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‘Talk is cheap’ — Jon Stewart weighs in on Obama trip

on 27 Comments

Jon Stewart was really funny last night, and then he wasn’t. On the first night of Passover, after giving Obama some matzoh advice, he lambasted him, mocking the president’s Jerusalem speech and his appeal to Israelis for a Palestinian state. 

An American president sketching out a path to an Israeli state, a Palestinian state. Why did no one think of this sooner?

Haaretz explains:

He went on to show footage of former U.S. presidents making similar assertions, including Geroge W. Bush Jr. in 2007, Bill Clinton in 1998 and George W Bush Sr. in 1991, before shouting out “We are f***ng powerless,” and pulling out a one dollar bill with a talking George Washington also repeating the two-state message.

“The point is this: Talk is cheap, and we have done that for years, so call me when there is actually some diplomatic progress,” Stewart said

I loved the talking money!

Alas, in the following segment, Stewart’s humor comes at the expense of nine human rights activists, 8 Turkish and 1 American, whose lives were brutally cut short by an Israeli attack on board the Mavi Marmara in 2010. Prior to Stewart’s humorous exchange with comedian Barack Atah Adonai he played a news clip that characterized Netanyahu’s apology to Turkey as “mistakes that lead to the death of activists on a flotilla.” The execution style killings that led to their deaths were not merely a matter of unintentional “mistakes.” A lost opportunity indeed.  Instead of picking up on this sinister twist of logic Stewart completely brushed off the killings and offered his audience a startled deer in the headlights expression with subsequent remarks suggesting no one had ever even heard of events on board the Mavi Marmara.  “Wait, what? Obama brokered a peace agreement between Israel and Turkey, two countries no one knew was fighting?”

We knew Jon, and yes it is still a big deal.

(Hat tip Mondoweiss commenter Citizen)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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27 Responses

  1. American
    March 26, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Here’s how Haaretz ‘headlined’ it in the paper…, so appropriate.

    “We are f***ing powerles: Jon Stewart takes aim at Obama’s Israel visit”

    • Krauss
      March 27, 2013, 12:41 am

      Haaretz seems to be writing an article on every single time there’s a mention of Israel on either Colbert’s or Stewart’s show. Then the immediate tone is “is this is how the conversation is shifting?”. They obviously see those two shows as ímportant for the cultural/political debate in America. It’s as if “if we lose Colbert/Stewart WE HAVE LOST AMERICA” – and maybe they’re right. Still, it’s a bit funny how anxious they are.

      P.S. Is it just me or has Jon Stewart gone a lot more ethnic these past 12-18 months? A helluva lot more Jewish jokes. I remember watching in 2009-2010 and 2011 and there was a lot less of that.

      I’m glad that he does. Americans get to see another side of Judaism than the usual “Israel, Israel and Israel”. And young Jewish viewers do too.

      • seafoid
        March 27, 2013, 10:21 am


        I imagine a lot of Israeli Anglo Ha’aretz readers would be more liberal (outside Israel) and so they would be more likely to use Colbert or Stewart as bellwethers. Phil’s mother won’t change her mind yet but his nieces may be in the danger zone….

  2. American
    March 26, 2013, 1:25 pm

    On Power
    Dedicated to all those hopefuls who believe that there is a way to save Palestine or Israel without the forceful use of overwhelming ‘Power’. someone anyway…….but it sure won’t be by Obama, and if we ever get a US Adm that will use US power on I/P… will, 1000 to 1 odds, be too late.

    Empty words

    Posted By Stephen M. Walt Monday, March 25, 2013 – 1:30 PM Share


    But there is another broad family of IR (international relations)theories — the realist family — and it maintains that what matters most in politics is power and how it is applied.

    No matter how well-written or delivered, a speech cannot divert whole societies from a well-established course of action. Policies in motion tend to remain in motion; to change the trajectory of a deeply-entrenched set of initiatives requires the application of political forces of equal momentum.

    For realists like me, in short, halting a colonial enterprise that has been underway for over forty years will require a lot more than wise and well-intentioned words. Instead, it would require the exercise of power.

