Much ado is still being made over Ms. Helen Thomas’ comment that Israel should “get the [expletive] out of Palestine,” that Israelis are occupiers in a land that is not theirs, and that they should “go home” to Germany, Poland, America, etc.
For those paying attention to her in the past, that Ms. Thomas holds these views is not really a shock. The only shocker is that she would say them publicly and allow them to be recorded. This is a nation that runs on pretense and veneer, and her real crime is, sadly, being honest about her feelings in a society for which honesty is no longer a virtue.
I think the real question is whether or not the American President feels the same way. I won’t assume that he does, but if I were an an Israeli I would suspect that Mr. Obama does, deep down, share Ms. Thomas’ sentiment — that he does believe that if only Israel did not exist, so many problems would go away.
The recent snubbing of Mr. Netanyahu reminded me of the horrendous “gifts” to now-former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and to Queen Elizabeth. I recently had the opportunity, along with many others, to hear an Englishman say that — though he was absolutely no fan of Mr. Brown — those “gifts” were like an personal insult delivered to him and to every British citizen. He was in no way confused about the message President Obama was delivering: “There is no ‘special relationship’ between our nations, and don’t count on us to be your friend should tough times call. You’re just another nation to us, if not less.” Israel is surely not mistaking the President’s communiques, either.
Yes, the White House officially denounced Ms. Thomas’ scurrilous remark. But Administrations (of both political flavors) are very good at denouncing unpopular comments and, regrettably, those denouncements reflect political necessity (again, “pretense and veneer”) and are not the best measure of the true sentiments of the President.
So the question remains: How closely do Ms. Thomas’ views reflect the Administration’s? To what degree does the President see Israel not as a rare, similarly-minded presence in the Middle East, but rather as an annoying source of trouble which would be more helpful if it simply did not exist?
The realignment of loyalties that the current Administration is creating is personally very sad to me. My eyes filled with tears during President Bush’s address to Congress after 9/11 when he referred to Tony Blair, all the more knowing the biblical connection between the countries those men represented.
Losing America as an ally will likely force Israel to look elsewhere for muscle and political heft, such as its neighbor, the EU. And such “looking” very well may have prophetic ramifications worth watching.