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. Jacqui

    I don't get the analogy at all. What she said was wrong and should be condemned. If we want to further that analogy, we could say, it's as bad as saying that all whites should go back to Europe since the Native Indians were here first.

    June 6, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  2. max

    The truth hurts sometimes

    June 6, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  3. Dr. Bruck

    This excuse for a human being is a disgrace to the profession of journalism. She should be summarily dismissed and never heard from again. Maybe this beeotch should learn how to read some history.

    June 6, 2010 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  4. Morris

    At least someone has the guts to speak out loud and say what the rest of the civilized world thinks. Go Helen! I am sure the Jewish controlled media will run a campaign to sideline this honest old woman now.

    June 6, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. Carla Cooper

    Helen, continue to tell it like it is. I agree with you totally. The time for Jews to seek safety, hopefully, is over and they should go back to whence they came and leave the Holy Land to those who were there originally. Let those who were there first duke it out for who deserves to be there. I hope you will not suffer ill for the right you have to speak what is on your mind, which you have always done. Go get them girl!

    June 6, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  6. Idaho1

    Good for her, I agree totally. Why we are so one sided doesn't make any sense. The Jewish people have been treated horribly throughout history, but that does not give them the right to take and do whatever they want. All you have to ask yourself is what would you do in the Palestinians place? Most Americans would be fighting too!

    June 6, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  7. John Vacek

    I've tried to contact the Hearst Corporation regarding the ongoing remarks from Helen Thomas, but find that this news company has no e-mail addresses. If anyone has a viable address, please advise....so I can advise her bosses how I feel.

    Thank you

    June 6, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  8. Senioritis

    The lady is almost 90 years old....if she was an anti-semite she's been doing a good job of hiding it for many, many decades.

    June 6, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  9. Some guy

    Wow, so much for free speech.

    June 6, 2010 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  10. jew for jews

    maybe helen thomas should go to germany and join the neo nazi's. she should be banned from any media outlet except her own blog. karma is no joke. i hope she rots.

    June 6, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. dimes1

    That old bag really showed what the liberal media is all about. They feel that hugging a terrorist organization like the Palestinians is cool. Let’s cleanse Gaza!

    June 6, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  12. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    And if a Republican said this bile, you'd be hearing about it all weekend from the lamestream, biased media.

    She should have been fired a long time ago. Actually, GWB should have banned her from the press room!

    June 6, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  13. Lowell Neal

    Well, after watching and listening to Helen for so many years I think her remarks, while wrong, may have been made out of frustration with the problem of Israel and Palestine. There used to be a country called Palestine. I remember that. I remember the Exodus. I remember when the King David Hotel which was the British Army's headquarters was blown up in what we today would call a terrorist act. There must be a a solution to this problem and it has to be a two state solution. The Palestinians must allow Israel to be at peace and stop all terrorist acts.. Israel must allow the Palestinian people to have their own state and let them live in peace too. It seems really simple, but stopping the violence just never happens. Now for 62 years the United Nations has failed to resolve the "Palestinian Issue". When will it end?

    June 6, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. PGelsman

    Another anti-semite.

    June 6, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. Paul WIllson

    These remarks disgust me . Now I admit many Palestinians were forced to move after 1947. However to tell those who came to Israel as refugees and their descendants to go back to Europe is an insult to those jews who died in the camps.
    She should lose her seat in the White House press room and thats the least that should happen to her . The time has come for her to retire and walk away from news reporting.

    June 6, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  16. Angelique

    Well that doesn't seem like the appropriate analogy (like telling the blacks to go back to Africa). Unless I'm misunderstanding, weren't the jewish people expelled from their land, spread all throughout Europe (slavery too) and then they fought to get back into their homeland right – I don't quite see how telling the jewish people to go back to the places they were persecuted in the past is the same as telling blacks to go back Africa, as they were persecuted in America. Am I being picky or am I misunderstanding the purpose of the analogy?

    June 6, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  17. Lyle Schonberger

    Way past her prime. Everyone's true colors always come out in the end.

    June 6, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  18. Horkusmac

    I do not agree at all with the bias that Helen Thomas has shown here in a very sensitive arena, but hold the phone on being canned. What happened to FREE SPEECH that her own ilk are always parading around and hollering for, while at times breaching National Security because it's the "people's right to know" something??? Now her own turn on her for exercising that same FREE SPEECH?

    Just another double standard presented to you by the good ol' American Media- to include the one sided, biased reporting done at CNN (telling us what they want us to know in the fashion they want us to hear it in). This post will make it only to the cutting room floor...

    June 6, 2010 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  19. sam35

    there is someone who takes a stand for the truth. i commend her for her truthfulness about the Israeli occupation. one should be fair regardless of Israel's ally with united states or the other way around. Israel suffered during the world war but it cannot turn around and do the same to poor Palestine. where is the justice in that. i guess a tsunami or an asteroid will put an end to human civilization before there is world peace.

    June 6, 2010 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. dan smith

    Just more proof that left wing nut fascists suffer from brain rot.

    June 6, 2010 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  21. charlie from the North

    I sometimes like to joke on this blog. But I am not joking this time. Helen Thomas is an accomplished journalist of the highest integrity and I fear that far from demonstrating any anti-semitism on her part. making these comments might be a sign of a neurological disorder. I think she should go in for a full work-up.

    June 6, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. Eric

    I have nothing against the Jewish people, but Israel is in the wrong here - they are fighting a battle they created themselves. Modern day Israel is completely morally bankrupt.

    June 6, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  23. Darth Vadik, CA

    Lets stop the focus on Israel seizing aide and killing innocent people and focus on Helen Thomas, she is the real problem here...

    ...pathetic, but then again the GOP does this to every decent honest news correspondent.


    BTW did Boehner say anything about that GOP freak that called the President a "rag-head"? I thought that we are supposed to "respect" the office?

    June 6, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  24. Lee

    Helen Thomas' comments were extreme to say the least, BUT why do we live in a world where no one can engage in ANY critical thinking, or commentary about Israel without being accused of being an anti-Semite. Comparing this to blacks being told to go back to Africa does not fit the situation. They did not come to these shores willfully, and arrogantly overrun the native population. The Europeans did that. What would be comparable would be to say all the Europeans should leave the Americas and go back to Europe. That's not going happen. And the Jews are not going to leave Palestine. They do need a homeland. But why should anyone be called racist for calling out any group on their expansionist and suppressionist ways.

    June 6, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. Jim Moritz

    This is just the kind of attitude that fuels hatred in the Middle East and around the world. Any intelligent person, regardless of their personal beliefs, should be outraged by such bigotry.

    June 6, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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