Who, in the media, will have the courage to call out Israel once Jon Stewart leaves the Daily Show? (On Monday, the date of Stewart’s final show – August 6 – was announced.)
As a secular Jewish woman who has been called self-loathing for both my comedy and writing, I’ve always had a particular appreciation for Jon Stewart’s brave critiques of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Considering his background as a bi-racial, South African comedian who came of age during apartheid, the incoming host of the Daily Show, Trevor Noah, could bring a refreshing perspective to many political issues, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But I worry that the same kinds of people who try to stifle legitimate debate about Israel with unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism will silence Noah. (I fear the silencing campaign has already started.) The irony, though, is that silencing the discussion around Israel is bad for both Israel and Jews. Continue reading “Comedy as criticism: Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and the issue of Israel”→
Ladies and gentleman… in case you needed any more proof that we are engaged in a clash of civilizations, a battle between good and evil, between enlightenment and the dark ages… If you’re not already aware that Israel is a lone oasis of refined, civilized, reasonable thinking, surrounded by a desert of Muslim/ Arab/ whatever barbarism, violence and blood lust… I present to you… major mensch and dialectical, rabbinical, skeptical and nuanced thinker Avigdor Lieberman.
Lieberman, the Foreign Minister and head of the right wing ultra nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, dropped one of his signature bombs during a post-speech Q & A at an election conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya on Sunday. When an Arab-Israeli woman in the audience asked how Lieberman’s policies would affect someone like her, he responded, “I have no problem with your being a citizen. I expect all Arabs, Christians and Jews to be loyal to the state, regardless of religious affiliation, and to serve in the IDF. We accept and encourage those who identify with us.” Oh, and then he added this nugget about Arab citizens of Israel, who make up 20% of the population:
1. In less than a year, Israel could be attacked by the government of Iran, which is irrational, ISIS-like and Nazi-like, and determined to wipe out Israel.
2. European Jews should move to Israel, where they would be safe and sound.
So, which one is Bibi lying about?
During his campaign speech to the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the U.S. to stop the current deal being negotiated with Iran, a deal in which, “the foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.” Under the current negotiation, Netanyahu claimed, “Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning…. Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.”
Iran is also, according to Bibi, a total irrational actor, comparable to the Nazis and ISIS, and bent on Israel’s destruction. So, it’s not really clear how any deal would work.
But the even larger inconsistency (to speak charitably) is that Israel is somehow a safe haven for Jews. Following the deadly shooting near a Copenhagen synagogue, and the killing of four Jews in a Kosher market in Paris, Netanyahu said, “This wave of attacks is expected to continue, as well as murderous anti-Semitic attacks. Jews deserve security in every country, but we say to our Jewish brothers and sisters, Israel is your home.” (The opportunism and insensitivity were not lost on Jews and Jewish leaders.)
Things are getting really hot and heavy between Israel and India. Just hours after arriving in New York City for the UN General Assembly last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. Modi even spent some quality time with the American Jewish Committee. Moving forward, India will finally receive the Barak-1, the missile manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). On the archeological front, Modi’s government is speeding up the renovation and restoration of India’s synagogues. And, in the ultimate metaphor of penetration, a cyclone named after the state bird of Israel is headed towards India!
So what explains the increasingly intimate relations between these two countries? According to Netenyahu,
We’re two old peoples, some of the oldest civilizations on earth. But we’re also two democracies… If we work together we can [seize the future]….We’re very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky’s the limit.
I agree with you that India Israel relations are historical. I met this morning with people from the Jewish community, the American Jewish Council. …India is the only country where anti-semitism has never been allowed to come up, and where Jews have never suffered, and lived as an integral part of our society.
Art Spiegelman who was the first person to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for a graphic novel, has come out of the closet on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The son of Holocaust survivors, Spiegalman told the story of the Holocaust through his brilliant graphic novel, Maus, which uses allegory to portray Jews as mice and Germans as cats.
Spiegelman has been reluctant to think about Israel. But recently he he came out of the closet, posting on Facebook a collage he had done for The Nation magazine.
He comments that
I’ve spent a lifetime trying to NOT think about Israel—deciding it has nothing more to do with me, a diasporist, than the rest of the World’s Bad News on Parade. Israel is like some badly battered child with PTSD who has grown up to batter others.
But… here’s a collage I did for last week’s Nation magazine.
The image is called Perspective in Gaza (The David Goliath Illusion). Mira Sucharov writes in The Forward,
the Biblical-style art image consists of two panels. On the left is a traditional rendering of David facing Goliath. The right-hand panel presents a shrunken Goliath brought closer to the foreground. Using the tricks of size and perspective to make what is surely not an original political point, it’s a clever play on Spiegelman’s life’s work as an illustrator.
Perhaps what is most profound in Spiegelman’s collage is not the binary view of flipping the David and Goliath metaphor on its head, but rather his use of the word “perspective.” Maybe where you stand is indeed derived from where you sit. But that’s not quite right either, since one Diaspora Jew would depict Israel as a monstrous Goliath while another would cling to the view that Israel remains small and moral David, and one Holocaust survivor sees genocide being committed by their own people while another sees the killing as self-defense against a Philistine-like enemy.
Shalom. This is lady Gaga. I’m so excited to perform my new tour in Tel Aviv. I’ll see you soon, Israel.
