Did Oren’s iron dome of affability stop Colbert’s brilliant strikes?

Israel/Palestine

Last night Stephen Colbert did two segments on Israel, the second featuring Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, who was born in NY and raised in NJ– origins that Colbert made fun of by stating over and over again that Oren is “from Israel.”

The initial reviews in our inbox said that Colbert had struck again. “My husband thought Colbert had nailed Oren and wondered whether Oren would ever come back after tonight.” “It’s horrid, but don’t stop. Colbert gets in a great last line!”

Certainly Colbert is on to the special relationship, and disturbed by it, as he makes clear in the first segment:

There is no greater friend of the state of Israel than yours truly, certainly a better friend than Barack Obama who has repeatedly snubbed our ally Israel by refusing to visit the country…

And now the greatest insult of all… now Obama thinks he can wipe out his shameful record of never visiting Israel by– visiting Israel.

My He’bros’, he doesn’t get you!…

Colbert mocks Netanyahu for all but endorsing Obama’s late opponent– whom he calls “Putz Schmuckney” — and then riffs on Chuck Hagel’s misdemeanors. Colbert’s shtik about censoring criticism of Israel is pure wizardry. “Hagel has a history of troubling statements,” Colbert says, citing Hagel’s comments on the Jewish lobby intimidating folks on Capitol Hill and his declaration, “I’m not an Israeli senator, I’m a United States senator.” Then: 

Clearly this man does not understand that when it comes to Israel there are certain things you can’t say– for instance, implying that there are certain things you can’t say. Which there aren’t! You can say anything you want about Israel, which I would, but there isn’t. So there’s nothing to be said. And how dare Hagel say it!

In Part 2, Enter Oren, and Colbert starts making fun of him, and Oren smiles and buries the Iran story, says Israel is trying to make peace with the footdragging Palestinians.

SC: How’s Israel? Chosen people still chosen?

MO: Chosen people is in the Bible. We’re the Jews. We’re the chosen ally of the United States, ultimate ally of the Untied States, you know there’s a lot of turbulence going on there right now… We have a lot of common challenges, Stephen… We’re going to try and get the peace process moving again with the Palestinians, we’re going to try to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

Colbert busts Netanyahu for endorsing Obama’s opponent: “But Netanyahu wanted the other guy, …it’s absolutely clear to anybody who’s got eyes in their skull, he wanted the other guy…… He rolled the dice the wrong way, Bibi”

To which Oren responds: “We do not, Israel does not get involved in internal politics in Israel, err the United States.”

What follows is Colbert’s way of saying, Bullshit. He leans toward Oren and cries, “You’re adorable! You’re adorable!”

Then Colbert riffs off the fact that Oren comes from Israel but sure seems like an American– “I thought you were going to pull a Captain Kirk. ‘I work in outer space, I’m from Iowa'”

Then the Iran-bait, and the nuclear weapons joke:

What about Iran, when do you guys start bombing… When does the bombing start?… Ambassador Oren, I want you to tell Netanyahu when you get back there that the Colbert Nation is behind you on this one, and if you do bomb Iran we are right behind you with just as many nuclear weapons as you admit to having.  

Well, Stephen Colbert gets the story. But Michael Oren is so smooth and unflappable and, smiling Jersey boy, that he seems to have done fine. The clueless will watch this and think, Affable Israel, our best friend.

(Hat tip Karen Platt)

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