Alex Wagner

MSNBC

MSNBC host Alex Wagner said it’s hard to talk about Israel in the U.S. because people are scared of being branded as anti-Semites.

Wagner spoke with Israeli newspaper Haaretz ahead of President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to the Jewish state. She said Israel is a “very important and potent subject that people are genuinely curious about, but are perhaps not educated enough about it or are trepidatious about tackling it.”

“I think it’s incredibly tricky to talk about this unless you are incredibly fluent on the issue and you have a nuanced and comprehensive grasp of what’s going on,” Wagner said.

She pointed to the recent confirmation fight over Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, whose past reference to the “Jewish lobby” earned significant criticism.

“Look at our secretary of defense’s nomination process – that was hugely incendiary and complicated in large part because of comments that he made about Israel and the power of the Jewish vote in America,” Wagner told Haaretz. “To be honest, I think it’s difficult for some people to figure out how to talk about that and if they are critical, how to do so in a respectful fashion and in way that doesn’t end up being a conversation about anti-Semitism.”

​Related: