Jon Stewart compares settlements to terrorism, and gets laughs in the process

Last night I fired up the Daily Show on my computer, something I hadn’t done in weeks. A segment came on about Peter King’s bizarre McCarthyist witch hunt against American Muslims.

Jon started off by showing videos of bigoted, mean-spirited, embarrassingly ignorant things random mobs of American citizens have been doing lately to try to intimidate American Muslims and… honestly I don’t know what they’re trying to do. They look like Pavlov’s dogs. As if they don’t even know why they’re salivating anymore.

The camera cuts back to Jon: “But so far,” he says sardonically, “none of this stuff is working. They’re still Muslims. Getting a free pass on their Musliminess. The people need a champion in Washington.”

Cut to Candy Crowley of CNN: “Thursday the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Peter King, will open hearings on what he calls radicalization in the American Muslim community. He says that the threat of homegrown terrorism is on the rise and American Muslims are not doing enough to stop it.”

Back to Jon: “Wow. It’s not enough for US Muslims to be law-abiding. To avoid Congressional investigation, they have to be actively stopping terror plots.” Then Jon pauses, and his hand flies to his mouth. “Oh my God,” he says. “Wait until they find out I’ve done nothing to stop the West Bank settlements!”

I almost spit my burrito out. You could hear the audience audibly gasp, as if they couldn’t believe he’d gone there either. Then they began to clap appreciatively. By that time Jon had already moved on to the next joke.

It happened very quickly. If you blinked, you could have missed it. But this was the first time I’d ever heard anyone compare the settlements to terrorism on cable TV. And the audience, though taken by surprise, wasn’t outraged. On the contrary, once they got over their shock, they seemed to get it. It was a one-two punch, both defending the American Muslim community and condemning the settlements in the strongest terms I’ve ever heard from a mainstream-liberal public figure.

Jon’s a smart guy. If he hasn’t figured out what’s going on over there, it’s a matter of time before he does. I get a sense even now that he wishes he could say more. But that little snippet was an incredibly brave thing to say—and another indicator of changing times.

Perhaps we should contact the Daily Show and thank him for that. (email: [email protected]) I’m sure he’s getting plenty of comments from the other side.

Pamela Olson’s book Fast Times in Palestine will be published next month.

About Pamela Olson

Pamela Olson is the author of Fast Times in Palestine. She blogs here.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 55 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. ahmed says:

    I caught this the other day, and was surprised and impressed. Hopefully the comment stuck with some in the audience, and they will think about it and further weigh the implications, talk about it among friends. Baby steps.

    • radii says:

      we are at the point where we need to be in a full run away from israel’s serial war-crimes – well past the age baby-steps … a sad comment on our times that the public only gets morsels of the truth from hipster-ironic comic takes on the news … and very very telling that the audience paused, gasped and felt fear … that is the key, the zionists have used their official victimhood and immense lobbying power to create FEAR in the American public to keep us towing their line on the settlement issue and everything else that benefits them … it has taken 9/11, needless wars, thousands of Americans killed in needless wars, and over $1 trillion spent almost bankrupting us until Americans finally wake up to their self-interest and begin to see and speak clearly that israel is absolutely not our friend, and may be our most nefarious and dangerous enemy (if you are doing a simple cost-benefit analysis)

  2. fuster says:

    OOOOOOO, wait till Kathleen gets a gander at this.

    whatever will be her reaction?

    will it be joyous?

    • thetumta says:

      Shouldn’t you be packing? I think you have things to do?

    • Kathleen says:

      ““Wait until they find out I’ve done nothing to stop the West Bank settlements!””

      Dipping his toes in. Maybe the Jon Stewart Hypocrisy hammering some of us have been actively involved in is helping him dip his toes.

      He is still an outrageous and flagrant hypocrite and coward. Going after the Iranian president, repeating unsubstantiated claims, hammering other leaders while allowing Netanyahu to run free, and never ever doing a segment on the illegal settlements, Palestinian protest, Goldstone Report, UN report about the Mavi Marmara.

      Stand by Jon Stewart is a hypocrite, coward and wienie. Goes after someone like Chris Matthews for some sentence in his book more seriously than he has gone after the warmongers Bill Kristol, David “axis of evil” Frum, Condi “mushroom cloud” Rice, WMD’s in Iraq Rumsfeld. Stewart dipping his toes in and whispering that he does not shed any light on the ILLEGAL Israeli settlements….does not get him off the big hypocrite list.

      did you hear the crowd gasp…they know this is Stewarts sacred cow

  3. Pamela Olson says:

    Forgot to mention: He also compares Hamas to the IRA, another group with “mainly regional ambitions.”

