“Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land …”

A video captured 89-year-old journalist Helen Thomas making some ineloquent comments. At one point she stated that Israeli Jews should go back to where they originated. The Lobby pounced and the long knives came out to push a critic of Zionism, Thomas, into retirement. On the Canadian state CBC radio program “As It Happens,” Clinton acolyte Lanny Davis excoriated Thomas as an anti-Semite for her comments. There was no discussion of the factuality of Thomas’s remarks. There was no discussion of the racism of stealing the land of an indigenous people? The discussion was confined to racism against the occupying power? Defending occupied people against their Zionist oppressors is fraught with opprobrium.

Where should the occupiers go? Thomas suggested they go home.

This is problematic. Obviously, Thomas was referring to the ancestral home of Jews, and for most of them that is Europe – not Palestine. It is problematic because Helen Thomas’s ancestral home is not Turtle Island, so should Thomas not go back home to wherever her ancestors originated? And by her logic, should not everyone else who lives on occupied territory go home?

I am unaware of – apart from the Zionist side – any substantive group calling for a people to be sent anywhere. If it is anti-racism that is bothering people, then why does racism against Palestinians receive such short shrift in the corporate media and western government circles? Why can Israeli officials spout racist comments — far more egregious than telling people to go home — and get away without censure? ((For a discussion of racist Zionist comments see Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri, “Defining Israeli Zionist Racism: Part 8,” Dissident Voice, 6 January 2008.))

Racism is abhorrent in all it forms by, and against, anyone. The best way to overcome racism is not to seal borders but to welcome all people, share the wealth, respect diversity, and embrace the humanity of all peoples.

Thomas said the land belongs to the Palestinians. There was no discussion of whether this is true or not.

In the capitalist worldview, land is something to be owned (and, apparently, stolen). So, yes, it is the land of the Palestinians according to that view. Turtle Island is also the land of the Indigenous peoples. However, ownership of land is a concept that is foreign and silly to the cultures of many Indigenous peoples.

Borders do not serve the people who live inside them. The borders are porous to financial flows but they stymie the free movement of people. An unsurprising conclusion is that people (the working class) are secondary to capital.

It appears that Thomas is being served up as a distraction to the recent killing of humanitarian activists by Israeli commandos in international waters that managed muted peeps in Canada and the United States. President Barack Obama called Thomas’s remarks “offensive,” and this contrasts with his anemic reply to the murders of humanitarians in the flotilla.

What is really offensive is Obama’s insouciance to the dispossession and suffering of Palestinians and Indigenous Turtle Islanders.

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Read other articles by Kim.

25 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Stephen Zielinski said on June 9th, 2010 at 8:25am #

    Re: Thomas

    The saddest fact of them all: She was a symbol of journalistic integrity whose presence in the White House Press Room, which is now a place where journalists go when all of their tickets have been punched, was noticeably annoying to the powerful working therein. Her ‘humiliation,’ if one wishes to call it that, also has a symbolic value, namely, it represents the killing of the witch whose presence befouled that space reserved for those worthy of this great honor. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” was the maxim of this fraction of the thought crime cops.

    Naturally, these thought crime cops treated one of their own — Jeff Gannon/James Guckert — with far greater kindness.

  2. Max Shields said on June 9th, 2010 at 9:20am #

    Kim, “In the capitalist worldview, land is something to be owned (and, apparently, stolen). So, yes, it is the land of the Palestinians according to that view. Turtle Island is also the land of the Indigenous peoples. However, ownership of land is a concept that is foreign and silly to the cultures of many Indigenous peoples.”

    Land and nature is not a commodity in a real sense – just look at the Gulf.

    The solution, perhaps implied in some way by Thomas, is one which is regional and ecological sound; not one that plays to some imperial notion of land ownership by any particular people. The injustice of the I/P is not that someone’s country was stolen but the details of atrocities, not unlike the European settlers in the North Americas with the indigenous people here. Coming an going to a region should be welcomed.

    But the organizing principles of all nearly species (and particular the human sort) is some form of community. This is not a guarantee of healthy and peace lovingness to be sure, but it is a means by which such goals are achievable. And this community should be scaled to meet ecological constraints if the species is to endure.

    So, it is not about who owns the land. You are absolutely right, no human made the land or the sea, or the sky, or the minerals; so privatizing these is an unsustainable human invention that favors only a tiny elite. But place is essential to community and how that place is embraced and how we establish the necessary stewardship of place in a world that is balanced and non-linear (since we do live on a finite planet) is what lays the ground for peaceful existence, free of poverty, and yes racism. Racism is a conqueror’s tool for conquest. It doesn’t matter color, religion, ethnicity, it is all about conquest and retaining control.

