x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

A note of gratitude to Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas, the grande dame of the White House press corps, who enjoyed a career spanning 10 presidencies and nearly half a century, announced her retirement earlier this week because of a resonating remark that no other reporter would dare to make, wrote Rajeh al Khoury in a comment article for the Lebanese daily Al Nahar.

Helen Thomas, the grande dame of the White House press corps, who enjoyed a career spanning 10 presidencies and nearly half a century, announced her retirement earlier this week because of a resonating remark that no other reporter would dare to make, wrote Rajeh al Khoury in a comment article for the Lebanese daily Al Nahar. In answer to a question about the Israelis she said: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine? The Jews should go home, to Germany, Poland, America and everywhere else."

The White House was the first to condemn her comments, describing them as "offensive and reprehensible". The news agency she worked for was next to drop her as a columnist and then forced her to publish an apology and announce her retirement. However, Thomas's words reflected the rhetoric of many in the Arab world and in America as well, where Israel and its allies exercise an intellectual terrorism which prohibits any criticism of Israeli politics. Helen Thomas didn't have to apologise, but in any case no show of remorse could wipe from the people's memories the truthfulness and strength of her observation that comes as a culmination of years of experience.

In its editorial, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi chose to spotlight the condition of Arab members of the Israeli Knesset who have been encountering fierce opposition from far-right MKs.

MK Mohammed Baraka is facing legal charges and may end up in prison for attacking an Israeli soldier. MK Hanin Zoabi was attacked by other members in the Knesset for participating in the Freedom Flotilla. Dr Ahmad Tibi received death threats from a Zionist organisation in New York. "These death threats are dangerous and reveal a state of confusion among fanatic Jews as a result of the isolation and hatred that Israel is experiencing following its massacres in Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla."

Such campaigns against Arab activists and politicians in Israel have been happening for more than 60 years. What's new however is that they are escalating at an alarming rate and unveiling a bloodthirsty mentality among right-wing members of the Knesset. Such threats must be taken seriously as Jewish radical groups stop at nothing to implement their threats. They even went as far as killing Israel's own prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Arab members of the Knesset contribute immensely in revealing the falsehood of Israeli democracy. Therefore, they deserve all the support they can get from Arabs across the world.

In an opinion article for the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej, Saad Mehio compared Israel to Crusader kingdoms in the Middle Ages. "Many students of comparative history are finding the subject more interesting."

Such research is increasingly in demand. Israel seems headed in the same direction as the Crusader kingdoms, which eroded internally before Saladin and his successors finished them off. The similarities are numerous between the Crusader states then and Israel today. In both there was a prevalence of extremists for whom war is the only possible medium to resolve issues. Israel is a minority society surrounded by Arab majorities, just like the Crusader kingdoms.

Israel is becoming disconnected from major international powers and risks losing its regional friends. Despite their military supremacy, the spread of radicalism turned power to weakness in the Crusader states as it did in the case of Israel in the 21st century. Israel could learn from the Middle Ages model, for the Crusader kingdoms were, just like it, imposed by military force and just like it, they attracted extremists. When they fell, it was because of the same factors that Israel is facing now: geography, diplomacy and demography.

The recent First Saudi Brand and Communications Summit 2010 discussed the potential markets for online-advertising in the region and the world, reported Abeedli al Abeedli in the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. Studies presented during the event suggested that the volume of Arab online advertising is expected to soar from its current $56 million to $266 million in 2013.

"These figures may look significant at first glance, but they are not when compared to international figures. Arab advertising takes up no more than one per cent of the worldwide online advertising market." Meanwhile, spending on online advertisement in the US totaled $5.9 billion in the first quarter of 2010, despite the US economy having been at the eye of the global economic cyclone, with all its severe repercussions on the advertising market.

There are various reasons for the insignificance of the Arab e-market. There are obviously economic and financial factors, but more importantly perhaps, artistic and technical considerations. * Digest compiled by Racha Makarem rmakarem@thenational.ae