Al Jazeera Host Sparks Fury After Calling Israel ‘Most Successful Project’ of Last 2 Centuries

al-Qassim (1)
Twitter

TEL AVIV – Rabble-rousing Arab Al Jazeera presenter Faisal al-Qassem told his millions of Twitter followers Israel is the most successful project of the 20th and 21st centuries, sparking an uproar on the social media platform.

He later followed up with a poll in Arabic in which nearly 82 percent of 6,168 respondents said that Israel was more “advanced, developed, democratic and successful,” than Arab regimes. Just 18.3 percent of respondents believed Arab countries to be more successful.

“For most Arabs, if they want to curse you, they will describe you as a ‘Zionist,’ even though they know that the most successful project in the current and last century is the Zionist project,” tweeted Qassem, the host of popular talk show The Opposite Direction.

“All of Arab projects, especially Arab nationalism, have failed. So before you use the term ‘Zionist’ as a curse, you must first come a bit closer to what Zionism has achieved and then we will talk,” he added.

Later, he wrote, “In a previous tweet I said that the Zionist enterprise was successful, unlike the failed Arab enterprises.”

“I angered many, who saw the tweet as a kind of praise of Zionism. Great, so let’s do a poll.”

Though al-Qassem is not pro-Israel per se, he is known for bringing both controversial guests and views on his show. He has in the past praised Israel’s treatment of its prisoners as well as the great lengths its army goes to in an effort to avoid civilian deaths during times of conflict.

In 2018, he came under fire for hosting Arabic-language IDF spokesman and last month he hosted an Iranian diplomat, mocking Tehran for its vow to “liberate Jerusalem.”

“If you want to liberate Jerusalem for me, then I don’t want you to liberate it,” Qassem told Amir Mousawi, a journalist who has in the past served as Iran’s cultural attaché in Brussels, Sudan and Algeria.

“Yesterday I held a poll. No one wants you to free Jerusalem of Palestine for them,” he said, referencing a Twitter poll he conducted.

The poll asked: “Iran and its militias always employ the slogan — liberating Palestine. I wonder — do the Arabs want to replace the Israeli occupation with the Iranian occupation?”

Out of 3,455 respondents, 70.1 percent voted no while 29.9 percent voted yes.

Qassem also frequently calls out the Arab world for being “backwards.”

His tweets on Sunday were blasted by many Twitter users, some of whom accused him of “serving Zionism.”

Israeli officials praised Qassem for his tweets.

Ofir Gendelman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic-language spokesman tweeted: “Dr. Faisal al-Qassem is right. The Zionist movement has accomplished the Jewish people’s ambition to return to its homeland and build a national state from scratch on the land of its forefathers.”

“I am a proud Zionist. In 71 years, we have transformed from a poor country with scant resources to a state that is at the topmost in the world when it comes to modernity, innovation, sciences, medicine and agriculture,” he added.

IDF spokesman Adraee tweeted on Saturday: “Faisal al-Qassem is speaking the word of truth. ‘Zionist’ is not a curse word but rather one of admiration.”

 

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