Meanwhile, I'd been hoping the recent deplorable events in the Middle East could become a teachable moment for another famous individual who is younger than my 89-year-old friend, Helen, but who, come to think of it, can be every bit as strong-willed and misguided: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Maybe it is not too late for a new lesson to sink in - for both Helen and Bibi.
The other day, Thomas lamentably suggested to a rabbi with a video cam that Israel's Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany and Poland - where Jews had been murdered during and even after World War II (in Poland) simply because they were Jewish. Helen's words ignited a firestorm that became a sad end of her grand journalistic career.
Cohen, drawing from Allis and Ronald Radosh's book, "A Safe Haven," wrote that after World War II, some 1,500 Jews were killed by Poles after leaving Europe's Displaced Persons camps to return to homes in Poland.
That postwar anti-Semitic slaughter after Hitler's Nazi genocide moved President Harry Truman to champion Israel's creation as a safe haven in Palestine, birthplace of the Jewish religion, home of Jewish and Arab peoples.
Cohen also recalled the anti-Semitic sentiments of America's bigoted war hero, Gen. George Patton, who ran some Displaced Persons camps. Patton opined in diaries that Jews are not human, but are "are lower than animals" and must be kept under armed guard lest they flee the Displaced Persons camps and "spread over the country like locusts." Hollywood left that part out of his epic flick.
Now fast forward to current events in Gaza, the Mediterranean coast strip where Palestinians live in poverty, blockaded by Israel's military.
We know why the blockade exists - because Hamas terrorists/politicians permitted a reported 4,000 rockets to be fired from Gaza into Israeli towns, killing innocent civilians. Israel has been stopping all ships to keep out of Gaza anything that can be used militarily - even cement, which can rebuild not only shattered buildings but can build bunkers to shield rocket launchers.
One lesson Netanyahu must learn how, in the waters off Gaza a week ago, his government was goaded and suckered by Turkey's Muslim regime headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And why Netanyahu unthinkingly fell into Turkey's public relations trap by raiding the flotilla, which predictably became violent, killed at least nine of the hundreds of activists sailing toward Gaza. The news circled the globe with the speed of an octogenarian columnist's unfiltered rant - and ignited a firestorm of condemnation of Israel. Even from Israel's few remaining friends.
The perception that Palestinians in Gaza are in dire need of food and medicine is not quite right. A Washington Post correspondent visited Gaza stores and pharmacies and reported the shelves are bountifully stocked (alas, those sentences were buried in the middle of the report). But Gaza Palestinians have no jobs, no money - and either get what they need as charity or must do without.
What Israel needs to do is seize the initiative - not militarily but humanitarianly. And diplomatically. Israel must forge a new strategy that treats Palestinians in squalid camps far better than the Jews were treated in Displaced Persons camps more than a half-century ago.
Let Israeli treat Palestinians with more compassion and cash aid than they ever received from Arab nations, which always gave them good wishes but little else. Let the United Nations become Israel's funnel, permitting Israeli aid to pour into Gaza, creating opportunity and employment - keeping out only essentials for war and terror. Let Israel give the world reason to rethink its condemnations of the place we once celebrated as the land of milk and honey.
Let Israel's teachable moment start - now.
Martin Schram writes political analysis for Scripps Howard News Service.