LOS ANGELES — Veteran US reporter Helen Thomas lashed out at Israel in an interview published Friday, standing by fiery comments which forced her to quit as doyenne of the White House press corps last year.
Speaking to Playboy, she denied she was anti-Semitic but railed against Jewish lobbies she said controlled power in America, from the White House and Congress to Hollywood and financial markets.
The combative 90-year-old also reiterated her view that Jews should stay in Europe and the United States rather than moving to Israel, which she said was stolen from the Palestinians.
"I'm not anti-Jewish; I'm anti-Zionist. I am anti-Israel taking what doesn't belong to it. If you have a home and you're kicked out of that home, you don't come and kick someone else out."
Thomas was forced to quit last June after being recorded saying, when asked about Israel: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," adding: "They can go home, Poland, Germany, and America and everywhere else."
Asked about those comments by Playboy, she said: "Well, that immediately evoked the concentration camps. What I meant was they should stay where they are because they're not being persecuted -- not since World War II."
"If they were, we sure would hear about it. .. I want people to understand why the Palestinians are upset. They are incarcerated and living in an open prison," she added.
Jewish lobbies had power across the board in the US, she added. "Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood.
"Same thing with the financial markets. There's total control ... It's real power when you own the White House, when you own these other places in terms of your political persuasion. Of course they have power," she added.
Thomas also wanted to set the record straight on her departure from the White House, announced as a retirement by Hearst Corp., where she worked as a newspaper columnist after decades at United Press International (UPI).
"I'm not retired! I was fired. In fact, I'll die with my boots on," she said in the interview, which was conducted in Washington where she took Playboy contributing editor David Hochman to her favorite Palestinian restaurant, the magazine said.