Arab Museum's Helen Thomas Statue Stirs Jewish Ire

Tuesday, 03 Aug 2010 01:11 PM

By John Rossomando

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Some Jewish leaders are outraged about an Arab-American museum’s plan to erect a statue of veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who lost her job after making anti-Israel comments.

Jewish leaders worry that the roughly $30,000 statue proposed for the Arab-American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich., could be interpreted as rewarding Thomas for saying the Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” in late May. The comments cost Thomas her job with Hearst Newspapers in June, ending her almost 60-year career that had her covering every president from Kennedy to Obama.


“I just hope that the support for this memorial is there despite her anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views and not because of them,” Richard Nodel, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council, told the Detroit Free Press.

The museum, which started a 45-day campaign to raise $10,000 to complete the statue last week, says the statue aims to honor Thomas, a longtime UPI correspondent who was born to Lebanese immigrants, for her accomplishments.

Museum Director Anan Ameri disagrees with Thomas’ comments but said the sculpture aims to honor how she “spent her life . . . doing a lot of good things.”

“She contributed a lot,” Ameri said, adding she opened the doors for “many, many women in this country.

“Helen Thomas is a very significant journalist, and it’s the mission of this museum to document and preserve the contributions of Arab-Americans.”

Betsy Kelman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Free Press that Thomas’ ethnicity is irrelevant, and the statue “will be a painful reminder of the huge chasm between the communities and just how far apart we still are in some areas.”

But others in the Jewish community don’t object to the statue of Thomas.
“If I were in the Arab-American community, I’d want to celebrate the unique career Helen Thomas had,” said Arthur Horwitz, publisher of the Detroit Jewish News.

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