Helene Thomas Quits as White House Correspondent
By Dr. Basheer A Khan
Garden Grove , CA


Helene Thomas started her journalistic career with UPI in 1943 and joined the White House as its correspondent during John F Kennedy’s Presidency in the early sixties. She enjoyed the unofficial title of the Dean of White House Press Club.

She was the first woman president of the National Press Club and the First woman President of White House Correspondent Association. She had reputation for asking tough questions to the Presidents and to the Press Secretaries at the briefing to make the “secretaries gasp and her colleagues cringe”. She commanded unique respect and affection from Presidents and colleagues. Presidents used different pacifying methods to escape her stinging style. President Obama appeared in the press room to offer her good wishes and cake on her recent birthday.

But Helene had reserved the most stinging remark of her career for Israel: she delivered it at the time when she had decided to quit as White House Correspondent after serving it for 50 years.  She is reported to have remarked: Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home to Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.” The mainstream media castigated her for this remark and did not rest till she regretted them. The school which had invited her to give the commencement address withdrew its invitation. When Robert Gibbs, Press Secretary to President Obama, also joined the chorus tshe had no choice but to quit her 50 years of dedicated service as White House Correspondent. 

Ignoring the honest criticism of Israel by real Jews like Rabbi Michael Learner and Goldstone, the biased media wants us to believe that Israel is the only civilized nation, a paragon of all virtues, and an innocent victim of anti-Semitism despite its barbaric treatment of Palestinian people in the lands occupied by it. Looking at the treatment meted out to President Jimmy Carter after he published his book “Palestine Peace not Apartheid” by the media, its treatment of Helene Thomas does not come as a surprise.

Sir Winston Churchill is reported to have remarked: We can expect the US to do the right thing when it has exhausted all other options. Looking at the Helen Thomas behavior it can be safely concluded that what was said about the US by Churchill is also true about US citizens. Helene Thomas had to wait 50 long years and use every possible mean to correct the system by being a part of it. When she failed in it, she decided to speak out the truth and pay the ultimate price for it. May your tribe increase Helene.

Helene’s story of courage reminds me of a couplet of Faiz Ahmed Faiz:

Such Ba’ath Pe Milta hai yahan Zahr Ka Piyala

Jeena hai tho phir Jur’ra’the Goof-thar na Ma’ango

Alluding to the life of the famous Greek philosopher Socrates, Faiz Ahmed Faiz has said in this couplet: When what you get on speaking the truth is the goblet of poison, it is better not to seek the courage to speak by those who love life. But in the death of individuals is the life of society. Socrates died by speaking the truth before the Roman rulers, but Roman society was revitalized by the birth of Jesus Christ ( Peace be upon him), and on the ashes of Rome of Nero was built modern Europe.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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