  3. hayate said on June 9th, 2010 at 9:38am #

    This is what happens when zionists control the media and the mouths of the guv. They distort and misrepresent any criticism of israel/zionism and make honest dialog impossible. The zionist media is goebbelsian in practice and philosophy. It’s the “big lie” about just about everything now, with “big lies” piled upon “big lies”. As long as the media remains under the control of these zionist shills, we’ll see war promoted as peace and corruption promoted as integrity and justice. And we’ll continue to see some of the worst, most disgusting racism promoted as normal.

  4. bozh said on June 9th, 2010 at 9:53am #

    It is true that helen’s ancestral home is not the turtle island. Sory to use this phrase on u: u are halftruthing.
    For one thing helen or her thinking wld be welcomed by the indigenes. Can’n indigenes wld also welcome me. But i wld gladly go back where i came from if majority of them wld merely ask me too.
    I understand that not all indigenes of the turtle island had rejected all newcomers.
    In comparing land robbers of the turtleland and palestine, ur piece appears quite realistic; except for the fact that ?all or most arabs rejected the robbery but were restrained by christo-talmudic lands to step in earlier to prevent loss of their land; or, rather, right to use it and respect it.

    A time factor also plays a role [or shld be considered] in the two land robberies with murder and expulsion in mind: in 1500s we knew less than in the 1900s.
    And to add to the difference in times, we have now N-weapons.
    And surely that that threatens existence of all biota and not just on turtle land.

    Thus, as long as ‘jews’ persist in their demand we accept their choseness-separatism-crimes, i am with helen.
    Drive this menacing monsters out of palestine. tnx

  5. bozh said on June 9th, 2010 at 10:11am #

    Kim, anent racism
    Indigenous pops are usually very timocratic and pantisocratic and least racist.

    The most racist lands are christo-talmudic democratic and non-timocratic lands.
    Not all racisms are equal! Did u not notice this fatc or wher eu trying to pull one over on us?
    To equate swiss racism, which may measure on scale of one to ten, one or two and ‘jewish’ which may score a ten, is not a good thing to do!
    So, please, rewrite ur peace and posit an enlighenment and not a mystory, but an adequate-accurate history; which is never a mystory but rendered so each time by each privately-paid collumnist.

    Nobody pays me. Nobody owns me! tnx

  6. JE said on June 9th, 2010 at 10:51am #

    As is the norm with a lot of contributors on this site Kim convieniently places her analytical magnifying glass over the ants that are most agreeable with her argument. Never mind temporal variables such as the simple fact that the Palestinian Genocide is going on NOW and we can do something about it.

    And I agree with Bozh here. Jewish Racism es muy perfecto. What they’re doing to the Palestinians is domstrative of their disdain for gentiles. The only difference is these goyim happen to be muslims and as such are easy scapegoats.

  7. Max Shields said on June 9th, 2010 at 1:01pm #

    I agree that the term indigenous or first nation people is really allusive at best. And it is important to have a word mean something that is not some sort of angelical version of a garden of eden. So, I think Michael Kenny has a point.

    We don’t get anywhere by superimposing a human purity over the mixed nature of humanity which has been anything but pure (a grotesque understatement).

    Still one needs to deal with a reality which is the conquest and imposition of one tribe over another, not only in the immediate but in the longer term torturous inhumanity of decades. In fact, collectively we have agreed to a number of moral universialities and legal statutes that draws the proverbial line on what is and is not good, or in fact is evil. Being a first nation or indigenous (I was there before you) does not make one less capable of evil.

    However, let’s not dilute the importance of evil as we’ve collectively defined it when we talk about war crimes and crimes against humanity; whether these are universally enforced or not, by quibbling over a word. We are not, let’s hope anyway, beyond good and evil. Or taken to believe that “Might Makes Right” is in fact RIGHT. We know the practical side of morality and the law, it is not always just, but it doesn’t mean that it is wrong when enforced.

    So yes, indigenous is perhaps a frequently used short-hand for our better angels rather than to say that all Palestinians are good, we say that those tormented in Gaza are victims of a vicious aggression from a people who came to the area with the intent of invading and conquering. Call it what you may, but it is a crime which may or may not find justice (in our life time).

  8. Deadbeat said on June 9th, 2010 at 1:10pm #

    Max Shields writes …

    The injustice of the I/P is not that someone’s country was stolen but the details of atrocities, not unlike the European settlers in the North Americas with the indigenous people here. Coming an going to a region should be welcomed.

