“Veteran reporter Helen Thomas, who has covered the White House since the John F. Kennedy administration, is retiring immediately following her controversial statements about Israel, Hearst Newspapers reports,” USA Today reports.
At his Washington Post blog, Greg Sargent posted the entire statement issued by Hearst Newspapers:
Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately.
Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.
Thomas later issued a statement: “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. 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. May that day come soon.”
Thomas will mark her 90th birthday on Aug. 4.
Original AFP story follows:
White House correspondent apologizes for Israel remarks
WASHINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€ Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas has apologized for remarks she made about Israel which led to her being dropped as the graduation speaker at a local high school.
Thomas, 89, the longest-serving reporter in the White House press corps, was asked by the website RabbiLive.com during a May 27 “Jewish Heritage Celebration” at the White House whether she had any “comments on Israel.”
“Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” said Thomas, who served for decades as the White House correspondent for United Press International (UPI) and now writes a column for Hearst newspapers.
“Remember these people are occupied and it’s their land, not German and not Poland,” Thomas said. “They can go home, Poland, Germany, and America and everywhere else.”
Thomas issued an apology on her website, HelenThomas.org.
“I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians,” she said.
“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. May that day come soon,” Thomas said.
Thomas had been scheduled to deliver a June 14 commencement address at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, but the school said Sunday it had cancelled her appearance.
“Graduation celebrations are not the venue for divisiveness,” Whitman principal Alan Goodwin said in an email to parents at the school.
“Graduation is the time for a cohesive and joyous celebration of our students’ achievements; other forums exist for discussions of political issues,” Goodwin said.
Thomas has covered every US president since John F. Kennedy and is a former president of the White House Correspondents Association.