fact is, Helen, if you wish to “send us back to where we came from,” you’d be upsetting your friends in Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda who share and applaud your anti-Semitic sentiments.  We came from Judea, now known as Israel—which has been the continuing and singular homeland of the Judean (Jewish) people from the time of King David, 1000 BCE, to the forced expulsion of our people from the capital of Jerusalem in 70 CE by the Romans.

The Jews are not originally from Poland, Germany, Russia, or France.  The Jews are from Israel but were forcefully dispersed elsewhere and, in spite of now unveiled biases such as that of Helen Thomas, have contributed dynamically to every civilization, from Spain to America, ever since. 

I herewith extend an invitation to you, Helen Thomas, to speak to our local, noble, and hard-working volunteer members of the Jewish War Veterans chapter next Memorial Day.  They will remember their friends, Jewish and Christian and Muslim, who did not return with them from Poland and Germany while fighting for the freedom you just desecrated.

Kamin is a freelance journalist and author based in San Diego

  1. June 14, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Brilliantly stated. The best response to this bitter outburst I have read.

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