On Sunday, about a week into the budding war between Israel and Palestine, a CNN contributor sparked international outrage by claiming that “The world today needs a Hitler.” The contributor, a Pakistani by the name of Adeel Raja, had praised Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler for his attempted extermination of Jews in the Holocaust in tweets dating back to 2014. When his Nazi tweets went viral on Sunday night, CNN terminated his employment.
Raja didn’t learn his lesson. Instead, he doubled down. Although he had deleted his tweet, he later celebrated the fact that CNN fired him over the tweet, claiming that his one message “contributed to the Palestine cause.”
“Glad a single tweet contributed to the [Palestine] cause and brought it to limelight with me loosing [sic] my job and the West’s claim of Freedom of expression and human rights!” Raja tweeted, sharing screenshots of news coverage from Fox News.
It remains unclear how the tweet allegedly helped the cause of Palestine. If anything, it seems the message exposed the anti-Semitism among some of Israel’s opponents, such as Raja himself.
“The world today needs a Hitler,” Raja had tweeted.
Back in 2014, Raja said he was supporting Germany in the World Cup Final because “Hitler was a German and he did good with those Jews!”
Also that year, Raja encouraged the Islamic State (ISIS), the Taliban, and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan to “go to Israel, ASAP!”
CNN released a statement to Yashar Ali, a contributor to New York magazine and HuffPost.
“As a freelancer, his reporting contributed to some newsgathering efforts from Islamabad. However, in light of these abhorrent statements, he will not be working with CNN again in any capacity,” the network said.
CNN made the right move, but Raja’s tweet highlighted the anti-Semitism that is tragically rife throughout much of the Muslim world. A 2014 survey from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that 63 percent of people in the Middle East and North Africa said the Holocaust was “a myth or an exaggeration. A full 65 percent said “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” A whopping 74 percent of those in the Middle East and North Africa harbored anti-Semitic views.
Yet it seems Raja is so committed to his hatred of Israel and his anti-Semitic views that he celebrated CNN’s decision to fire him. He suggested that this act gave the lie to “the West’s claim of Freedom of expression and human rights!”
On the contrary, celebrating an attempted genocide that involved the brutal slaughter of 6 million Jews in concentration camps is beyond the pale. CNN was within its rights to terminate the contract with Raja, and this action does not undermine the freedom of expression. CNN is a private business and it can fire staffer who stand by such abhorrent statements. The First Amendment protection of free speech constrains the government, not private corporations.
Furthermore, Raja’s tweets represented a direct threat to CNN’s credibility as a news organization (I know, I know, low bar, but still true), so it is no wonder the corporation fired him.
Last but not least, the only way Raja’s tweet could have helped the Palestinian cause would be to enflame supporters of Palestine who share Raja’s anti-Semitic views. In other words, Raja’s claim here actually reveals the close connection between opposition to the State of Israel and hatred of Jews because they are Jews.
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In the United States, that realization represents the greatest threat to the Palestinian cause. Tragically, it seems that anti-Semitism fuels some support for Palestine in Pakistan, which is mighty revealing.