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Virginia Newspaper Hires 'National Treasure' Helen Thomas


Former White House press corps veteran Helen Thomas has landed herself a new job after being let go by her old employer, Hearst Newspapers, for derogatory comments aimed at Jews.

As you may recall, Thomas abruptly resigned her post as an opinion columnist working for Hearst covering the White House after comments she made about about Israel, Jews, and Palestine. On May 27, 2010, Thomas was on hand at the White House for American Jewish Heritage Celebration Day. When approached by Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com, Thomas stated that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else."

On Thursday, the Falls Church News-Press announced that the veteran journalist -- whom they dub a "national treasure" -- was "coming out of a seven-month self-imposed retirement" to resume her weekly column. Previously, the paper had carried her weekly column until it ceased in June 2010.

In the liberal paper's announcement of her new employment venture, owner and editor Nicholas F. Benton acknowledged that Thomas' controversial comments were "intemperate and inappropriate" and reflected a "personal anger" she felt over the news of last year's Gaza flotilla raid by Israeli security forces.

Ms. Thomas' views on a variety of subjects often differ from prevailing White House or other policies and positions. One of nine children born to Lebanese-Syrian immigrant parents, she has held to opinions different from many on U.S. policy toward the Middle East since the 1940s.  But her personal views have not tainted her highly-professional work for 50 years as a White House correspondent, except perhaps to inform the kinds of questions that she's never shied away from asking.

I have known Ms. Thomas since the founding of the News-Press in 1991. She visited our offices twice to meet readers and admirers. We share an appreciation for Eleanor Roosevelt and her work on behalf of the International Declaration of the Rights of Man.

She is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic. ...

As one who has championed the cause of inclusion in my newspaper for 20 years, who founded the Diversity Affirmation Education Fund for the Falls Church School System, I am proud that a journalist of the stature and professionalism of Helen Thomas is relaunching her career in my newspaper. She more than deserves, and I am honored to help provide her, the proverbial "second chance."
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