Former White House Press Corps Member Criticises Israel

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helen-thomasLOS ANGELES: Veteran United Sates reporter Helen Thomas lashed out at Israel in an interview published on Friday, standing by fiery comments which forced her to quit as doyenne of the White House press corps last year.

Speaking to Playboy, she denied she was anti-Semitic but railed against Jewish lobbies she said controlled power in America, from the White House and Congress to Hollywood and financial markets.

The combative 90-year-old also reiterated her view that Jews should stay in Europe and the US rather than move to Israel, which she said was stolen from the Palestinians.

“I’m not anti-Jewish; I’m anti-Zionist. I am anti-Israel taking what doesn’t belong to it. If you have a home and you’re kicked out of that home, you don’t come and kick someone else out.”

Thomas was forced to quit last June after saying about Israel: “Tell them to get out of Palestine,” adding: They can go home, Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else.”

Asked about those comments by Playboy, she said: “Well, that immediately evoked the concentration camps. What I meant was they should stay where they are because they’re not being persecuted – not since World War 2.

“If they were, we sure would hear about it. I want people to understand why the Palestinians are upset. They are incarcerated and living in an open prison.”

Thomas also wanted to set the record straight on her departure from the White House, announced as a retirement by Hearst Corp, where she worked as a newspaper columnist after decades at United Press International.

“I’m not retired! I was fired,” she said in the interview which was conducted in Washington where she took Playboy contributing editor David Hochman to her favourite Palestinian restaurant, the magazine said. - AFP

Published in The New Sunday Times - Sunday 20 March 2011.