MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin tried valiantly Sunday to get Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer to criticize President Donald Trump for the mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue the day before.
Not only did Dermer not give in to the host — but also Mohyeldin's repeated, near-combative baiting questions resulted in MSNBC's audience getting a stark history lesson about the left's anti-Semitism.
Mohyeldin noted that the Anti-Defamation League reported a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. and asked Dermer he attributes that "at least partly to the more heated rhetoric in this country since President Trump took office? Or how do you, as an Israeli government official, explain this explosion of anti-Semitism in the U.S.?"
But Dermer wasn't having it, noting to Mohyeldin that anti-Semitism was a growing problem around the world before Trump became president and went further by saying he was "very pleased" with Trump's statements against anti-Semitism in the wake of the synagogue attack.
"I'm not aware of a single non-Israeli leader that has made such a strong statement in condemning anti-Semitism," Dermer said of the president, who told an Illinois rally crowd that America will seek the destruction of those who seek to destroy Jews. "I have never heard a non-Israeli leader say that."
If at first you don't succeed
"So allow me then to dig in a little bit deeper about President Trump for a moment and some of the messaging that he's been talking about," Mohyeldin said before playing Dermer clips of Trump declaring himself a "nationalist" and his post-Charlottesville, Virginia, statements that there were "very fine people on both sides."
"The reason why I brought those up is because people are saying those are dog whistles to anti-Semitic white nationalist groups in the United States," Mohyeldin said. "Do you not see that from your vantage point?"
But Dermer simply referred to other anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. prior to Trump — and that's when the Egyptian-born host seemed to get a tad frustrated with the Israeli official giving him facts about Jewish persecution.
The host seems to get a bit irked
"I know, sir. Sir. Mr. Ambassador, with all due respect, sir, I understand the history of the attacks," Mohyeldin said. "And I definitely don't disagree with you about the history of anti-Semitism. I'm talking to you about the political leadership in this country, if they bear blame for the rhetoric and the kind of vitriol that we see directed toward the Jewish-American community. You just heard the president there say that people who were chanting in Charlottesville saying that 'Jews will not replace us' being described as 'very fine people.'"
Dermer acknowledged that Trump's Charlottesville response wasn't the greatest but then flatly stated that anti-Semites alone should be blamed for anti-Semitic acts — and then backed up Trump again, reminding Mohyeldin that the president has Jews in his own family.
And the ambassador wasn't done: "Listen ... the president of the United States is not the reason why you have Jeremy Corbyn in Europe, a leader of the Labour Party in Britain, who's is an anti-Semite" or "a tax against Jews in European countries."
Dermer added that anti-Semites on college campuses today "are usually not neo-Nazis ... they're coming from the radical left. So we have to stand against anti-Semitism, whether it comes from the right or whether it comes from the left."
But, but...what about George Soros?
Still, Mohyeldin wasn't giving up.
"So would you be willing, sir, as ambassador, to call out the American government if, in fact, you felt this president" was using what "people have described as 'dog whistles' to anti-Semites, even going after prominent Jewish philanthropists like George Soros who's become a punching bag, if you will, of the far right?" the host asked. "You're not criticizing them for using George Soros' image in a derogatory way."
But Dermer stood firm, first quickly debunking the host's Soros argument and then noting to Mohyeldin that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan "called all Jews 'termites' a week ago" — a statement that seemed to receive far less criticism but is arguably more serious than a mere "dog whistle."
Here's the clip. The relevant portion starts at the 12-minute mark:
Some interesting extras
It's worth pointing out that Israel backers petitioned MSNBC to fire Mohyeldin in 2015 for "several inaccurate and highly biased reports wrongly accusing Israel of murdering innocents," the Washington Free Beacon said.
The outlet also reported that Mohyeldin was criticized that same year for agreeing to be the keynote speaker at a conference hosted by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, "which for years has been accused of harboring an anti-Israel bias and of celebrating the Jewish state’s most vociferous critics."