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Helen Thomas' Arab ancestry was no excuse for her anti-Semitic views

IsraelHelen ThomasMartin Luther King Jr.Danny ThomasU.S. Congress

Susan Reimer's column about pioneering female journalist Helen Thomas makes light of Ms. Thomas' vicious comments about Jews that ended her career ("Helen Thomas opened journalism for women," July 25).

Ms. Thomas' views were not simply "intemperate" and "abrasive" — they were hateful and uninformed.

For example, her May 2010 remark that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany not only rejected Israel's right to exist but also showed contempt for the traumatic legacy of the Holocaust.

Furthermore, the remark exposed her ignorance of the fact that a majority of Israel's Jews arrived as refugees not from Europe but from Arab countries like Morocco, Egypt, Yemen and Iraq, from which hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to flee beginning in the early 1940s.

As for Ms. Thomas' December 2010 speech in which she asserted that "Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists," one should recall the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s admonishment that: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism."

Moreover, Ms. Reimer's suggestion that Ms. Thomas' Lebanese ancestry somehow explained or excused her hatred for Jews is itself offensive.

To be sure, it would be rejected by Danny Thomas (no relation to Helen Thomas), the late Lebanese-American actor who founded St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with a mission to treat children of all religions, and by his daughter, Marlo Thomas, an actress and social activist who starred in "That Girl" and later created the album and children's television special "Free to Be ... You and Me," with its themes of diversity, tolerance and inclusiveness.

Ancestry does not explain or excuse hate.

Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco, Calif.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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