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State & Local

Helen Thomas' Alma Mater Pulls Eponymous Award After Anti-Semitic Remarks

Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas sits in what was then her front-row seat in the White House Briefing Room. Thomas has been criticized for her anti-Semitic remarks lately, causing her to lose her seat, and other honors in her name. (Reuters)

Wayne State University has decided to pull the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award after she made what school officials are calling "anti-Semitic" remarks at a workshop on diversity held in Dearborn, Mich. 

During the workshop, called "Images and Perceptions of Arab-Americans: The New America: Mom, Apple Pie and Arab Bashing," and sponsored by a group called Arab Detroit, Thomas reportedly told the audience of about 300: "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." 

The speech garnered a standing ovation. 

Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League urged all journalism schools on Friday to remove any honors that recognize the 90-year-old journalist. 

Detroit's Wayne State University, Thomas' alma mater, pulled the award hours later, and issued a statement. 

"As a public university, Wayne State encourages free speech and open dialogue, and respects diverse viewpoints. However the university strongly condemns the anti-Semitic remarks made by Helen Thomas during a conference yesterday." 

Thomas, who is of Lebanese descent and graduated from the university in 1942, retired from her post as a White House columnist after a video clip of her making anti-Semitic remarks began circulating in June. 

She was quoted telling a rabbi that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine and "go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else." She consequently lost her front-row seat in the White House briefing room, a place she had known since the Kennedy administration. 

In response to Wayne's actions, Thomas told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday that the university had "betrayed academic freedom."

"It is a sad day for its students," she is quoted saying. "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."