Chris Matthews had to talk about Helen Thomas tonight, but he didn’t say much. It was all over the Nightly News, but he didn’t say anything besides the fact that she had been covering the White House since 1960 and had apologized on her website. As he described her offense against "Israel" (not against the Jews), he seemed unusually contained.
I wondered if Matthews isn’t secretly angry about the orthodoxy that was enforced.
Helen Thomas castigated American occupations and was a thorn in George Bush’s side, and was celebrated for it. But when she castigated Israel’s "occupation," she’s history.(Richard Greener makes the point at Huffpo, pretty well).
Matthews studies history. He knows that Truman pushed for a Jewish state– because of Jewish refugees in Europe, detained for years. He knows that Partition resulted in 750,000 Palestinian refugees, whom the world has ignored for 62 years. He knows that is why the ethnic cleansing of Palestine so long ago still festers in the souls of Arab-Americans–and also in the soul of Israel.
Then Peter Beinart came on to talk politics and Matthews didn’t ask him a word about his bombshell NYRB piece on the failure of the American Jewish leadership.
Because Beinart’s piece really is inside baseball. And maybe the New York Times Magazine was right to pass on the piece. It’s an entre-nous thing, entre-Jew. A fight among American Zionists.
But Chris, it’s your job to take something entre-nous and show us how it affects the rest of us. There’s only one way to do that: talk about the effect of the Israel lobby on U.S. policy, going back to Truman, when the State Department said prophetically, A Jewish state will only be established by force.
Talk about why Helen Thomas is nursing 62-year-old pain.