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Oh, Helen, Behave…
Amer Zahr
by Amer Zahr
December 10th, 2010 (9 Comments)
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Helen, don’t you know that you can’t say the Jews should get the hell out of Palestine?  Don’t you know it’s not even called Palestine? Don’t you know that there never was a Palestine?

C’mon, Helen…

Don’t you know you can’t talk about the extreme bias in American media in favor of Israel?  Don’t you know there is no bias?  Don’t you know that Israel shares our American values?

Helen, seriously…

Don’t you know you can’t piss off the pro-Israel lobbies by speaking of Israeli aggression, law breaking, discrimination, bullying, lying, manipulation, collective punishment, indiscriminate killing, dispossession, illegal land grabbing, occupation, and apartheid?

Well, maybe you didn’t bring all those things up, but it sure seems like it.

You would think, after working all those years in Washington, that you would know what you can say and what you can’t.  But then again, maybe that’s why you did it.  Maybe you just got sick of it all, and when that guy shoved that camera in your face, you just thought to yourself, “Screw it, I’ll just say the Jews should get the hell out of Palestine.”

The constant browbeating had finally been enough.  Murmurs in the White House press corps that you were a Hizbollah operative, or a Hamas informant, had finally gotten to you.  The idea that an Arab was even lucky to be there finally became inbearable.

See, as you know Helen, we Arab-Americans, and Palestinians especially, usually need to ask permission to tell our story.  The Palestinian narrative can never be introduced without an opposing Israeli view, in order to be “fair.”  Of course, pro-Israeli views are often broadcast without any such need for rebuttal.  The baseline assumption is that the Palestinian narrative is biased, in need of the Israelis to balance it out.  The Israeli narrative, on the other hand, is fully respectful of the truth.

Never mind that pro-Israeli advocates are Picasso-esque in their artistry of lying.  Sometimes it looks like a lie, sometimes it doesn’t, but it always is.  And even when it’s obvious, it still works.  I remember always seeing them on the Sunday talk shows.  The Israeli guy would say, “The Palestinians attacked us first.” And the Palestinian guy would yell, “You’re lying!!” And the Israeli guy would calmly respond, “Yes, but let me finish.”

Helen, on December 2 in Dearborn, Michigan, you said, “Congress, the White House, Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists.”

People got upset and Wayne State discontinued an award in your name.  They said you were anti-Semitic.  For saying Jews own all the important stuff?  As Arabs, we don’t get the anger.  If someone said we owned those things, we’d take the credit.  Or at least we’d say, “Well we don’t own it yet, but we’re working on it.”

I don’t know if all those things are owned by Zionists, but it sure does seem like it.

If you mean that Congress is pro-Zionist, you might have a point.  $160 billion in foreign aid to Israel does seem pretty lovey-dovey.

If you mean the White House is pro-Zionist, I can see where you’re coming from.  Visits by American presidential candidates to Israeli towns as part of their routine campaign stops does seem kind of cuddly-cuddly.

If you mean Hollywood is pro-Zionist, you’re totally right.  True Lies, Rules of Engagement, and Delta Force all portray Arabs as violent, stupid, and terroristic.  And to make things worse, the most prominent Arab in Hollywood is Paula Abdul.  Just once it would be ok with me for her tell people she’s Mexican.  But her last name just has to be Abdul.  Dammit!  Barely anyone knows Tony Shalhoub is Arab, but he is!!  He is!

And Wall Street?  I don’t know about that one.  Unless you put it in terms of gas and cigarette prices, most of us will never understand that place.  But if you say it’s pro-Zionist, I’ll go with it.

But Helen, you have to be careful.  Pro-Israel advocates equate criticism (or sometimes mere talk) of Zionism with racism against Jews.  Zionism equals Judaism, they say.  Sure, it doesn’t seem to make sense, but it sure does work.  Even we Arabs have become victims of this distorted rationalization, turning into schizophrenics whenever anyone asks us how we feel.

Do you hate Jews?  OF COURSE NOT!
Do you like Jews? OF COURSE NOT!

But you almost make it sound like the Zionists control everything.  It seems preposterous, although I do remember being in Ramallah, getting lost, pressing home on my GPS machine, then hearing Benjamin Netanyahu’s voice say, “You no longer live in that house anymore.”