    Can you clarify the implication of your remarks. You are inferring that had Zionist stealthily populated Palestine (like is being done in the U.S.) that would be “acceptable” and since Zionism represents a “community” that too would also be acceptable. Clearly your remarks can easily be mistaken for proposing a liberal approach (which would have been preferable for Chomskyites) to colonization.

  9. mary said on June 9th, 2010 at 1:33pm #

    Well said Hayate, Bohz, JE and Deadbeat

    As least with the like of Mebosa Ritchie (past) and Yossi (present) who are open about their support of the Zionist state, you know where you are.

    I put up Balfour’s letter to Rothschild earlier and it is quite patent that another country inhabited for centuries by Arabs was destined as the home for the Zionist state in preference to Uganda which had been considered but rejected as being not a natural home.

    From http://www.zionism-israel.com/Balfour_Declaration_1917.htm

    ‘The Zionist movement had been founded to create a national home for the Jews, secured by international law. That purpose was embodied in the resolutions of the first Zionist congress. Theodor Herzl had tried to secure a Jewish homeland in Palestine with the consent of the Ottoman Empire and the German Kaiser. He was rebuffed in both cases, and turned his efforts to securing a temporary home for the Jews in Uganda or Argentina or anywhere, a program that was controversial and eventually abandoned by the Zionist organization. The Zionists for a time developed several schools of thought. One school of “political” Zionists believed in securing a homeland through the efforts of rich and powerful leaders, who would petition potentates for a charter to create a homeland. The other school of practical Zionists believed that a Jewish national home could only be secured by settlement and creation of a Jewish community. The political recognition would only follow upon the facts. Events were to prove that both were necessary. The instrument of obtaining the long-sought charter, ironically enough, was not a political Zionist, but Haim (or Chaim) Weizmann, a self-proclaimed practical Zionist, who believed that agricultural settlement must form the basis of the new Jewish community.’

  10. Max Shields said on June 9th, 2010 at 1:39pm #

    What I am “saying” is that there is but one human species. We are not born with an ideological bent. That is shaped into our being through culture and parenting, with a touch of individual inclination tossed in for good measure.

    So to be clear, or to make the effort, the coming and going of people from the tiny corner on the planet that we are transfixed on (due to the level of atrocities to be sure and the implications that ripple across the geopolitical sphere) would not be such a big deal. We read that Jews are migrating more to Germany than to Israel. What does that mean? Or that Israelis have been migrating out of Israel on average of 14,000 or so annually – that’s a lot given the pop. size. Many of the young in Israel don’t see a future there (at least that’s some of the reporting) and are prone to migrate out. What do we make of this? There is misery all around. It is pathological and, I don’t for a second believe that the Israelis are a happy people. I think they are in some respects as miserable as those Palestinians in Gaza. They are both prisoners.

    I do think there is need for community and perhaps nation-states can provide an important community for people. I don’t think people OWN a community or nation. Nation’s have and should have a permeability but with clear borders.

    So, back to your question: should Zionists have been allowed to “stealthily” move in to Palestine? With ill intent no. If by Zionists we mean a tribe with bad intentions looking to take over another tribe’s farms and homes, than I say regardless of how they do it it is totally and completely WRONG – morally and legally. But the larger question is the migration of humans from one location to another, and that is quite different.

    While we don’t make the land or individually own it we do, own what we make. When we farm the land we own the fruits of the farm. When we build a home (or pay to have it built) we own the home. But all sovereign nations do have the final deed to the land – which is the basis in this country for the constitutional amendment for eminent domain.

    How Zionism came to Palestine, how they terrorized and conquered and cleansed is WRONG which means what exists – the state of Israel is WRONG.

    But the argument, and Zionists use it frequently, is that many nations (most?) were created from such conquest. But it is not simply the conquest it is the atrocity and destruction that has endured. There has never been a reconciliation between people – in the USA racism is still with us but there have been some level of accommodation. The Palestinians, unlike the Native American, have never succumbed to the conquest. Palestinians refuse to be conquered and so you have it. (Personally, I completely agree with their struggle and find Zionism such as we witness it to be the evil side of our nature – but it is a human nature, not an alien one.)

  11. bozh said on June 9th, 2010 at 2:20pm #

    Max, good point!
    Most of the shemitic people with the mosheic cult are being used by christo-talmudic cultists; i.e., white ashkenazim and caucasians. tnx

  12. bozh said on June 9th, 2010 at 2:38pm #

    Long time ago, i wld use the word first comers instead of the word “indigenous” for a people that was either conquered by newcomers or have immigrated into the land of a people already living there.

