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Helen Thomas Is Out, But What About Others?

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AP

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” if you can find any in the Middle East. They seem to be in short supply these days. One place not to look is on the Gaza flotilla. According to a radio communication the IDF released over the weekend, when Israeli warships issued a calm, but forceful warning to the “peace” flotilla to change course from Gaza, which is under blockade, and head instead for the Israeli port of Ashdod, an unidentified man on one of the ships – it’s unclear whether he was on the now infamous Mavi Marmara -- replied, in English: “Go back to Auschwitz.”

Perhaps we should not expect too much from the “humanitarians” whose goal by their own admission was not to deliver aid to Palestinians, which they arguably might have done through the port of Ashdod, but to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Perhaps Egypt and Israel should find another way other than collective punishment to ensure that Hamas does not use the shipments of aid it gets to make the rockets and weapons that have rained down upon Israel. And many Israelis themselves have criticized Bibi Netanyahu for falling into the trap that Turkey and its allies had set for him.

Nor is there much doubt that the raid itself was badly botched and hugely counterproductive. In any public relations war between David and Goliath, David, in this case, the peace-loving blockade-runners, were bound to win. Where is the Israel of yore which dramatically rescued the hostages of Entebbe?

But then there’s Helen Thomas, the American reporter and Hearst newspaper columnist who for 57 years has been driving presidents and their press secretaries crazy (usually a good thing) with her sometimes batty, often prescient, almost always provocative questions from the White House press room’s front row.

But Thomas, of Lebanese descent, recently offered her own unique solution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Interviewed outside the White House on May 27 after a ceremony honoring Jewish heritage month -- no kidding -- the granddame of White House press corps urged Israelis to “get the hell out of Palestine.” And where should the 6 million Israelis go? Back “home” where they came from, she said. “Poland, Germany, and America, and everywhere else.” At least she offered Jews some options other than Auschwitz.

You can also rule out Pat Buchanan, a political analyst and fixture on NBC’s weekly “The McLaughlin Group” and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough’s “Morning Joe.” People need to “wake up” to Zionism and its horrors, he counseled recently, the latest of which was the unwarranted attack on the Gaza peace flotilla. “That bloody debacle in the Eastern Mediterranean last Sunday was an inevitable result of Israel doing what it always seems to do: going beyond what is essential to her security, to impose collective punishment upon any and all it regards as hostile to Israel.,” he wrote in a recent column.

In fact, Buchanan has argued, Israel uses the Holocaust as justification to do what it pleases, while America continues blithely shipping it billions of taxpayer dollars a year. Gaza, he says, is an “Israeli concentration camp.” But he doesn’t particularly want Israelis (or other foreigners for that matter) to come here. Israeli flight might boost the number of Jews in America. After President Obama nominated yet another American Jew, Elena Kagan, to the Supreme Court, Buchanan warned in a column that “If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this Democrats idea of diversity?”

One would think that Thomas and Buchanan might be persona non grata on any legitimate broadcast network or in most newspapers after such statements, at least for a day or two. But the day after Buchanan issued his “too many Jews on the court” warning, neither of the usually thoughtful anchors on “Morning Joe” nor any of the show’s analysts even mentioned it.

As for Ms. Thomas, her latest outburst was finally too much for her employer, the Hearst Corporation. On Monday, both Ms. Thomas and Hearst announced that she was retiring, the company adding in its terse press release, “effective immediately.”

Earlier in the day, the White House Correspondents Association blasted her comments on Israel as "indefensible" and began considering whether she should retain her front-row seat in the White House briefing room. Even White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called her remarks "offensive and reprehensible.".

Over the weekend, Lanny Davis, a former special counsel and White House spokesman for President Bill Clinton, and Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's press secretary, had both called upon Hearst to fire or suspend her.

"If she had asked all blacks to go back to Africa, what would White House Correspondents Association position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials -- much less a privileged honorary seat?" Davis declared. “If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs," Fleischer had asserted.

Prior to this outburst, for which Ms. Thomas’ apologized, saying that she regretted her remarks, which did not reflect her views, her colleagues in White House press corps had tended to be forgiving of the 89-year-old press corps dean. 

They winked and nodded with a “there she goes again” forbearance, patronizing her by overlooking her increasingly anti-Semitic, ignorant rants.

Now that Ms. Thomas has retired, what will happen to Mr. Buchanan? Will he, too, apologize for his protracted of Jew-and immigrant-bating? Or will the press corps unite as it usually does around one of its own and give Mr. Buchanan’s a free pass for his repeatedly offensive commentaries?

Judith Miller is a writer and Fox News contributor.

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Judith Miller, a Fox News contributor, is an award-winning writer and author. She spent 85 days in jail in the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia in 2005 to protect confidential sources. She is the author of a forthcoming memoir.