The Wrong Reason to Fire Helen Thomas

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I agree that former White House correspondent Helen Thomas’ odious comments about Israel’s conduct of the Gaza flotilla operation warranted her dismissal. It wasn’t just that this episode is startling in the context of her usually banal performances. Her tenure, after she shattered the glass ceiling for women reporters, was also an affront to meritocratic norms. She epitomized all the selfish scorn for democracy any politician she mocked did.

And, she was very banal indeed in the context of some of these comments, particularly this criticism of Israeli democracy.

I agree that former White House correspondent Helen Thomas’ odious comments about Israel’s conduct of the Gaza flotilla operation warranted her dismissal. It wasn’t just that this episode is startling in the context of her usually banal performances. Her tenure, after she shattered the glass ceiling for women reporters, was also an affront to meritocratic norms. She epitomized all the selfish scorn for democracy any politician she mocked did.

And, she was very banal indeed in the context of some of these comments, particularly this criticism of Israeli democracy.

Israel is facing an existential crisis as a result of its treatment of Palestinians, and not the existential threat of bombs and armies that everyone’s thinking of. At the end of the day, Israel’s current existence as a political entity is untenable. No nation can be both explicitly ethno-religious in character and also a pluralist liberal democracy, especially when an ethno-religious minority in the state has a higher birth rate than the ethno-religious establishment. Israel is currently struggling to maintain an identity with an inherent contradiction, and at the moment is looking more keen on giving up its identity as a pluralist democracy than it is on giving up its status as a Jewish state. Until Israel definitively commits to preserving its liberal democracy, or definitively commits to preserving its Jewish character, the current conflict will be fundamentally irresolvable.

I think we have to keep foremost in our public tasks the notion, that democracy is always a goal that every new generation of Americans needs to pursue unflaggingly.

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Filed under: America, Eurasian Balkans, News, USA Tagged: anti-semitism, helen thomas, israel, palestine, white house press corps



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