On Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, host Zakaria devoted his “Fareed’s Take” opening commentary to the recent controversy over Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar complaining about Jews donating money to political candidates to gain support for Israel.
The CNN host admitted there is much anti-Semitism in the Middle East, but blamed Europe for fomenting the sentiment as he also worried that Omar’s comments will make it more difficult to criticize Israel in the future.
Zakaria began by recalling that two recently elected Democratic members of Congress have made comments that have led to charges that “there is a rising tide of anti-Semitism on the new left.” He then recommended that Muslims “should be particularly thoughtful when speaking about these issues because anti-Semitism has spread throughout the Islamic world like a cancer.”
After informing viewers of recent studies finding high levels of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, he then recalled that there was a time when there was not so much anti-Semitism in the Middle East and placed blame on Europeans for showing favoritism toward Jews since the 19th century, leading Muslims to start “importing European anti-Semitic tropes like the notion of blood libel.”
He soon added: “What supercharged all of these attitudes was the founding of Israel in 1948 and the determination of Arab leaders to defeat it.”
After recalling that the Middle East became very saturated with anti-Semitism after the formation of Israel, Zakaria lamented that recent comments by Muslim Democrats have made it difficult to criticize Israel’s “bigotry” as he added:
It should be possible to criticize Israel. As (The Atlantic‘s) Peter Beinart has written, “Establishing two legal systems in the same territory — one for Jews and one for Palestinians — as Israel does in the West Bank is bigotry.”
This quote from the left-wing Beinart misleadingly does not acknowledge that some Arabs are Israeli citizens and have the same legal rights as Israeli Jews. But, unlike East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, Israel has never officially annexed most of the West Bank, so it is not surprising that Palestinian Arabs who are not Israeli citizens in this land that Israel holds largely for military defensive reasons would not be treated identically to Israeli citizens who live in the territory.
It would be like expecting Iraqi citizens to be treated as if they were American citizens while the U.S. has a military presence in Iraq in the aftermath of military action. In the West Bank, Arab leaders have refused to unequivocally give up the war effort unlike countries like Iraq or Japan that the U.S. used to be at war with.
After recalling the pro-Israel group AIPAC’s role in lobbying against the Iran nuclear deal and influence with members of Congress, Zakaria worried that Congresswoman Omar and Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib are undermining others who criticize Israel.