Saturday, June 05, 2010

Two standards

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas has received a great deal of criticism for recent comments about Israel, but the comments of someone else involved are at least as offensive.

Asked by Rabbi David Nesenoff if she had “any comments about Israel?” Thomas responded, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.” Upon further questioning, Thomas would say that Israelis should go to countries like Germany, Poland and the United States.

Nesenoff, who appears to lead a congregation in Smithtown, New York, put these comments in a brief youtube video and predictably, as well as understandably, there has been outrage. The matter has been picked up on the web by outlets like The Drudge Report (where the current lead is a link to a page featuring the embedded clip), WorldNetDaily and Mediaite. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer believes Thomas should lose her job as a columnist for Hearst and the gang of intellectuals on this morning’s edition of Fox & Friends seemed to agree with this sentiment.

Thomas has apologized on her website,, where she added that “mutual respect and tolerance” are necessary for “peace” in the Middle East. Many will no doubt find her apology weak. Writing on the popular Hot Air blog, Allahpundit sarcastically responds, “I’m satisfied. Who among us hasn’t innocently stumbled into a statement of support for ethnic cleansing when we didn’t really mean it?”

I think Thomas may be sincere. At one point in the video, Thomas is laughing as if she might not literally mean what she is saying. Furthermore, the clip is so short that it is hard to believe that Nesenoff and Thomas did not communicate with each other before and after the depicted exchange. Perhaps this would add context that changes the appearance of her comments. Perhaps not.

More importantly, there is the issue of how highly critical comments about Israelis spur more anger in the popular media of the United States than does Israel’s actual mistreatment of Palestinians or their attack on a naval vessel bringing much needed supplies to Gaza. This is a comparison that I’m sure Dead Horse readers had already made on their own, but this affair does bring one more example of the double standard that exists in terms of what is considered acceptable to say about whom.

Nesenoff operates a website called On the main page of this site, one can currently find a commentary by the proprietor that compares those trying to break the Gaza embargo to the oil spewing from Deepwater Horizon. “As the White House and BP scratch their heads trying to figure out what to do about the crap creeping up onto the coast,” Nesenoff writes, “Israel knows exactly what to do.” As far as I can tell, nobody has been angered by this statement.

Perhaps the full contents of the essay are needed to insure that it is clear Nesenoff is talking about:

Sludge At Sea

By Rabbi David Nesenoff

At at recent press conference Helen Thomas, the White House correspondent, chimed in with calling the recent flotilla event a “massacre”, the same words used by the President of Turkey. In a recent interview I had with Thomas on the White House lawn, she aped the mantra of the Iranian terrorist Ahmedinajad as she pleaded for the Jews to leave Israel and go back to Germany and Poland.

Meanwhile as our coast and these poor birds and fish are terrorized by the barrels and globs of oil that threaten our people and plates, the sludge of inhumanity endeavors to slither onto the shores of Israel as well. I’ve seen puddles of spilled gas sometimes at the local pump and I’ve watched Schindler’s List and the Pianist, but the magnitude of sludge has never hit me so strongly as I am witnessing unfold on video in my lifetime.

The videos show blackened birds searching for breath and Israeli children dodging rockets fired from Gaza while Israeli soldiers are beaten, knifed and fired upon. A defenseless dead Jew is acceptable; a Jew who kills in self defense is condemned by the world. The Jew is blown up, rocketed upon, blasted, and beheaded. But the tears are reserved for the birds.

As the White House and BP scratch their heads trying to figure out what to do about the crap creeping up onto the coast, Israel knows exactly what to do.

It doesn’t quite match the poetry of “one Palestinian in the sea equals pollution; all Palestinians in the sea equals solution,” but the thought is there.

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At June 05, 2010 2:27 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...

It feels odd to being posting the first comment, but also necessary.

As I was checking to make sure that all of the links of worked, I see that now features a different commentary on its home page. The current one is far more soothing as it calmly asks Thomas to learn about history. There is no acknowledgement that Israel may have ever mistreated anyone.

I find no record of the commentary quoted in full in this entry on the page, but I did save a copy of the google cache of the page with the commentary in case anyone doubts that it existed.

At June 05, 2010 4:04 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Micah, an excellent piece. I looked for the original op-ed at Rabbilive, but like you found nothing. How did you come across this site?

At June 05, 2010 4:09 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...

The site is run by the guy who asked Helen Thomas to comment on Israel. If it was just some random Rabbi, I wouldn't have thought it worth commenting on.

Thank you.

At June 05, 2010 7:20 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

What I find offensive is the way the Israeli have stolen most of the Palestinian land, murdered them, herded them into the world’s biggest concentration camp and are slowly starving them to death and causing other deaths due to a lack of medical supplies. As far as I’m concerned the Israeli are colonialists in every negative sense that that word implies. I used to have some sympathy for Israel but that is no longer the case. The fact remains however that Israel is there, they are recognized by all the “right” people as a nation and there really isn’t anything that can be done about it so it is useless to argue the point because it is moot. Frankly I don’t think Israel will survive the next fifty years. Israel has the upper hand because of the U.S. backing but things are likely to change as Israel becomes more and more of a burden and a danger to U.S. interests in the Middle East and with it the balance of power in the Middle East. Juan Cole recently has pointed out that the Arab nations are catching up to Israel in the technology department and that will certainly change the balance of power. I think Israel will eventually wish they had been nicer to their Arab neighbors.


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