Journalist Helen Thomas fired back at Wayne State University for ending an annual diversity award in her name, telling the Free Press Sunday night that "the leaders of Wayne State University have made a mockery of the First Amendment and disgraced their understanding of its inherent freedom of speech and the press.
Wayne State ended the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award on Friday after she made controversial remarks in Dearborn on Thursday about what she saw as Zionist control of American institutions. The morning after her remarks, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement by director Abe Foxman that blasted her comments as anti-Semitic and called upon journalism schools and other groups to rescind honors that recognize her. Hours later, Wayne State said it was pulling its award, saying it "strongly condemns the anti-Semitic remarks made by Helen Thomas."
Contacted Sunday by the Free Press, Thomas, 90, criticized Wayne State, adding that: "The university also has betrayed academic freedom -- a sad day for its students."
Some Arab-American leaders have also criticized Wayne State's decision to pull the award named after Thomas, who grew up in Detroit and graduated from Wayne.
First reported by Freep.com, Thomas made her controversial comments on Thursday during a workshop by Arab Detroit, at which she delivered a short talk.
Speaking to about 300 people, a majority of them non-Arab, Thomas criticized U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and talked about "the whole question of money involved in politics."
"We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There's no question about that. Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is…We're being pushed into a wrong direction in every way."
Her speech drew a standing ovation.
Before her talk, the Free Press asked Thomas about her previous controversial comments in June when she told a rabbi on camera that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to "Poland, Germany and America, and everywhere else."