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In a recent appearance on CNN, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been accused of making antisemitic remarks through the invocation of damaging tropes against the Israeli people by journalist Bianna Golodryga. However, the accusation has received a divided response, with pro-Israeli social media users lauding the journalist’s actions, while the pro-Palestinian responses questioning the media bias against the Palestinian struggle and accusing the journalist of finding antisemitism in a statement that was essentially anti-Zionist.
“Israel is losing out. They are losing the media war, despite their connections,” said the FM during his appearance on the CNN show. The journalist followed the statement asking for clarification on what their connections were. “Deep pockets,” he replied, adding later, “they are very influential people. They control media.”
Golodryga went on to accuse the FM of making an antisemitic remark, to which he responded, “Well, you see, the point is, they have a lot of influence. They get a lot of coverage. Now, what balances that is the citizen journalist who has been reporting, sharing video clips, and that has jolted people, and woken up people, and people who were sitting on the fence are today speaking up."
The journalist went on to ask why we could not “separate the fact that there are calls for peace and for equal humans rights for both sides, for Palestinians and for Israelis, without anti-semitic talk and rhetoric.” She went on to quiz the FM on Hamas’ role in the situation, to which the FM retorted, “when you do not engage, when there are no negotiations, where there is occupation, when there is genocide, when there’s war crime, when there’s ethnic cleansing, then an extremist element takes advantage of that situation.”
When accused of antisemitism by the host over his remarks Qureshi said, “I have never been antisemitic and I never will be.” After Golodryga asked if the FM would condemn antisemitism and the anti-Jew sentiment that is taking hold due to the violence in Palestine, he responded saying, “Absolutely. I am not justifying any of that.” The journalist further pressed that the FM had begun the conversation with a harmful antisemitic trope, to which she has taken offense. He responded saying, What I’m saying is, look at the perception the world has, you cannot ignore that.”
The journalist responded saying the perception is incorrect, to which the FM responded saying, “Could be wrong, but that is the perception. Negate it. By giving a balanced coverage, negate it.”
The journalist later tweeted a clip of the interview, saying, “I had planned to speak with Pakistan’s foreign minister about paths towards a peaceful resolution between Israel and Hamas. Instead, he began the interview by invoking an anti-semitic slur.”
In response, several Twitter users called out Golodryga for the media bias against Palestine. Ammar Ali Jan, a prominent Pakistani academic, replied to the tweet saying, “Anchors/guests on CNN regularly term Palestinian resistance “terrorism” and paint Israel’s war crimes as “self-defense”. No accountability for that. But if a Muslim guest points out Israeli influence on US media, it becomes an unforgivable crime. The hypocrisy is criminal.”
American comedian Katie Halper responded to the tweet as well. She said, “Dear Non-Jews who are rightfully criticizing Israel: when people try to silence and gaslight you as an antisemite for not ‘standing with Israel’ say you stand w/ Jews criticizing Israel including @blselem (Israeli human rights organization), and that conflating Jewish identity w/ blind support of Israel is antisemitic.”
Journalist Iman Sultan criticized the media bias in a tweet as well. She wrote, “Holding mainstream Western media accountable for their shameful and genocide apologetic coverage of the Israeli occupation and onslaught of Palestine isn't ‘antisemitism.’ And journalists playing victim instead of objectively reporting from the ground warrant all criticism.”
Ex-senator Farhatullah Babar tweeted in response to the journalist’s claim, “I don’t hold any brief for @SMQureshiPTI but really don’t understand how remarks that Israel has deep pockets and great influence in media be regulated by any stretch of the imagination as ‘anti-semitic slur’.”
In response to the clear media bias, Twitter user @tequieremos shared a thread compiling evidence of Western mainstream media silence on the Palestinian struggle for freedom. He tweeted, “The Israeli narrative is deeply entrenched in mainstream discourse in the US. The analysis of the media coverage of Israel’s occupation over the last 50 years across five major American newspapers shows that there are ‘deep pockets’ of Israeli lobby.”
Journalist @Fereeha tweeted emphasising the distinction between ‘Israelis’ and ‘Jews’. She wrote, “Biana, do you even understand the meaning of anti semetic? He didn’t even utter the word ‘Jew’ or even made a feeble reference to it. All he said was media controlled by Israel. After bombing of @AJEnglish offices only last week, do you still want to refute the claim?”