A host on the Qatar-based news channel, Al Jazeera, sparked quite the controversy when he wrote on Twitter that Zionism is the “most successful project of the past century.”
Faisal al-Kasim, a Druze born in Syria, hosts the popular talk show The Opposite Direction on Al Jazeera and has frequently criticized Arab and Islamic regimes in the Middle East, along with Israel.
Last week he shocked many, however, when he extolled Israel as a success.
“The majority of Arabs, if they want to insult you, describe you as ‘Zionist,’ knowing that the most successful project of the past century and the present is the Zionist project, while all projects of the Arabs, especially Arab nationalism, have failed,” he tweeted.
“So before you use the term ‘Zionist’ as a curse, you must first come somewhat closer to what Zionism has accomplished and then we will talk,” he added.
Broadcasters from across the Middle East quickly pounced on his statement.
“Someone at the Israeli station Al Jazeera flattered Israel,” Ahmed Moussa, a popular Egyptian television personality, said. “Faisal al-Kasim showed us the true face of Al Jazeera — they are spokesmen for Israel.” (A laughable statement indeed since the network is one of Israel’s chief critic in the media.)
However, al-Kasim defended himself by polling his followers: “I said in a previous tweet that the Zionist project succeeded, unlike the failed Arab projects, and many people retaliated and considered the tweet a kind of praise for the Zionists. Ok, come to the referendum: Who are the most advanced, developed, democratic, and successful … Israel or the Arab regimes?”
A whopping 81.7 percent of the of 6,168 respondents picked Israel!
All of this back and forth was in Arabic. And as his 5.5 million followers know, Al-Kasim does criticize Israel as well, but in this case he doubled downed on his point especially when he expanded his poll.
“Many were annoyed when I said in a previous tweet that the Zionist project was the most successful project in the region. Before you get upset come to this referendum. Which of the following projects are most successful and powerful now? The Arab National Project, The Zionist Project, and The Islamic Project.”
The poll showed 70.5 percent voted for “The Zionist Project.”