One might never have put the two together: Playboy and Helen Thomas. But on Friday, the men's magazine publisher posted a "candid conversation" with the former White House correspondent, wedged between advertisements for Miss April 2009's "Cyber Club" and "Live Nude Chat."
In the interview, Thomas recalls the controversial comments she made last spring about Israel, Jews and Palestine. After public outcry, the veteran White House reporter stepped down from her post with Hearst Newspapers. "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians," she said at the time. "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."
But in her "candid conversation" with Playboy, Thomas seems to double down on her comments criticizing Jews. According to Thomas, no one gave her a chance to defend her controversial remarks.
"Everybody knows my feelings that the Palestinians have been shortchanged in every way. Sure, the Israelis have a right to exist – but where they were born, not to come and take someone else's home," she told Playboy contributing editor David Hochman. "I've had it up to here with the violations against the Palestinians…[The Palestinians] are incarcerated and living in an open prison."
While she says she does not condone violence aimed at Israelis, Thomas adds: "Who wouldn't fight for their country? What would any American do if their land was being taken? Remember Pearl Harbor. The Palestinian violence is to protect what little remains of Palestine. The suicide bombers act out of despair and desperation. ... I'm not anti-Jewish; I'm anti-Zionist," she added.
Commenting on America's long-time support for the state of Israel, Thomas argued that the U.S. government bribes Israelis who then in turn kill people. "Why do they send my American tax dollars to perpetuate it?" she rhetorically asks.
Thomas also claims that Jews use past persecution to dominate over both the America and Palestinians: "The slaughter of Jews stopped with World War II…They were liberated since then. And yet they carry on the victimization. American people do not know that the Israeli lobbyists have intimidated them into believing every Jew is a persecuted victim forever – while they are victimizing Palestinians…Why do they inflict the same pain on people who did nothing to them?"
"[The Jews are] using their power, and they have power in every direction…Power over the White House, power over Congress…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 isn't the two percent. 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. [To the interviewer] You don't deny that. You're Jewish, aren't you?"
Although she officially "resigned," Thomas says Hearst Newspapers fired her following her controversial comments, adding that she would "never bow out of journalism."
And what Helen Thomas think about President Obama? He's too conservative.
"He's pushing a conservative agenda…Look at Guantanamo. With a stroke of a pen, the day after Obama took the oath he should have said, 'We're getting the hell out of here.' Same thing with Iraq and Afghanistan. There's no reason for us to be in war…I thought Obama would be for peace, but he's not."
"I thought, naively perhaps, that [Hillary Clinton] and Obama would bring change, that they would be different. I assumed wrongly that they would be liberal because he's black and she's a woman. It's maddening."
Speaking to a national conference of campus journalists Thursday, Thomas also demanded an apology from President Obama:
“I want an apology from the president,” Thomas, 90, said Tuesday to the hundreds of student journalists and their advisers attending the keynote session of the annual spring convention of College Media Advisers (CMA) at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City…
“Her comments were offensive,” Obama said [at the time]. “It’s a shame because Helen’s someone who has been a correspondent through I don’t know how many presidents, was a real institution in Washington, D. C. But I think she made the right decision. I think those comments are out of line, and hopefully she recognizes that.”…
At one point during the session, Shira Kaminsky, a 23-year-old student journalist at the University of Massachusetts, stood up and announced that she was a third generation Israeli.
“You said that Israelis should leave their country,” Kaminsky said, standing at the rear of the crowded room. “Where should we go?”
“Where are your grandparents from?” Thomas asked.
“Poland and Romania,” Kaminsky replied.
“Then come to America,” Thomas responded.