Since I mentioned Helen Thomas's honors in Washington last night, I should add she was hailed as a celebrity at the radical-left National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis a couple of weeks ago. One of her interviews there was with the radical Pacifica Radio show "Democracy Now." She lamented that there aren't enough protesters hitting the street against the war in Iraq like in the glory days of the Vietnam War. But she also praised Jimmy Carter's book condemning Israel for "Apartheid" against the Palestinians. First, the Vietnam talk:
AMY GOODMAN: But how does this compare? Does it bring back any memories of other wars?
HELEN THOMAS: It's deja-vu all over again with Vietnam, except the difference is our passive society. At least during Vietnam, they hit the streets. The people hit the streets finally, when they realized there had been deception, and it was a no-go. Too many -- we were killing people 10,000 miles away, and the reason could not be explained, except the domino theory, which was fading.
In this case, I think that because every home isn't really affected, you don't have that same kind of -- but I’ll tell you this. I do think that the President's speech was a turning point. All the broadcasters, mainstream, were calling it the last chance. I call it merely -- I don't think the President expected that the people, the polls, Congress, would line up against it as they have. And it's a groundswell, really. It's a big change.
Then the Carter exchanges, as Thomas seemed to resent that Israel was ever created:
AMY GOODMAN: Helen Thomas, former president Jimmy Carter just wrote a new book called Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. Can you talk about the significance of this book and also the reaction to it? You covered Jimmy Carter as president.
HELEN THOMAS: I did. And I think he’s certainly -- President Carter, I believe he has credibility. He has faith in humanity. He's trying to do the right thing. He's trying to tell the other side of the story, and I don't think the Palestinian side has ever been told in a way that people might accept it. So I think he's done a good thing. I think, obviously, the reaction to the book by the Israelis -- some Israelis, but probably not all, is that’s understandable. But he’s out there. It's open for debate, and I think he started a good trend.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you think the Palestinian story should be told for people in this country?
HELEN THOMAS: Truthfully, from the beginning. If you were a Palestinian -- and they were 85% in the majority, when the British decided that that could be the Jewish homeland -- I mean, what would you think? Americans have to put themselves in other people's positions. Put yourself an Iraqi. I mean, we invade a country without any cause, because it was there.
AMY GOODMAN: This -- you're talking about Iraq.
HELEN THOMAS: Well, I’m talking about being able to do what you think you could. The British have no right to give. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was falling apart. They didn't own Palestine. They got a mandate through the League of Nations, but they had no right to give it away. They also had no right really to annex Jerusalem, because the UN had voted actually not in that direction, and it’s still, you know, up in the air...
AMY GOODMAN: President Carter, in interviews since his book came out, did talk about the power of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. What about the scope of debate on this issue in the United States, in the US press, among your colleagues?
HELEN THOMAS: I think that the fact that it's starting up is good. Good. People should hear both sides of the story.
AMY GOODMAN: But do we hear it in the United States?
HELEN THOMAS: Pardon?
AMY GOODMAN: Do we hear it in the United States? I mean, some say that the scope of the debate here is more narrow than it is in Israel, in the press there.
HELEN THOMAS: I think that’s true. It's probably true. I think that since World War II, it’s that if you took a position against Israel, they were automatically -- you would be labeled anti-Semitic. I am more Semitic than most journalists I know. But this is --
AMY GOODMAN: Say that again.
HELEN THOMAS: This is the way they go around branding you. You get branded, because, I mean if you take an opposite position to Israel, you will be automatically considered anti-Semitic. Well, there are solutions to this. I mean, there are great peace groups in Israel and Palestine, and so forth. People are trying.