December 9 • 2010
Helen Thomas’ Slander Of Jews
ayne State University got it right in abruptly end-ing its Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in theMedia Award following the embattled journalist’slatest outburst against Israel and Zionists. The tirade reeked of stupidity if not blatant hatred toward Jews.Thomas is no longer a role model toemulate or honor. Any hint of being anobjective reporter or reasoned colum-nist is long gone.In the brooding shadows of an iconic journalist’s disintegrated career, theaward — long on potential — hadbecome tainted. Detroit-based WayneState smartly understood that.The eight members of Wayne State’sBoard of Governors include two Jews:Eugene Driker and Richard Bernstein.On Saturday night, Driker told the
“I was very pleased that the university administration actedswiftly and forcefully both to condemn Ms. Thomas’ remarksas anti-Semitic, which they surely were, and to end the grant-ing of an award in her name intended to recognize diversity inthe journalism profession.“Ms. Thomas’ venomous comments havedrained all meaning from that award.”With insolence but clarity on Dec. 2, whileappearing at the eighth annual “Images andPerceptions of Arab Americans” conference,Thomas stood by her May 27 assertion thatJews should “get the hell out of Palestine”and “go home to Poland, Germany andAmerica and everywhere else” — a belief that drew praise from Hamas. In the wakeof mounting outrage, the Arab American journalist was forced to retire as an opinioncolumnist with Hearst News Service, whereshe had worked since 2000. Previously,she had worked 57 years for United PressInternational, gaining fame as its seniorWhite House correspondent.Last week in Dearborn, Thomas perpetu-ated her anti-Israel and anti-Jewish beliefs— declaring that the “Zionist lobby” in America was succeed-ing in punishing her and demonizing Arabs through its nefari-ous control of American government and culture.In neither case was Thomas criticizing the Israeli govern-ment, which as part of a democratic state demands scrutinyand debate. She was attacking Jews as a people.
A Strong Rebuke
Incensed by Thomas’ reckless disregard for the award namedin her behalf, Wayne State issued a concise and pointed state-ment one day after her remarks last week. The statementbegan, “As a public university, Wayne State encourages freespeech and open dialogue — and respects diverse view-points.” It went on to strongly condemn “the anti-Semiticremarks made by Helen Thomas during a conference yes-terday” — and to indicate it “will no longer offer the HelenThomas Spirit of Diversity Award.”That landmark statement for a public university — iden-tifying and condemning remarks in public discourse as anti-Semitic — emerged within hours of the Anti-DefamationLeague (ADL) calling on journalism schools and professionalorganizations that have recognized Thomas to rescind theirhonors after she “clearly, unequivocally revealed herself as avulgar anti-Semite.”That Thomas bared her anti-Jewish soul once more, thistime at a seminar designed to discuss intolerance towardArabs, underscores the depth of the hatred she must harbor.At a program intended to fight bigotry against Arabs, sheunleashed invective toward Jews — and in the process rousedan ovation from the audience at Byblos Banquet Center.
Arab Detroit, an organization that seeks to promote an accu-rate image of the Arab American community and the Arabworld, sponsored last week’s conference. According to the
Detroit Free Press
, Thomas told attendees: “I can call a presi-dent of the United States anything in the book, but I can’ttouch Israel, which has Jewish-only roads in the West Bank.No Americans would tolerate that — white-only roads.”She continued: “We are owned by the propagandistsagainst the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress,the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are ownedby the Zionists. No question, in my opinion. They put theirmoney where their mouth is. . . We’re being pushed into awrong direction in every way.”Is that not a chilling rejection of reality?Upwards of 300 seminar-goers heard Thomas’ canard.(For the record, there are no “Jewish-only roads” in theWest Bank. There are Israeli-only roads, open to all Jews,Christians, Muslims and others, which were created becauseof the murder of people traveling in vehicles with Israelilicense plates on unsecured roads).ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said, “Her sugges-tion that Zionists control government, finance and Hollywoodis nothing less than classic, garden-variety anti-Semitism.”ADL Michigan Region Executive Director Betsy Kellmanadded, “Ms. Thomas had a long and distinguished career;but her current viewpoint is too egregious and unacceptableto ignore.”Such stereotypes, especially control of government andfinance, represent a popular refrain for Jew-haters. Hitler’spropagandists embraced such stereotyping as German Jewsrose to influential heights in German society. Today’s anti-Semites flood the Internet as well as mainstream mediaonline talkbacks with similar charges.
A Winding Road
Thomas, 90, a Winchester, Ky., native, is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants to the U.S. She grew up in Detroit andis a 1942 graduate of what is now Wayne State University.The same evening she spoke to the “Images and Perceptionsof Arab Americans” conference, she visited the ArabAmerican National Museum in Dearborn, where a sculptureof her was unveiled in recognition of her long and storiedcareer as a journalist and a trailblazer for women in the pro-fession.The WSU Department of Communication’s JournalismArea presented the annual Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversityin the Media Award for at least 10 years. The award includedhonors for journalists and scholarships for students. Thomasoften appeared at award ceremonies, regaling students withher presidential experiences going back to John Kennedy.
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Helen ThomasEugene Driker
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