But Helen, can you really blame the White House and Congress for being so blatantly pro-Israel?  They know they need to tow the Israeli line, or else they’ll end up like you, being the ones who need to get the hell out.

 

 

 

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* Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."

Comments (8)
  1. I’m so tired of the “Anit-semetic” label people are so quick to slap onto anyone who says anything in regards to Israel or jews! There is so much plain and simple ignorance among the general populous…WE are semites too idiots! It’s as ironic as Dave Chappelle’s black-white supremacist to call her or any Arab anti-semetic! I don’t take issue with Jews at all, I do with Israel and Israeli’s ILLEGAL occupation of Palestine and it’s people.

    “The State idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with narrow-minded and economic obstacles. I believe it is bad. I have always been against it.” ~Albert Einstein

  2. Jacklin Zeidan ... December 11th, 2010 - 23:20

    So what does Freedom of Speech really mean in the United States of America ?

  3. You may be a semite, but the over-century-old definition of anti-semitism specifies hatred against Jews. You are playing a semantic game, changing a definition, avoiding the issue in a most nasty way. You may be doing it out of ignorance, in which case, learn this lesson well. Otherwise, you’re doing it out of nastiness, in which case, shame on you.

    • Rather than questioning the author, let’s resort to more mature tactics and review what institutions and the rule of law have accorded to in the last 100 years, since we’re using “over-century-old definitions”.

      TMR: Is it really fair to boil down the author’s argument into a “semantic game” with more wordplay? I’m not clear on how the definition of ‘Semite’ was changed. Perhaps a better response would have been specifying what it means beyond the “post-modern” experience. Moreover, it would have probably illustrated your point without resorting to shaming tactics–unless this is a new form of satirizing the abuse of human rights according to UN Security Council resolution 242? Or is 242 just another “palindrome” according to those concerned with semantics? Please visit the language outlined in the following site: http://www.un.org/documents/sc/res/1967/scres67.htm

  4. SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER NO MATTER WHAT THEY LABEL YOU

    A famous Arabic expression says: “Free Palestine from Israel and Free Jews from Zionism”.

    Judaism has been hijacked by Zionism and knowledgeable Jews should separate themselves from the Racist and Fascist Zionist Holocaust that has been committed, in their name, in Palestine! Many Jews I know have made the separation and I honor them for that!

    Jews, who join Zionism and support the apartheid and racial cleansing in Palestine, should be blamed for this political choice and not for their Jewish religion or ethnicity.
    Arabs are Semites—we are all (Jews/Christians/Muslims) the children of Abraham. The use of the term “anti-Semitic” should be taken out of the equation. The Zionists have used this expression to strike fear into anyone who dissents from their policy of genocide in Palestine, by linking it to the Hitler atrocity against Jews!

    “Anti-Semitic” is a label on par with “Islamic Terrorists”. These are labels that are put on people, who are fighting for their rights, and are designed to stifle and marginalize those who object to the violence inflicted on Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans.
    People have the right to use all means available to defend themselves against the attacks of colonial powers like Britain, the U.S. and Israel.

    “WAR IS THE TERRORISM OF THE RICH AND TERRORISM IS THE WAR OF THE POOR!”

    We should be addressing the real issues of war and violence inflicted on innocent people and not get side-tracked by semantic labeling!

    I am not afraid of labels. I am afraid of what the U.S. and Israel are doing to stifle debate on issues of peace, justice and human rights.

    Yusif Barakat
    Palestine Holocaust Survivor

  5. According to Tmr, a century of ignorance trumps the truth.

  6. RIP Helen Thomas, Saturday July 20th, 2013. She was 92 years young…

  7. Solovey Razboynik ... July 27th, 2013 - 22:16

    Why does every article on Helen’s death that I have read so far mention that ambush incident with the sneaky rabbi who asked Helen about the Israel/Palestine situation? It is as if her reply were the sole defining moment of her long and illustrious career. Most commentators slavishly condemn her honest response as “ugly,” “racist,” “anti-semitic” et cetera. This is monstrous. A human being is destroyed even after leaving this earth because of Israel. Now that very name conjures up the Angel of Death in my mind and I am very frightened.


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