National News

Helen Thomas retires after Israel remark flap

Posted June 7, 2010 12:43 p.m. EDT
Updated June 7, 2010 8:41 p.m. EDT

— Longtime Washington journalist Helen Thomas abruptly retired Monday, according to her employer, Hearst News Service.

The 89-year-old Thomas, dean of the White House press corps, leaves amid a brewing controversy over remarks she made about Israel and Palestinians.

Thomas, known for her confrontational questioning, apologized for comments that were captured on video and have spread widely on the Internet. On the May 27 video, Thomas says Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine," suggesting they go to Germany, Poland or the U.S.

The Hearst announcement came shortly after White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called her remarks "offensive and reprehensible."

Mel Bernay, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Raleigh, said Monday he was relieved that Thomas resigned.

"I was shocked and saddened that a reporter, who has been honored by the White House Press Corps for a long and distinguished career of service, would destroy her legacy with these vile and detestable remarks about Israel and Jews," Bernay said.

"At a time when the Middle East is beset by such protracted and deep-seated conflicts, at a time when peace between Israel and the Palestinian people seems more unattainable than ever, her outburst does nothing to heal but only to create enmity and hatred."