Accuracy in Media

Helen Thomas is sticking to her earlier statements on Israel and in a speech she gave yesterday in Michigan added to her attacks on the country.

From the Detroit Free-Press

Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas speaks to members of the news media at Byblos Banquet Center in Dearborn, where she gave a talk Thursday during a workshop that addressed bias against Arabs. About 300 people attended.   (Photos by SUSAN TUSA/Detroit Free Press)

Helen Thomas said Thursday that she stands by her comments about Israel she made earlier this year that led to her resignation as a national columnist.

And she went further, saying that Zionists control U.S. foreign policy and other institutions. The local Jewish community condemned her remarks.

In an interview, Thomas, 90, said that criticizing Israel led to her resignation and ostracism in Washington.

“I can call a president of the United States anything in the book, but I can’t touch Israel, which has Jewish-only roads in the West Bank,” Thomas said. “No American would tolerate that — white-only roads.”

Thomas, a longtime White House correspondent who grew up in Detroit as the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, was in Dearborn for a workshop on anti-Arab bias.

In a speech to about 300 people inside a center in Dearborn, she talked about “the whole question of money involved in politics.”

“Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question, in my opinion,” she said. “They put their money where their mouth is. … We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.”

Jewish groups have called Thomas’ earlier remarks unfair and bigoted. They slammed Thursday’s remarks as well.

“Ms. Thomas repeated the anti-Semitic stereotypes that have been used for more than a century to incite hatred of Jews. Her comments should be condemned by all people who oppose bigotry,” said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit.

Don Cohen, a pro-Israel activist from West Bloomfield, said that Thomas’ claim about Jewish-only roads in the West Bank was inaccurate.

“There are Israeli-only roads on which anyone with an Israeli license plate… can use… Jews and Arabs,” Cohen said.

Asked by the Free Press how she would respond to those who say she’s anti-Semitic, Thomas said: “I’d say I’m a Semite. What are you talking about?”

In the interview, she said the Iraq war was “built on lies. … No weapons of mass destruction. No ties to al-Qaida. What is this? Why are we killing those people? And why are we there?”

Thomas resigned from Hearst Newspapers in June after telling a rabbi on camera that Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to “Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.”

In the interview Thursday, Thomas talked about the problems that Palestinians face. “Arabs are not terrorists,” she said.

Rather, she pointed to former Israeli leader Menachem Begin’s activities during Israel’s campaign for statehood. “They bragged, in his first book, about creating the modus operandi for terrorists,” she said.

Thomas also said she’s proud of her Arab roots, but stressed that she’s fully American.

“I never felt I was an Arab American. I felt I was an American,” she said.

Thomas has every right to say what she thinks now that she is now longer employed by a news organization but these feelings are so strong it would be hard to imagine that they didn’t affect her writing during her long career in Washington and yet her employers never questioned her bias against Israel  which seems to only have emboldened her in her old age.

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