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Published at Jewish Business News

The host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, spoke to Jonathan Dekel of the National Post on the occasion of showing his new film, Rosewater, which Stewart shot in Jordan.

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The topic of their conversation which made headlines, though, was not so much the torture of political prisoners in Iran, which the film is about, but rather Israel, specifically “some pundits referring to [Stewart] as a ‘self-hating Jew.’”

The term, according to Wikipedia, originated with Theodor Lessing’s 1930 book Der Jüdische Selbsthass (“Jewish Self-Hatred”), which shows how Jewish intellectuals incite antisemitism with their hateful view toward Judaism.

Since then it has been used, mostly in the seventies, by the right to point accusing fingers at the left, and has been picked up later on by the left, as a sort of short hand showing up the right to be intolerant and fearful of criticism.

I don’t believe Jon Stewart is a self hating Jew. I do believe him when he tells Dekel, “It’s so interesting to me that people want to define who is a Jew and who is not. And normally that was done by people who weren’t Jewish but apparently now it’s done by people who are, and I find that very interesting. It’s more than nationalism.”

I assure you, no one has ever suggested that Jon Stewart, née Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, is not a Jew. His mom, Marian (née Laskin), and his dad, Donald Leibowitz, were both Jewish going all the way back to Moses. Jon Stewart could walk up this morning to the nearest Israel consulate, present his credentials and receive Israeli citizenship practically on the spot. So why is he so adamant about those imagined people who tell him who is a Jew and who isn’t?

Because Jon Stewart has opted, voluntarily and without pressures, out of the Jewish timeline. He married a lovely, non-Jewish woman, Tracey Lyn McShane, they have two children, and they, too, are not Jewish. I suspect the bitterness in Stewart’s note is related to that decision, which I, for one, respect and support. I don’t think any Jewish person is obligated to marry into the faith. I don’t believe Jewish survival is a Jewish value.

“…you can’t observe (Judaism) in the way you want to observe,” Stewart tells Dekel, then adds: “And I never thought that that would be coming from brethren. I find it really sad, to be honest.”

You see, Stewart is upset because we, the identified Jews in his life, won’t embrace his marrying a gentile woman and raising gentile children as part of Jewish practice. But you can’t expect to both opt out of the faith and carry a grudge because the faith doesn’t embrace you and your outsider family as part of us. How are they part of us?

You’re still a nice, gifted man – but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re on the way out.

Mind you, Jon Stewart represents the norm in Jewish history. Those of us who have clung to our tradition and our Jewish families are the aberration. Every century or so, we shed about 80 percent of the Jewish nation. It started back in the Exodus from Egypt, when, according to some commentators, four fifths of the nation opted to stay in slavery.

The rest of the Stewart interview was chock full of gripes that Dekel, I believe, pushed on Stewart, regarding how you can’t criticize Israel any more, without being attacked as a self hating Jew and so on. I won’t deliberate here the difference between criticizing Israel and promoting an economic boycott to actually hurt Israeli workers, as well as Palestinians, by the way. Most of their exchanges are kind of trite. I’m more interested in Stewart’s core bitterness.

I ask you to read the following paragraph, which Stewart lets out near the end of the interview. It’s hot with pent-up rage:

I always want to say to people when they come at me like that: “I would like Israel to be a safe and secure state. What’s your goal?” So basically we disagree on how to accomplish that but boy do they, I mean, you would not believe the sh-t. You have guys on television saying I’m a Jew like the Jews in the Nazi camps who helped bring the other Jews to ovens. I have people that I lost in the Holocaust and I just … go f*** yourself. How dare you?

And now, read how he and Delek sum up the reasons for the conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East:

Delek: The difference is, in my mind, that the west trumpets Israel as a realistic, functioning Democratic society.

Stewart: And then you look and say, “A thousand more acres in the West Bank? Why?” But I agree with you. I find it fascinating and troubling.

And there, in this trivialization of the conflict, lies the real separation, the real division into us and them. How many old lies are packed into this one, callused comment?

1. Gone are thousands of years of Jewish yearnings for the land of Israel, it’s now just a thousand more acres in the West Bank.

