Popular Al Jazeera talk show host sets off firestorm by claiming Zionism ‘most successful project of the past century’

The tweet was issued by Faisal al-Kasim, a pugnacious but widely admired host on the Qatari network Al Jazeera.

By Benjamin Kerstein, Algemeiner

A major Arab media personality caused a storm of controversy over the weekend when he tweeted that Zionism is the “most successful project of the past century.”

The tweet was issued by Faisal al-Kasim, a pugnacious but widely admired host on the Qatari network Al Jazeera. A Druze born in Syria, al-Kasim runs the popular but also controversial talk show The Opposite Direction, and is often extremely critical of Arab and Islamic regimes in the Middle East.

He touched off the latest firestorm when he tweeted, “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.”

The remarks ignited a significant negative reaction. Ahmed Moussa, a popular Egyptian television personality, said, “Someone at the Israeli station Al Jazeera flattered Israel. Faisal al-Kasim showed us the true face of Al Jazeera — they are spokesmen for Israel.”

Al Jazeera is not an Israeli station and is often extremely negative in its coverage of the Jewish state.

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“He fled Syria, there is a death sentence on him,” Moussa said of al-Kasim. “He belongs to terrorist organizations, to a Zionist station. He and Al Jazeera give us a headache.”

In response to the attacks on him, al-Kasim issued another tweet, saying, “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?” al-Kasim said, with a poll beneath for readers to vote on the issue.

The poll showed 81.7% of the respondents picked Israel.

In a following tweet, al-Kasim did take a negative view of Israel, though he continued his criticism of Arab attitudes toward it.

“There is no successful project throughout history except based on crimes and atrocities,” he wrote, “but people do not remember the skulls on which the major projects were based. America was based on the extermination of 108 million red Indians.”

“In short, history is not made by emotions and morals, but by strength, so possess it, Arabs, if you don’t want to be victims of the Zionist project and others,” al-Kasim added.

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Later, al-Kasim expanded his poll of respondents, writing, “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?”

He listed “The Arab National Project,” “The Zionist Project,” and “The Islamic Project.”

The poll showed 70.5% of respondents voted for “The Zionist Project.”

In February 2018, al-Kasim also faced criticism for hosting Avichay Adraee, IDF spokesperson for Arabic Media, on his show.