Update: Wayne State University in Detroit rescinded the "Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award." The Society for Professional Journalists has recommended that the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award be retired.
New York, NY, December 3, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on those journalism schools and professional organizations that have recognized journalist Helen Thomas to rescind their honors after she "clearly, unequivocally revealed herself as a vulgar anti-Semite" in remarks to an Arab American group.
In a speech yesterday in Dearborn, Michigan, the former White House correspondent not only defended the earlier anti-Jewish remarks that led to her sudden resignation, but went on to claim that she was made to pay a price for her remarks because of the power of the Jewish lobby in the United States.
"I can call a president of the United States anything in the book but I can't touch Israel, which has Jewish-only roads in the West Bank," said Thomas. "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."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Helen Thomas has clearly, unequivocally revealed herself as a vulgar anti-Semite. Her suggestion that Zionists control government, finance and Hollywood is nothing less than classic, garden-variety anti-Semitism. This is a sad final chapter to an otherwise illustrious career. Unlike her previous, spontaneous remarks into a camera, these words were carefully thought out and conscious. It shows a prejudice that is deep-seated and obsessive.
While we will never know what the hidden trigger was that led Thomas to reveal her prejudice, it is troubling that for more than 60 years she has made a pretense of impartiality as a journalist with a large megaphone. It makes it even that much more horrendous and horrific that she is now using that megaphone to release her prejudice in its crudest, most vulgar form. Through her words and deeds she has besmirched both herself and her profession.
It is time for those schools and professional organizations that have honored Thomas in one form or another over the years to consider rescinding those honors in light of her pervasively anti-Semitic rhetoric. Professional associations and academic institutions should not want to be associated with an anti-Semite.
Thomas, 90, a former Senior UPI White House Correspondent who most recently served as an opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers, has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, which each year presents the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement. She has received more than 30 honorary degrees, and her alma mater, Wayne State University, has established an award for journalists in her honor. She has also been honored by the Freedom Forum.