Wednesday, January 26th | 25 Shevat 5782

March 22, 2011 7:46 pm

A Gift for Helen Thomas

avatar by Shmully Hecht


An antisemitic cartoon by Charles Lucien Léandre, cover illustration for Le Rire, April 16th 1898.

Dear Helen,

When I first heard you were in Playboy I immediately thanked G-d that I do not subscribe.

Thankfully, It turns out that Playboy’s new low (no pun intended – ok, pun intended) was not a photo shoot but in fact a snapshot of your tormented soul.

All jokes about Lot’s wife aside, you are a creation of the Lord and so I must respect his work. And I am glad, frankly, that you have lived long and show your many years, since if there were really Elders of Zion, they would certainly want vile anti-Semitism to take your human form. In fact, I was looking at an anti-Semitic Arab cartoon recently and let’s just say the artist might have easily been watching you at a press conference when he was drawing the figure of a hook nosed and snarling monstrosity.  I suppose you are a Semite as well, being from Lebanon, though in your case the descendent of Crusaders who cut a bloody path through Jews and Muslims all the way from Europe to beyond Jerusalem.

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Speaking of Europe, Helen, the European nations you want us to “go back to,” are younger by thousands of years than our residence in, and love for, the Holy Land of Israel. While Europeans before the Holocaust were telling us to “go back to Palestine,” we have never determined our attachment to Jerusalem by the whims of those who “love” us as individuals, perhaps even as a people from ancient books, but loathe us as a vibrant, thriving nation.

We have been driven from our lands and slaughtered on them, and have decided as a people: this time – Never Again.  Israelis are not “going back” anywhere. The Jewish people are not going back to the year 70, 1096, 1189, 1348, 1492, 1648, 1840, 1920, 1939 or any other infamous time in the nearly unbroken history of Jewish expulsion and mass murder. (We can have a coffee and go over the horrible details of each and, sadly, add many more years).

I am sure you also appreciate, Helen, that Ariel Sharon was definitely born in Palestine and Yasser Arafat was probably born in Egypt. Meaning, not so fast and loose with the talk of “going home.” Millions of Egyptians and Jordanians started calling themselves Palestinian only after 1967 (for example: the Qatari-born and Egyptian raised founder of the “Boycott Divest and Sanction” movement, who studies at Tel Aviv University and yet calls for the dismantling of Israel). So too, my friend, millions of Jews from Russia, Ethiopia and the entire Diaspora made and make aliyah, becoming Israelis – legitimate citizens of a sovereign nation.

I will take you at your word that you do not hate Jews and only want a fair resolution in the Middle East. Therefore I would like to offer you the chance to join the chorus of those who question the right of Jews to live in our historic and Biblical homeland. My peace offering: Annual membership to J Street.

Please feel free to e-mail me with your acceptance of this offer and any other questions or comments.

[email protected]

Shmully Hecht is Rabbinical advisor to Eliezer, the Jewish Society at Yale. His opinions do not reflect the diverse opinions of the Eliezer Membership.

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