Jon Stewart Taking Heat for Pro-Palestinian Guests

October 30, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Some Pro-Israeli groups are apparently in an uproar over Jon Stewart’s decision to host two pro-Palestinian guests on his show Wednesday night, to discuss the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Stewart was criticized for allowing the guests to engage in Israel bashing, but others are praising Stewart for providing a forum for the dialogue to end the conflict by peaceful means.

Appearing on his show were, Palestinian democracy activist Mustafa Barghouti and human rights activist Anna Baltzer, author of “A Witness in Palestine.”

During the interview Barghouti said, “We [Palestinians] are struggling for liberty, we are struggling for justice. It’s Palestinians who have been subjected to the longest occupation in history and a system of segregation that is totally unjust.” An audience member then yelled out Liar!

Stewart responded: “Apparently we have Joe Wilson with us tonight.”

After the taping, Baltzer reportedly circulated a letter which claimed:

“[T]he show “was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel.”

“During the taping the show had its only heckler in 11 years. The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired,” wrote Baltzer.

Blogger Israel Matzav objected to the guests on Stewart’s show, as not providing a balanced view. “Jon Stewart [had] a couple of disgraceful guests on his show on Wednesday night for a night of Israel bashing,” wrote Matzav.

TalkingPointsMemo blogger M.J. Rosenberg praised Stewart for his courage in tackling the sensitive issue:

“Not long ago, no mainstream media personality would ever allow himself to be associated with anyone who suggests that diplomacy, not war, is the way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” […]

“Stewart is the antithesis of the scared Jew,” added the TPM blogger.

It’s certainly time for a new attempt at a reasoned and peaceful dialogue from both sides, to put an end to the ongoing bloody conflict. As usual, Jon Stewart’s comedy show is at the forefront of tackling tough issues.



6 Responses to “Jon Stewart Taking Heat for Pro-Palestinian Guests”

  1. CJ on October 30th, 2009 11:57 pm

    It’s completely absurd to criticize Jon Stewart for having these two on his program. Even if it was a bunch of “Israel Bashing,” which is wasn’t, I think the pro-Israel side has plenty of forums and activists telling their side of the story. In fact, I think it’s sad that the only place these two can find to say what they want to is a show on Comedy Central. How dare people come out and bash this, when all they talked about was trying to find a peaceful solution. These people want to end the suffering going on in that part of the world, and all we can do is whine about how they don’t agree with the US’s pro-Israel sentiments? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

  2. eileen fleming on October 31st, 2009 7:30 pm

    On 10/28/09, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart did what the mainstream media has failed to report about-the rapidly growing global nonviolent solidarity movement of resisters to the occupation of Palestine.

    The News Media should be interviewing Dr. Mustafa Barghouti & Anna Baltzer, Jon’s job is to entertain us, but once again, he lead the mainstream media to where many of US already are.

    We need a media who will stop spouting falsehoods, such as what caused Jon’s misunderstanding about Iran’s supposed intentions towards Israel.

    In 2006, Virginia Tilley, Professor of political science wrote:

    “In his October 2005 speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad never used the word ‘map’ or the term ‘wiped off.’ According to Farsi-language experts like Juan Cole and even right-wing services like MEMRI, what he actually said was ‘this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.’

    “In this speech to an annual anti-Zionist conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad was being prophetic, not threatening. He was citing Imam Khomeini, who said this line in the 1980s-a period when Israel was actually selling arms to Iran, so apparently it was not viewed as so ghastly then.

    “Mr. Ahmadinejad had just reminded his audience that the Shah’s regime, the Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein had all seemed enormously powerful and immovable, yet the first two had vanished almost beyond recall and the third now languished in prison.

    “So, too, the “occupying regime” in Jerusalem would someday be gone. His message was, in essence: “This too shall pass.”

    Iran has also not launched an aggressive war in modern history -unlike the US and Israel-and its leaders adhere to the doctrine of “no first strike.”

    We need a media who will give us some truth-such as the Bill Moyers-Goldstone interview.

