Helen Thomas: Jews not persecuted since Holocaust

The US reporter who left her job as a White House correspondent for Hearst Newspapers following uproar over her anti-Jewish comments has made another controversial claim.

Helen Thomas, who last summer was filmed saying that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine", said in a CNN interview that Jewish people did not have to leave Europe after the Holocaust.

The 90-year-old said: "They didn't have to go anywhere really, because they weren’t being persecuted anymore.

“There hasn't been persecution since…World War Two.”

Ms Thomas, who has covered Washington politics since the Kennedy administration and now works for a Virginian newspaper, denied that she was antisemitic. The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, she said she could not be because she herself was “a Semite…of Arab background”

She added: "[The Jews] are not Semites. I mean, most of them are from Europe."

Ms Thomas also repeated her claim, made last December, that US policy was controlled by “lobbyists in favor of Israel”. And she attacked Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, for “distorting” what she said.

She added: “I didn't realise [the comments] would ring that many bells, because they've [the Jews] been free ever since."

Elan Steinberg, vice-president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said her comments represented “a shocking display of ignorance of events which occurred in her lifetime”.

He said: “Not content with previous offensive comments, [she] now is either uncaring or spiteful of the terrible circumstances of post-Holocaust survivors in Europe.”

Last updated: 2:03pm, February 18 2011