You might recall in 2010, Helen Thomas a renowned journalist of Lebanese decent , often seen sitting in the front row in almost every news conference given by the President, made comments about occupation of Palestine by Israel in a casual two minutes’ questioning by a Rabbi that was recorded. She said the Jews who occupied Palestine should leave and give the land back to the Palestinians. When the interviewer asked where they should go she said they should go back to Poland and Germany and the United Staes from where they came. These comments caused such a furor in the media and created so many negative reportings and commentaries that she was ultimately forced to retire. White House Correspondents Association shamelessly denounced her comments and expelled her from its membership. All this happened in a country that takes pride in the individual’s right to free speech. I could not help writing a letter to the association at that time. This is reproduced below. Though the Helen Thomas’ incident happened five years ago, for two reasons it needs to be revived.
1. The same media, here and in Europe supports unequivocally the ugly insistence on printing derogatory cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in the name of freedom of speech and expression, knowing very well that unlike Helen Thomas’ dissenting comments, publishing of derogatory cartoons and writing rubbish about a great Prophet, is not defending freedom of speech but promoting a culture of hate.
2. Muslims in the U.S. as citizens should take a bold and confident stand against such hypocrisy in order to promote justice and truth in this country. All educated Muslims should write and express their views rather vigorously without any hesitation in the local press and at other media platforms whenever they see hypocrisy compromising truth and justice no matter how powerful the lobby behind it.
White House Correspondents’ Association,
June 7, 2010
600 New Hampshire Ave, Suite 800,
Washington DC 20037
Your blog at “contact us” link says you will respond to any letter or comments as soon as possible. Since I did not receive any response to my comments I am faxing a copy of my e-letter to you thinking perhaps you did not receive my letter. My comments are following. Hope you will respond.
I am indeed surprised that your association denounced the comments of Helen Thomas, your long time colleague and a respected journalist. Her comments simply represent a political opinion on a highly controversial issue of Israeli occupation of Palestine which many in this country consider unjust, a view shared by many in the world. If one holds an opinion that Jews should get out of Palestine which they unjustly occupied by displacing millions of people why is it indefensible?
You know very well, being in journalism, that her remarks that they should go back to Germany or Poland are simply rhetorical not literal.
It is sad that being representatives of a profession in which respect for dissention and different points of view especially on controversial issues should be considered sacred, your association, in a mockery of your own profession, shows such intolerance that you feel compelled to denounce her comments and welcome her retirement.
It is also sad that your denouncement indicates strong Jewish influence and simply reinforces your tacit support of the apartheid Israeli policies against Palestinians, totally negating and contradicting what this country stands for. Do you realize that the US is not just inhabited by Jews but by Christians, Muslims and people of many other faiths who see the inhuman treatment of Palestinians by Israel as despicable and simply ugly?
Masood N. Khan M.D.
320 Lillington Ave.
Charlotte NC 28204
1. You would like to check out Helen Thomas episode in the following YouTube videos:
A. “Helen Thomas Forced to Resign Stands by Her Words” – A Real News video.
B. CNN: Helen Thomas. Jews don’t have the right to take other people’s land. In this video you can see how the interviewer shows her lack of insight about Israeli occupation and forces Helen Thomas to feel guilty.