  4. annie says:

    i was watching 60 minutes on sunday and they did a story on christopher hitchens. they said he was critical of all types “both islamic extremist and settlers” (paraphrasing). i thought..’now that’s unusual coverage’.

    • Kathleen says:

      60 minutes has been dipping their toes in the last few years. Although Leslie Stahl’ s piece about the David Foundation was interview lite. Probably raised funds for the David Foundation

  5. RepStones says:

    I just watched the clip on the Daily Show app. Highly recommend it if you haven’t got it. Stewart made some excellent points. Not least of which regarding the settlements. He fillets Kings attempt to deflect criticism from his witch hunt by claiming the authorities go to Italian American community when they are dealing with mafia. As Stewart rightly points out, this doesn’t include a set of Congressional hearings which question the entire name and loyalty of Italian Americans. One final point, on a personal note, coming from Belfast myself, whilst I detest King’s hypocritical McCarthyism, the clip where he equated the IRA with the British Army as regards moral standing. It’s actually the experience of many us who live in the north of Ireland. British army, RUC, UDR etc were viewed by many in nationalist community as terrorists, and not without plenty of reason either.

    • Taxi says:

      Why didn’t Jon use jews as an example instead of Italians?

      Cuz he’s a covert zionist freak who WILL NOT put one single toe out of step with the elders.

      • RoHa says:

        Betcha won’t see this in the U.S. I’ll be astonished if we get it here in Australia.

        link to ynetnews.com

      • thetumta says:

        No, maybe he needs his paycheck?

      • Citizen says:

        He could have easily brought in a kosher cook/waiter too–still, at least he snuck in the comparison with Israeli settler terrorists–if you blink, you miss it, but you can’t miss the Italian waiter. Yes, thank Jon for small favors. It’s very clear he knows exactly how far he can go and keep enhancing his entertainment career. Ultimately the little dig at the settlers and US support of them making its appearance on the Daily Show signals Jon is moving with the wind a blowin’–he felt he needed to get that little dig in to maintain his credibility as a satirist sans sacred cows. That’s a net gain, however small.

      • Kathleen says:

        Yep good friends with Anthony Wiener. Pep’s (progressives except for Palestine) The myth that nothing is sacred to Stewart and he will go after anything is just that a myth

  6. The only news worthy of the name is on the comedy shows! Yes.

  7. marc b. says:

    that clip of the *holes screaming at women and children as they attend the fundraiser for battered women is too much.

  8. Taxi says:

    Jon steward is an effing zionist a-hole pretending he’s nice to muslims.

    He don’t give a shit about nobody except his stoopid payday.

    Boycott the predictable show with it’s pretend-liberal racist host!!

    And please (no offense to our lovely Pamela) can we stop talking about media idiots like Jon steward and Thomas freedman! I know nine year olds who are better versed in mideast politics than them dumb and dumbers infesting the scene.

    • Light says:

      How can you possibly compare Jon Stewart to Thomas Friedman? Jon hosted Anna Baltzer and Omar Barghouti on his show. Are you going to boycott him for that?

      Yes, Jon is taking small steps but his influence is enormous. I say hooray for Jon because he is bringing the issue to the mainstream.

      • Taxi says:

        “… he’s bringing the issue to the mainstream?.

        Ludicrous.

        Snarky humor never won a single revolution my dear Light.

        Let’s just say I saw jon steward brownoze quite the bevy of neocons over the years – keeping in mind that brownozing even one is too many.

        The dude’s a careerist – he tried to be a ‘film star’ and completely failed and so now he reads the news of his choice and make stupid ass jokes about it – so what? He’s a corporate brand name and his humor is therefore limited by his big fat branding

        If you want REAL political satire with smarts then look no further than the Angry Arab website.

        Boycott jon steward: he’s only after your money.

      • Pamela Olson says:

        Quick correction: Anna Baltzer appeared with Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, not Omar Barghouthi (or the imprisoned Marwan Barghouthi). Barghouthi is a common Palestinian surname.

    • chet says:

      I concur with the “hoooray” and apologize for my previous criticisms of Mr. Stewart for never venturing into the I/P forum.

      While his reference to West bank settlements is fleeting, there is no doubt that he and his writers debated strongly as to its inclusion – having taken this small step, let us hope that it is the thin edge of the wedge.

      Now, if Bill Maher could only get past his pro-Zionist proclivities we’d be getting somewhere (I love his comedy, but his defensiveness about criticism of Israel makes me grind my teeth).

