Home Top Stories Former Trump official battles with Al Jazeera after host blames Israel for Hamas attack: ‘I’m flabbergasted’

Former Trump official battles with Al Jazeera after host blames Israel for Hamas attack: ‘I’m flabbergasted’

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Former Trump official battles with Al Jazeera after host blames Israel for Hamas attack: ‘I’m flabbergasted’

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Former Trump White House official Jason Greenblatt sparred with an Al Jazeera journalist on live TV Sunday after she appeared to blame Israel for Hamas’ unprecedented terror attack against Israeli civilians earlier this month.

In an appearance on the Qatar-based news station via Zoom, Greenblatt, who served as the White House Middle East Special Envoy during the Trump administration, was asked in Arabic about Israel’s retaliatory strikes and whether a “resolution” can be reached if the Israeli military commits “atrocities against civilians in Gaza” in response to the barbaric attack by Hamas earlier this month that left hundreds of Israelis dead and ignited a war in the region.

Greenblatt rejected the host’s use of the word “atrocities” in this context, calling it a “false question.”

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body bags israeli soldiers

KFAR AZA, ISRAEL – OCTOBER 10: Israeli soldiers remove the bodies of civilians, who were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas terrorists on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza, on October 10, 2023 in Kfar Aza, Israel.  ((Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images))

“If you’re suggesting that any country, Israel or anyone else, when they go into another country because they need to take care of those that attack them, that that’s considered an atrocity, I find that question a false question” Greenblatt replied, according to a translated version of the exchange. 

“If a country is attacked and its citizens are murdered, the government of that country has no choice but to defend its citizens,” he continued. “Yes there will be casualties, very tragically, there will be many Palestinians and of course Israelis who lose their lives, but if you’re suggesting that Israel should just sit back and say ‘sure come and kill us and we won’t do anything,’ I don’t know of any country that would do that. I don’t think any Arab country would allow another country to come in, do what they did to their citizens and then say, well there will be casualties, so we can’t defend ourselves.”

Jason greenblatt meeting with abbas

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and Trump’s special representative for Middle East negotiations, at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 14, 2017.  ( (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP) (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images))

The exchange later went off the rails when the host appeared to characterize Hamas’ brutal attack against Israel as a “consequence” of Israel-occupied settlements and Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership.

“There are a lot of victims now,” the host told Greenblatt. “The Biden administration was the most transparent criticizing Israeli settlements and Netanyahu’s right-wing government and warned of consequences. Now, we got those consequences. Is it right to blame the responsible party of this scenario and the result?” she asked.

Greenblatt, astonished at the insinuation, pulled no punches in his response.

“So let me understand what you’re saying. You’re saying that because there’s a land dispute, or other problems between two societies, Israeli and Palestinian, that it’s okay for hundreds or thousands Hamas terrorists to go in and burn babies, and decapitate people and rape women and drag them into captivity? Is that what you’re saying? That a land dispute allows civilization to unravel and people can commit those types of atrocities? I just want to make sure I get what you’re actually asking,” he replied.

The host pushed back, arguing that Greenblatt had misrepresented the question before doubling down on the issue. She again noted the Biden administration’s past criticism of Israel’s settlement activity and Biden’s position on Israel’s “extremist ministers,” like Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, claiming that Biden had warned of “consequences” over Israel’s policy and divisive rhetoric on the issue.

middle east meeting

Mazen Ghoneim, head of the Palestinian Water Authority, speaks as Jason Greenblatt (C), US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, and Tzachi Hanegbi (L), Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation, sit next to him during a news conference in Jerusalem on July 13, 2017.  ((Photo by RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images))

“Now these consequences have happened,” she repeated.

The U.S. condemned Ben-Gvir in August for “inflammatory” comments after he said that the Jewish “right to life” trumps the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank. After taking heat from the State Department, Ben-Gvir said his comments were misunderstood and that he had been referring to Israeli settlers’ rights to protection from Palestinian terrorist attacks.

“Israel has a democratically elected government, I don’t agree with Ben-Gvir’s comments,” replied Greenblatt, “but I’m not sure what that has to do with the barbaric actions that were committed by Hamas. I’m really not understanding your question.”

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The host interjected, “Extremism leads to extremism. That’s the simple context of the question.”

Greenblatt asked how the host could draw a moral equivalence between Ben-Gvir’s rhetoric and Hamas’ “butchering” of innocent men, women and children in Israel.

“Do you think Ben-Gvir’s comments, even though some of them may have been hateful, are on the same level as butchering Jews?” Greenblatt fired back. “I’m flabbergasted. I don’t understand… If Ben Gvir says things that are anti-Palestinian, which I don’t agree with either by the way, does that mean that Palestinian terrorists have a right to go in and slay Jews?”

Israeli woman evacuated

Israeli police officers evacuate a woman and a child from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. The rockets were fired as Hamas announced a new operation against Israel.  ((AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov))

Greenblatt went on to praise President Biden for his “unbreakable support of Israel,” noting that even though he has been critical of Biden’s Middle East policy, “on this, I think he’s been very strong.”

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He said the U.S. government’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself sends a warning to terror groups across the globe.

“Be careful, because if you mess with Israel, we are here to defend Israel, and that inures to the benefit of our friends and allies in the Golf and Israel’s other Arab neighbors as well. This is a war of civilizations. It’s a war of evil versus good,” Greenblatt said. “Hamas is evil, and it’s going to destroy lives. Israeli lives, Palestinian lives, and if it drags in the rest of the region, it’s going to destroy many more lives. It’s time for people to recognize the difference between good and evil.”

Earlier Sunday, Israel’s communications minister accused Al Jazeera of acting as a “propaganda mouthpiece” for Palestinian terrorists and announced that he was moving to potentially close down the outlet’s local bureau, Reuters reported.

Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir speaks at a military cemetery ceremony during a ceremony to mark the country’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of militant attacks, in Beersheba, Israel, Tuesday, April 25, 2023.  (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Shloma Karhi accused the Qatari news station of pro-Hamas incitement and of exposing Israeli soldiers to potential attack from Gaza, according to the outlet. The proposal to close the Al Jazeera office is reportedly being considered by Israeli security officials and is being vetted by legal experts.

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“This is a station that incites, this is a station that films troops in assembly areas [outside Gaza] … that incites against the citizens of Israel – a propaganda mouthpiece,” Karhi said on Israel’s Army Radio, Reuters reported.

“It is unconscionable that Hamas spokespeople’s message goes through this station,” he said, adding that he hopes to get the proposal finished with before Monday.

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