Monday, June 07, 2010

Palestine and Palestine

I didn't even know about the Helen Thomas hysteria until this morning. It seems pretty obvious to me both that she said something that offended some people and that she is now being publicly lynched (and in some absolutely crazy ways - see here and here, for example - "hatred of God"? c'mon, get a grip). It's possible to have both views, you know. It's at least important to get the language right, particularly because she is being selectively quoted depending on the politics of the commentators. Subtle, but with a significant difference in meaning. Helen Thomas said,
Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. Not Germany. Not Poland... They go home. Poland. Germany. And America and everywhere else.
The answer comes in response to a question about Israel, not Jews. No one says "Jews," including the questioner. Thomas says Israel should get out of Palestine. She doesn't say Israel should get out of Israel. The "go home" part implies either Jews or Israelis.

Palestine could mean, historically, the entire eastern Mediterranean lands. It could also mean the Occupied Territories, and unless I'm unaware of some sort of dog-whistle anti-Semitic language this is it's colloquial contemporary use.

Punditland seems to have decided she meant, "Jews should leave Israel." If that's what she meant, then she's taking a view that's not terribly defensible. But if she meant that, "Israel should leave Palestine," as in the Occupied Territories, that is a legitimate policy position that can refer to Israel's policy of colonization of that Palestine. One might not agree with it, but if that's the meaning of her statement it's a far cry from what's putatively the basis for her public lynching.


MT said...

She spoke sloppily, as well as incautiously, which inclines to me to attribute her remark partly to an age-related loss of noodles. I think you're right about settlers in the so-called occupied territories being to whom she was referring--at least some of the time--because she references the United States as one of their former homes. If she had in mind Israel's founders, I doubt she'd have done so.

Cheryl Rofer said...

My apologies to commenters - I thought I was removing a duplicated comment, and all of them disappeared!

Cheryl Rofer said...

I apologize to the commenters on this post. I tried to delete a duplicated comment yesterday, and everything disappeared. Until it reappeared. And then my apology was duplicated, so I deleted that, and everything went away again.

I suspect Blogger problems.