MARION, Ohio —
Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas acknowledges she touched a
nerve with remarks about Israel that led to her retirement. But she
said the comments were "exactly what I thought," even though she
realized soon afterward that it was the end of her job.
the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and
survive," Thomas told Ohio station WMRN-AM in a sometimes emotional
35-minute interview aired on Tuesday. It was recorded a week earlier by
WMRN reporter Scott Spears at Thomas' Washington, D.C., condominium.
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90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in
June after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the
White House calling on Israelis to get "out of Palestine." She gave up
her front row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed
often pointed questions at 10 presidents, going back to Eisenhower.
She has kept a low profile since then.
was) very hard for the first two weeks. After that, I came out of my
coma," said Thomas, whose parents immigrated to the US from Lebanon.
David Nesenoff, who runs the website rabbilive.com, said he approached
Thomas after he'd been at the White House for Jewish Heritage Day on May
27. He asked whether she had any comments on Israel.
"Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," she replied.
"Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not
Germany, it's not Poland," she continued. Asked where they should go,
she answered, "They should go home."
"Where's home?" Nesenoff asked.
"Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," Thomas replied.
told him exactly what I thought," she told Spears, who said during the
interview that some accounts left off her reference to America. Thomas
did not disagree.
"I was not talking about Auschwitz or anything else," she said.
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," said Thomas. There was no explanation of whom
"they" referred to.
When she soon began getting calls about her remark, "I said this is the end of my job."
issued an apology, she told the radio interviewer, because people were
upset and she thought she had hurt people. "At the same time, I had the
same feelings about Israel's aggression and brutality," Thomas said.
whether she's anti-Semitic, she responded "Baloney!" She said she wants
to be remembered for "integrity and my honesty and my belief in good
journalism" and would like to work again.