Update: Sarah Palin Gets it on Helen Thomas’s Ignorance
Thank you, Sarah Palin, for your common sense response to the ignorant, bigoted rantings of “elite” veteran journalist Helen Thomas.
If Thomas’s “perspective” is that of the intelligentsia, I’ll take Sarah’s common sense point of view, thanks.
A couple more thoughts: perhaps what is most distressing here is not that an ignorant woman spewed hatred, but that “views” like hers all too often go unchallenged. The perspective she voiced is profoundly historically ignorant. Maybe instead of sending out a flurry of press releases condemning Helen Thomas, we Israel-supporters should be clearly explaining that the idea that Jews are not native to the middle east is factually and historically incorrect. Of course, no argument will sway a hater, and we are past needing to make arguments for Israel’s very existence. But the idea that Jews are somehow foreigners or usurpers in the region is all to often parroted by people who try to shoehorn the Arab/Israeli conflict into their pre-conceived worldview.
Jews have a continuous historical tie to the land that is Israel. In the late 19th century, when pogroms in Europe prompted a wave of immigration to historical Israel (what was then British-occupied Palestine), much of the land was not occupied by Palestinians, but was uncultivated desert land, and Jews endured great hardship cultivating it. There were certainly Palestinian Arab towns in the land that is currently Israel, and Palestinians have their claims and ties to the region. But they were living in certain areas, not throughout the majority of the land that comprises Israel today (again, much of which had been uncultivated desert, except for the presence of nomadic peoples like the Bedouin). There are still some Palestinian Arab towns (now Arab-Israeli towns, like Yaffo), in Israel today, populated by Palestinians who chose to stay in Israel after partition. Some Palestinians–about 700,000 (not the approximately 5 million in the West Bank and Gaza today, their descendants, most of whom never lived in British-mandate Palestine personally)–fled during the war in 1948 after the Arab states refused to accept the UN partition that divided British Palestine in two and would have created two states–Israel for the Jews, Palestine for the Palestinian Arabs.
The point is, the idea that the Palestinians were living all throughout this particular piece of land and were then all just pushed off, with no consideration of their rights, to make way for a foreign presence, is false, and a distortion, on numerous levels. It is a perspective that is dangerous in its ignorance – and it seeks to de-legitimize Israel. I am not trying to de-legitimize Palestinian claims, but to explain that the reality is much more complicated than such over-simplifiers try to make it. Jews have historical, and native, ties to the land, as do Palestinians, Druze, and Bedouin.