On Friday, former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer told the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein that Helen Thomas should lose her job (as she now has) over her offensive comments that that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine.”
“She is advocating religious cleansing,” Fleischer wrote to Stein. “If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs.”
I wondered in this post whether Fleischer would apply the same standard to Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has on numerous occasions denied the Palestinians’ claim to a state in Palestine, saying that the Palestinians should “create their homeland in many other places in the Middle East, outside Israel.” Like the most radical right-wing elements in Israel (and the United States), Huckabee’s conception of Israel includes Palestinian lands occupied by Israeli forces in 1967.
I emailed Fleischer to ask him about this, here’s our exchange:
FLEISCHER: Saying the Palestinians can have their own homeland outside of Israel is not the same as saying Palestinians should not be permitted to live in Israel, where of course many Arabs do live. President Obama is also for a two-state solution. I don’t view what Huckabee said the same as what Helen said. If he said Arabs should be barred from Israel, then I would agree with you.
DUSS: Perhaps you are unaware that by “Israel,” Huckabee means Israel plus the lands occupied in 1967.
FLEISCHER: The issue isn’t what the boundaries should or should not be. It’s whether he called for the expulsion of the Arabs from whatever borders Israel has. That’s a different issue.
DUSS: No, it’s not simply an issue of borders. Huckabee explicitly opposes the two-state solution, does not recognize a Palestinian claim to Palestine, and insists that the Palestinians should have a state somewhere other than Palestine. Just so we’re clear, your position, for the record, is that you’re not troubled or offended by Huckabee’s position?
FLEISCHER: None of those points have anything to do with expulsion. That’s the issue here.
Obviously, this is an incredibly strained parsing of Huckabee’s comments, the plain meaning of which is that the Palestinians should be transferred out of their homeland to make (further) way for the Jewish state.
So the answer is no, Fleischer does not apply the same standard to both sides. In his view, people who say that the Jews should get the hell out of Palestine deserve to lose their jobs, but people who say that the Palestinians should get the hell out of Palestine don’t even merit a word of disapproval.