    Because power is more important than mere rhetoric, it won’t take long before Obama’s visit is just another memory. The settlements will keep expanding, East Jerusalem will be cut off from the rest of the West Bank, the Palestinians will remain stateless, and Israel will continue on its self-chosen path to apartheid.”

  3. seafoid
    March 26, 2013, 1:59 pm

    I thought it was HILARIOUS.

    Maybe nitpicking about the Mavi Marmara. Hasbara won’t fall in a day. Stewart said things that would not have been possible 10 years ago.

    Zionism is so ripe for satire. Such a crock of artificiality.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 26, 2013, 5:54 pm

      seafoid, i did say very funny, that’s almost as good as hilarious. my favorite part was the talking money tho.

      re mavi marmara, all in all i thought the 2nd segment was really good because the part contrasting palestine vs diplomacy with turkey was is stark and his segment dug in there. i liked it! but i thought the point of juxtaposing israel’s relationship with palestime vs turkey could have been easily made without making the friction with turkey about nothing. this wasn’t just a matter of a lower chair for turkey’s ambassador. jon could have been just as poignant by mocking ‘MISTAKE
      but my feigning it was so insignificant no one had ever heard of it, it just rubbed me the wrong way. plus, i read about 6 or 7 articles and blog posts about the segment, and not a word on the mavi marmara. it got thrown away.

      • W.Jones
        March 26, 2013, 9:20 pm

        I think the Young Turks has a sense of humor similar to the Daily Show. It does not present itself as “fake journalism”, but speaks more clearly about these things.

      • seafoid
        March 26, 2013, 11:15 pm

        I know what you mean, Annie. But most viewers of the DS probably don’t look at the Turkey /Israel relationship like we do.

        They are probably more familiar with the memes of the MSM, especially the reverence accorded to the shills of Zionism.

        And he really got some great laughs out of them. Because it’s not really American to shaft the Palestinians.

  4. Citizen
    March 26, 2013, 2:07 pm

    Yeah, well, I already posted a link to Jon Stewart’s last show on a bunch of threads here on MW. It’s important, which is why I posted it. Perhaps Annie didn’t see my comments. Anyway, Jon Stewart concluded “Talk is cheap,” as Annie said the Israeli news pointed out, and–if you see the last moment of his subject show, he asked, what is any POTUS ever going to actually DO about those illegal Israeli settlements?

    • Philip Weiss
      March 26, 2013, 3:34 pm

      Thanks Citizen. I’m sure Annie was on it, but sometimes I’m slow to rise, Phil

      • Citizen
        March 26, 2013, 5:25 pm

        Glad we all got on it. It’s that important.

    • James Canning
      March 26, 2013, 4:17 pm

      Citizen – – I think any American president will be captive to the Israel lobby, to a very considerable degree. Question is how to work around this problem.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 26, 2013, 5:38 pm

      hi citizen! i absolutely saw many of your comments and always appreciate reader’s tips, plus friends and readers do send us email tips. my bad for not giving you a hat tip (and i will add it now) …..

      often times when i see the comments such as yours i am tempted to reply..i know and there’s a draft back there that will be published shortly..hold onto your horses! sometimes it takes a little while for formatting, context and publication. but many days i wake at 4 am (pst) to read the news, catch the tips and get something up in time ..but alas, sometimes it takes a little while.

  5. James Canning
    March 26, 2013, 4:15 pm

    Jon Stewart was indeed very amusing!

  6. pabelmont
    March 26, 2013, 5:34 pm

    Jon talked about the settlements, and his man in front of the settlements, responded to his “peace in our time” suggestion with “You’re cute, John, I’m going to miss you” [echoing a similar “you are adorable” to Israel’s Amb to USA] which was proof that “peace in our time” was BALONY, meaning (to me, amid all the audience laughter) that the audience knew that POTUS (as they say) has no interest at all in securing peace or using his power (if any, of course, oh! that most powerful of all men in the world — hunh?) to secure peace.

  7. eGuard
    March 26, 2013, 6:00 pm

    Yes, annie, already on my first viewing I noticed that weird word ‘mistake’:

    … apologise to Turkey over mistakes that lead to the death of activists on a flotilla. An MSNBC quote.

    By the way, nothing about the American killed on the Mavi Marmari.

