June 6th, 2010
07:54 PM ET
11 years ago

Helen Thomas under fire for saying Jews in Israel should go back to Germany, Poland

Washington (CNN) – Lanny Davis joined Ari Fleischer Sunday in calling for Hearst Corporation to take quick action against legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas for recently saying that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and that the Jewish people should go home to “Poland, Germany … and America and everywhere else.”

Thomas was also dropped by her agent Nine Speakers, Inc. Sunday, CNN has learned, and Craig Crawford, who coauthored “Listen Up, Mr. President” with Thomas, said in a blog post that he “will no longer be working with Helen on our book projects.”

Thomas has apologized for her comments that she made to Rabbilive.com about Israel.

Specifically, she was asked, “Any comments on Israel?”

“Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” she responded.

The interviewer then asked “Any better comments on Israel?” To which Thomas said, “Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German’s. It’s not Poland’s.”

Thomas was then asked where the Jews in Israel should go and what they should do? Thomas responded, “They should go home” which the White House reporter identified as “Poland, Germany . . . and America and everywhere else.”

Thomas is considered the “dean” of the White House press corps after decades covering the presidency. The syndicated columnist for Hearst Corporation’s newspapers holds a privileged seat in the front row of the White House press briefing room where she regularly fires sharp questions on the major issues of the day at White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

In the apology posted on her website Friday, Thomas said she “deeply” regretted her comments. “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.”

But her apology was not enough for Davis, who served as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton.

“Helen Thomas, who I used to consider a close friend and who I used to respect, has showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot,” said Davis. “This is not about her disagreement about her criticisms of Israel. She has a right to criticize Israel and that is not the same as being an anti-Semite.”

Davis added, “If she had asked all Blacks to go back to Africa, what would White House Correspondents Association position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials - much less a privileged honorary seat?”

Previously Fleischer, who served as press secretary for former President George W. Bush, said Thomas should be fired because of her remarks. And in a statement provided to CNN Sunday he reiterated that demand.

“Helen's statement calling for the religious cleansing of Israel is reprehensible,” Fleischer said. “If this isn't bigotry, what is? What she said is as bad as someone saying all blacks should leave America and go back to Africa.

“Hearst Newspapers should do the right thing and let Helen go,” Fleischer added in the statement.

Update, 8:33 p.m.: The Anti-Defamation League has provided CNN with a written statement regarding Thomas' remark and apology. "Helen Thomas’s statement of regret does not go far enough. Her remarks were outrageous, offensive and inappropriate," ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman said in the statement. Foxman added, "Her suggestion that Israelis should go back to Poland and Germany is bigoted and shows a profound ignorance of history. We believe Thomas needs to make a more forceful and sincere apology for the pain her remarks have caused."

Filed under: Helen Thomas • Israel • Middle East • Popular Posts
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. M.J.Eden

    Helen needs to retire. If this were said ABOUT ANY OTHER RACE–she'd be tarred and feathered. Helen needs to be fired and she needs to go home.

    June 6, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  2. Ted

    The White House should remove her press credentials. Then Hearst Corp should fire her now!
    The truth has come out-her anti-Israel comments are just another case of anti-semitism.

    June 6, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  3. Samuel Goldman

    Did Helen actually advocate the cleansing of the Jews? She either did or she didnt. In the video, she didnt even mention "Jews" in her diatribe.

    June 6, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  4. borlov

    How sad to learn what Helen Thomas really thinks. Lanny Davis is correct: her comments are clear anti-Jewish bigotry, In this context, her views on Israel are irrelevant. She must be fired.

    June 6, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  5. sniffit

    She is just another hate filled left wing fundamentalist progressive.

    June 6, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  6. Tom in Michigan

    It is sadly obvious that Ms. Thomas senile or suffering from Alzheimer's Disease or some other form of debilitating dementia. I can't accept that she could be so hateful otherwise and have to believe she is ill.

    In any event, she simply cannot be allowed to continue in her role as the so-called "Dean" of the White House press corps (that's pronounced "core," Mr. President).

    If she does continue however, it means that it is open season on Israel and the Jews for anti-Semitic Jew-haters.

    June 6, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  7. Sandra Taylor

    Helen Thomas needs to consult history books. The Jewish people regained their country legally in 1949. They won a war in 1967 to live seperate from the palastinians. So by Ms. Thomas" thinking maybe the native Americans have the right to reclaim the whole of the United States. And everyone else here neds to go back to their country of origin. That means all the Iranians,palastinians,afgans, english, germans, people of african decent, hispanics, irish, scotish, and Ms. Thomas herself needs to go back to lebanon!

    June 6, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  8. Reprehensible

    What a disgusting set of comments from a washed-up old hag. Israel *is* the home of the Jewish people, as it has been for thousands of years. The modern state of Israel became a necessity because of the way Jews were treated in places like Poland and Germany. Goes to show you what bigotry and ignorance is in this woman's heart.

