Striking a defiant tone, ‘Wicked Witch of the Press,’ Helen Thomas, 90, said she absolutely stands by her controversial comments about Israel made earlier this year that led to her resignation form the White House Press Corps. But she stoked additional controversy with new remarks, claiming that “Zionists” control U.S. foreign policy and other American institutions.
FREEP – “I can call a president of the United States anything in the book but I can’t touch Israel.
Thomas, who grew up in Detroit the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, was in Dearborn today for an Arab Detroit workshop on anti-Arab bias. The Free Press asked her about her comments, which critics have said were anti-Israel.”I paid the price for that,” said Thomas, a longtime White House correspondent. “But it was worth it, to speak the truth.”
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“The Zionists have to understand that Palestinians were there long before any European Zionists,” said Thomas. (But not before the indigenous Jews who have been there continuously for the past 5,000 years)
Thomas claimed that “You can not say anything (critical) about Israel in this country.”In a speech that drew a standing ovation, Thomas talked about “the whole question of money involved in politics.”
“We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where there mouth is…We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.”
Jewish groups have criticized Thomas’ earlier remarks, saying they were unfair and bigoted. And they slammed today’s remarks as well.
“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.
Her comments should be condemned by all people who oppose bigotry in any form,” said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit.
In her speech to about 300 inside a center in Dearborn, Thomas lashed out at the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying they were built on lies. And she decried bias against Arabs.
“We all know the Arabs are much maligned. They are automatically terrorists. I was called the Hizballah at the White House, Hamas, and everything else. Criticizing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Thomas said “we’ve lost our way.”In the interview, she said the Iraq war was “a war built on lies.”
“Seven years of war now with Iraq. They did nothing to us. They are totally innocent, and they were just demonized. I’m not saying Saddam Hussein wasn’t a terrible man. But how many thousands of Iraqis did you kill, for what reason?…They’ve never explained the war. No weapons of mass destruction. No ties to Al-Qaeda. What is this? Why are we killing those people. And why are we there?”
“We teach our children to be good citizens, never kill, never lie, never do bad things, and yet in 3-4 weeks, we train them to go and kill people half way around the world, and still have yet to give them a good reason to kill and die.”
“Obama, he puts in charge for the Arab world a Zionist like Dennis Ross…You don’t put a Zionist in charge of the Muslim world in the White House.”
In the interview, Thomas talked about the problems that Palestinians face, saying that “Arabs are not terrorists.” Rather, Thomas said, it was former Israeli leader “Menacham Begin who created terrorism.”
At the end of her speech, Thomas spoke about bias against Arabs and then recalled the words of a rabbi at Martin Luther King’s 1963 civil rights march on Washington D.C., when he made his, I have a dream speech. Thomas said that the rabbi, who survived Nazi concentration camps, told the crowd “the greatest sin of all in the Nazi era was silence.” “And so we have to speak up for our rights, even at price, even at a cost.”
Tonight, Thomas attended the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, where a bust of her was unveiled. And she is to speak at a high school in Dearborn on Friday.