Helen Thomas Suggests Jews Should Leave Israel, Then Apologizes

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas found herself in the middle of an Internet controversy late yesterday when video surfaced of her making comments that can only be described as incredibly offensive:

White House press corps dean Helen Thomas — on the day that the White House hosted a Jewish Heritage Celebration, no less — said that Jews who live in Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go “home.”

When asked where home was for Israeli Jews, Thomas offered “Poland, Germany… and America and everywhere else” that the founding generation of the State of Israel originally hailed.

Video:

Just, wow.

Anyway, Thomas issued a statement late last night:

“I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. 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.”

To which I think Hot Air’s Allahpundit has the only appropriate response:

I’m satisfied. Who among us hasn’t innocently stumbled into a statement of support for ethnic cleansing when we didn’t really mean it?

Thomas has been something of a gadfly for awhile now, but these comments strike me as being beyond the pale, regardless of the fact that she apologized after she got caught.

FILED UNDER: Media, Middle East, Quick Takes, World Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. David says:

    I think she was referring to Palestine, as in the occupied territories. Since when do Jews refer to Israel as Palestine? Why aren’t more people upset about the nine people who were shot in the head and killed earlier this week? Because the pro Israel crowd is looking for a distraction.

  2. Tano says:

    Huh? How the HELL do you get a title “…Jews Should Leave Israel” when she clearly said that they Israel (the country) should leave Palestine – i.e the occupied territories. I mean she explicitly says” these people are occupied, its their land…”

    Did you actually watch the video you embedded, or just go with the quote from Newsbusters (of all sites!!!).

    What is it with you Doug? Are you determined to destroy the reputation of this website with this kind of crap?

  3. Richard Gardner says:

    Helen Thomas is apparently ignorant that until 1990 over half the immigrant Jews in Israel did NOT come from Europe (mush less just Poland and Germany), they came from the Middle East. Places like Cairo, Damascus, Tehran, and Baghdad used to have large Jewish sections, today maybe 100. After the founding of Israel they were made, well, unwelcome (potential spies?).

    After ~1990 there was large immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union areas, to include those from Central Asia that were Persian speaking. The current First Lady of Iceland is a Bukhari Jew whose family was from Central Asia (the -Stans).

    At the time of the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, there were approximately 140,000–150,000 Jews living in Iran, the historical center of Persian Jewry. Over 85% have since migrated to either Israel or the United States. At the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, 80,000 still remained in Iran. From then on, Jewish emigration from Iran dramatically increased, as about 20,000 Jews left within several months after the Islamic Revolution.[38] In mid- and late 1980s, the Jewish population of Iran was estimated at 20,000–30,000.

    Some blog pundit in my feeds put in a post subject line something like “Helen Thomas says Hispanics in Arizona should return to Mexico.” I see that as equivalent (and snarky).

  4. Juneau: says:

    Huh? How the HELL do you get a title “…Jews Should Leave Israel” when she clearly said that they Israel (the country) should leave Palestine – i.e the occupied territories.

    Occupied? You mean, as in not given back after the last time their friendly neighbors tried to actively wipe them off the face of the map? Some of the more liberal cult will not be happy until Israel is gone. Period. I really despise bigotry, especially when it comes from those that espouse tolerance.

    The Arab nations really hate it that they can’t manage to kick Israel’s butt, just once. It’s the pride of the Arabs that is threatened by Israel’s existence, not their future.

  5. Juneau,

    She didn’t say Israel should leave the Occupied Territories, she said that the Jews should go back to Germany, Poland, and America.

  6. Seth Goldstein says:

    Regarding whether Helen Thomas meant Jews should leave “only” the West Bank (they already left Gaza voluntarily, and see what it got them) that they captured in a defensive War or whether she meant that every resident of Israel should go back to Poland or Germany: people of her ilk regard “Palestine” as including all off Israel. They feel that Tel Aviv is occupied territory. Palestinian kids are brought up with maps that show no mention of Israel and that all of the land from Jordan to the Mediterranen is “Palestine.”

  7. Steve Plunk says:

    She’s an arrogant idiot who needs to be forcibly retired. Why do they keep her? For giggles?

    This was an open display of bigotry and her apology is hollow.

  8. Tano says:

    “people of her ilk regard “Palestine” as including all off Israel.”

    That is a blatant lie.

    “Palestinian kids are brought up with maps that show no mention of Israel and that all of the land from Jordan to the Mediterranen is “Palestine.””

    Helen Thomas is not a “Palestinian kid”

    And the Likud party has always argued that the all the land from (beyond) Jordan to the Mediterranean is part of “Greater Israel”, and there are no such people as Palestinians.

  9. Tano says:

    “she said that the Jews should go back to Germany, Poland, and America.”

    That is another lie.
    She very clearly said that “they” should go back to Europe, the “they” referring to the people whom she had just said should get out of Palestine (whose people are occupied). Her questioner was very clearly asking he where those people who should get out of the occupied territories (iow – settlers) should go.

    You do no one any favors with these crude smears of yours – against Helen Thomas, and the Turkish ambassador last week. By thuggishly trying to shame people into silence by grossly mischaracterizing what they say, you just foster more , and more bitter opposition.