    We need a media who will allow US to hear the voices of Israeli conscientious objectors known as Shministim; Hebrew for “twelfth-graders” and they are “Jews and Arabs from all parts of the country…[who] toil against the occupation and oppression policies of the Israeli government in the occupied territories, and in the territory of the land of Israel, and therefore refuse to take part in actions related to such policies, which are carried out…by the Israeli Defence Force.” [2]

    Shministim are also a community of activists whose conscientious objection to refusing to serve in the Forces that enforce the military occupation of Palestine stems from volunteer experiences, values, love and respect for their society and every human being, and they aim to better their country for all its inhabitants.

    We need a media who will learn from American Israeli professor Jeff Halper, Founder and Coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, that “Israel is a not a democracy but is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control.”

    We need a media who will report about Israel’s WMD program and the failure of the US government to support the best interests of we the people by failing to hold Israel accountable to the same criteria we demand of other states and nations.

    In 2005, Mordechai Vanunu told me:

    “When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them. Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.”

    But we have a media that failed to even report on a freedom of speech trial in Jerusalem, and now it is too late for them to interview Mordechai Vanunu.

    Vanunu quit talking to foreign supporters and media on July 6, 2009, when he “made the decision…to refrain from making any statements on the nuclear issue and other sensitive subjects about which he had knowledge” and Vanunu’s lawyer added, “Until now he wouldn’t commit to refrain from speaking of [Israel’s nuclear program], but now he is.” [3]

    We need a media who can connect the dots from 1948 to 1967 to 1986 to now and catch the spirit of Edward R. Murrow: “To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful.”

    We need a media that will inform the public that the modern conflict between Palestine and Israel, is not about religious differences, but all about land, human rights and international law.

    Until then, we have the Internet and Jon.

    eileen fleming,
    Senior Correspondent and Founder of WeAreWideAwake
    A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto
    Author of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory”
    Producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”

  3. Lino Viola on November 1st, 2009 11:11 pm

    Thanks for having the guts for airing the show on the Palestinian plight in Israel. It’s about time that this type of dialogue is heard.

    After reading Elias Chacour’s three books and watching the film The Lemon Tree, I too would be ashamed if I was an Israeli (thankfully it’s only a small percentage)involved in the destruction of lemon groves, olive trees and fig trees along with the bulldozing of houses and occupying their lands.

    This is not “Israel bashing.” It’s the truth that the mainstream media will not report to the American public.

  4. Notejusta on November 7th, 2009 7:04 am

    Way to go Jon…keep it up. I really respect the fact that you have the guts to tell it like it is.

    I could write a book on the occupation and dehumanization of the Palestinians by Israel…but for all the Israelis/people that keep saying Jon is “Anti-Israel”, he is probably one of the few level headed people that is NOT. He cares about finding an end to this sick mess…and that in itself inherently shows that. And thank God for Jstreet and the rest of the voices of ration finally popping.

  5. Hiba on December 11th, 2009 11:21 pm

    I agree with CJ, it’s such a shame that these two have to express their views on Comedy Central, but the media is too busy to accept these two people.

    Kudos to Jon Stewart, Comedian aside, Mr. Stewart does truly care about world conflicts and I love how he’s never biased. He always points out the good and bad and wisely chooses his position based on knowledge and facts, not opinion.

  6. kat on June 2nd, 2010 5:12 pm

    It is brave of John Stewart to do what mainstream media is not daring to do.

    Unfortunately, the mainstream US and western media is focusing on one side of the story in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and it is not a secret… what is even sadder is that pro-Israelis are always ready to attack any platform where Palestinians may have a chance to narrate their side of the story or their perception of events and facts that are distorted through Israeli propaganda and pro-Israeli media.

    It is a fact that Israel is occupying Palestinian lands. This is how it was “born” in 1948, and this is how it continues to “grow” since it has no defined borders and they grow by the minute. Why are the Palestinians not allowed to show their side of the story and tell their facts? Or is it dangerous for Israel that the US and the world audience get a different narrative than that they market? It’s about time the truth comes to the world and it’s about time Palestinians are given a voice like Israelis always have the chance to say what they want in bashing their Palestinian victims.

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