Farewell to a Doubting Thomas

Rabbi Daniel Gordis wrote the piece below.  I certainly agree.
Rabbi Orkand


Ouch. Sorry for that double entendre. But nowhere near as sorry as Helen Thomas must be at this moment.

I’m referring, of course, to the sudden retirement of Helen Thomas, the elder stateswoman of White House correspondents who was most recently a columnist for Hearst newspapers. She was taped saying that Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany, Poland or the United States. Her lack of understanding of Jewish history and of Israeli history is astounding. Her apology was insufficient to the task. President Obama, speaking on The Today Show this morning, agreed that her comments were “offensive.”

You certainly can find links to the video of her offensive remarks. They served as icing on a very bitter cake that the Jewish people has had to eat ever since last week’s flotilla operation. It has been a very bad week for the Jews, and Helen Thomas made matters far worse.

But, a few small insights into what happened.

First, there were (thankfully) relatively very few public comments about how we should forgive Ms. Thomas because of her advanced age (she is 89), and very few speculations about her health and/or her ability to discern the real impact of her remarks. I was ready for an onslaught of those comments, and they have not appeared. The lack of speculation over the medical or gerontological etiology of her hatred is refreshing. It shows that the American public knows the difference between criticism of Israel’s policies (which is every Jew’s and every Israeli’s favorite aerobic sport) and the destructive denial of the Jewish State.

Second, there are those who say that she had the right to express her opinion. Of course she had the right to express her opinion. But it is not incumbent upon anyone to respect the opinion that people have the right to express. Let’s not confuse rights with wisdom.

Third, you really have to smile at the origin of all this. It started with a Conservative rabbi from Long Island who was at the White House Jewish heritage celebration and poked a small video camera, which must have cost him at most $200 at Best Buy or whatever, into Ms. Thomas’s face. At which point, she opened her mouth and closed her career. And why did it take so long for this news to become public? Because the rabbi’s teenage son had to complete his finals before he could upload the video onto his father’s web site!

This was not the work of an investigative reporter, or a professional journalist, or an expert in anti-semite detection. It was just ordinary people. A rabbi with an inexpensive video camera and a techie teenage son brought down Helen Thomas.
It is sad that Ms. Thomas chose (I emphasize chose) to end her career in this way.

But it was, alas, her choice.

But as for the way it happened — never doubt the ability of ordinary people, using every day devices, to make a huge difference in the world.


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