Veteran White House Reporter Resigns After Saying Jews Should 'Get the Hell Out of Palestine'

White House: Helen Thomas remarks on Israel 'offensive and reprehensible'; Washington school cancels White House reporter's speech at graduation.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas resigned on Monday from her position with Hearst Newspapers, following the wave of criticisim she has faced since her recent declaration that "Jews should get the hell out of Palestine."

The Obama administration on Monday called Thomas' remarks "offensive and reprehensible." The comments also drew sharp criticism from Jewish group and former friends, and let a Washington-area high school to cancel its invitation for her to speak at its high school graduation.

Thomas, who joined Hearst Newspapers as a columnist in 2000, has apologized for comments captured on video by an interviewer for the website http://www.rabbilive.com. On the May 27 video, Thomas says Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine," suggesting they go to Germany, Poland or the U.S.

Gibbs said Thomas' remarks "do not reflect certainly the opinion of most of the people here and certainly not of the administration."

The principal of the Bethesda, Maryland high school where she was scheduled to give a graduation speech sent out on e-mail on Sunday announcing that Thomas was no longer invited to speak.

Thomas had been scheduled to speak at the June 14 graduation of Walt Whitman High School, but Principal Alan Goodwin wrote in the e-mail to students and parents that she was being replaced - though it has not yet picked a new speaker.

"Graduation celebrations are not the venue for divisiveness," Goodwin wrote.

Thomas, a columnist for Hearst Newspapers, issued an apology on her Web site on Friday for her comments.

"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians," Thomas wrote on her site. "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."

The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, said Sunday that Thomas' apology didn't go far enough.

"Her suggestion that Israelis should go back to Poland and Germany is bigoted and shows a profound ignorance of history," Foxman said in a statement. "We believe Thomas needs to make a more forceful and sincere apology for the pain her remarks have caused."

American Jewish groups welcomed Thomas' resignation. "Despite Helen Thomas reputation for controversial statements and beliefs, it was clear that her recent comments went too far, even for her," said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America, and Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. "We applaud Hearst Newspapers and Helen Thomas for coming to the decision today that it was time for her to step away."

Thomas, 89, began her long career with the wire service United Press International in 1943, and started covering the White House in 1960, according to a biography posted on her website.

Helen Thomas.Credit: Reuters

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott