Hezbollah stands by disgraced US reporter Helen Thomas
Published: 06.09.10, 21:09 / Israel News
Hezbollah on Wednesday saluted veteran US reporter Helen Thomas's "courage" for her controversial comments against Israel, which sparked a furor and forced her to retire.
"Respected American journalist Helen Thomas's answer shows ... a courageous, bold, honest and free opinion which expresses what people across the globe believe: that Israel is a racist state of murderers and thugs," Hezbollah MP Hussein Moussawi said in a statement. (AFP)
Rabbi Receives Death Threats Over Helen Thomas Video
Published June 09, 2010
Shown here is Rabbi David Nesenoff, who shot video of Helen Thomas criticizing Israel in May. (FNC)
The New York rabbi who videotaped veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas telling Jews to "get the hell out of Palestine" says he has received numerous death threats and thousands of pieces of hate mail in the days since Thomas' abrupt retirement.
Rabbi David Nesenoff said he is facing an "overload" of threatening e-mails calling for a renewed Holocaust and targeting his family — a barrage of hate he said he planned to report to the police on Wednesday.
"This ticker tape keeps coming in," Nesenoff told FoxNews.com. "We got one specific one saying, 'We're going to kill the Jews; watch your back.'"
Nesenoff said he was shocked not only by Thomas' original remarks — which he called anti-Semitic — but by the wave of insults and threats he has received since his videotape brought about her public shaming and the end of her 50-year career at the White House.
"This is something that I thought was a couple of people here or there, [but] it's mainstream and it's frightening," the Long Island rabbi said. "[Thomas] is just a little cherry on top of this huge, huge sundae of hate in America."
Nesenoff approached Thomas with a camera on May 27 following a celebration of Jewish heritage at the White House. Asked for a comment on Israel, Thomas called Jews occupiers and said they should "go home" to Germany, Poland and the U.S.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called her remarks "offensive and reprehensible" on Monday, and her employer, Hearst Corporation, sent out a notice announcing that the longtime dean of the Washington press corps was retiring "effective immediately."
Thomas apologized for her remarks last week after the video surfaced online and was posted to several prominent blogs.
"I deeply regret my comments," she said in a statement, claiming 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."
But even as Thomas backed off from her remarks, e-mailers have continued to assail Nesenoff, who has begun posting dozens of malicious letters and YouTube comments on his website, RabbiLive.com.
"We received a lot of positive reaction, beautiful letters … from all over the United States," he said, but they have been outweighed by the attacks that have flooded in.
White House rejected Israeli intel, blocked use of anti-riot gear against flotilla
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama stopped Israel from using anti-riot gear to prevent a Turkish-sponsored flotilla from breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip.
Diplomatic sources said the White House rejected Israeli intelligence assessments that the six-ship flotilla contained weapons and Islamist fighters trained to resist any boarding operation. The sources, privy to Israeli-U.S. government communications, said Obama and his leading aides pressed Israel against any act that would be deemed excessive force.
"The White House demanded that Israel exercise extreme caution and restraint in any scenario," a diplomatic source said.
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The Obama administration demands were relayed through Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, the sources said. They said Barak, who has sought advanced weapons from Washington, persuaded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree that the Israel Navy would not use anti-riot equipment, including tear gas, to stop the flotilla.
The sources said the Israeli intelligence community had informed the White House that the flotilla contained scores of Turks trained in weapons and hand-to-hand combat. They said the Turkish-flagged ship Marmara was believed to have contained weapons and components ordered by the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.
In the end, Netanyahu approved a plan for the Israel Navy to board Marmara with commandos armed with paintball guns. The commandos were quickly overpowered by Turkish fighters until the Israeli commander ordered live fire, which killed nine passengers, eight of them Turks.
Obama, whose aides were said to have been in contact with the flotilla, did not condemn the Israeli naval interception. But within hours of the bloody clash, the president withdrew his invitation to Netanyahu to come to the White House.
"The last thing the president wanted was to stand next to Netanyahu as he defended this action and blasted Hamas and its supporters in the West," another source said.
The sources said Barak and Netanyahu decided on the details of the interception without consulting a seven-member security Cabinet committee. Later, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, a former chief of staff, asserted that the naval operation had endangered the commandos.
"The prime minister decided to settle everything with the defense minister," Ya'alon was quoted as saying. "Netanyahu shouldn't have left such fateful decisions to an irresponsible defense minister drunk with power."
In wake of the clash, Obama has sought to ease tensions with Turkey. On June 2, Obama telephoned Prime Minister Recep Erdogan amid rising Islamist threats against Turkey's Christian and Jewish communities. The following day, a Roman Catholic bishop was killed by an alleged Islamist.
"Obama told Erdogan 'Don't rock the boat too much. We'll take care of business,'" another diplomatic source said. "It was a very friendly message."
On June 4, the administration, which reinvited Netanyahu, demanded the easing of Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip. The White House said the United States was working with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to "develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza, while also increasing opportunity for the people of Gaza and preventing the importation of weapons."
"The current arrangements are unsustainable and must be changed," White House spokesman Mike Hammer said. "For now, we call on all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations and to ensure the safety of all involved."
Barack Obama announces $400m aid package to Gaza and West Bank
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