Beltway groupthink


It is clear from Leonard Pitts Jr.'s hatchet job on Helen Thomas ("No Free Pass for Old People," June 15) that her real crime is not anti-Semitism, but uttering off-the-cuff remarks counter to the Beltway consensus on Israel and offending the strictures of political correctness as codified by the keepers of the sacred banner of "diversity."

According to the video at, Helen Thomas never says that Jews should leave Israel. "Tell them to get out of Palestine" is clearly a reference to the occupied territories. She clarifies this point by saying, "Remember, these people are occupied, and it's their land." In the context of her opening statement, Ms. Thomas is referring to Palestinians displaced by Jews "occupying" settlements in Palestinian territory. She is not referring to Jews living peaceably and legally in the state of Israel.

When Rabbi David Nesenoff mockingly questions her reference to Germany and Poland as a source of Jews who should get out of Palestine by saying, "The Jews should just go back to Poland and Germany?" she answers "and America and everywhere else." Again, within the context of her explicit reference to Palestine, she is referring to European and American Jewish settlers, not Holocaust survivors or their progeny.

Ms. Thomas is clearly anti-Zionist, but contrary to Beltway journalistic dogma, anti-Zionism is a far cry from anti-Semitism. Determining whether she is an anti-Semite is clearly beyond the scope of the limited exchange between Ms. Thomas and Rabbi Nesenoff. Supporting his cowardly attack by citing a right-winger like Jonah Goldberg as an expert on Helen Thomas' mental health proves nothing about her but says everything about Leonard Pitts' sleazy character and journalistic laziness.

Mr. Pitts' column and the press corps' knee-jerk shunning of Ms. Thomas should stand as a reminder that censorship, especially self-imposed professional groupthink, has no place in a democratic republic. It is reprehensible whether its source is the right, the left or in this case, the spineless, unprincipled, establishment center.

Park Place

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