Op-Ed: Jews? Give 'Em Hell, Helen ...
Gerald A. HonigmanThe author is an educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Mid-East...
On May 27, 2010, at a Jewish heritage event outside of the White House ( timed most likely to recoup some better feelings among American Hebrew contributors to the Democratic Party in the wake of the current occupant's persistent trashing of Israel on numerous fronts), Helen Thomas, called "dean of the White House reporters" stated
Ms. Thomas conveniently didn't mention the other half of Israel's Jews, who fled with little but the shirts on their backs as refugees from the so-called "Arab "/Muslim world.
that Jews "should get the hell out of Palestine" and that Palestine is a country of occupation, whose occupiers should leave the region, returning to "Poland, Germany and America..."
Notice that Ms. Thomas conveniently didn't mention the other half of Israel's Jews, who fled with little but the shirts on their backs as refugees from the so-called "Arab "/Muslim world. Where are they supposed to go, in her MIddle East Judenrein plan?
Iran's Ahmadinejad says the same thing--demanding that Israel's former Iranian Jewish president and Chief of Staff--and many others like them--return to Europe.
Helen keeps good company.
Born to a Lebanese family with origins from Tripoli, her father's original surname was Antonius, later changed to Thomas. So, what's in a name?
Sometimes, not much.
But sometimes there are associations that put things into place.
Another famous Antonius was also from a Lebanese family who moved to Egypt and later claimed fame as a "Palestinian" leader.
George Antonius, author of one of the most important books about Arabs ever written (The Arab Awakening, 1938) would later become an informal advisor to Hajj Amin al-Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Arabs' main political leader. Among the Mufti's other accomplishments, he became close allies with Hitler to help solve both of their Jew problems. He thus helped to organize and recruit Bosnian Muslims into several divisions of the Waffen SS and other units. The largest was the 13th Handschar Division of 21,065 men, which targeted and committed atrocities against Jews, Gypsies, Communists, and their traditional Christian Serb rivals.
Now, the Mufti's good buddy, George Antonius, was a Greek Orthodox Christian. It is my educated guess (and that of one of my scholarly mentors) that Helen Antonius/Thomas is also Greek Orthodox.
As with all other religions and peoples, there is both good and bad to be found among them.
Having said that, there is an unfortunate fact of life which comes into play here.
For a number of reasons, with a few exceptions, Christianity's mix with Arab nationalism has stooped to the worst depths of a long-legacy of Church-inspired Jew hatred.
Please permit me to step backwards a bit to further elaborate on this.
As the year 2003 began, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan, Irineos, sought the appointment as Patriarch of Jerusalem. Letters with his signature on them to Yasir Arafat contained, among other things, the following gems:
"You are aware of the...disgust...all the Holy Sepulchre fathers feel for the descendants of the crucifiers of our Lord Jesus...crucifiers of your people...Jewish conquerors of the Holy Land of Palestine."
Irineos claimed that his 6/17/01 letter, revealed in the Israeli newspaper, Maariv, was a forgery. Unfortunately, there were many other documents of the same flavor making the rounds as well.
Irineos' attitude is not uncommon among many Greek Orthodox Christians, and not only them, in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Indeed, the quote above is very similar to words often spoken by the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem, Hilarion Capucci, decades earlier. So it's safe to assume that many people share these beliefs. Even after people forsake religion, such teachings stick with them.
In the Middle East, some folks simply inherited and modified these beliefs from traditional Christian teaching. Others, feeling exposed and vulnerable themselves living among real or potentially hostile dominant Muslim populations, sought/seek common ground with their own off again/on again Muslim persecutors by turning the focus on the mutually-agreed favorite common demon, the Jew.
As with George Antonius, Christians--especially Greek Orthodox ones-- played an important role in the nascent Arab nationalist movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries ( so did George Habash and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine later on). And the explanation in the above paragraph was certainly one of the main motivating factors.
To understand this animus a bit further, it is important to note the important influence that the 4th century Archbishop of Constantinople, Church Father Saint John Chrysostom, has had on the teachings of the eastern churches (not that the western were much or any better).
While in Antioch, John denounced Jews and Judaizing Christians in a series of eight sermons (homilies) delivered to Christians taking part in Jewish festivals and other Jewish observances. Among other things, it has been suggested that he wanted Jewish Christians, who for centuries had kept connections to their Jewish roots, to choose between Judaism and Christianity. Those sermons later played a considerable part in the further development of Christian anti-Semitism. Later, they were extensively used by the Nazis in their war of extermination against the Jews.
Here's a taste of Chrysostom's teaching in Homily 1, some sixteen centuries ago.
The Jewish people were driven by their drunkenness and plumpness to the ultimate evil; they kicked about, they failed to accept the yoke of Christ, nor did they pull the plow of his teaching. Another prophet hinted at this when he said: "Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn heifer." … Although such beasts are unfit for work, they are fit for killing. And this is what happened to the Jews: while they were making themselves unfit for work, they grew fit for slaughter. This is why Christ said: "But as for these my enemies, who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them."
Here's an excerpt from Homily 6...
You [Jews] did slay Christ, you did lift violent hands against the Master, you did spill his precious blood. This is why you have no chance for atonement, excuse, or defense.
Now, check out that above 2003 quote again by Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Irineos in Jerusalem.
Perhaps, growing up in a Lebanese Christian home, Helen Thomas was brought up around such powerful and penetrating teaching.
While other folks may have been able to resist acting on the deep-seated prejudice such religious "truths" promote, her constant singling out Israel and its Jews for alleged "crimes" which, in reality, are far less worse than those happening elsewhere--especially in the "Arab" world--strongly suggests that Ms. Thomas can simply not give a fair and objective assessment of anything having to do with Israel--the Jew of the Nations.