2. Gone are the spiritual aspirations of the half million Jews willing to endure harsh lives in what they insist is the land of their forefathers – it’s all just a thousand more acres in the West Bank.

3. Gone are the decades of Arab refusal to accept a Jewish entity in their midst, a refusal that only grows more virulent with every concession, that’s not the reason for the conflict, because it’s all about the Jews not giving up a thousand more acres in the West Bank.

4. Gone are the elementary love and respect for your people, your family, with whom you should feel free to disagree, but whom you really shouldn’t dehumanize by suggesting all their troubles stem for their inexplicable greed for a thousand more acres in the West Bank.

Jon Stewart is very good at expressing his own sorrow when his heart felt sentiments are reduced to death camp imageries, but, alas, he is entirely incapable of feeling the sentiments of the other side. And that’s truly sad.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. This is what happens when a Jew becomes successful. Other Jews start judging them harshly. This is the number one reason why Jews like me stay away from Jewish organizations. Intermarriage is a joke compared to the despicable words and actions coming from our fellow self righteous members of the tribe.

  2. I am confused by what you wrote: …I suspect the bitterness in Stewart’s note is related to that decision, which I, for one, respect and support. I don’t think any Jewish person is obligated to marry into the faith. I don’t believe Jewish survival is a Jewish value…" Please explain why you think Stewart has bitterness in his decision and how how you do not believe Jewish survival is a Jewish value. Thank you.

  3. Jews are noted for being the worst anti-Semites. But having said that, jon is looking for a way out of his choice. how does one cope with a decision that haunts him later on in life? By being a comedian, does not mean that you are wise.

    " we must believe in free will, we do not have a choice".

    Money is the pedigree, for people who do not have one!

  4. Jon Stewart is indeed a narcissistic, self-hating Jew who uses his platform and celebrity to gain attention and approval from his mostly way Leftist audience by repeatedly bashing Israel.

    What gives the lie to Stewart's pathetic self-serving claim that his concerns are "all about human rights", is that he's strangely unconcerned with the human rights of all the Israelis (and many others worldwide) who've been murdered by Islamic radical maniacs.
    And Syria's bloody massacres of hundreds of thousands of its own people don't seem to fall into Stewart's "human rights violations" definition.

    This astounding and obvious hypocrisy tells you everything you need to know about where Stewart is really coming from, all his pious self-pity
    notwithstanding. For me (and many other Jews), Stewart is worthy only of contempt and disgust.

  5. The contempt many Jews have for Stewart isn't about his marriage. It's about his continuing to use his celebrity to pander to his mostly liberal audience in any way possible, even when it includes regularly bashing Israel.

  6. For future reference:
    Actors of fully Jewish background: -Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Julian Morris, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Marla Sokoloff, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Adam Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gabriel Macht, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel, Alden Ehrenreich.

    Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers -Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Connelly, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman.

    Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: -Andrew Garfield, Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Ben Foster, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron, Jonathan Keltz.

    Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism -Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

  7. from a gentile point of view I would think his bitterness comes from not accepting his wife and children as being Jewish also, was Ruth not a moabite and she followed Naomi, so even if His wife would convert to Judaism would this not make a difference, as Ruth accepted Naomi's God and her people. I am also confused.

  8. and for what its worth, i dont care much for Mr. Steward. But I also know when there are people blindly believing and following ridiculous and dangerous ideas. If at this stage in our evolution (or de-evolution) we are only worried about intermarriage and assimilation as threatening our spiritual legacies, we are all in BIG trouble!!

  9. anyone can change their name to anything they want. If you want to be called Queen Latifa, then that is your name. I dont understand you question of how did he get that name??? I like his new name, but I think he is mentally ill, and extremely confused. Perhaps one day Jon Steward Leibowitz, may wake up and find himself in the middle of the road with nowhere to go. But at least he will be awake

  10. I think that survival IS, HAS TO BE, a Jewish value. If it is not a Jewish value, why do we strive so hard to have children highly educated, to protect ourselves from being wiped out in the diaspora, and to keep Israel strong and happy? If survival were not a Jewish value, why have Israel?

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