Y’all may remember when I wrote about Helen Thomas last year after she made statements about how Jews in Israel should “Go back to Poland. Go back to Germany.” Many people called her out as an anti-Semite, including myself. But in a recent interview in Playboy, the 90-year old journalist proves that those brief comments were, in fact, the tip of an iceberg of genuine tinfoil-hat-wearing-crazy ethnic hateration.
In the interview, Thomas says that Jews are “wonderful people” and that she’s “anti-Zionist, not anti-Jewish.” She criticizes the Israeli government’s policies, which is not necessarily anti-Semitic (I actually even agree with some of what she says in that regard). But then Thomas undermines every legitimate point she might have made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a veritable festival of old-school paranoid anti-Semitism.
Here’s a taste:
PLAYBOY: Let’s get to something else you said more recently. In a speech in Detroit last December, you told an Arab group, “We are owned by the propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question, in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is. We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.” Do you stand by that statement?
THOMAS: Yes, I do. I know it was horrendous, but I know it’s true. Tell me it’s not true and I’ll be happy to be contradicted. I’m just saying they’re using their power, and they have power in every direction.
PLAYBOY: That stereotype of Jewish control has been around for more than a century. Do you actually think there’s a secret Jewish conspiracy at work in this country?
THOMAS: Not a secret. It’s very open. What do you mean secret?
PLAYBOY: Well, for instance, explain the connection between Hollywood and what’s happening with the Palestinians.
THOMAS: Power over the White House, power over Congress.
PLAYBOY: By way of contributions?
THOMAS: Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There’s total control.
PLAYBOY: In America you’re talking about a relatively small community. Jews make up roughly two percent of the U.S. population. On a worldwide level, the percentage is well under one percent. Those numbers don’t exactly spell domination.
THOMAS: I get where you’re leading with this. You know damn well the power they have. It isn’t the two percent. It’s real power when you own the White House, when you own these other places in terms of your political persuasion. Of course they have power. You don’t deny that. You’re Jewish, aren’t you?
THOMAS: That’s what I thought. Well, you know damn well they have power.
The idea that Jews are a malevolent band of conspirators who secretly rule the world is propaganda that has been used for over 1,000 years as an excuse to disenfranchise, exile, and kill us, especially in Europe. The Holocaust, after all, was predicated on Hitler’s belief that rich Jews were deliberately destroying the German economy, even though German Jews were the most patriotic and assimilated in Europe; his propaganda was successful because it was merely fanning the flames of ethnic hatred that had been present in Europe for centuries. That kind of paranoid conspiracy theory has always been the excuse the non-Jewish majority uses to validate their attacks on the Jewish minority—and it’s been around for centuries before the state of Israel was even thought of, so it’s clearly not based in objections to Israeli policy. When Helen Thomas was a girl, my great-grandfather fled pogroms in Europe caused specifically by the type of anti-Semitic paranoia that she still believes today.
That’s why, despite the fact that she’s had a brilliant, barrier-breaking career and done a great deal for women in journalism, I feel absolutely no sympathy for Helen Thomas when I read this:
PLAYBOY: When people write your obituary——
THOMAS: [Eyes suddenly fill with tears] Oh, I know what they’re going to say: “anti-Semite.”
PLAYBOY: That has to bother you after all your years of hard work.
THOMAS: [Starts to cry] I’m a reporter.
PLAYBOY: What’s making you emotional?
THOMAS: I’m a reporter. [sobs] I know damn well what they’re going to say because they have their print, they have their ink. They don’t give a damn about the truth. They have to have it their way, and they’ll be writing my obituary.
“They”, of course, means Jews. In her paranoia, Helen Thomas thinks that we’re out to get her, and since we control the media, we’ll make sure her anti-Semitism is mentioned in the lede of her obituary. And you know what? I have no problem with that. It’s a shame when bigotry undermines someone’s stellar achievements. It’s a shame to die with people’s last impressions being that you’re a raving bigot. Unfortunately, that’s the price you pay for being a raving bigot, regardless of who runs the media.