A MIX OF IDEAS
Editorials are posted and archived on JNonline.us.
ith anti-Semitic hate crimes
and discrimination on the
rise around the world and an
expanding scope of anti-Semitic acts con-
fronting American Jews, the U.S. govern-
ment has stepped up efforts to integrate
combating hatred of Jews into all aspects
of the State Department. The move to
confront these disgusting acts with more
rigorous diplomacy is welcome; time will
tell how effective it is.
At the B'nai B'rith
policy conference in
November, the U.S.
Department of State
special envoy to monitor
and combat anti-Semi-
tism declared that one of
her biggest priorities is
to underscore that anti-
Jewish sentiment "is a
disease that was not cured after World War
II!' Global trends bear that out.
Special Envoy Hannah Rosenthal said
anti-Semitism today flares up in many
ways: anti-Zionism, Holocaust denial, neo-
Nazism, the U.N. Human Rights Council,
the Arab League, campus intimidation.
Holocaust denial and Holocaust glorifica-
tion are among anti-Semitism's most acute
challenges. Rosenthal said success will be
to get others — individuals, communities,
nations — to condemn Jew-bashing.
Her work is to engage governments and
civil society organizations worldwide in
arresting Jew-hating and promoting at
least tolerance, if not acceptance.
When Rosenthal took office late last
year, we speculated that she would have
her hands full, not only in rooting out and
responding to hate, but also serving as
lead ambassador for teaching why such
intolerance has no place in a civilized
world. That scenario remains so. The pro-
tracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict has left
the world with the worst strains of anti-
Semitism since Hitler's reign.
Anti-Semites, whether masquerading
as opponents of the Israeli government or
emboldened as outright Jew-haters, have
emerged in ever-rising numbers across
Europe, in part driven by indoctrinated
Muslims emigrating from the Middle East
and in part by scared Europeans search-
ing for a scapegoat for their economic and
Here in the U.S., the situation is no less
disconcerting. Anti-Semitic incidents
remain at "a sustained and troubling level:
according to the Anti-Defamation League,
which compiles an annual statistical
audit of anti-
continue to be
singled out for
acts of hate on
an average of
three times per
day in America.
a former rab-
whose father was
the only member
of his family
to survive the
"a human rights
issue and we
concur. To endanger Jews as a religious
and an ethnic group because of stereo-
type, indoctrination and jealousy is non-
A desire to isolate Jews is central to hat-
ing Jews. That desire is rooted in history
and attempts through the ages to ghettoize
Jews in hopes of neutralizing our influ-
ence and impact. Some of the isolation
that Israel, a sliver of a country in the
grand scheme of the world, sees emanat-
ing from the United Nations certainly has
an anti-Semitic undercurrent. Rosenthal's
appointment by the Obama administra-
tion affirms the gravity of the dangers
posed by Jew-haters, wherever they dwell.
U.S. Jewish leaders must be held
accountable for monitoring and combat-
ing the perilous briar patch of religious
and ethnic attacks.
The Helen Thomas I Knew
had a long dinner with Helen Thomas
in Washington nine years ago, a few
weeks before Sept. 11.
She was in a good mood. She told me
she was finally getting used to writing
a column, something that had been a
bit of a transition after half a century of
straight news reporting, as a wire service
reporter for United Press International.
"With UPI, I always kept my opinions
out of the story:' she said. That was the
way it was all those years in the front row
at those presidential press conferences.
She was famous for penetrating and
sharply focused questions, aimed equally
But she played it straight. That was her
job, right up till she resigned from UPI
in 2000, when it was sold to Sun Myung
Moon's News World Communications.
Helen wasn't about to work for the
Moonies. So she wished them "good sto-
ries and happy landings."
"I never thought I'd work again:' he told
me. Then the phone rang. It was Hearst
December 16 • 2010
Newspapers, and they wanted
her to write a column. "I was so
thrilled!' But could she make
the transition to expressing her
own opinions in print?
"When I worked for a wire
service, I was careful of every
word, every verb. I really
wanted to walk that line (of
objectivity) and now I am
asked to push the edge! If I
write something it has to have
a point of view. I found — I
still find it difficult:' but, she
said, "I am getting the hang of
it — and it's kind of fun."
These days, Helen Thomas doesn't
seem to be having fun.
She clearly managed to overcome her
inhibitions about expressing her point of
view. Possibly too well, especially in front
of a microphone. As the years went by,
her columns became more strident, and
Helen more of an angry scold.
Her colleagues were increasingly both-
ered by her clearly adversarial
line of questioning — though
in truth, more of them ought
to have been asking some of
the questions Helen was asking
about Iraq, and the reasons for
going to war.
Then, last May, disaster.
Helen Thomas was effec-
tively fired by Hearst after
telling a blogger with a video
camera the Jews should "get
the hell out of Palestine and
go back to "Germany, Poland,
America and everywhere else."
She apologized, but it was too late.
Yet it wasn't clear exactly what she had
meant. Clearly, her reference to Germany
and Poland was tasteless, and evoked
memories of the Holocaust.
But did she mean Israel itself didn't
have any right to exist — or just that it
should vacate the occupied territories?
Helen Thomas laid low for awhile.
Then, two weeks ago, she came to a
forum in Dearborn to say "Congress, the
White House and Hollywood, Wall Street,
are owned by the Zionists. No question.
We're being pushed into a wrong direc-
tion in every way."
With that, her alma mater, Wayne
State University ended its annual Helen
Thomas Spirit of Diversity in the Media
award, with a spokesman for the Detroit-
based school saying it "strongly con-
demns" her anti-Semitic remarks.
Helen Thomas then fired back at the
school, saying its leaders had disgraced
themselves and "betrayed academic free-
No matter your politics, this was very
sad. Naturally, various Arab American
institutions denounced the university for
ending the award, and tried to use this
for their own agendas.
Which is all very sad. The Helen
Thomas who was ranting about
"Zionists" on a cold December day was
Helen Thomas on page 25