By Roger Tucker
As everyone knows, Helen Thomas, the doyenne of the Washington Press Corps, has gone into retirement after making some heretical remarks about Israel and Israelis. The current wikipedia entry reads in part as follows:
“On May 27, 2010, outside a White House Jewish heritage event, Rabbi David Nesenoff asked if Thomas had any comments on Israel. Thomas replied, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine… Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land.” She was then asked where the Israelis should go, to which she replied: “they should go home” to “Poland, Germany,… America and everywhere else.” Thomas subsequently issued an apology on her personal web site: “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”
She was perhaps the last representative of a proud tradition of American journalism, of calling it like you see it and damn the torpedoes – in a word, of telling the truth. Presidents have either trusted or feared her, depending on their own proclivities for truth telling, hardly a hallmark of politicians of whatever rank. There she always was, up front and center due to her rank as America’s premier representative of the press, ready to ask that one piercing question directed at whatever cover-up, hypocrisy or skullduggery the DC suits were up to at the moment. The most recent example was her pointed question to President Obama, asking President Obama to name all the countries in the Middle East that have nuclear weapons, which was avoided by the President, who claimed to not want to “speculate”. Thomas claims that knowledge of Israeli nukes is very public in DC and Obama’s answer shows a lack of credibility. She explains the importance of this question for U.S. policy in the region. Finally, she confides that she has not been called on by the President since that day, but that if she does, she will ask him whether or not he has found any more information about nukes in the Middle East since their last encounter.