Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas defended her comments she made about Israel in 2010, in an interview she had with Playboy magazine.
Thomas,89, served as the White House correspondent for more than five decades, but had her White House career reach a complete halt when she made comments perceived as anti-Semitic in the United Sates.
In May 2010 Thomas was approached by Rabbi David Nesenoff with a camcorder outside the White House asking about her opinion on Israel.
Thomas replied “I think they should get the hell out of Palestine”, and when the Rabbi furthered his questions, and asked where she thought Israelis should go, Thomas said that they should go home to Poland, Germany and other countries where they came from.
In the Playboy magazine’s interview, Thomas defended her stance by saying that she is not anti-Jewish nor she is anti-Zionist, and said that the Jewish people are no longer marginalized nor face persecution.
“What I meant was they should stay where they are because they’re not being persecuted—not since World War II, not since 1945,” she said.
“If they were, we sure would hear about it. Instead, they initiated the Jackson-Vanik law, which said the U.S. would not trade with Russia unless it allowed unlimited Jewish emigration. But it was not immigration to the United States, which would have been fine with me. It was to go to Palestine and uproot these people, throw them out of their homes, which they have done through several wars,” she added.
Instead Thomas defended the Palestinians by saying that their current situation is “not fair” and that she wanted people to understand the root causes of Palestinians' anger.
“They are incarcerated and living in an open prison.”
Getting into trouble
Playboy asked Thomas whether if she knew how controversial her statements were, she said that she was “going for broke”, because she was fed up with how the Palestinians had been treated for decades.
“Sure, the Israelis have a right to exist—but where they were born, not to come and take someone else’s home. I’ve had it up to here with the violations against the Palestinians.”
In a country penetrated by a strong Zionist lobby, Thomas protested against their influence in the interview and said that the lobby controls what happens in Congress and the White House.
Cried in interview
Asked about how she will be remembered as a journalist, Thomas cried and said that the obituary writers would remember her as anti-Semite.
“As the person who asked why. That’s what I want as my epitaph: ‘Why?’ It’s always been my favorite question, even though it rarely gets answered.
Thomas was known for her reputation for being the one asking tough questions; she questioned Bush policies of extraordinary rendition and torture, as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
She also emphasized her stance against violence and suicide bombings, and said “of course I don’t condone any violence against anyone. But who wouldn’t fight for their country? What would any American do if their land was being taken? Remember Pearl Harbor. The Palestinian violence is to protect what little remains of Palestine. The suicide bombers act out of despair and desperation.”
“Three generations of Palestinians have been forced out of their homes—by Israelis—and into refugee camps. And the Israelis are still bulldozing Palestinians’ homes in East Jerusalem. Remember, Menachem Begin invented terrorism as his MO—and bragged about it in his first book. That’s how Israel was created, aided and abetted by U.S. money and arms.”
She was ostracized by most of her former colleagues and only a few reporters did stand by her.