Hummus and Helen Thomas

As though Israel isn’t already in enough trouble, it is now acting like a Mom & Pop store doing charity work. Afraid that anything that looks remotely hard might work as weapons for Hamas – quite forgetting that the Palestinians in the days gone by had fought the might of Israel with barely any weapons and a few stones – the embargo will be relaxed and include junk food. Potato crisps, biscuits, canned fruit, packaged humus, soft drinks and juice will be let into the Gaza Strip.

Since they want to make sure no arms enter, I think they underestimate the power of junk food. Western societies are considered developed because their biggest food chains sell this stuff. McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC are paradise for the hungry, giving big bites for not too big bucks and filling people with carbs.

Palestinians who were waiting for cement to rebuild their homes have responded in a deadpan manner:

“We have three factories that make carbonated drinks. They say they want to allow potato chips, but we have factories that produce enough to meet Gaza’s needs,” said Ziyad al-Zaza, economic and trade minister in Hamas’s government.

That is not the point. Palestinian President Mohammed Abbas was to meet President Barack Obama a few hours after this announcement. Israel is making these offerings in keeping with the most visible signs of US consumerism.

Prez Obama will ask Mohammed Abbas: "Hummus?"

The latter will reply, “No, no, no Hamas.”

Israel will move its tanks and the junk food will be taken off too. After all, it’s the Palestinian chief’s idea.

- - -

I know Helen Thomas is in the news and she said something to anger the Israeli lobby. What I cannot understand is why Rabbi David Nesenoff asked her, outside a White House Jewish heritage event, if she had any comments on Israel.

Thomas, from what I now read, has made statements against US occupation in Iraq and generally took a pacifist stand. Was she an expert on the Middle East? What do heritage events have to do with politics? She gave a message for the Israelis:

"Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine... Remember, these people are occupied, and it's their land."

She was then asked where the Israelis should go, to which she replied: "they should go home" to "Poland, Germany,... America and everywhere else."

This is a simple reaction. No analysis was given, none expected. And why did she relent and apologise when at 90 she can afford to risk ire and more?

"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."

I am afraid, wanting to be on the side of what we think is right does not mean applauding every statement that fits in.

What she said was very Speaker’s Corner stuff.


  1. I have made almost identical comments to an israeli friends of mine and he laughed it off saying, "yeah, sure those germans would let us build our nation in bavaria...".

    I think Israeli's are aware of the sentiment. It is just sad that they are not able to listen to their Noam Chomskys and instead keep finding Netan-yahoos.


  2. Hitesh:

    There are quite a few Jews actively involved in pacifist activities, but I wonder whether the general population tends to get more brainwashed by the powerful lobbies.

  3. The Arab nations did sell Israel to the Jews back in the 1950s and then went on to attack Israel and lost the 1967 war and a lot of land in the process. The attack on israel in 1967 indicated that one side was not willing to stick by its sale of arab land to the Jews, and Israel retaliated by throwing out the rule book on its end.

    The whole point of ownership of land gets fuzzy when one considers that given a piece of land in the old world (Africa+Asia), dozens of groups can lay historical claim to the land depending on what point in time is chosen as the "time when the land was filled by the rightful owners".

    This logical issue makes all subsequent questions of land ownership a matter of opinion and a matter of power to hold on to the land currently, and depending on the ideology of the opiner. Realistically, in such matters, "possession is 9/10s of the law", usually holds at all times, which is why the violence never ends.

    Besides, international law itself is not set in stone and is usually a con job by the more powerful states on the less powerful ones. The "policemen that protect international law" are usually the first to violate all "international laws".

  4. The issue is somewhat murky (like Instrument of Accession in Kashmir), but my impression is that combined with Zionist movement, British mandate in the area (Balfour Declaration), Oil, and indigenous Jewish populations of the area (mostly Sephardic??) is how the State of Israel was created. I am not very informed about the history of the conflict but based on the behavior of Israel (repeated use of Veto at UN on its behalf, gruesome violence against civilian populations etc.) makes one suspicious of guilt. Unfortunately, they have learned wrong lessons from their own long history of discrimination and ill-treatment.

    Regarding the "possession or power is the law" is generally true but Palestinians or (for that matter any minority) is aware of it and do their best to fight on with their limited means so we have intifada of "throwing stones" at tanks.

    Feudalism was a law at one time too. I think solution to this problem requires some more neutral party than US.

  5. Al:



    No ifs and buts here...

    Sorry, am a bit pressed for time, so no detailed answers for now.

    PS: Yup, Al. Call me facile :)

  6. FV: "Rubbish! "

    FV, Could you be more specific about which part of the post is rubbish?

  7. FV: "PS: Yup, Al. Call me facile :)"

    :) Saw this a little too late

  8. FV, if you have strong opinions on the topic to make such an exclamation, that would be in line with the overall level of reasoning I see on this topic. USSR sold Alaska to the USA, even though the land is clearly worth a whole lot more. The analogy w.r.t. revoking the original sale of Israel would be akin to USSR retaking alaska after closing the sale of land. That's enough from me on this topic :)

  9. Al, Hitesh:

    It appears we choose to see history in different ways. I must have come across as abrupt, but I hope not rude!

    Al, the reason I am not holding forth is that I do not agree; I do appreciate the time and effort you take but I will probably be writing on it (and have done so before), so it would get repetitive for me.

    For now, we leave it here...

  10. FV: "The reason I am not holding forth is that I do not agree"

    Obviously :) -- though was wondering which parts of the post are incorrect, because I can trot out references for most of what I wrote, which was an attempt at finding commonality among the various conflicts that are prevalent in Asia/Africa today. Anyway, I don't really care about this issue one way or another, as it does not affect India's security directly.


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