Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas “shot herself in the mouth” with her off-the-cuff remarks that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine.” Her speech scheduled for next Monday at a high school graduation near Washington, D.C. was canceled.
Walt Whitman High School principal Alan Goodwin in Bethesda, Maryland wrote an email to parents that “a mutual understanding” was reached with Thomas that she would not speak to graduating students.
"Graduation celebrations are not the venue for divisiveness," Goodwin wrote. "Graduation is the time for a cohesive and joyous celebration of our students' achievements.”
Thomas, 89 and the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, was filmed and taped after a Jewish Heritage event at the White House late last week. She said that Jews in Israel should "go home” to Poland, Germany and the United States.
A Facebook campaign is underway demanding that the Hearst newspaper chain fire her, and New York gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio commented, "Helen Thomas' racist and despicable comments against members of the Jewish community is an offense to all who wish to live in freedom… Hearst must do the right thing and fire Ms. Thomas immediately. Nothing less will do."
Her scheduled commencement speech was to be heard in a school that has a large number of Jewish students. If Thomas were to appear, she would be met by "a lot of people booing her off the stage... It would be an embarrassment," Whitman high school parent Raisa Siepoy told American media.
“One worries about freedom of speech, [but] the biggest concern is this is the kids' day, and nothing should be a distraction,” commented Patricia O'Neill, president of the Montgomery County School Board.
Hamas, on the other hand, gave its approval, writing on the Al Qassam website:
"[There is] no doubt that Thomas Helen [sic] has told the truth that everybody in the world knows, but as [an] American in a very important position, she was attacked by Zionists who went mad from the reality she mentioned in front of all people. Thomas Helen was directly accused by Jews and pro-Israel masses as anti-Semite Nazi. Israelis ignore the reality, that they never belong in Palestine but belong in some other countries...they know better.