      • Citizen says:

        Yeah, chet, I am hoping for the same thing. I’m sure Maher knows all about that fleeting Stewart dig at the settler terrorists. But Maher has a bigger mote in his eye than Stewart–Maher has to be more pro-Israel than Stewart because Maher is a mischling. Hence Maher also attacks Christians much more than Stewart.

      • Kathleen says:

        Whoa he said…”“Oh my God,” he says. “Wait until they find out I’ve done nothing to stop the West Bank settlements!” 17 words. And these words were a lame excuse. Pathetic.

        Stewart is still a wienie when it comes to really sticking his neck out. A total wienie

    • thetumta says:

      futer is witty? No?

  9. Israel’s cable TV has started carrying Comedy Central in the past couple of months. That means that Israeli on-the-fence-left-leaning youth watch his show.

    Stewart does toe the Zionist line all the way. But now he’s getting a regular TV (not internet – like I was) following in Israel. Breaking form, like he just did, means something.

    Let’s hope he grows some balls back and does some more of this.

    • Avi says:

      That reminds me of Zehu Zeh.

      For those who are not familiar with Israeli TV, there used to be a comedy and satire show called Zehu Zeh (That’s It).

      In the late 1980s, I recall one such episode that stayed with me ever since. It portrayed a Palestinian man from the occupied West Bank working with a naive Israeli Jew at a construction site.

      The Israeli Jew didn’t think much of the man’s accent or his name. He seemed oblivious to the political situation, as well.

      A conversation started between the two construction workers, you know, small talk. Then the Palestinian man told about his family being imprisoned at Ansaar prison. There were/are multiple Ansaars (Named: Ansaar 1, 2 and 3). One of them was Ansaar prison in Gaza. It was an Israeli military-run prison notorious for the torture that went on there at the hands of Israeli ‘security’ forces.

      At that point, the Jewish construction worker responded by saying: “Lancer*? Yeah. It’s great for the family. It’s spacious, plenty of doors. Very good security and safety features.”

      And so, the Palestinian man, mistakenly thinking that they are both on the same wavelength responds by saying: “Yes. A lot of security….barbed wire, chain-link fences….a lot of security. But, the torture is very bad”.

      Meanwhile, construction tools whirring in the background prevent the two from hearing each other well. That’s when the Jewish man responds: “Torture on the back? Must be the suspension. Yeah, too bumpy.”

      And so it goes on and on….

      *Lancer refers to the Mitsubishi Lancer, a very popular car in Israel.

      ———————————————–

      So, why do I bring that up?

      Well, much like the Israeli press, Israeli TV doesn’t shy away from the Israeli-Palestinian issue like American media have.

      Still, despite the ugly truth that stares many Israelis in the face, despite all the press and TV satire, humor and tragic-comedies, Israeli society remains chained to whatever the government, the army, the school system and the nightly news tell them. Thus, no amount of humor, parody or satire seems to have the power needed to liberate Israeli society from its own cocoon of bigotry and hatred. For that to happen, Israelis will first need to see Palestinians as human beings.

      • annie says:

        wow, thanks avi

      • I believe Israeli satire is dead.
        Last time we had political satire in Israel was during the Oslo years – early to mid 90′s – with the Hamishiya. That group’s meandering into depressive self-indulgent TV shows, aptly named “The Bourgeois, is symptomatic of this.

        Naturally, Jon Stewart had to toe the Zionist line if Comedy Central were going to broadcast in Israel. From the left, CC provides the lame satire of Jon Stewart. And from the right – the biting satire of South Park. That’s the MSM’s notion of politically balanced. Jon Stewart is as hypocritical as anything coming out the MSM.

        Having said all that, I think it’s significant to see what young American Jews (Stewart’s natural constituency) manage to sneak past American MSM, Israeli censorship, the upcoming anti-BDS legislation etc, and straight into young Israelis’ living rooms. Personally, I’d love to see more of this.

        This may have been a small opening on Stewart’s part but it means American Jews can, and should, take him to task about his admitted silence on West Bank settlements. He was basically begging them to.

        And Israelis need to see the Americans taking Jon Stewart to task on their TVs – inside their satire-free comfort zone.

    • Kathleen says:

      He is a wienie and a hypocrite

  10. Rumpel says:

    As a TV type, I have to say that if this made it on air, it’s not a slip: it’s been bashed out amongst the writers for weeks/months beforehand.

    Also: the Daily Show has incredible access, which it would be suicide to jeapordise. If this made it on air, then if reflects intra-Beltway conversation.

    So while it’s small beer in UK/European terms (see here for the UK equivalent: link to liveleak.com ), I can see why Americans will be enthused.

