Pro-Hamas CNN? Host Allows Democrat Smear: Netanyahu’s a ‘Fascist…Tyrant…War Criminal’

News & Politics

On Thursday afternoon, CNN host Brianna Keilar was unfazed and gave no pushback when her guest, Dearborn mayor Abdullah Hammoud, accused Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being a “fascist and a war tyrant and a war criminal” as the Michigan Democrat appeared to discuss President Biden’s latest stands. As CNN noted on screen, Mayor Hammoud voted “uncommitted” to protest Biden in the Michigan primary.

As the two discussed President Biden’s handling of the war, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) calling for new elections to remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called “grotesque” in its treatment of a democracy and an ally. Hammoud shot back:

You know, we have been sounding the alarm about Benjamin Netanyahu for over two decades, knowing that he is a fascist and a war tyrant and a war criminal, and he has been one of the individuals who gloats about being able to stall peace and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. So certainly it makes a difference with who leads the Israeli government…

At a rally last November, Hammoud called Netanyahu a “terrorist” as he called Dearborn a “city of resistance” to Israel. At that rally, the crowd chanted “Genocide Joe!” But Keilar just let Hammoud talk for 54 seconds, no need for “fact-checking in real time.”

He soon added:

This is why it’s extremely important for President Biden to utilize the leverage that he currently has and restricting military aid and being forceful in his calls not for a temporary ceasefire but a permanent and lasting ceasefire immediately. Those are the things that we’re looking for from our President because that can make the difference today. Each morning, we wake up, and what we find is a kill count — how many innocent men, woman and children had been killed by the Israeli government, by the IDF, utilizing American manufactured weapons. And we need to find that out immediately.

Keilar just stuck to sympathetic notes:

And of course we’re watching starvation as well happen, and there’s a lot of groups who are sounding the alarm about what should be coming here in the coming weeks. We’ve just started to see this, and it’s expected to balloon if the aid doesn’t increase dramatically. So, Mayor, you have a group of Palestinian Arab and Muslim American activists — they declined to meet with senior White House officials in the Chicago area today.

They said in a letter this morning to the White House there’s no point in more meetings — the White House “already knows the position of the aforementioned groups and our allies across the nation.” I wonder what you think this means for the general election? Is this a sign that Biden cannot mend this break with Muslim and Arab Americans in the U.S.? Or do you think there is potential for him to do that?

Hammoud implied Biden needs to fully support Hamas, or he’s not going to win over the Muslims. “Well, I think, outside the context of the election, I think this is a very clear message being sent to the current president in the highest office in the world that your constituency is very extremely unhappy with the decision-making that you have endeavored upon since the events of October.”

Transcript follows:

CNN News Central

March 14, 2024

1:21 p.m. Eastern

BRIANNA KEILAR: Right now, President Biden is on Air Force One on his way to Saginaw, Michigan, and the visit is part of a battleground state blitz he’s on after giving his State of the Union address last week, and also after clinching enough delegates for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday. He’s going to Saginaw for a reason. It’s a community with a large concentration of black and Latino voters, and it is critical to the President’s reelection hopes. So is Michigan’s large concentration of Arab and Muslim Americans who are concentrated around Detroit a little further South.

Many of those voters are upset with Biden — and that is really putting it mildly — for American support of Israel as it wages war in the Gaza Strip. In Michigan’s Democratic primary last month, 13 percent of the voters cast their ballot for “uncommitted,” many of them as a protest vote. Joining us now is the mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, Abdullah Hammoud. Ramadan Kareem to you, and I know, of course, that this holy month is feeling very different for your community. Can you just tell us what it’s been like?

MAYOR ABDULLAH HAMMOUD (D-DEARBORN): Thank you so much. Ramadan Kareem to all those who are observing the fast. You know, it’s a somber month. This is the holiest month for Muslims around the world, and we spend time around our dinner table breaking fast with family and loved ones, but obviously with the war in Gaza, the innocent are being killed each and every single day. You can’t help but sense a blanket of grief over the community.

KEILAR: In recent weeks, obviously you’ve been hearing the Biden administration respond to that. You’ve had Vice President Harris calling in more forceful terms for a ceasefire. The President announced during the State of the Union that the military would be building a port in Gaza to deliver aid. He has been extremely critical of Netanyahu. He was caught on a hot mic — I’m sure you heard that. What have you thought of what have been significant rhetorical changes at least? Has that gone anywhere?

HAMMOUD: Certainly, you know, pressure works. You see that there is a difference in tone where there is now a recognition of Palestinian suffering. But what I would tell you is that words are not enough. What we want to see is actual change in policy. We want to see actually holding Benjamin Netanyahu and the most right-wing government in Israel’s history to account. You know, you heard Senator Schumer’s remarks today on the flood demonstrating that pressure works, calling for distancing and, in fact, the replacing of Benjamin Netanyahu as the prime minister as well as calling upon President Biden and utilizing our ability and our tool to restrict military funding as a means of trying to find ourselves towards a just solution for the Palestinian people.

KEILAR: You mentioned what Senator Schumer said — the Senate Majority Leader — calling for new elections in Israel. Would that make a difference to you? Do you think it would make a difference who leads Israel in the type of war that would be prosecuted? And how much of a difference does that make to you that he specifically is calling for that?

HAMMOUD: You know, we have been sounding the alarm about Benjamin Netanyahu for over two decades, knowing that he is a fascist and a war tyrant and a war criminal, and he has been one of the individuals who gloats about being able to stall peace and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. So certainly it makes a difference with who leads the Israeli government, but what’s important is that, while elections can be called for — elections can go into process, that doesn’t change what’s happening on the ground today.

This is why it’s extremely important for President Biden to utilize the leverage that he currently has and restricting military aid and being forceful in his calls not for a temporary ceasefire but a permanent and lasting ceasefire immediately. Those are the things that we’re looking for from our President because that can make the difference today. Each morning, we wake up, and what we find is a kill count — how many innocent men, woman and children had been killed by the Israeli government, by the IDF, utilizing American manufactured weapons. And we need to find that out immediately.

KEILAR: And of course we’re watching starvation as well happen, and there’s a lot of groups who are sounding the alarm about what should be coming here in the coming weeks. We’ve just started to see this, and it’s expected to balloon if the aid doesn’t increase dramatically. So, Mayor, you have a group of Palestinian Arab and Muslim American activists — they declined to meet with senior White House officials in the Chicago area today. They said in a letter this morning to the White House there’s no point in more meetings — the White House “already knows the position of the aforementioned groups and our allies across the nation.” I wonder what you think this means for the general election? Is this a sign that Biden cannot mend this break with Muslim and Arab Americans in the U.S.? Or do you think there is potential for him to do that?

HAMMOUD: Well, I think outside the context of the election, I think this is a very clear message being sent to the current President and the highest office in the world that your constituency is very extremely unhappy with the decision making that you — that you have endeavored upon since the events of October. You know, you talked about humanitarian aid — over 27 people have now died of starvation and famine. And, while our President has proposed to establish a maritime port, that will take several months at the very earliest in order for that to be established.

But what can be done today, there are congressional budgets that are going to be moving for the 22nd of this month where we can ensure that the agency UNHRA can receive funding from the United States which accounts for one-third of its funding to ensure that millions of people don’t die of starvation and famine. And I think that’s a policy position that the President can advocate for and can work with congressional leaders to adopt in the upcoming budget that will pass in less than 10 days from now.

KEILAR: Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, we really appreciate your time. Thank you so much. and Ramadan Mubarak.

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