Like the Wicked Witch of the West – whom, we must say, she greatly resembles (apologies to Margaret Hamilton) – Helen Thomas has melted. All it took to take the longtime White House correspondent down was a dash of cold water, in the form of a widely circulated videotape of her astonishingly ignorant and bigoted remarks about Jews and Israel. Indeed, you could say she splashed it on herself.
Those remarks have drawn a lot of attention (see page 30). One of the best responses we’ve seen was by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post on Monday. He called the Thomas diatribe that Jews should “go home” “a teachable moment,” and proceeded to remind the world that “after World War II many Jews did attempt to ‘go home’ to Poland. This resulted in the murder of about 1,500 of them – killed not by Nazis but by Poles, either out of sheer ethnic hatred or fear they would lose their (stolen) homes.
“The mini-Holocaust that followed the Holocaust â€¦ played an outsize role in the establishment of the State of Israel,” he noted. “It was the plight of Jews consigned to Displaced Persons camps in Europe that both moved and outraged President Harry Truman, who supported Jewish immigration to Palestine and, when the time came, the new state itself. Something had to be done for the Jews of Europe. They were still being murderedâ€¦.
“For the surviving Jews of Eastern Europe, there was no going home – and no staying, either.”
Thomas also needs to be taught about the Jews who had a centuries-long history in Arab lands – and who were expelled from them.
Shulamit Kustanowitz, a former managing editor of The Jewish Standard, cites Jews’ long history in eretz Yisrael itself.
“My grandmother (Esther Shtampfer Englander),” the Fair Lawn resident writes in an e-mail, was the seventh generation in her family to be born in Jerusalem.
“So, figuring she was born in about 1885, and allowing 20 years per generation, I can claim Jerusalem as the place of birth of our family in particular going back to 1745.
“Of course,” Kustanowitz continues, “the Torah records that our ancestors were there at least 3,500 years ago.
“Therefore,” she artfully suggests, “I think we should do what Helen Thomas originally suggested and go back home where we came from. She just had the country of our roots wrong.”
Take that, Helen Thomas.