  11. annie says:

    I have to say that if this made it on air, it’s not a slip: it’s been bashed out amongst the writers for weeks/months beforehand.

    oh i doubt that. it probably had more to do w/the fact that some fruitjob radical rtwing settler rabbi called for insurrection this week and suggested settlers should be attacking the idf. all over the press in israel, naturally NOTHING here.

    • Rumpel says:

      Really?

      More to do with that than the issue that humiliated your current administration- an administration whose PR people will be intertwined with the Daily Show’s producers?

      Or more than the UNSC vote that made every single country in the world (well, bar one) hate America just that little bit more?

      • annie says:

        More to do with that than the issue that humiliated your current administration

        who’s your current administration?

        Or more than the UNSC vote that made every single country in the world (well, bar one) hate America just that little bit more?

        wasn’t that 22 days ago? stewart is generally more timely than that. my guess is he was encouraged by headlines like:

        Rabbi to settlers: Shoot back at troops

        “I hate saying this, but it looks like it’s unfortunately approaching a state of war between Jews,” the rabbi told the radio station.

        Chabad Rabbi Says He’s Sorry–Sort Of–For Telling Settlers To Shoot Police, Soldiers

        Kfir Brigade troops threaten mutiny

        but israel is dealing with this in a unique progressive professional fashion! A day after police and settlers exchanged accusations following the evacuation of Havat Gilad, the police signed an historic agreement to recruit yeshiva students to the police.

        this is all since last saturday night. so no, i think it has to do with more timely events.

        • annie says:

          oh, i forget the headline where the rabbi spewed off that he had the power to end enlistments and encouraged insubordination..just google around i’m sure you can find it.

        • Rumpel says:

          My administration? I don’t have one, I’m British. I have a Cameron/Clegg coalition if that’s of any relevance, and in geopolitical terms, (sadly) it isn’t.

          Anyway, if “naturally [there's] NOTHING here”, it would seem self-defeating for Stewart to make a joke his audience wouldn’t get.

          Isn’t it more likely he’s working on the simple consensus that settlements = a Bad Thing?

        • annie says:

          Isn’t it more likely he’s working on the simple consensus that settlements = a Bad Thing?

          well, i just explained to you why i thought my scenario was more likely. if it was merely a simple consensus that settlements = a Bad Thing? why did he completely skip the topic during the UN resolution? i’m not understanding the logic in that unless for some reason he thought it might go under the radar.

          wrt self-defeating for Stewart to make a joke his audience wouldn’t get i think there’s a segment of his audience who know all too well what’s going on there and the headlines in israel don’t always fly right past that segment of his audience.

          either way it is just a theory. you could be right but it begs the question..why now? he’s been ignoring the settlements for so long.

  12. Kate says:

    As a cousin who is not a commenter here has pointed out, Jon Stewart did not actually compare the settlements to terrorism. He compared his inaction concerning those settlements to American Muslims’ putative inaction concerning terrorism. There is thus an implication that in some way settlements are akin to terrorism, but this is never actually said.

  13. RE: “Oh my G_d,” he says. “Wait until they find out I’ve done nothing to stop the West Bank settlements!”
    MY COMMENT: Oh, Jon! How could you! No “birthright” for you (or soup, either)! And you can forget about ever again hosting the Academy Awards™. Haim Saban will see to that.

  14. Kathleen says:

    Wonder how many phone calls, emails, etc the Stewart show will get for him dipping his little toe into the I/P issue

  15. Kathleen says:

    Jon Stewart and warmongering Bill Kristol

    link to thedailyshow.com

    link to thedailyshow.com

    Jon Stewart David “axis of evil” Frum Now remember Frum wrote most of Bush’s lying speeches and totally supported the invasion of Iraq and helped in a big way promote that invasion)

    link to thedailyshow.com
    link to thedailyshow.com

    Jon Stewart with Condi “mushroom cloud” Rice
    link to thedailyshow.com

    Jon Stewart/Don “WMD’s in Iraq” Rumsfeld
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-february-23-2011/exclusive—donald-rumsfeld-extended-interview-pt–1

    Jon Stewart with Chris Matthews
    link to thedailyshow.com

    JON STEWART ASK CHRIS MATTHEWS HARDBALL QUESTIONS AND PLAYS NICEY NICE WITH THE WARMONGERS

    Jon Stewart and Chris matthews
    link to thedailyshow.com

  16. Wow, not bad. That doesn’t mean that Stewart is a saint, but at least it’s something laudable. If he would do this more often and stop whitewashing people like Bill Kristol, I could respect him.
    (Thanks für the links, Kathleen.)