Back in May, Helen Thomas, dean of the White House press corps and a trailblazer among female journalists, ended her career of more than 60 years in disgrace after making anti-Semitic remarks aimed at Israel. Last week, at a Dearborn workshop on anti-Arab bias, the 90-year-old Thomas further disgraced herself with anti-Semitic comments targeting American Jews.
Thomas’ downfall began after attending a May 27 White House event marking Jewish Heritage Month. During a video interview conducted by Rabbi David Nesenoff, when asked for her thoughts on Israel, she said, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.” When asked where the Jews should go in a follow-up question, Thomas said, “They should go home,” which she identified as “Poland, Germany … and America and everywhere else.”
After these remarks were met with widespread outrage and condemnation, Thomas apologized, saying that she believes “peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual tolerance and respect.” Her critics saw the apology as insufficient, and Thomas retired shortly afterward as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.
Thomas, who is of Lebanese Christian ancestry, grew up in Detroit and graduated from what is now Wayne State University. If anyone had any doubts that she is an anti-Semite after her earlier remarks, Thomas removed them last Thursday when she said, “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question, in my opinion.”
Thomas’ alma mater, Wayne State, condemned her remarks and announced that it will no longer give out the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in the Media Award, which had gone to standout journalists in her honor. The Anti-Defamation League urged all schools and groups to take back any honors they had given to Thomas, for she has revealed herself to be a vulgar anti-Semite. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit joined in the condemnation, with Robert Cohen, its executive director, saying that, “Thomas repeated the anti-Semitic stereotypes that have been used for more than a century to incite hatred of Jews.”
Having twice exposed herself as an anti-Semite, it should now be clear that Thomas hid her bigotry for decades, while she covered every president since John F. Kennedy. Her credibility has been blown and her achievements tainted. All she now deserves is disgust, disgrace and severe condemnation. Her ostracism in Washington is well-deserved.