Helen Thomas – what would her mother think?

helen thomas.jpgMy daughters, who are very good friends, and are heartachingly kind to one another about 87% of the time, occasionally say insulting things to one another. (“Your tushy smells,” for example. Or, “I’m never going to be your sister again EVER for the rest of my life.”)  

I know that sometimes my daughters are going to be mad, even furious, at each other. And I think it’s important to let siblings work out their own conflicts. But we also have rules. One of those rules is, “You can think whatever you want, but you can’t say mean things.” In other words, you are permitted to think your sister’s tushy smells. You might even be right. But keep it to yourself.
It’s not that I want my children to think unkind thoughts. But as a parent of five and six year old girls, I have already learned that I have a humblingly small amount of control over my kids. Trying to change their feelings is a waste of energy. Changing their actions? Well, at least I stand a chance, particularly if I mete out the right combination of bribes rewards and punishments. My hope is that if they spend enough time acting the right way, eventually they will also feel a way that makes me proud of them. This philosophy is likely an extension of my religious upbringing – Jewish law is focused on what we do, not what we believe. Do “it” (praying, saying blessings, observing shabbat, keeping kosher, and hundreds of other mitzvot) long enough, and the belief will take care of itself. Or maybe it won’t. But we keep doing it anyway.
Consequently, I believe that Helen Thomas is entitled to have any opinion she wants about Israel and the Jews. I even think she could have found a respectful and intelligent way to express her opinions. But telling Jews to go back to the countries that exterminated their ancestors less than a century ago? That’s just mean. And, Ms. Thomas, you keep those thoughts to yourself. Otherwise, you get a time out.
Comments read comments(12)
post a comment

posted June 8, 2010 at 8:46 am

The countries that she listed did not slaughter her ancestors, and it’s irresponsible to indicate otherwise. The German people today carry the burden of that guilt. National socialism is what led to the Holocaust and most German’s had no idea of the scope of what was happening.
What Helen Thomas said was not anti-semitic. If anything, it was anti-Zionist. Thomas’ failure was not articulating her message. What she should have said is that the nation should not have been located in the middle of a bunch of people who would like to wipe them off the face of the earth. The Zionist movement is one of the most dangerous movement since National Socialism and has led to the most death and destruction since at least the fall of Saigon. They even killed Rabin, maybe the last voice of reason we have seen in that region.
What Thomas said was stupid, but it was not hateful. If you want to hear hate, turn on Limbaugh, Beck, and the other hate mongers who are on the radio every day.

report abuse


posted June 8, 2010 at 9:52 am

It is one of the tragedies of aging that people revert to behaviors of infancy or young childhood. This is now going on with my mother, 86. She says horrible racist things that I never heard her express years ago. She has no social filter. I think that often the tendency of elderly people to “speak their mind” has to do with shrinkage in the part of the brain that governs social speech. I wouldn’t be surprised if Helen Thomas suffered from this. It’s definitely time for her to retire from public life.

report abuse


posted June 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Two comments–
Comparing the things your daughters say to one another with what Helen Thomas said is comparing apples and oranges. Your daughters are little girls. Helen Thomas is not. However, it is sad that Ms. Thomas, who inspired so many women to go into journalism, has reached an ignominious end to her career.
I don’t think the comment, “Jewish law is focused on what we do, not what we believe” is correct. Seems to me that ritual (i.e what we do) separated from belief is ritual without meaning. I think it would be more correct to say that Jewish law is about what we do AND what we believe.

report abuse

Jewish Ideas Daily

posted June 9, 2010 at 4:33 am

She made fairly anti-Israel remarks in a Mar. 2010 video (view it at!) but these latest remarks had a much more anti-Semitic feel to them.

report abuse

Debra Goodwin

posted June 9, 2010 at 10:34 am

Wow!! Is this really the way she wanted to go out!? Well; she had her say.Jews, BLACK’S or Mexican, who are you to say;As one person too go home. Where is her[Helen Thomas] home!? Lady, if you don’t have notthing nice to say Shut Up!! Had Your mom, ever told you that? [The end]

report abuse


posted June 9, 2010 at 11:22 am

Helen Thomas last name from now on will be Thomass at least to this Italian American, Korea War Vet. If USA didn’t have the Jews and Italian they would never have developed the A Bomb(Oppenhimer, Enrico Fermi)which save millions of lives. Japan would never have surrendered………….
Helen Thomass what in the world are you still working……talk about term limits it should apply to the ols gezzers as well……
Lets get the young in WASH DC I’ll never forget Strum whatever 90 plus still taking up space, Rangel still in there, and on and on.

