the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Helen Thomas may be in "der zun-untergang" (sunset) of her life, but her words to Rabbi David Nessenoff were a "shande"--a shame!

Thomas was a reporter for the Hearst News Service, dean of the White House Press Corps, a white House correspondent, and author of five books.  She covered every president of the U. S. since the later years of the Eisenhower administration.  She was the "ershter" (first) female officer of the National Press Club, the "ershter"  female member and president of the White House Correspondents Association.

Thomas offered her view of the presidency in her 1975 memoir, "Dateline:  White House":

"As for Presidents, my own feeling about what they should be is summed up in John Adams' prayer inscribed on the side of the marble fireplace in the State Dining room below the brooding portrait of Lincoln: 'Blessings on this house.  May only honest and wise men live here.'"

Ms. Thomas once said, "I think I'll work all my life.  When you're having fun, why stop having fun."

Was Thomas  having fun or being "komish" (funny) when she had this recent conversation with Rabbi David Nessenoff?
Nessenoff:  Any comments on Israel. We're  asking everybody today for any comments.

Thomas:     Tell em to get the hell out of Palestine.

Nessenoff: Whoaa.

Thomas:     (laughing)
                   Note:  The Yiddish word meaning to laugh is "lakhn."

Nessenoff: Any better comments?

Thomas:     Remember these people are occupied and it's their land.  It's not German; it's not Poland.

Nessenoff: So where should they go?  What should they do?

Thomas:    They can go home?

Nessenoff: Where's home?

Thomas:    Poland, Germany.

Nessenoff: So you're saying Jews should go back to Poland and Germany

Thomas:  And America and everywhere else.

Some have asked whether Thomas was temporarily "meshuge" (insane). Jennifer Rubin reports on the Anti-Defamation League position:

Thomas apologized by saying, "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heartfelt 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."

"Helen Thomas's statement of regret does not go far enough.  Her remarks were outrageous, offensive and inappropriate, especially since she uttered them on a day the white House had set aside to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of American Jews during Jewish American Heritage Month."

Helen Thomas retired on June 7, 2010, after a video interview with Rabbi Nessenoff was widely disseminated on the Internet.  Her speaking agency, "Nine Speakers, Inc." reportedly dropped Thomas.  Diane Nine, agency president said, "Ms. Thomas has had an esteemed career as a journalist, and she has been a trailblazer for women, helping others in her profession, and beyond. However, in light of recent events, Nine Speakers is no longer able to represent Ms. Thomas, nor can we condone her comments on the Middle East."

And Walt Whiteman HIgh School in Bethesda, MD, canceled Thomas' commencement address.  Richard Cohen (Daily News, 6/8/10) wrote, "It would be wonderful, though, if Thomas could go through with it and tell the graduates what she had learned in recent days.  I hardly think it would turn her into a supporter of Israel, but it might lead her to understand why so many others are."

Ms. Thomas, the Yiddish words meaning to apologize is "betn mekhile."  Your apology is too late; it's time for you to leave.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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