In a CNN interview that was supposed to focus on the United Nations finding a solution to the violence between Israel and Hamas, Pakistan’s top diplomat Shah Mahmood Qureshi instead made an anti-Semitic remark.
“The pressure of public opinion is mounting, and ceasefire is inevitable. Israel is losing out. They’re losing the media war despite their connections, they are losing the media war,” the Pakistani foreign minister said Thursday.
“What are their connections?” asked CNN’s Bianna Golodryga.
“What does that mean?”
“Well, they are very influential people. I mean, they control media,” Qureshi responded.
“I would call that an anti-Semitic remark,” Golodryga replied.
During the “Amanpour” program on Thursday, Golodryga repeatedly called out comments made on-air by the Pakistani foreign minister as anti-Semitic.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) defines a working definition of anti-Semitism as “the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”
Speaking from CNN’s UN office in New York, Qureshi said of Israel:
“The point is they have a lot of influence, and they get a lot of coverage. Now what has balanced that is the citizen journalist who has – who has been reporting, sharing video clip(s) and that has jolted people and that has woken up people, and people who were sitting on the fence are today speaking up.”
“Do you see how in different capitals of the world, in London and Madrid, in Michigan, Chicago, every place from Sydney to the European capitals, people have come out and (are) saying put an end to this insanity. They’re calling for an immediate ceasefire. The Security Council has failed in… coming out with a joint statement and forging a consensus.”
While there have been peaceful protests across the world regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there have also been reports of a rise in anti-Semitic acts in countries such as Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom in recent days.
When pressed by Golodryga as to whether he could support calls for peace without anti-Semitic rhetoric, the Pakistani foreign minister said that he would not condone rocket attacks and “the aerial bombardment that is taking place.”
“You do not engage, there are no negotiations, when there’s occupation, when there’s genocide, when there’s war crime… ethnic cleansing, then an extremist element takes advantage of that situation. Avoid it. How do you avoid it? You avoid it by pursuing a two-state solution, by adhering to the Security Council resolutions and respecting them, implementing them, fulfilling the promises that have been made, and have been often broken.”
The foreign minister denied that he had used an anti-Semitic trope.
“What I am saying is the perception. Look at the perception the world has. You cannot ignore that … negate it. Negate it. By giving a balanced coverage, negate it.”
Golodryga asked whether the foreign minister was able to be an honest diplomatic broker in the conflict and whether he would agree that Israeli and Palestinian lives are equally important. “I am objective and I would want to be objective. Loss of life, I will not condone. Every life, every human life is important to me,” he replied.
Golodryga asked Qureshi “personally to please avoid using anti-Semitic tropes.” Qureshi responded by saying he has “never been anti-Semitic and I never will be.”
Speaking to media on Friday, a spokesperson for the Pakistani Foreign Office said that “any twist given to the Foreign Minister’s remarks would unfortunately prove the very point he was making.”
“The right to freedom of expression must be respected equally by everyone,” the spokesperson said.