A couple questions. Is Gaga using a teleprompter? It kind of looks like it. And this is her excited? She doesn’t exactly scream kvelling! I’d hate to see what she looks like when she’s not pumped to do something. I get it. poker face. I assume she’s using shalom in the “hello” sense and not in the “goodbye” or “peace” sense, right?
the Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2011 to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a kinder, braver world.
We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered and to make a difference in the world. Together, we will move towards acceptance, bravery and love.
Not sure performing in Israel is the best way to help create a kinder world where everyone has the right to feel safe. Guess she needs to add a “void where prohibited” disclaimer.
In all fairness, The Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys, Paul Anka, America and Neil Young all cited security reasons and not political ones in canceling their tour. And Lady Gaga isn’t exactly known for her political astuteness or coherence. She once declared, “I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture — beer, bars, and muscle cars.” Because, FYI, feminism requires abstaining from beer, bars, muscle cars and men. Then she came out as “a little bit of a feminist.” So… there’s that.
Nice Jewish boys, you’re out of luck. Apparently, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza has ushered in not just death and destruction, but a rise in requests for sperm of men with combat experience.
At all Israeli sperm banks, women or couples can choose sperm based on the donor’s height, weight, other physical features, educational achievement and IQ. One sperm bank even lets you assess the donor’s “interests, language fluency, his parents’ countries of origin and astrological sign.” I mean, as a Cancer, I would definitely stay away from Aries or Libra jizz, right, ladies?
The lesson of the Holocaust should be “never again” for anyone, including Palestinians.
The Israeli government draws on the experience of the Holocaust to justify many of its policies, especially those relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of the people who defend Israel cite the Holocaust as one of the justifications for the founding and aggressive militarism of the Jewish state. For these people, the Holocaust serves as both a reminder of Jewish history and a cautionary tale for the future. When the Jewish people had neither a nation nor a military of their own, they were nearly exterminated; now anything the Israeli state and army does is acceptable because extermination could threaten Jews again.
But some Holocaust survivors cite the Holocaust as the very reason they oppose Israeli policy; specifically, its treatment of Palestinians. These people see that oppressing Palestinians is not just unnecessary and wrong, but hypocritical for a nation founded to provide people with a refuge from oppression. For them, the lesson of the Holocaust isn’t “never again” for Jews. It’s never again for anyone, including Palestinians.
1. Hajo Meyer. Born in Bielefeld, Germany, in 1924, Meyer fled Germany for the Netherlands at age 14, where he went into hiding when the Nazis invaded a year later. Captured in 1944, he was sent to Auschwitz. His parents died after being deported from Germany. When the war ended, Meyer returned to the Netherlands and studied theoretical physics, eventually becoming the director of the Philips Physics Laboratory. He has written several books, including The End of Judaism.In 2011, Meyer went on a 13-city speaking tour throughout the U.S. and Canada called ” Never Again for Anyone.”
Although initially supportive of the founding of Israel, Meyer grew not only to reject Zionism but to see it as antithetical to Judaism. Meyer rejects the way the Israeli government exploits the Holocaust and survivors to achieve its ultimate goal of “the maximum territory with a minimum number of Palestinians….They use the Holocaust to implant paranoia in their children.”
Meyer criticizes Prime Minister Netanyahu for using the Holocaust to further Zionism: “And like Netanyahu did the other day in the General Assembly of the United Nations, he used the number on my arm—or the number on our arms—to defend a coming attack on Iran. They have nothing to do with each other… The Zionists have not any right whatsoever to use the Holocaust for any purpose.”
Meyer likens the experience of the Palestinians to that of Eastern European Jews during the Holocaust, “in that they are very often held up at checkpoints, or they are not allowed to move from one place to another.” To Meyer, Israel’s mentality bears comparison to National Socialism; he believes Israel has “given up everything that has to do with humanity, with empathy, for one thing: the state. The ‘blood and soil,’ just like the Nazis. I learned in school about blood and soil, and that’s exactly their idea, too.”
2. Hedy Epstein. Born in 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, Hedy Epstein was sent to England at 14 via the Kindertransport, which brought nearly 10,000 children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to England during the months between Kristallnacht and the onset of WWII. After the war, Hedy returned to Germany. Her parents had perished in Auschwitz and Hedy worked on the Nuremberg medical trial. In 1948, she joined her only living relatives, an aunt and uncle, in the United States.
Epstein has been to Palestine five times since 2003, taking part in demonstrations against the Occupation, the wall, and the demolition of Palestinian homes and olive orchards. Epstein’s autobiography, Remembering Is Not Enough was published in 1999.
With his brand of cutting insight, the ‘Daily Show’ host offers his take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Last week, Jon Stewart addressed how hard it is to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a sketch called “we need to talk about Israel.” Though he mocked both sides, to a certain extent, the bulk of the sketch went after those who see themselves as “pro-Israel” and see Jon Stewart as a self-loathing Jew.
Now, from what I can tell, having been called a self-loathing Jew myself, the term applies to people who make any criticism whatsoever of the Israeli government. One can easily make the case that more diplomatic solutions, dovish approaches if you will, are more helpful for the state of Israel and Israelis than more military or hawkish ones. That makes some of the self-loathers more “pro-Israel” than the ones who blindly support the government.
Stewart is one of the few public mainstream Jews with the chutzpah to say anything critical of Israel’s policies. And as a Jew, I appreciate the way he’s been doing this ever since he took over the Daily Show. So, without further ado, I present 7 great Daily Show skits on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.