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CNN presenter accuses Pakistan foreign minister of ‘antisemitic remark’ live on air

Shah Mahmood Qureshi was called up for saying Israel was ‘losing the media war despite their connections’

Akshita Jain
Friday 21 May 2021 15:41 BST
CNN presenter accuses Pakistan foreign minister of ‘antisemitic remark’

Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been accused of making an antisemitic remark during an interview with CNN’s Bianna Golodryga on Thursday while discussing the ceasefire agreed in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Speaking not long before Israel confirmed that a truce had been agreed, Mr Qureshi was asked if he had heard any talk about a possible ceasefire. He replied that he was “convinced the tide is turning, the pressure of public opinion is mounting, and ceasefire is inevitable”.

He continued: “Israel is losing out. They are losing the media war despite their connections.”

Golodryga asked the minister to explain what he meant by Israel’s connections, to which he laughed before replying: “Deep pockets.”

The CNN anchor asked: “What does that mean?” He said: “Well they are very influential people. I mean, they control media,” he said.

“I would call that an antisemitic remark,” Golodryga responded.

Mr Qureshi still went on to say that 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 been reporting, sharing video clips and that has jolted people and that has woken up people, and people who were sitting on the fence are today speaking up.”

He said people in different capitals of the world have come out and are saying “put an end to this insanity.” They're calling for an immediate ceasefire, he said.

Golodryga pointed out that there has also been an increase in antisemitism and asked whether he could support calls for peace without antisemitic rhetoric, to which the minister said that he would not justify any rocket attacks or condone "the aerial bombardment that is taking place."

He said: “You do not engage, there are no negotiations, when there's occupation, when there's genocide, when there's war crime, when there’s 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."

Golodryga concluded by asking Mr Qureshi "personally to please avoid using antisemitic tropes.” To this, he said he has “never been antisemitic and I never will be.”

On Friday, Golodryga wrote that the response to the interview on Twitter had been “depressing”. “I can’t believe I have to say this, but there should be zero point zero doubt that accusing Israel of ‘controlling the media’ and having ‘deep pockets’ is antisemitic,” she wrote.

Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire beginning from 2am on Friday morning, bringing to an end an 11-day war that has left nearly 250 dead. Palestinians celebrated the announcement by waving flags, and singing and dancing. Muslims in Israel and Gaza celebrated last week’s Eid al-Fitr and gathered in mosques to offer prayers.

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