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"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians," Thomas said in a statement on her Web site."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.
In an interview with the "Today" show's Matt Lauer, President Obama said the remarks "were out of line. "It's a shame, because Helen was ...really an institution of Washington," Obama said.
Obama said Thomas, 89, "made the right decision" Monday when she announced through her employer, Hearst News Service, that she would retire. But toward the end of her career, she increasingly became known for diatribes against Israel and the U. Monday's posts Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately, in the wake of a controversy over her comments on Israel, according to a report from her employer, Hearst News Service.
Thomas told a rabbi at a White House event last week that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Germany and Poland.
Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trail blazer on the White House beat.
While Helen has not been a member of the WHCA for many years, her special status in the briefing room has helped solidify her as the dean of the White House press corps so we feel the need to speak out strongly on this matter.
We want to emphasize that the role of the WHCA is to represent the White House press corps in its dealings with the White House on coverage-related issues.
With her seat conspicuously empty at the daily briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs assailed Thomas for her words."Those remarks were offensive and reprehensible," Gibbs said, noting that Thomas has apologized.Her sentiments "do not reflect certainly most of the people here and certainly not those of the administration." Thomas, 89, who has covered the White House for decades, canceled a speech over the weekend and was dropped by a speakers' bureau that represented her.The controversy comes at a precarious moment in the Middle East, after an Israeli assault on an aid flotilla that left 11 dead and prompted an international outcry.The Board of the White House Correspondents Association also issued a statement Monday calling her comment "indefensible." Helen Thomas' comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents Association board firmly dissociates itself from them. Count the leader of the free world among those offended by veteran journalist Helen Thomas's comments that Jews should "get the hell out" of Israel and go "home" to countries such as Poland and Germany.