An insight into the US Israeli lobby

It’s an open secret that the US Israeli lobby wields considerable power in Washington. Last night, I had the privlege to attend an event commemorating the life and works of a veteran journalist who embodied a very different position.

Helen Thomas, now 93, was one of ten children from Lebanese immigrants. A feisty character, she covered the White House from the end of the Dwight Eisenhower administration in 1958 up until half way through the Barrack Obama presidency. She was forced to resign in 2010, following comments that she made against the state of Israel.

Her forced resignation provides some insight into the power of the zionist lobby and media in Washington DC.

I’ve watched the comments again and again, plus her defence of them, and it seems quite clear to me that their meaning has been repeatedly twisted by those papers that would have preferred to see the back of her. Her departure is a clear example of how criticism of Israel isn’t the way to advance one’s career, at least not here in the US.

Here are three videos documenting the issue. I welcome any thoughts. Is it just me or is this bitter criticism of Thomas’s views and her forced departure unjust?

The first video is of the initial remarks that Thomas made when asked what message she had for those living in Israel. She claims that she didn’t know she was being filmed, since it was with a small handheld phone. She said that the Israeli’s should “go home”, and then indicated that they should return to Poland and Germany. This perhaps wasn’t the most subtle way of putting things, and was always going to bring up the bitter memories of the Holocaust. But then Thomas was never known for being subtle. And, besides, it was always clear to me that there was more lying behind her words than this initial quick reaction suggests – as she subsequently explains.

The next video is her attempt at justifying her comments. She is being quite eloquent in her defence, I feel, but the fact that the CNN interviewer keeps trying to distort what she is actually wanting to say is totally frustrating (and very characteristic of how CNN behaves – HLN being a spin-off of CNN).

The final clip is of Thomas being interviewed by a more sympathetic journalist, Paul Jay, who wrote in her defence here. The interview is much milder, and she is given much greater scope for elaborating on what she actually meant. Perhaps she could have said things differently, and maybe she wishes she had done, but should she have really been forced out in disgrace? The Israeli lobby may claim that they don’t call the shots, but this is clear evidence to the contrary.



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