Helen Thomas, the former “dean” of the White House Press Corps who lost her position over a string of anti-Semitic comments, has spoken out again, this time claiming Hollywood, the White House, Wall Street and other American institutions are “owned by the Zionists” with an anti-Arab agenda.
In a speech to the Arab Detroit workshop on anti-Arab bias at the Byblos Banquet Center in Dearborn, Mich., yesterday, Thomas addressed “the whole question of money involved in politics.”
“We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that,” Thomas said, according to a Detroit Free Press report. “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is. …We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.”
In an interview with the newspaper afterward, Thomas further said that “Arabs are not terrorists,” but instead blamed the 1977-elected Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for “creating the modus operandi for terrorists.”
Thomas was a correspondent with United Press International for 57 years, an opinion columnist with Hearst Newspapers for 10 years and the senior White House reporter, covering every president since Eisenhower, until damaging comments earlier this year pushed her to retirement.
Thomas resigned in June after telling a rabbi on camera that Israelis should “get the h— out of Palestine” and “go home” to “Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.”
Though Thomas later apologized for her comments about Israelis, in Dearborn yesterday, she apparently retracted the apology.
“I paid the price for that,” Thomas told the Free Press. “But it was worth it, to speak the truth. … You cannot say anything about Israel in this country.”
Dearborn, where an estimated 30,000 of the city’s 98,000 residents are Muslim, is host to the annual Arab Festival; and the Arab Detroit workshop boasts that the greater Detroit area is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in North America.
Thomas grew up in Detroit, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants George and Mary Antonious.
In her speech yesterday, Thomas lashed out against a perceived bias against Arabs.
“We all know the Arabs are much maligned. They are automatically terrorists,” she said. “I was called the Hizballah at the White House, Hamas, and everything else. But I never bowed to those kinds of slurs because I know who I am. I’m an American.”
She also criticized the current administration’s Mideast policy.
“Obama, he puts in charge for the Arab world a Zionist like Dennis Ross,” she said. “You don’t put a Zionist in charge of the Muslim world in the White House.”
Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, criticized Thomas’ comments.
“When she said … today that Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street are owned by Zionists, Ms. Thomas repeated the anti-Semitic stereotypes that have been used for more than a century to incite hatred of Jews,” Cohen told the Free Press. “Her comments should be condemned by all people who oppose bigotry in any form.”
The Anti-Defamation League further called upon journalistic institutions that have honored Thomas in the past to revoke awards given to the former White House correspondent.
“Helen Thomas has clearly, unequivocally revealed herself as a vulgar anti-Semite,” ADL National Director Abe Foxman said in a statement. “This is a sad final chapter to an otherwise illustrious career. Unlike her previous, spontaneous remarks into a camera, these words were carefully thought out and conscious. It shows a prejudice that is deep-seated and obsessive.”
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