(JTA) — An unrepentant Helen Thomas said in an interview with Playboy magazine that she knew exactly what she was doing when she said on camera that Jews "should get the hell out of Palestine."
"I knew I’d hit the third rail," she said in an interview published in the April issue of Playboy. "You cannot say anything about Israel in this country. But I’ve lived with this cause for many years. 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. I’ve had it up to here with the violations against the Palestinians. Why shouldn’t I say it? I knew exactly what I was doing — I was going for broke. I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up."
Thomas, 90, told a video blogger at the White House on May 29, 2010, that Jews “should get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Poland, Germany and the United States. The comments cost her her job as a columnist for the Hearst Corp.
In the Playboy interview, Thomas also told contributing editor David Hochman, who is Jewish, that "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."
Hochman reported that Thomas cried when asked what people will say when they write her obituary, and that Thomas said she knows it is going to say "anti-Semite" instead of "reporter."
Thomas last week told a national conference of campus journalists that President Obama owes her an apology for his criticism of her comments about Israel at the White House, Editor & Publisher reported.
"Her comments were offensive," Obama said during an interview on NBC’s "The Today Show" shortly after the video of her comments was made public and was widely viewed on the Internet. "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."
Thomas apologized for the comments, but has since reiterated the same sentiments in several public forums.
"I want an apology from the president," Thomas said during the keynote session of the annual spring convention of College Media Advisers in New York City.
The White House refused to comment to E&P on Thomas’ demand.