Helen Thomas Apologizes Then Resigns Over Comment — Israelis Should Get Out Of Palestine

The legendary 89 year old reporter of presidents, Helen Thomas, first apologized for her comment that Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine.” Now, she has resigned.

Thomas made the comments on May 27. So her comments were not in response to the  Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla which happened several days after this event.  Ironically, Thomas made the comment at a White House Jewish Heritage Celebration.  NPR has the video tape of Helen’s comment’s and here is the transcript:

Q: Any comments on Israel?
Thomas: Tell ’em to get the hell out of Palestine.

Q: Ooo!
Thomas: (Laughing) Remember these people are occupied, and it’s their land, it’s not German, it’s not Poland.

President Obama and Helen Thomas at the recent The Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

Q: So where should they go, what should they do?
Thomas: They go home.

Q: Where’s home?
Thomas: Poland.  Germany.

Q: So you’re saying Jews should go back to Poland, and Germany.
Thomas: And America, and everywhere else.

The Washington Post reports that recently White House press secretary Robert Gibbs “assailed” Thomas for her words, reporting that Gibbs said: “Those remarks were offensive and reprehensible, (Her sentiments) do not reflect certainly most of the people here and certainly not those of the administration.”

Thomas on her web-site issued an apology:  “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon”

But Abraham Foxman, of the Anti-Defamation League, said Sunday that Thomas’ apology didn’t go far enough.  Foxman said: “Her suggestion that Israelis should go back to Poland and Germany is bigoted and shows a profound ignorance of history. We believe Thomas needs to make a more forceful and sincere apology for the pain her remarks have caused.”

Thomas, who has covered presidents since Kennedy,  is known for making provocative statements. Newsbusters has accumulated some interesting quotes from Ms Thomas:

  • “All of us who covered the Reagans agreed that President Reagan was personable and charming, but I’m not so certain he was nice. It’s hard for me to think of anyone as nice when I hear him say ‘The homeless are homeless because they want to be homeless.’ To my mind, a President should care about all people, and he didn’t, which is why I will always feel Reagan lacked soul.” — UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas in the July 1993 Good Housekeeping.
  • “A liberal bias? I don’t know what a liberal bias is. Do you mean we care about the poor, the sick, and the maimed? Do we care whether people are being shot every day on the streets of America? If that’s liberal, so be it. I think it’s everything that’s good in life — that we do care. And also for the solutions — we seek solutions and we do think that we are all responsible for what happens in this country.” — UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas on C-SPAN’s Journalists Roundtable, December 31, 1993.
  • Helen Thomas of Hearst Newspapers: “Why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government for centuries has to led slaughter. I mean, the very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having this separation. Why do you break it down?” President Bush: “Helen, I strongly respect the separation of church and state.”   Thomas: “You wouldn’t have a religious office in the White House if you did.”  — Exchange during Bush’s first presidential news conference, February 22, 2001.
  • “Ari, what makes the President — I’m taking note of his wide-swinging threats in speeches recently. What makes him think that he has the right to go into a sovereign country and bomb the people?”  — Hearst White House correspondent Helen Thomas questioning White House press secretary Ari Fleischer at Dec. 5, 2001 briefing shown live on cable news channels.
  • “President Reagan turned the country to the right. There was a Reagan revolution, a very conservative revolution, and it was social Darwinism. If you can’t make it, tough. I mean, he did not believe in social welfare and, but at the same time, he did build up our military. He had a secret plan to spend one trillion dollars on new arms when he came in….”
  • “Clinton, I think his heart was in the right place. He certainly built up a great prosperity and surplus, balanced the budget, I think that he had great ideals, but, of course, he tarnished the White House with his liaisons and, but eventually, you know, every President, time is the great healer, and every President looks better in retrospect, so I think that he has a legacy that will be worthwhile.”  — Hearst columnist Helen Thomas speaking at a March 3, 2002 Newseum session shown by C-SPAN on March 4, 2002.
  • “Ari, does the President think that the Palestinians have a right to resist 35 years of brutal military occupation and suppression?”
  • — Helen Thomas’s question to White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, April 1, 2002.
  • “Ari, you said that the President deplored the taking of innocent lives. Does that apply to all innocent lives in the world? And I have a follow-up….The follow-up is, why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?”  — Thomas to press secretary Ari Fleischer during a January 6, 2003 White House briefing shown on all three cable news networks.
  • Starting after 9/11, they [the Washington press corps] rolled over and played dead — they were so afraid of being called unpatriotic and un-American and they thought the American people were watching on television. They lost their guts and they did a lousy job…. We’ve killed people in torture. That’s not us — is it? Where is the outrage?”  — Former UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas in a Q&A with the liberal Center for American Progress and posted on the group’s Web site February 28, 2006.
  • I censored myself for 50 years….Now I wake up and ask myself, ‘Who do I hate today?’…I have never covered a President who actually wanted to go to war. Bush’s policy of pre-emptive war is immoral — such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It’s as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam….Where is the outrage?”  — Hearst White House columnist Helen Thomas speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on November 4, 2002 and quoted on MIT’s Web site two days later.
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