At the time of our first post on the House Arab and House Muslim reaction to Helen Thomas’ remarks, we noted that Arab American Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) had not yet issued a statement. ADC eventually got around to it. While the cliché goes “better late than never,” in ADC’s case it’s appropriate to say “better never than late.”
First, ADC states that it “acknowledges Ms. Thomas’ apology.” It is unclear why ADC has a position on her apology at all since it wasn’t directed to them, unless ADC was as outraged by the remarks as Zionists, the actual audience the apology was intended for. Had ADC issued an immediate, unequivocal support of Thomas as Consejo Nacional de Comunicadores Ciudadanos, Alison Weir and Gary Leupp did, she probably would’ve felt less intimidated into retracting her brave comments knowing her fellow Arab-Americans stood by her.
Second, it is clear that ADC, like the Arab-American Institute, does not support the substance of Helen’s comments and is attempting damage control. Helen Thomas is perceived as a successful Arab-American. Any strong statements she makes may reflect on other Arab-Americans including the ADC. If it disagrees with the content of the remark, ADC is bound to distance itself and wash its hands of it to avoid the mainstream’s wrath. So are we to understand that ADC does support European Jews’ appropriation of Palestinian land, the expulsion of the native inhabitants of Palestine, and the establishment of an exclusivist colonial settler state? And does the ADC consider it immoral to ask the colonial settlers to pack and vacate the occupied homes? Some of them, like the openly racist, Moldovan ex-nightclub bouncer-turned “Foreign Minister” of the Zionist regime, who spent most of his life outside of Palestine, over one million other former residents of the USSR have been in Palestine for less than 20 years. And if the unprecedented and magnanimous Palestinian offer of establishing a non-racist Palestine with equality for both the indigenous population and the invading population is unacceptable to the colonial-settlers then packing and leaving is a solution they should be the first to embrace. Besides, aren’t’ they always complaining about the “rough neighborhood”? The opportunity to move into a better neighborhood (their greatly improved old neighborhood) might be welcomed.
Maybe the ADC Legal Department could spend its time advocating for the Palestinian right to restitution of their homes and property. If they need help they can look to the many European Jews and non-Jews who are doing exactly that in the post-Communist Eastern European states. And doesn’t the ADC remember that when Yassir Arafat was at Camp David negotiating, the Israelis and Americans proposed that Palestinians who have been living in refugee camps since their expulsion from their homes in 1948 “get the hell out” out of the entire region, and instead of going home, accept resettlement in various other countries in Europe, and Canada, the US, and as far as Australia? Why was that not considered an appalling idea by the ADC, and did they issue any press releases at the time? ADC’s soft position (to put it mildly) is not surprising considering the long list of Zionism-supporting speakers the ADC has hosted in the past including Bill Clinton and Colin Powell.
Third, Helen Thomas stated her remark on May 27, 2010 (as the ADC press release affirms). ADC didn’t issue a statement until June 9, roughly two weeks later. Why the delay? It appears ADC was busy trying to find someone of the right background to quote, namely “Mr. Zool Zulkowitz, who represents American Jews defending Ms. Thomas.” If Zulkowitz hadn’t opined that Thomas meant that “Israel should cease its occupation of Palestine,” the ADC might have never found the courage to issue a press release on Thomas. Known as vociferous defenders against anti-Semitism, the most pressing problem in America right now, ADC may have outright condemned her.
Finally, ADC agrees that “Ms. Thomas should be judged on her ’50-plus years of probing journalism, and not on a 30-second sound bite'”. ADC wants people to remember the career, not the remark. It is probably safe to say that for Palestinian refugees, (the vast majority of which never heard of this American organization which has no right to play politics with their inalienable rights), suffering under wretched conditions for the last 60-plus years, the comment will most certainly be remembered more than the lifetime of journalism. Between demanding the restoration of land to its rightful owners v. posing questions to the presidents of the world’s greatest purveyor of violence, there is little room left for doubt as to which will resonate more with Field Arabs. If ADC couldn’t find it in itself to support Helen Thomas, and defend the morality and legitimacy of her suggestion, it could’ve at least IKHRAS!
Our offer stands. Next next time ADC invites Helen Thomas, Ikhras readers get a hookah on the house.