“Deep pockets”. That’s how Shah Mahmood Qureshi described the Israeli media conglomerate’s control over the rest of world. His comment was immediately called out by the CNN interviewer as Antisemitic, an accusation at which Qureshi chose to remain completely silent and looked a little confused. But the media presence (or lack thereof) that our country’s politicians continue to exhibit on international media is a separate matter entirely.
There is no doubt that Qureshi fumbled throughout his interview, and his expression being akin to a goldfish showed that he probably didn’t know enough about the term Antisemitism itself to even counter what the interviewer was saying. But were his comments really Antisemitic? He may not have been the most eloquent, but Qureshi distinctly talked about the global control of the Israeli state, not the Jewish community. The Zionist machinery that the Israeli state operates by has historically had far less to do with religion and much more to do with politics.
Social media sites like Instagram and Facebook are shadow banning posts that are criticizing Israeli violence and when it comes to global media outlets, the headlines say it all. Terms such as “Hamas-cited sources” are being used to make audiences question the integrity of the reports coming in around casualties in Gaza and amidst the Palestinian population. The tactic to categorize any critique of Israel as Antisemitic is not only a furthering of Zionist propaganda but also endangers Jewish communities across the world by diverging the focus from the real Antisemitic sentiments and attacks. Last week in North London, a group of cars and protestors bearing the Palestinian flag drove through a Jewish neighborhood calling for violent attacks and assault on the Jewish community. Palestinian activists immediately took it upon themselves to disengage with such groups and distance themselves from hateful narratives. Antisemitism has no place in the struggle for liberation. It stands against everything that the Palestinian cause is fighting for. After all, Palestine has a history of peacefully accepting Jewish refugees from as early as the 1930s, and the region has always been far more religiously diverse than Western media makes it out to be. When mainstream media mixes up Anti-Zionist with Antisemitic it takes the focus away from the fight against antisemitism by conflating it with a violent oppressive movement that has no place in any global religion. The Zionist movement is not limited to the Jewish religion, and as global 'leaders' like Biden, Harris, Trudeau, and Modi continue to pledge support for Israel’s supposed right to self-defense against 10-year-old children it’s clear that support for Zionism lies outside religious boundaries.
What Qureshi should have done was present a far more eloquent show of support for Palestine and take a clear stance against the Zionist movement, but he didn’t. So, while his comments weren’t Antisemitic in themselves, he didn’t do much for the Palestinian cause either, because now the foreign minister of Pakistan (one of the few countries publicly extending support for the Palestinian cause) is headlined on CNN as being Antisemitic simply because he clearly wasn’t well prepared. With the kind of history we have after years of British rule, we Pakistanis know all too well the dangers of ‘divide and rule’. It’s a tactic long favored by Western powers and in this particular crisis, it shows it’s face in a new way – Islamophobia vs Antisemitism.
Antisemitism is a very, very real problem that needs to be fought in the world today, and for many of us who’ve grown up under the belief that everything is a “Yahoodi sazish” its something we need to work to unlearn every single day of our lives. Until we choose to unlearn the problematic teachings of the past, and until we decide to educate ourselves on the way in which change really needs to be brought about, we will continue to produce politicians like Qureshi who find themselves silent in the face of the Zionist narrative simply because they don’t know what to say. As we continue to fight for the Palestinian cause – because make no mistake this ceasefire is nothing but a formality – let us keep in mind that this is a humanitarian crisis. Not a religious one. It is fed by dirty corrupt politics that feeds greedy politicians and their insatiable desire for hunger. Just like the Muslim next door to you doesn’t need to apologize for an ISIS attack, the Jewish community in North London is not and will never be responsible for the war crimes committed by the state of Israel. It’s high time we start promoting the right narrative and stand up for the people that need us. Anti-Zionist is NOT Antisemitic and we need to stop listening to countries that are funneling millions of dollars into Israel’s military when they try telling us it is.