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December 09, 2010 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-12-09

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Editor's Letter

Af.

Helen Thomas' Slander Of Jews

W

ayne State University got it right in abruptly end-
ing its Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in the
Media Award following the embattled journalist's
latest outburst against Israel and Zionists. The tirade reeked of
stupidity if not blatant hatred toward Jews.
Thomas is no longer a role model to
emulate or honor. Any hint of being an
objective reporter or reasoned colum-
nist is long gone.
In the brooding shadows of an iconic
journalist's disintegrated career, the
award — long on potential — had
become tainted. Detroit-based Wayne
State smartly understood that.
The eight members of Wayne State's
Board of Governors include two Jews:
Eugene Driker and Richard Bernstein.
On Saturday night, Driker told the IN,
"I was very pleased that the university administration acted
swiftly and forcefully both to condemn Ms. Thomas' remarks
as anti-Semitic, which they surely were, and to end the grant-
ing of an award in her name intended to recognize diversity in
the journalism profession.
"Ms. Thomas' venomous comments have
drained all meaning from that award."
With insolence but clarity on Dec. 2, while
appearing at the eighth annual "Images and
Perceptions of Arab Americans" conference,
Thomas stood by her May 27 assertion that
Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine"
and "go home to Poland, Germany and
Helen Thomas
America and everywhere else" — a belief
that drew praise from Hamas. In the wake
of mounting outrage, the Arab American
journalist was forced to retire as an opinion
columnist with Hearst News Service, where
she had worked since 2000. Previously,
she had worked 57 years for United Press
International, gaining fame as its senior
White House correspondent.
Last week in Dearborn, Thomas perpetu- Eugene Driker
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 scrutiny
and debate. She was attacking Jews as a people.

A Strong Rebuke
Incensed by Thomas' reckless disregard for the award named
in her behalf, Wayne State issued a concise and pointed state-
ment one day after her remarks last week. The statement
began, "As a public university, Wayne State encourages free
speech and open dialogue — and respects diverse view-
points." It went on to strongly condemn "the anti-Semitic
remarks made by Helen Thomas during a conference yes-
terday" — and to indicate it "will no longer offer the Helen
Thomas 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-Defamation
League (ADL) calling on journalism schools and professional

organizations that have recognized Thomas to rescind their
honors after she "clearly, unequivocally revealed herself as a
vulgar anti-Semite."
That Thomas bared her anti-Jewish soul once more, this
time at a seminar designed to discuss intolerance toward
Arabs, underscores the depth of the hatred she must harbor.
At a program intended to fight bigotry against Arabs, she
unleashed invective toward Jews — and in the process roused
an ovation from the audience at Byblos Banquet Center.

Zionist Propaganda?
Arab Detroit, an organization that seeks to promote an accu-
rate image of the Arab American community and the Arab
world, 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't
touch 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 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 their mouth is. .. We're being pushed into a
wrong 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 the
West Bank. There are Israeli-only roads, open to all Jews,
Christians, Muslims and others, which were created because
of the murder of people traveling in vehicles with Israeli
license plates on unsecured roads).
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said, "Her sugges-
tion that Zionists control government, finance and Hollywood
is nothing less than classic, garden-variety anti-Semitism."
ADL Michigan Region Executive Director Betsy Kellman
added, "Ms. Thomas had a long and distinguished career;
but her current viewpoint is too egregious and unacceptable
to ignore."
Such stereotypes, especially control of government and
finance, represent a popular refrain for Jew-haters. Hitler's
propagandists embraced such stereotyping as German Jews
rose to influential heights in German society. Today's anti-
Semites flood the Internet as well as mainstream media
online 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 and
is a 1942 graduate of what is now Wayne State University.
The same evening she spoke to the "Images and Perceptions
of Arab Americans" conference, she visited the Arab
American National Museum in Dearborn, where a sculpture
of her was unveiled in recognition of her long and storied
career as a journalist and a trailblazer for women in the pro-
fession.
The WSU Department of Communication's Journalism
Area presented the annual Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity
in the Media Award for at least 10 years. The award included
honors for journalists and scholarships for students. Thomas
often appeared at award ceremonies, regaling students with
her presidential experiences going back to John Kennedy.

Editor's Letter on page 6

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