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June 7th, 2010
10:39 AM ET

White House's Gibbs on Helen Thomas

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just commented on Helen Thomas' controversial comments about Israeli Jews:

Those remarks were offensive and reprehensible. I think she should and has apologized because obviously those remarks are - do not reflect the - certainly the opinion of, I assume, most of the people in here and certainly not of the administration.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Israel • Judaism • Politics

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. mike

    Mainly Senile. Obviously unable to be professional. She can express her freedom of speech as much as she likes now.

    June 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm |
  2. Rabbi

    Thomas' comments were offensive on so many levels it is difficult to know where to begin. Let's start with the fact that the majority of Jewish Israelis are from ARAB countries (Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria and Egypt). These Jews were persecuted by these governments for centuries. Where were the voices of protest? There were none. Where was the outcry? There was none. When these people were forced to flee their homes, leave behind their businesses and property without compensation, where were Helen Thomas' parents, crying out for justice for Jews? They were busy coming to America.

    As far as those Jews whose families came from Germany and Poland – Ms. Thomas is apparently ignorant of both medieval and modern history. Jews were persecuted in both countries for centuries. Is she suggesting that the Irish leave the US for Ireland, or the Italians return to Italy, or the Lebanese return to Lebanon? No – of course not. Because when her family moves to a nation that actually did displace an indigenous population, she believes that it is different.

    Shame on her, and shame on the people who knew her beliefs and shielded her for so long!

    June 8, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
    • Diamond Draw

      But you don't explain why Jews today and for decades have been emigrating from America or other countries where freedom is enjoyed by all. Canada, why not go there? Now that the arab lands are having a renaissance, or will (I hope), Jews could return to their homelands there. George Galloway explains the history better than I can.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  3. Tamara Steerman Gordon

    Dear Helen: I am almost as old as you, and have been watching your career unfold from what you have done for women and your forthright opinion on politics. I am surprised that you did not know that the people about whom you spoke were home.
    Please take your front row seat again. Politics needs you.

    June 8, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  4. Pearl

    Freedom of Speech is alive and well in the U.S.A. No one is claiming that what she did was a violation of any law of the land. She did not get imprisoned for what she said, merely fired from her job! There are always consequences for saying or doing dumb things. This was sheer stupidity. She not only demonstrated her complete insensitivity to the Israeli Jews who have lost family members in Poland and Germany during WWII and to those who themselves endured atrocities of the Holocaust yet survived in those very same countries; she also demonstrated a complete lack of historical knowledge. Poland and Germany are not the Israeli's homeland, the land of Canaan in present day Israel is. One would have imagined that at her age she would have studied some history of that region of the world, especially if she's going to have strong feelings and opinions and then express them. It was her ignorance that got her fired not the insensitivity of what she said.

    June 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  5. CJ

    It was told to Abraham that this land will be yours.

    June 8, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • Diamond Draw

      the land would be given to Abraham, pbuh, according to the old or new testament? But Muslims, and that means Palestinians as well believe Abraham was a "Muslim". Does that mean they also have a right to claim the land as their's. Why not?
      I think it's being exaggerated, Helen Thomas said OUT OF PALESTINE, not OUT OF ISRAEL, for one thing How does one draw a line between the two; and definitly the israelis should give up homeland they take to build settlements; Also,Ari Fleiischer exagerates because he says (his expression seems almost pleased at parts n the interview) that if one says "blacks should go back to Africa", this is not even the same issue; blacks were slaves, and kidnapped...the Jews are occupiers, in Palestine. Until Palestine is not the homeland of Arabs how can Israel claim to have more right to any of it?

      May 14, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  6. edgebarton

    Israel is a great ally and deserves our support. And Helen Thomas exercised very poor judgment in answering the question. But I wonder if the questions were from an imam about what the Arabs in Israel should do and her answer was "get the hell out, that land belongs to the Jewish people" So where should they go? "to Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan" Would she be retired today? Doubtful. Double standards exist on this and many other sensitive issues.

    June 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  7. Lori in Kansas City

    Helen probably should have retired a long time ago, but for heaven's sake, if at 90 you can't speak your mind, then I agree, we don't have freedom of speech, especially if the people who asked the question didn't like the answer, so they posted it to make sure they ruined her career. So then I ask, who is more evil? Sounds like the Rabbi had his own agenda when he didn't get the answer he wanted. And now he wants his OWN apology; ok, we're all sorry you like to pick on old ladies, Rabbi.

    June 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  8. Josh Goldstein in New York

    Sorry to hear about Helen Thomas leaving . It looks like free speach went out the window a long time ago. What she was likely trying to convey was that two large groups of people with different fanatical religions and living side by side are going to have very chronic problems. If these man made fanatical religions could only be replaced with a good human rights code , then the middle east conflicts and terrorism would soon disappear. This could take another thousand years to happen, and that is the sad part.

    June 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  9. Allan in Placerville

    Capt. Gork is right that Israel leads our government aroung by the nose. I feel she may have gone too far, but she has a right to speak her mind. It further shows what happens if you critizie Israel. When she called out Bush she was banished to the back of the room. It was quickly reversed, but we really don't hae free speach, it has limits and that is too bad. She was a great reporter and should not have been fired, disagreewith her but do not punish her.

    June 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  10. Calvin Bernard Lewis

    Whatever happen to freedom of speech or freedom of the press! Is this still America. Shouldn't Helen Thomas be allowed to voice her opininion regarding Palestine? What about killing innocent boaters with the flotilla?

    June 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • Sandy

      Freedom of speech is alive and well in USA! what folks need to remember - there are consequences to blurting out offensive o r inflammatory rhetoric. Like getting repremanded or fired. at least she wasn't stood up against a pock-marked wall aND EXECUTED as happens alll too often to vocal opposition in other countries.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
  11. Mark in Baltimore

    When a reporter stops covering the news and becomes the news, it's a problem. Helen Thomas should have retired 2 presidents ago. If she truly believes what she stated in regards to Israeli occupied territory in the Gaza, it is a free country. However when you are in a high profile status as a member of the White House press you should be very aware that what you say can come back and bite you.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  12. Mike Wroblewski

    Given her age and track record I will give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that she was trying to convey the fact the Jewish people aren't the only ones with a legitimate claim on what we call the Holy Land, claims that go back hundreds and even thousands of years. And maybe she was trying to convey the idea that peace in the region cannot be achieved without dealing with all of the legitimate claims and really trying for a "win win" result.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  13. Captain Gort

    Well...this event should not bother anybody that is "OK" with the fact that the media, Banks, stock market and Military of the USA
    are now controlled by those who favor Israel. Read: "the Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" avail on Amazon and decide for yourself. However, I do believe that this is an infringement on her right of free speech. I've always wondered how life would be, living in an occupied country...and I think I now know. Hey- its one hell of a lot better than the Taliban!

    June 8, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • weptiger

      Reporting used to be about objectivity in reporting events. By exercising her "right of free speech" Helen obviously demonstrated a lack of objectivity in answering the question posed and that led to her decision to "retire." A large number of folks have viewed her as a crusty old lib for sometime now and aren't sad to see her go.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:48 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.