The Israeli comedian Assaf Harel and the host of the show “Good Night With Asaf Harel,” used the monologue of his series finale on Monday to dive into a speech where he said Israel had reached a state of “apartheid” long ago.
“Ever since the right-wing took power, more and more voices are warning of apartheid. Are you kidding? Apartheid has been here for ages. Ages,” Harel said.
The message to the audience started with a description of Israel’s pleasant quality of life in contrast to that of Palestinians who live under occupation.
“If you look at our life in Israel it’s pretty great. Yeah, it’s expensive, and we’re far from earning what we would have liked. Clearly, the healthcare system could be better, and yeah, the politicians could be more impressive and less embarrassing. But if you look at our life from a bird’s eye view, we’re doing pretty great,” he said.
“But there are a couple of million people that we’re responsible for, and they’re in a horrible state. Infrastructure, food, healthcare, education. Millions who are living in abject poverty. Gaza is on the verge of plague, hours on end without electricity or water, Israel controls everything that goes in or out” Harel said.
“Ever since the right-wing took power, more and more voices are warning of apartheid. Are you kidding? Apartheid has been here for ages. Ages. It’s just that we’re on its good side, so it doesn’t really bother us. We’ve been abusing the Palestinians on a daily basis for years, denying them their basic rights.
“In Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] we’re taking their lands from them. Once, we used the Jewish National Fund to raise money to buy the lands. Today? We just pass a law saying we can just take their lands and that’s it. Soldiers shoot at stone-throwers because they’re a real threat, but if in Israel someone throws stones they won’t’ even be charged. Palestinian journalist are put on administrative detention, without trial, because they wrote something. Every time we have a holiday they’re under closure, God forbid they ruin it for us,” Harel continued.
Harel also decried the label of “extreme leftist” onto Israeli human rights organizations who work on issues relating to the rights of Palestinians. He contended there is no such thing as an extreme leftist—“We we speak of animal abuse, do we also condemn extremists on both sides? Those that abuse animals and those that adopt them? No!”
Harel concluded by arguing for the moment Israel’s right-wing politicians have succeeded in concealing the economic and moral cost of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians. Harel said he believes this will change in time.
“Israel’s most impressive innovation, more than any high-tech project, or Rafael weapon, is our amazing ability to ignore what is happening mere kilometers away to our neighbors,” Harel said.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported Harel’s show aired on Channel 10 and was recently canceled. “Good night” was known for its political content, and fined once for accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of capitalizing off of the death of his brother, Yonatan Netanyahu, a commando killed in the 1976 Operation Entebbe.
In 2016 Harel received more than 300 death threats related to his liberal show. But of all of Harel comedic forays into politics, this “apartheid” speech was the first to grab headlines in English (and in German).