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Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas quits at 89 after Israel outburst

• Times Online

It is always dangerous for a reporter to become the story. For Helen Thomas, two months before her 90th birthday, it has meant the end of her career.

The daughter of Lebanese immigrants who could neither read nor write, Ms Thomas was covering the White House 11 years before its current spokesman was born. Yesterday she resigned in disgrace after telling a Jewish online news service that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home”.

In the final outburst of a career spanning seven decades and ten presidents, Ms Thomas appeared not to know, or not to care, that she was talking to a rabbi on the day of the White House’s official celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month last week.

“Any comments on Israel?” she was asked. “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” she replied.

Prompted to say something more positive in the spirit of the occasion, the 89 year-old dean of the White House Press Corps said: “Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germans’. It’s not Poland’s.”

Her remarks were scarcely reported at first, but when posted on the Drudge Report website at the weekend they provoked a storm of controversy in which outraged accusations of anti-Semitism quickly drowned out defenders of free speech.

Ms Thomas issued a blanket apology on Sunday, saying she deeply regretted comments that did not reflect her heartfelt hopes for peace in the Middle East through “mutual respect and tolerance”, but her statement came too late. Yesterday Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s spokesman, called her remarks offensive and reprehensible.


4 Comments in Response to

Comment by Michael Shoen
Entered on:

Helen Thomas' error was that she failed to include Russia, as many Israeli's immigrated from Russia. She spoke the truth when she inferred that present day Israel was stolen from other peoples and that, at least, the Israelis should get out of Palestine. But that won't happen. What will happen is that Israel's genocide against the Palestinians will continue, supported by many of America's so-called Christian conservatives (nothing to do with Christ other than the label). This all started with the Balfour Agreement of 1916 (google if you don't know what it is) and continues today with American military and financial support because our military-industrial complex wants to keep the Middle East destabilized and the Israelis (with their nuclear weapons and violence-first policies) do this really well. All this is supported by the America's fake Christians: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not lie. Thou shalt not steal. What a joke.

Comment by Die Daily
Entered on:

Thomas embarrassed nobody but Israel. Speaking a valid opinion should not be cause for retaliation. By a "valid opinion", in this case, I mean a self-evident truth: if the occupation was ended by the occupiers pulling out, the problem obviously is solved. Solved by the same party that started it by starting the occupation? Whether it's a practical option or not is immaterial, it's the sort of simple, unassailable logic, a pointing out of the utterly obvious and self-evident.

Comment by Tom Westbrook
Entered on:

Helen Thomas is old enough to remember Palestine before it was invaded by the British and given to the Jews which resulted in the hotbed of violence that exists today. I'm not surprised by her comments.

Comment by Mike Renzulli
Entered on:

Helen Thomas is 89 years old, is of Lebanese descent, and claims to be a professional journalist. As such, she is subject to professional standards. Her statement that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to "Poland and Germany" is clear evidence that she cannot carry out the impartial obligations of a journalist.

In short, she is a disgrace.

Thomas has embarrassed not only herself, but also her employer, Hearst News Service, as well as her colleagues who attend the White House press conferences with her. Her apology is hollow, unbelievable and unacceptable. She is doing everyone a favor by leaving.

Goodbye and good riddance!

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