Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London Britain, September 29, 2018. Picture taken September 29, 2018.
(photo credit: MIDDLE EAST MONITOR)
Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist believed to have been killed October 2 at his country’s consulate in Istanbul, described the relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as only a “political,” not a religious problem in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post more than a decade before his disappearance.
“Yes, we have a problem with Israel, but it’s a political problem,” Khashoggi told the Post at a 2007 Capitol Hill reception condemning antisemitism, when he was the press attaché for Prince Turki Al Faisal, then Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US.
“It should be a known fact that the Arabs never had a problem with antisemitism, but we need to state that over and over again,” Khashoggi added, justifying the surprising Saudi presence at the event.
Khashoggi called the Holocaust a horrible episode in history, but also said that there were other terrible events throughout history, such as the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258, or the Palestinian Nakba.
Turkey says it has recordings of Khashoggi's murder, October 14, 2018 (Reuters)
“I know Jewish people don’t like this comparison, but everyone has his own Holocaust,” he said.
The Post’s former Washington bureau chief, Hilary Leila Krieger, said at the time she was focused on attempting to interview Faisal, who now chairs the King Faisal Foundation. Based in Riyadh, it is of the largest global philanthropic organizations.
But it was Khashoggi, who sat down to speak with her, even though he knew she represented an Israeli newspaper.
During his time at the embassy, he never put Krieger on his press list. But in person that evening he was very warm, granting her a rare if brief interview.
“I remember that he was positive. He did not seem annoyed that I had buttoned holed him at this event,” Krieger said.
His statements about Israel and his affirmation of the Holocaust “were very unusual” for a Saudi diplomat, she said.
Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a divorce document. He never left. The case of the missing journalist developed into a story of global significance, with serious diplomatic consequences for the oil-rich kingdom.
It is believed that Khashoggi was tortured and killed inside the consulate by a Saudi hit squad. New developments point to Saudi Arabia’s readiness to admit that the journalist was indeed killed.
Khashoggi was seen as a progressive voice among his Saudi peers. While he was passionate about the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth and supported Osama Bin Laden in the 1980s, he later cultivated connections to Saudi power structures as a journalist-insider and served as a key source for US officials in Riyadh.
Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia in 2017 as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman cracked down on dissidents, writing for Al-Jazeera, The Washington Post
and other international news outlets.Seth J. Frantzman contributed to this report.
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