Veteran journalist Helen Thomas, 90, gave an interview that aired Wednesday, her first since resigning in June due to backlash over her statement that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine.” Thomas stood by her remarks, and accused “them” – apparently a reference to Israelis – of distorting her remarks.
Thomas defended the statements she made in June, which included a demand that Israeli Jews “go home” to Poland, Germany and America.
The statements were “exactly what I thought,” she told radio interviewer Scott Spears. She added, “I hit the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive.”
She accused “them” – an apparent reference to Israel – of putting her remarks in a bad light. “They distorted my remarks, which they obviously have to do for their own propaganda purposes, otherwise people might wonder why they continue to take Palestinian land,” she said.
Thomas said “Baloney,” to the suggestion that she may be anti-Semitic, and expressed hope that she will be remembered for “integrity, honesty, and my belief in good journalism.”
She also criticized senior figures in United States politics, calling U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “a hawk,” and saying, “I thought women in politics would have more compassion, be more liberal.” She described the possibility that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will run for president as “a national tragedy.”
Thomas made headlines in June for her statements that Jews do not belong in the Land of Israel. The statements were made in an impromptu interview with Rabbi David Nessenoff.
At the time Thomas, a veteran White House correspondent and then-reporter for Hearst newspapers, expressed regret for her remarks. “I deeply regret my comments... They do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance,” she said.
While Thomas' remarks were widely condemned, she later received a lifetime achievement award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).