    June 6, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  9. Steph

    Helen Thomas is wright. Jews dont want to here the truth about there behaviour. It's time for Washington to send the same message. If it's secret message, I dont care. But tell Israel the truth. There not God on earth!

    June 6, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  10. ici

    this woman should be fired

    June 6, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  11. susan

    I agree that she should be let go. She clearly is unable to keep her personal philosophy out of her reporting. She should have retired before this. This statement is completely unacceptable, I don't think that an apology is enough.

    June 6, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  12. Jakedog

    What Helen Thomas said was stupid. If she could, I'm sure she would take it back. I don't care for her politics, but she has been a provocative member of the press corps and it's always fun to hear her questions. Give her a break.

    June 6, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  13. royalld

    The analogy of Blacks in America and Jews in Palestine is ill-conceived. Blacks did not displace an entire population of people when they were kidnapped and brought to this country in chains.

    I expect an apology from both Davis and Fleischer for making such a bigoted comparsion.

    June 6, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  14. The Seeker

    Ok, first off, no one wants to acknowledge the facts here. Fact, the holocaust was a very horrific and terrible catastrophe that affected millions of people. Fact, at the end of the war the state of Israel was formed in order to provide a place for these refugees to go so that they would not have to live in the fear of reprisal after the war ended. Fact, many Palestinians were displaced as a result of the creation of this state. Fact, they have been fighting over border disputes and other issues related to this ever since. Now let me ask you a question: Were the Palestinians ever asked if it was OK to just cut their country in half? Or did the UN decide for them? I don’t think it’s fair to please one group at the expense of the other. I am not Anti-Semitic or Pro-Palestinian. But continuing to only look at one side of the story is just plain ignorant. I believe that the root cause of the lack of peace between these states is directly traceable back to the Partition Plan for Palestine (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181). The world approved it and the only people that opposed it were the people that lived there. Food for thought.

    June 6, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  15. jean

    Why is it when someone tell the truth about Israel they are scolded. It is obvious that Jews are not safe in the middle east. Let the Arabs have that land. That eliminates the risk of Jews being wiped out. Helen Thomas lives in a country where freedom of speech is a way of life. I say leave her alone. The Jews need to on-up to having stole that land, just as America need to on-up to having had slaves. Ignoring the truth does not lessen the facts.

    June 6, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  16. Joshua Ludd

    Which just goes to show.. you can't be critical of Israel or its existence at all in this society. Israel HAS no right to exist. Period. It doesn't matter if their ancestors lived there centuries ago.

    June 6, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  17. Aviel

    I demand her to resign and further more be prevented to report for any agency, ACLU should be involved!

    June 6, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  18. dyolf

    I've never cared for Helen Thomas. But I care much less for the intricate Israeli-jewish-media connections in America.

    June 6, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  19. macho man randy savage

    To be anti-Israel is to be anti-genocide, anti-racism, anti-organ harvesting, anti-espionage and anti-treason.
    As for the espionage, just read 22 year congressmen’s book “they dare to speak out”. In it, Paul Findley details Zionist Jews gaining access to top secret US military technology. Paul Findley says that 23 countries have been caught spying in the US, 90% of the cases are from Israel.
    Thanks to this espionage, China has developed the J-10 twenty years earlier then would have been the case. They were given the technology by Israel, which got it from the US funded levy program that Reagan put an end to.
    Thanks to this espionage, Russia has the ability to destroy the US even today. Pollard was a Zionist Jew who pretended to be American first. As a high ranking Navy officer, he was able to give the Russians the entire US Nuclear deterrent strategy including the location of defensive and offensive systems. Israel got $100 million from Russia; the US tax payers paid $4 trillion over three decades to put it in place.
    Thanks to this espionage, the US pharmaceutical industry has lost 100,000 jobs. Zionist passed along patented information free of charge.
    To be pro-Israel is to be Anti-US
    Finally, to say that this monster is a US ally demeans the US and should be considered treason.

    June 6, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  20. jason

    Amazing that it took CNN a week to report on this. If a republican councilman from Idaho said something half as bad about Palistinians it would be on their top story for a week.

    June 6, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    well, that is just shocking coming from someone with her credentials. She certainly did 'tip her hand' and reveal her true feelings. In the future, I don't think we'll ever be able to trust that her reporting is unbiased.

    June 6, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  22. Pauline Fromer

    Ms. Thomas who is such a respected journalist had a "senior moment: when she uttered that remark, don't you think?
    Pauline N. Fromer

    June 6, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  23. MrModeration

    Hearst should fire Helen Thomas and she should be banished from the White House immediately. When news reporters make the news its time for them to get out of the busniness. Goodbye Helen!

    June 6, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  24. Gary Sanderson

    Amen, Ms Helen Thomas. Helen Thomas for president of USA.

    June 6, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Why is she not allowed to state opinion? Right or wrong I didn't find her statement particularly offensive.

    June 6, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
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