NEW YORK (JTA) – Longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas received a prize in journalism from a representative of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Thomas, 91, who was forced into retirement two years ago after making controversial remarks about Jews and Israel, was recognized for her journalism career and commitment to the Palestinian cause. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, presented Thomas with the award on behalf of Abbas, who is also head of the PLO.
According to the Washington PLO office’s statement, Thomas was recognized for “all of her actions supporting Palestine in the West.” Ambassadors, journalists, human rights activists and American Arab leaders were among those who attended the ceremony at the home of Maen Rashid Ereikat, president of the Commission General of the PLO in Washington.
Considered the dean of the White House press corps, Thomas became embroiled in controversy when she said in a 2010 interview with the blog RabbiLive.com that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine. Go home, Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.”
She was slammed by both sides of the political spectrum. Later that year Thomas, who was a correspondent since the presidency of John F. Kennedy, stood by her original comments and accused Jewish lobbyists and politicians of distorting her remarks.