report abuse

Anne Hoffman

posted June 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

I have had a horrible week. A man I thought I knew & loved exposed his ignorance & bigotry in an email yesterday. There had been signs like he watches Fox news & when I asked about listening to Rush Limbaugh he did say “sometimes”. So I should have known. I can no longer care for this person when he launched into a rant about the illegal immigrants and I was left devastated that so much hatred could come out of someone I told him so & added that how dare he call himself a Christian. I am a very proud Jewish girl from the border of Texas but I work in Idaho for Catholic Charaties and what we do at
our office is assist refugees with counseling, immigration, clothes, tolietries & sometimes just directing them to a helping agencey to find a jpb. For these people to return to their country of origin would mean certain death or imprisonment. So when Helen Thomas and
Lyle Abernethy say these HORRID things we have to realize they are out of their minds. UNFORGIVEABLE….NONETHELESS…

report abuse

Sid S

posted June 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm

To Anne Hoffman: Comparing What Ms Thomas openly said (wished for), that The Jews go back to Germany and Poland because Isreal is not their rightful Country, to someone who watches Fox News and/or “sometimes listens to Rush Limbaugh” not only exposes you ignorance as to who and what ACTUALLY support Isreal and what or who does not, but also demonstrates you lac of openmindeness and unwillingness to learn!

report abuse

Bernard Roth

posted June 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Retire Mz Thomas with a testimonial dinner, a plaque remembering the good things she did and had said, and as a parting gift, a gold colored gag and a gift certificate for a fifty minute session with a psychiatrist. As a non-professional, I am assuming the outburst was a sign of oncoming dementia or Alzheimer, or a tic where the patient comes out with profanity unknowingly [Tourette’s Syndrome].

report abuse


posted June 10, 2010 at 8:48 am

Funny, I sort of had the opposite reaction: I’m glad she said it, because many people (and not just the very elderly) believe the same thing, sadly enough; and now that it’s out in the open, it can be addressed.

report abuse

Rabbi Richie

posted June 15, 2010 at 10:44 am

As a rabbi serving a senior congregation in South Florida, I hear all too often the unvarnished and unbridled emotional outbursts from congregants. I dismiss rants as encroaching signs of dementia; the saftey valve on inner emotions has eroded, and some thoughts usually kept private become public fodder. And so it has with Ms. Thomas.
We have a phrase in Pirke Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers: “Yatza secharoh behefsaydoh — his plusses are cancelled out by his minuses.” Sadly, it is for this outburst that people will remember her — if at all. They will not remember her as a groundbreaking reporter, a woman in a man’s world in the pressroom, etc. Just this raunchy and misinformed rant will be recalled whenever she is recalled.
Nothing so ill-befitted her public role as the events that prompted her leaving it.

report abuse


posted June 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm

“They will not remember her as a groundbreaking reporter, a woman in a man’s world in the pressroom, etc. Just this raunchy and misinformed rant will be recalled whenever she is recalled.”
There’s a lot more to criticize about Helen Thomas than just this rant. She has an extended history of saying and doing inappropriate things.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

Teaching the Four Questions to young children
One of the greatest privileges of being a kindergarten teacher in a Jewish day school is having the opportunity to teach children to recite the four questions. Unlike almost anything else I teach them about Jewish ritual, this is "real work." ...

posted 7:36:03am Apr. 01, 2012 | read full post »

Guess what's Kosher for Passover (this will change your life.)
I'm not exaggerating. The bane of my Passover existence has been pareve baking. I cook a lot more meat during the holiday than I do the rest of the year, which means a lot more pareve desserts. Which has, up until now, usually meant margarine ...

posted 5:02:27pm Mar. 22, 2012 | read full post »

Why I love the New American Haggadah (and it's not just because I got to have a martini with Nathan Englander.)
I'm not a haggadah junkie. I know many Jews whose shelves are overflowing with numerous versions of the Haggadah - from the traditional Maxwell House to the not-so-traditional Santa Cruz - and whose seders are an amalgam of commentaries, poems, ...

posted 9:25:37pm Mar. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Best Hamentashen Ever, even better. And, a Purim opera.
This time of year, I'm always excited when I look at my google analytics and see that people have landed at my blog by searching for "hamentashen recipe". I love the idea of people all over the world making my great-grandmother's fabulous ...

posted 7:13:38pm Mar. 05, 2012 | read full post »

Edible Purim baskets. And, introducing...the cookie fairies!
My very favorite Jewish holiday tradition, bar non, is the mitzvah of mishloach manot - preparing and delivering gifts of homemade goodies to friends and neighbors on Purim day. This is a mitzvah which embodies so much of why Judaism is ...

posted 8:16:28am Feb. 26, 2012 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.