Monday, June 07, 2010

I'm shocked that people are shocked

It's a horrible thing when you're 89 years old and the brain's equivalent of a spam filter no longer works so well.

"Captcha" by a Jewish activist and his camcorder was only a matter of time for poor Helen Thomas, who is being singled out as some sort of singular anti-Semite bigot. I can't judge her heart, so I couldn't tell you.

What I can tell you is that I'm shocked that people are shocked.

LISTEN, she was born Greek Orthodox, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants by the name of Antonious, which later was changed to Thomas. As far as I know, neither the country of Lebanon nor the Greek Orthodox Church are hotbeds of support for Zionism or the state of Israel.

And, to be fair, neither is the state of Israel exactly on hugs-and-kisses terms with Lebanon or Greek Orthodox Christians. To wit, from a 2004 article in
A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.


On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop's 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student.

Both were questioned by police and the yeshiva student will be brought to trial. The Jerusalem District Court has meanwhile banned the student from approaching the Old City for 75 days.

But the Armenians are far from satisfied by the police action and say this sort of thing has been going on for years. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian says he expects the education minister to say something.

"When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don't they take harsher measures?" he asks.

According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, "as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country."

Rossing says there are certain common characeristics from the point of view of time and location to the incidents. He points to the fact that there are more incidents in areas where Jews and Christians mingle, such as the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City and the Jaffa Gate.

There are an increased number at certain times of year, such as during the Purim holiday."I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday," he says.

Former adviser to the mayor on Christian affairs, Shmuel Evyatar, describes the situation as "a huge disgrace." He says most of the instigators are yeshiva students studying in the Old City who view the Christian religion with disdain.
THE OTHER THING I can tell you is that Thomas has company. Here's one bouquet thrown her way by a fellow Lebanese-American:
I was going through the news and found this article...all i can say is Helen Thomas is one brave woman! of course she made a mistake by using the word "Jew" because jews arent the issue. Zionists are the issue. i think sometimes people get confused with the difference between the 2. i love Jewish people! they went through a lot because of their religion. however zionists are another story!

So Helen Thomas, your awesome! next time use the word zionist...because there is a BIG difference. there are jews who are against the zionists nation.

ps...considering her position, i'd say that shes fed up with that country using the USA!

THE TROUBLE with this country's chattering class is it doesn't understand it's not the norm. Helen Thomas is not a singular bigot and, at any rate, people have lots of reasons for their long-nursed hatreds -- some of them good ones.

That starves journalism of a certain depth to its practice. And it even denies bigotry's victims -- in this case, Israelis -- a certain opportunity for self-examination.

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