The dean of the Washington press corps, once the senior White House correspondent for UPI and now a columnist for Hearst, showed her true colors when she managed to put both feet and half her wrinkled torso in her mouth by suggesting that Jews in Israel should "go home" to Poland, Germany and America.
Caught a bit off guard during a short interview outside the White House, Helen, 89, told Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine."
She has been blasted by her colleagues, U.S. officials and politicians on both the left and the right for her, ahhh, candor. She has since apologized -- in a fashion.
"I deeply regret my comments . . . regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians," she said in a statement. "They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance."
You'd think Helen, who's covered nine presidents, beginning with JFK in the early 1960s, would be better at preparing an apology, perhaps actually focusing on her anti-Semitic declaration that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine." My guess is that's exactly how she feels and never had any plans to backtrack from her beliefs.
And that's okay. In fact, there's something interesting and important to be found in this mini-circus and Helen holding on to her final 15 minutes in the spotlight. She has been critical of Israel for years, even as she was working as an "objective" reporter for one of the largest news organizations in the world. Helen has finally fessed up and shown her true colors.
Instead of tip-toeing around the contentious political issues that have simmered in the Middle East for decades, dropping buzz words about bilateral talks and summits, and the importance of a two-state solution, she said what she really thinks -- kick the Jews out of Palestine.
It's a belief that Helen in her dotage shares with thousands of academics here and in Europe; angry, festering mobs across the Arab world; and naive, idealistic liberals -- hey, I'm sort of one of them, except on this issue -- who think peace will come to the region once Israel is wiped off the map.
Helen has an excuse for her views. She's old and not quite all there. All the rest seem lost in some sort of parallel universe, where the laws of physics (up is down and down is up) and common sense (good is bad and bad is good) no longer matter.
FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE: Helen Thomas (photo above), the dean of the Washington press corps, offers her solution for peace in the Middle East.