Shaul Magid: Does Helen Thomas Work for Israel? # The veteran columnist’s remarks couldn’t have come at a better time for Israeli apologists

Source: Religious Dispatches, 6-9-10

Shaul Magid is the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. His next book, Jews and Judaism in Post-Ethnic America: Becoming an American Religion, will be published by the Indiana U. Press.

….So why is it that I ask whether she is working for Israel? Because Israel has decided to portray the flotilla episode as another example of international anti-Semitism—in this case promulgated by Turkey. Israel has portrayed it as another example of defending itself against an “existential threat” (notice Netanyahu’s immediate description of Gaza as an extension of Iran) deflecting questions about the legitimacy of the blockade and any humanitarian crisis that may, or may not, have been created by it.

Critics cry foul! This is not about an “existential threat,” this is about an illegitimate blockade of 1.5 million people! Then, here comes Helen Thomas basically affirming the Israeli government’s argument by making a remark that, in fact, speaks to the very existential threat Israel is deploying to deflect its behavior! And if such a remark comes from a highly educated and well-respected White House correspondent how much more so by the so-called activists who confronted Israel’s naval commandos. Thankfully, her employers and sponsors acted appropriately and terminated their relationship with her. Maybe Israel can use her as a covert agent to bolster their case that every act against them constitutes an existential threat? Better yet, maybe Israel can help terminate this rhetoric by acting differently when that threat is not imminent.

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