By happenstance, the folks over at Vice Magazine had an interview with Helen Thomas in the can since March that they had been holding for a forthcoming issue of the magazine. They've gone ahead, in the wake of recent events, and posted the interview online.
Conducted by Steve LaFreniere, what might have been simply the latest interview with Thomas instead becomes a career coda. Folks looking for signs presaging her fall are going to come up empty, but Thomas does discuss the Israel-Palestine situation at some length:
I'm wondering if you're ever accused of being pro-Arab because you're Lebanese-American?
A man asked me yesterday, "Do you think your background has anything to do with your views?" I said, "Absolutely. Of course." I think I know more about it in terms of human society. But how about the Zionists? Do they have a background that would influence their opinion?
Well, do you think there's been any real change with the Obama administration regarding American policy toward Israel?
No, I really don't. It's a facade. The administration wanted to take it as a personal insult when Biden was in the Middle East and Israel announced all this new housing in occupied territory, which is absolutely against international law. You cannot annex occupied land, at least under the rules of Geneva. Haaretz said it was 50,000 housing units. Well, certainly Washington had to react in some way. But I don't think it's lasting.
You don't think Obama's going to keep any pressure on Netanyahu?
I don't think he can. I've seen moments like this before, when there was a real rift with Israel. Like when, under Bush 41, James Baker said, "They have my number, they can call me." They say that, but then the State Department and American officials always go back. I mean, they have a guy like Dennis Ross at the White House now, who's always been a part of the Israel lobby. They put him in charge of the whole Muslim world.
Had Thomas managed to avoid trouble, that section probably wouldn't have had a heavy resonance. And I would have probably highlighted her take on the the run-up to the Iraq War:
When you were sitting just a few feet in front of him at news conferences, could you tell that Bush was lying?
Not really. But you could tell by the answers there was no real answer that he wanted to tell you. Why did we go to war? "9-11." Well, there were no Iraqis involved, and so forth. To this moment we have not heard why we went in. There's been all of the speculation--daddy, oil, Israel, whatever--but still nobody has spoken the truth from the government's side.
Would you go so far as to say that your colleagues are in some ways responsible for the Iraq War?
I think that's very true. Everyone rolled over and played dead at a time when they should have been really penetrating. They were there for Watergate. But in this case they bought all the propaganda. Or, whether they bought it or not, they took it and spouted it.
Lots more to read, so go check it out.