    Even so, the label “first comers” may not be accurate as we don’t know that before ainu, zunis, crees arrived into their respective regions, other peoples lived there.
    Nevertheless, first comers or indigenes is ok with me! tnx

  13. Rehmat said on June 9th, 2010 at 5:43pm #

    Helen’s remarks were taken out context by the ‘Israeli lynch mob’ and made it look like the old mantra “Wipe Israel Off Map“. Helen was referring to the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and the West Bank since 1967.

    With Helen Thomas gone – the Washington press corps is finally free of patriotic reporters asking politically wrong qestions, such as, at Obama’s first press conference as President, Helen tried to pin him down on Israeli nuclear weapon arsenal – by asking Obama if he knew of any country in the Middle East that possessed nukes. Obama stumbled in response saying he doesn’t like to “speculate”. Since that incident – Obama has refused to meet her.

    The World Jewish Congress website reported on June 9, 2010 that Barack Obama has welcomed the immediate retirement of Helen Thomas 89, following her call to the Israeli Jew settlers to “get the hell out of Palestine”. Obama in a TV interview called Helen’s remarks “offensive” and “out of line”. Obama, as expected, has a very short memory. After Cairo speech in which he boasted of his “Muslim roots” and advised Palestinians to abandon “terrorism (Resistance)” – he was also called an “anti-Semite” and “a “Jew-hater” by the pro-Israeli ‘lynch mob’. Now, the same ‘lynch mob’ in the US media is after Helen Thomas for saying the truth.

    Ari Fleischer, the Israeli Hasbara front, who lied for the Bush administration for as long as his Jewish soul can stand it, was one of the first to criticize Helen Thomas for using her ‘freedom of speech’ rights.

    “Who knows what the “rabbi” said to set her off, but whatever it was, she could no longer contain what she (and hundreds of millions of others who have not been duped or seduced by the Zionist) have felt all along, so she said what is so obvious – a bunch of genocidal settler-colonialist Eastern European fascists have no business being in Palestine in any other capacity than as tourists and should just get the hell out,” wrote Roger Tucker, an American Jew writer.


  14. Hue Longer said on June 9th, 2010 at 6:38pm #

    Though they were quite giddy to attack and use Helen, the words weren’t taken out of context entirely…She didn’t include Israel as where the post 67 invaders/occupiers “settlers” came from, so was speaking of broader “Israel” as well.

    Kim (a man, JE–not that that adds or subtracts) at least in part is bringing up an excellent discussion concerning the Tu Quoque defense used by Israelis or World Zionists…it’s worth seeing where it leads even if it wouldn’t help from a PR perspective

  15. jon s said on June 9th, 2010 at 9:43pm #

    Kim is saying that Israel is “not the ancestral home” of the Jews, to which my initial response was :
    What about the First Temple period, Second Temple, Hasmonean Kingdom, two revolts against the Romans, the writing of the Mishna and the Jerusalem Talmud? The archaeological record?
    It’s one thing to be critical of Zionism, or of present-day israeli policies and actions, but denying historical facts is something else again…

  16. hayate said on June 9th, 2010 at 9:53pm #

    With “al jolsons”, oops, I’m sorry, obama’s enthusiastic approval of the zionists retiring Helen Thomas, he’ll now go down in history as the first american prez to get his arse royally kicked by a frail, 89 year old woman. That will be a legacy that future american presidents will find it difficult to live up to – given the current political trends in the usa.

  17. Kim Petersen said on June 9th, 2010 at 10:08pm #

    Please try some honesty jon s. What I said — as anyone can read above — is “for most of them that is Europe” and not all as you imply. Ashkenazi Jews (the majority in Israel [80% of world Jewry]) are converts to Judaism and are central Europeans by lineage, unlike the case with minority Mizrahi Jews who stem from the Middle East. Read Jewish scholar Shlomo Sand, among other Jewish scholars, who report unbiasedly on this.

  18. Deadbeat said on June 10th, 2010 at 3:10am #

    Kim writes …

    Racism is abhorrent in all it forms by, and against, anyone. The best way to overcome racism is not to seal borders but to welcome all people, share the wealth, respect diversity, and embrace the humanity of all peoples.

    Unfortunately that was never the goal of the political movement of known as Zionism. The Native Americans didn’t seal their boarders and shared with the newcomers and we know how history wrote that chapter. Racism cannot be overcome by “sharing” since that is NOT the intent of racists. Racism can only be overcome by RESISTANCE and CONFRONTATION while those who are resisting and confronting do so grounded in the PRINCIPLES of solidarity.