  8. thetumta
    March 26, 2013, 9:12 pm

    Not going to happen. Gangsters don’t give anything back, you have to take it from them. Just 10 days too late!


  9. W.Jones
    March 26, 2013, 9:25 pm

    0:30 “Let’s begin the night with a quick shout-out to the Mishpoh, Happy Passover.”

  10. chris o
    March 26, 2013, 10:34 pm

    I have always defended Jon Stewart, and relatedly the New York Times. Jon Stewart gets a special soft touch as after all he is a comedian telling stupid potty and penis jokes a significant amount of the time (for these I criticize him). If you had a spectrum of the United States from 100% pro-Israel to pro-100% Palestinian, which granted makes for a skewed sample, Stewart and the Times would be pretty far over to a certain side, and it ain’t Israel.

    You can criticize them, get mad when they are wrong, accuse them of high crimes and misdemeanors because of this or that. But in the big scheme of things, they are allies on the Israeli/Palestine issue. There is an ocean of influence on Israel’s side and there is only so much a newspaper or TV show do, and they can’t lead a revolution. Not here. Not now.

    While it is true that the NY Times has had some pretty poor Israeli correspondents recently, until Jodi Rudoren, they have consistently had some relatively good editorial coverage.

    • Joe Ed
      March 27, 2013, 7:54 am

      “If you had a spectrum of the United States from 100% pro-Israel to pro-100% Palestinian, which granted makes for a skewed sample, Stewart and the Times would be pretty far over to a certain side, and it ain’t Israel.”


    • Walker
      March 27, 2013, 8:39 am

      Sorry, but I can’t agree with this. The Times’ editorial page has been an indispensable support to Israel for decades. It appears to be accommodating to Palestinian aspirations, which makes it seem more serious than Fox News. However, overall its editorial content is no more fair or balanced than its news coverage. How often do you see an editorial or Op/Ed that points that all settlement activity since 1967 is illegal? When do you ever see a call for tangible pressure by the US government on Israel? The Times’ faux reasonableness simply makes its bellwether standing more dangerous.

  11. yourstruly
    March 27, 2013, 12:47 am

    talk alone?


    when lives are at stake?


    so when the survival of a people is what’s on the line?


  12. Citizen
    March 27, 2013, 6:31 am

    S Walt at FP said the same thing about the Obama trip: talk is cheap. More carrots promised, no sticks. Nuclear-armed, non-NNPT member, Israel still has no incentive to change. Compare what US does to non-nuclear armed, NNPT member, Iran: all sticks, no carrots.

    • American
      March 28, 2013, 1:52 pm

      ””The frequently false perception among people like myself who oppose U.S. policies is that somehow the president should be able to “do something” to make things better. That may be true in some instances but in the case of Israel, the president is very much backed into a corner on his options by an all-pervasive Israel Lobby supported by a subservient congress and media.”…..Philip Giraldi

      The real false perception that Walt knows and many of us understand is that there is no way to cure the Israel problem except by destroying ” The Lobby” within the US…..the ‘thing’ that prevents the US from doing anything.

  13. calm
    March 27, 2013, 12:30 pm

    I could be wrong, but it seems to me that recently (past 2-3 years) Jon Stewart is constantly making it known that he is Jewish.

    I probably watched his show or viewed clips which were often provided by the Crooks and Liars website and I don’t recall Jon Stewart making proclamations about his being Jewish. (In Canada, there was no station carrying his nightly show, thus I always relied on the CNL website.)

    In fact, it was quite awhile until I realized the proper spelling of his name as “Jon” and not “John”.

    Am I way out in left field and stupid? Or is it only within the past 2 years where Jon Stewart is making it a point to have us know he is Jewish?

    I am not suggesting that Jon Stewart did not have skits about Israel-Palestine, but rather that he was not constantly advising his audience that he was Jewish.


  14. MK_Ultra
    March 27, 2013, 6:35 pm

    I have to admit that I am not a fan/follower if any of these characters. However, I notice that they seem to be a staple of politics which is very appropriate and puts it all into context: the US today is essentially, a 3-ring circus. What better than to have clowns/comedians doing the honors.

  15. peterfeld
    March 28, 2013, 5:11 am

    Love how Haaretz identifies the first Pres. Bush as “George W Bush Sr.” Fitting.

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