The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment prohibits making any law impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the right to petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Does the First Amendment apply to all, including Ms. Helen Thomas?
Ms. Thomas was born in Winchester, Kentucky; on August 4, 1920; to Lebanese immigrants from Tripoli, Lebanon. Ms. Thomas began covering President-elect John F. Kennedy in 1960 as a member of the UPI White House team. In February, 1972, she was the only newspaperwoman to travel with President Nixon to China during his breakthrough trip. Ms. Thomas covered the US White House for 50 years through the terms of 10 US Presidents, from President Kennedy to President Obama.
However, in a recent off-record remark, Ms. Thomas called for Israel to "get the hell out of Palestine". That remark has caused an uproar almost unheard of before in the US. The White House Press Secretary said on Monday that Ms. Thomas's comments were "offensive and reprehensible". The board of the White House Correspondents Association called Ms. Thomas's comments "indefensible". Ms. Thomas had to resign from Hearst News Service, and she is practically ousted from the press circles after 50 year of a most distinguished press career.
This story makes you wonder; what happened to Ms. Thomas's First Amendment rights; the right of freedom of speech and the right of freedom of the press?
Is Israel a taboo behind red lines? Is Israel beyond reproach, above the law and above the US constitution even inside the White House in Washington?
The fact is, Israel is an occupying nuclear power, thirsty for endless expansion, subjecting Palestinians to inhumane and sub-human living conditions, while Israel continues to commit atrocities and massacres at alarming frequency and magnitude. Just last week, Israeli commandos stormed an unarmed aid ship bound for Gaza, which has been under Israeli siege and blockade for over 4 years. The Israeli commandos killed 16 unarmed civilian activists, point-blank shots in the back of the head, in international waters, most of the victims are Turkish. Then we all saw the Israeli celebrations in front of the Turkish Embassy in Israel after that latest massacre.
Ms. Helen Thomas, you have the respect and admiration of millions of people for your courage, honesty and dedicated service to justice, freedom and human rights everywhere. Finally, please reconsider your decision to resign or retire, you still have a lot to do.
M. Alaadin A. Morsy
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