Veteran American journalist Helen Thomas, the former dean of the White House press corps, has retired from her job as a columnist for the Hearst News Service. Her retirement followed shortly on the heels of the publication of an interview in which she told Rabbi David Nesenoff that Israeli Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go back” to Germany and Poland.
The May 27th interview spread widely online, and earned Thomas criticism from the White House press secretary and the White House Correspondents Association.
Press secretary Robert Gibbs called Thomas's remarks “offensive and reprehensible.” The Correspondents Association termed the interview “indefensible,” and “unfortunate.”
Thomas expressed regret for her comments, and said 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.”
Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman said the apology was insufficient. Thomas' suggestion that Jews “go back to Poland and Germany” is “bigoted” and “shows a profound ignorance of history,” he said.
On Tuesday, President Obama also called her remarks "offensive" at a White House Press Conference.
Thomas, 89, began her career in 1943 as a reporter for United Press International. She began covering the White House in 1960, and became a Hearst columnist in 2000.