Trevor Noah is going to leave Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” after a seven-year stint, and I for one couldn’t be happier.
Not because of those old jokes Noah posted on Twitter that were offensive to women and Jews and made fun of the Holocaust. I’m pretty thick-skinned and have been known to joke about these same topics, in the right context. I actually agreed with his reply, back in March 2015: “To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.”
I thought he was right, especially in light of the incredible growth his predecessor, Jon Stewart, had shown both at the helm of “The Daily Show” and later as a creative and a political man.
I stopped watching Trevor Noah on May 12, 2021, because of this monologue. You have to watch it. If you’re a Jew and/or an Israeli, I won’t have to explain anything afterward. You’ll get the point.
“In Gaza, Israeli air strikes have reportedly killed 28 people, including 10 children. Over 150 people have been wounded,” he said. “In Israel, Hamas rockets have killed two people. And this exchange of fire comes after the Israeli assault in and around the al-Aqsa mosque that left more than 600 Palestinian protesters, worshippers and civilians wounded. And a few dozen Israeli police.
“Personally, I cannot watch that footage and hear those numbers and see a fair fight … If you are in a fight where the other person cannot beat you, how hard should you retaliate when they try to hurt you? … And I’m not trying to answer the question, nor do I think I’m smart enough to solve it. All I’m asking is: when you have this much power, what is your responsibility?”
Essentially, what he was saying is that since Israel only lost 2 people, compared to 28 on the other side, it is to blame. Because 28 to 2 is an unfair ratio. Because if Israel is capable of blocking so many incoming Hamas rockets aimed at its civilian population, it has to curb its response and take it on the chin.
As far as I was concerned, Noah established the most eloquent form of modern-day antisemitism, one that has adjusted itself from hating the weak and grotesque Jew to despising the Jewish bully who won’t let his weaker neighbors kill more of his people.
That same week, I also stopped watching John Oliver, who once filled in for Stewart at the Daily Show and later got his weekly show on HBO. Oliver was equally if not more toxic and hateful. Here’s what he said:
“It is true that militants from Palestinian groups like Hamas fired over 1,000 rockets toward Israel this week, and that is reprehensible, but … the majority of those rockets thankfully didn’t reach their targets for a very clear reason. “While most of the rockets aimed toward Israeli citizens this week were intercepted, Israel’s airstrikes were not. They hit their targets, including a … 13-story office and apartment building. And while Israel insisted there were military targets in that building, and they destroyed it as humanely as possible — even warning people to evacuate beforehand — for the record, destroying a civilian residence sure seems like a war crime, regardless of whether you send a courtesy ‘Heads up’ text.”
In Jewish tradition, we point out and condemn evil, be it one of action or words. On the week of May 12, 2021, I realized, to my great sadness, that two gifted comedians whom I had followed and admired hated me and wished me dead at least in figures that would properly match those of my enemies.
May both their careers end badly.