Sisterhood Blog

On Helen Thomas' Hateful Remarks

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

  • Print
  • Share Share

Like any little girl growing up in the 1970s who dreamed of a career in journalism, I couldn’t but help but look up to Helen Thomas. There she was, front row to history, president after president, asking her questions and closing each press conference with her signature “Thank You, Mr. President” and earning the title of “Dean of the White House Press Corps.”

Those of us with Lois Lane fantasies who nonetheless doubted our ability to ever resemble the poised and perfectly groomed Barbie doll TV anchorwomen, drew hope from the determined dowdy, slightly kooky lady who dared to challenge presidents with her questions. She was the first woman officer of the National Press Club, the first woman officer and first female president of the White House Correspondents Association.

In my 20s, while the Washington correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, I had the opportunity to sit in the White House press room — albeit numerous rows behind Thomas and the other veterans.

I never approached her. By then, the Lebanese-America Thomas’ views on the Middle East were no secret to me. Her questions on Israel and the Palestinians, during the various crises were pointed enough that members of the Israeli press corps could guess what she was thinking. We didn’t find this shocking or unusual; there are plenty of working journalists in Washington who aren’t fans of Israel. And by that time, few took Thomas or her outlet (UPI) very seriously.

Despite my diminished expectations, seeing Thomas propose, while chuckling, that Jews “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home to Poland and Germany” was shockingly disconcerting.

I knew she was dotty, knew she disliked Israel — but this? Being 89 years old is no excuse for advocating ethno-religious cleansing, nor indifference to the millions of Jews who remained in their “proper place” in Germany and Poland and were exterminated.

Truly unforgivable — she’s a journalist — is how she got the facts wrong. Does she know that the majority of Israelis are of Middle Eastern origin? Does she suggest that the Yemenite, Syrian, Libyan, Egyptian, Iraqi, Moroccan and Tunisian Jews “go home” as well? How does she think their “homecoming” will be received? These are questions we are unlikely to hear answered. Instead we have her boilerplate apology. It’s a sad conclusion to what I would have liked to have continued to view as an admirable career.

Obviously, witnessing so much history does not mean you learn anything from it.

Watch Helen Thomas’ statement to Rabbi David Nesenoff:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Helen Thomas

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.