Helen Thomas on Obama and Israel-Palestine

The Real News, in 2010, interviewed Helen Thomas, the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and the first female member of the Gridiron Club; a renowned journalist who worked for United Press/United Press International (UPI) from 1943-2000, where she served as White House bureau manager, and Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010. Thomas reported on eleven presidential administrations, from Eisenhower administration all the way to Obama, and was always respected for her impartial coverage.

The subject of her interview was Israel-Palestine, that most “controversial” of topics in the US (human rights are controversial in the US) for which she was eventually fired. She committed the crime of speaking the truth, for simply pointing out that the Palestinian “people are occupied and it’s their land,” and that the people colonizing them are mostly Europeans.

Telling the truth can often get you in trouble.

Host Paul Jay is particularly interested in Thomas’ thoughts on Obama’s policy on the Middle East. Thomas explains that, on the issue of peace in Israel-Palestine “Obama gave up totally early on; I don’t think he even tried.”

Obama is much “too one-sided,” she reveals. He “ignores all the horrors that have happened to Palestinians, their country taken away, thousands imprisoned for many, many years,” while the US continues to give weapons to the country dispossessing (read: robbing), torturing, and killing them.

Palestinians “have a right to defend their own country,” Thomas insists. Most people who immigrate to Israel “are Europeans, who have no tie to Palestine.” In other words, they are foreigners who are coming to Israel to occupy Palestinian land, colonize it in the name of creating a racist, Jewish ethnoreligious supremacist state, and ethnically cleanse the indigenous people who have lived on it for, as Thomas indicates, “2000 years.”

Jay asks Thomas to describe how US policy on Israel-Palestine has changed over the decades. She reveals that it hasn’t really. As soon as Israel announced itself as a(n ethoreligious supremacist) state in 1948, President Truman was woken up in the middle of the night to immediately recognize it, she recalls.

In what is perhaps the most intriguing part of the interview, Thomas tells of an unreleased 1960s government report that encouraged rapprochement with the Palestinians. “As soon as he took office,” she explains, setting the scene somewhere around 1969, President Nixon sent William Scranton as an envoy to the Middle East. After a month, Scranton returned and advised Nixon that the US government “should be even-handed in the Middle East.” Thomas continued, “Zionists went out of their mind, saying ‘What do you mean “even-handed”?!’ That’s like I’m telling you ‘Why don’t you try to be fair.'”

The report was never released, Thomas explains. It “never saw the real light of day.” Dust has been settling on it for decades, she laments. Meanwhile, “Every president has been confronted with this issue.” They try to ignore it, but they can’t. Palestinians “have a right to defend their own country,” and until Israel stops its racist colonization and occupation, the resistance will continue.

There is no “peace” under white supremacist, settler colonialist occupation.