    Failing this is a lesson is why the Left today is so divided and weak. Just look at who the Left anointed as their intellectual leader — an adherent. Conversely, the Palestinian “Ghandis” were assassinated.

    It’s time to take off the rose color glasses and being to look at ending racism realistically and seriously. The BDS movement is clearly one such strategy in the arsenals among others.

    Finally, while I agree that the Native Americans didn’t suffer from the property relationship they did form Nations and wrote laws, had governing bodies, a constitution, and a common defense.

  19. mary said on June 10th, 2010 at 6:00am #

    Yesterday in our Knesset (House of Commons)

    United Kingdom Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues
    Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
    Written answers and statements, 9 June 2010 .
    William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)

    I have decided to appoint Sir Andrew Burns as the “United Kingdom envoy for post-Holocaust issues”.

    As a signatory to the declaration of the Stockholm international forum on the Holocaust the UK is committed to promoting Holocaust education, remembrance and research, both at home and abroad. Sir Andrew will lead the UK’s efforts in this field, drawing together activity from across Government and provide a clearer UK international profile, presence and influence. Sir Andrew’s work will include driving forward implementation of the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust era assets, resolving outstanding issues related to property and art restitution and ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of discussions on the vital work of the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research and of the International Tracing Service.

    Over the last few years the UK has taken an increasingly active approach to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. For the Foreign and Commonwealth Office this work has included leading the UK delegations to meetings of the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research and of the International Tracing Service. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have also represented the Government in discussions on property restitution and Holocaust era assets, frequently with support from other Government Departments.

    This has worked well to date. But I am concerned that the UK is not taking the leading role it should in these international discussions or best representing the interests of the many Holocaust victims and their families in the UK affected by these issues. For this reason, and in order to drive a more coherent and strategic approach to our work, I have appointed Sir Andrew. He will add a new impetus to the Government’s post-Holocaust work, drawing on his considerable experience as chair of the executive committee of the Anglo-Israel Association and previously Her Majesty’s ambassador to Israel.


    A Zionist appoints another Zionist and a Jew, previously based in the nest of vipers, the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.

  20. JE said on June 10th, 2010 at 1:06pm #

    Jon S,

    It seems Kim beat me to the punch but I think it bears repeating so Faux Jews can get it through their thick skulls.

    It depends on whether or not you want Khazars that converted to Judaism around 700 AD for purposes of political expediency as “Jews.” The Saphardic Jews who only account for 10% of Israel’s population and are virtually treated like second-class citizens are a different matter.

  21. hayate said on June 10th, 2010 at 7:20pm #


    Thanks for your comment on June 9th, 2010 at 1:33pm

    About the UK knesset, that’s typical how things have got in the UK. While the UK media is not quite as bad as the u.s. media, their guv is under zionist control to the same degree the u.s. guv is. In fact, Britain could be considered the first zionist tool, before the usa got taken over. Another disgraceful aspect of zionist control in the UK is the racism it generates. The anti-Muslim racism in the UK now is approaching that in the usa, and though there has always been an old boi network of kiplingites, they pretty much were looked upon as freaks in more recent times. That is until the zionists started their anti-Muslim rubbish, beginning during the thatcher regime, but really picking up steam with the blair regime. There are several million people who are Muslims in the UK, there are 250k Jewish people. The Muslims are rapidly being shunted to 2nd class citizen status, they have zero political power in the UK establishment, despite a having few MPs, while the zionists have sewed up Britain, lock, stop and barrel (not to mention the 2 smoking shotguns…). it’s strange how the English speaking world became the most susceptible to zionist control.

    Anyway, rant over.

  22. hayate said on June 10th, 2010 at 11:38pm #

    In Israel

    Today, Ashkenazi Jews constitute the largest group among Jews,[5] and among Israeli Jews as well.

    [5] Elazar, Daniel J.. “Can Sephardic Judaism be Reconstructed?”. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. http://www.jcpa.org/dje/articles3/sephardic.htm. Retrieved 2006-05-24

    From the zionist run/edited wikipedia using a source from Jerusalem.

    Argument settled, sayanim/hasbarat jon s lost.


  23. mary said on June 11th, 2010 at 12:28am #

    Perhaps they’ve cleared off out of it since 2006 Hayate when they realized that Israhell was going down the tubes.

  24. hayate said on June 11th, 2010 at 12:56am #


    Well, I know the Russians have been. 😀

    Israeli immigration to Russia is higher than Russian immigration to israel and has been for several years now.

  25. kalidas said on June 11th, 2010 at 1:11pm #

    I’ll bet the Russians are just buzzing about that..