Fareed Zakaria and media mogul Haim Saban sparred over Israel at the book launch of Zakaria’s new book on education, In Defense of a Liberal Education, for which he has appeared on numerous late night talk shows, such as The Daily Show and Conan.
The choreographer of this “tense yet amicable exchange,” The Hollywood Reporter reports, was Nicholas Burggeruen, who assembled a group from the media, entertainment world, and political sphere to talk about Zakaria’s new book on education.
Zakaria, who has been labeled by Esquire as the “most influential foreign policy advisor of his generation,” was forced to shift gears from his discussion of education in America in order to respond to Saban’s allegation that he does not understand the situation with Israel. Saban, a major supporter of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party, was handed the mic following Zakaria’s remarks about the new book and got straight down to business: “Speaking of education, I think you need an education about what Israel really is.” Saban went on to say: “Your point of view is so anti-Israel, I’m banging my head against the wall every time I watch you. And I keep watching because I am a masochist, right?” Saban pledged to spend as much time as necessary with Zakaria to help him understand the realities Israel is facing. He then re-stated his challenge with some levity: “Your program is very, very unbalanced. We have ‘fair and balanced’ on Fox News, so let them have that,” he said, drawing moans from the crowd. “But seriously, Fareed. I think that you need to go through some change — I need to convert you.”
Obviously, no journalist wants to hear “your program is very, very unbalanced” as mentioned above (boldened for my own emphasis).
Responding to Saban’s challenge to his understanding of Israel, Zakaria gave a concise, impassioned history of the country, then outlined the issues it must address as a democracy with regards to the Palestinians, referring to the situation as a “creeping cancer that has grown larger and larger and larger. Finally, he confronted Saban by saying, “Frankly, Haim, I don’t give a damn if you think taking that position is anti-Israeli. I think it is more pro-Israeli than you because I think you are selling the country down the river by continuing to say that whatever the Likudniks want is the right answer — no matter what — and kick the problem down the road hoping one day we’ll sort it out. One day, you will have 10 million people who are living without a vote. No,” he continued as Saban requested the microphone. “The beauty of this, Haim, is that I have the mic, and as Ronald Reagan once said, ‘I paid for this microphone.’ Actually, Nicolas paid for it.”
(H/t The Hollywood Reporter)