Jon Stewart, beloved and wildly popular comedian is, sad to say, also a bully and a coward. We don’t use these words lightly, especially given how loyal and enormous his following is, but, well – you decide.
First, let’s put it out there that nearly everyone thinks Stewart is funny. His following is biggest in the all-important 18 – 49 year old cohort.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart bills itself as a “fake news show.” But for years Stewart has been slamming Israel and its treatment of Palestinian Arabs.
Stewart’s slams against Israel are presented not as mere humor, but instead as truth dressed up as if he is the “bad boy saying what others won’t” angle. That’s where his shtick fits in with the comedy. It’s as if he’s bold enough to say out loud what others will only think. Of course he’s wrong about that, there is nothing refreshingly scandalous about the anti-Israel trope.
But what Jon Stewart isn’t, is an expert on the Middle East. Heck, based on the things he has said in his impromptu forays into the topic, he isn’t even passably knowledgeable about who and what Hamas is or does or believes or is trying to do to Gazans, let alone to Israelis and to all Jews. And Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, you too are on their hit list, as are members of the Rotary organization and the Masons as well, bizarrely enough. Just take a look at the Hamas Charter.
In the middle of this Gaza war, Stewart did a bit about the “knock on the roof” warning to Gazans which alerts them to leave their homes because the IDF is going to be defending itself against weapons stored or ones being fired against them from within or around those homes.
Stewart compares the “knock on the roof” warning, which is the detonation of a small explosive that does no harm, to the tzeva adom system which warns Israelis of incoming missiles and mortars from Gaza.
Stewart thinks it is outrageous for Israel to use what he says is a “small bomb” warning to Gazans, but uses a mere sound alert to Israelis. Imagine that. Israel doesn’t use message bombs on the individual houses as warnings. So unfair, Stewart claims. It could be funny, but only if you refuse to consider the context. If you do that, Stewart is the one that is unfair.
Last week Stewart’s producer reached out to Joshua Nass, a newly-minted college graduate who is both politically conservative and strongly pro-Israel. The invite was for him to talk about negative points regarding Obamacare.
No doubt the interview would be taped, then heavily edited. Then Stewart would make some sly comments, Nass would appear with one or two sentences to which Stewart would respond with his trademark wide eyed stares and smirks. The point of the segment would be to assure people viewers that anyone who doesn’t love Obamacare is a pointy-headed meanie.
But Nass didn’t relish the role of darts target for Stewart.
Nass and some of his cohorts are beginning to forge a new reputation to what so many older pro-Israel folks thinks is a lost generation. Like some of his former classmates, Nass leapt to correct inaccuracies bandied about on college campuses regarding the Middle East conflict and even about Obamacare and other icons of the left.
So Nass made a different proposal to Stewart’s producer.
Nass challenged Stewart to a debate about Israel. This would be one segment about Israel on the Daily Show that had actual facts to rebut Stewart’s callow barbs. Why not? Stewart has already put himself out there as someone qualified to talk about the Middle East conflict. He’s been talking about “Israel’s soul-crushing segmentation of Gaza” for years, and Nass is, after all, merely a recent college grad, not someone who has studied the field and has a PhD or two under his belt, which might create an unbalanced playing field.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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