Jon Stewart

How Jon Stewart Made It Okay to Care About Palestinian Suffering

thedailyshow.cc.com

The Daily Beast - Dean Obeidallah

This Gaza war has brought a new level of American awareness of the pain of Palestinian civilians. And we have Jon Stewart to thank.

When I interviewed The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart two years ago for a documentary I co-directed, The Muslims Are Coming!, one of the questions I posed to the talk show host was: Do you think your show has had an impact on issues?

Surprisingly, Stewart responded “no.”  At first, my co-director, Negin Farsad, and I thought Stewart was being unduly modest. But he was actually being sincere. Stewart went on to list issues he had railed against for years—such as media sensationalism—and noted that nothing tangible had changed despite his best efforts.

But if that question were put to Stewart today, honesty would compel him to answer that his efforts have changed the way many who follow him now view one issue: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Specifically, Stewart has raised awareness about the human toll that this conflict has inflicted upon Palestinian civilians.

I first noticed Stewart’s efforts in January 2009 during the 22-day battle between Hamas and the Israeli military. That episode resulted in approximately 1,400 Palestinians being killed, of which human rights groups say 700 were civilians.

Stewart’s coverage included the segment “Gaza Strip Maul.” (The title summed up his POV.) In it, Stewart comically noted that the only thing Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is supporting Israeli’s bombing of Gaza, likening it to a Mobius Strip, which is an object with only one side to it.

Stewart, of course, did express sympathy for the people of Israel suffering from Hamas missiles. But clearly he was moved by the massive Palestinian civilian casualties, calling it a “civilian carnage Toyotathon.”

During the 2012 battle between Hamas and Israel, Stewart lambasted the media for its obsession with declaring a “winner.” His point was simple: In a battle where more than 150 people were killed, mostly Palestinian civilians, there was no real “winner.”

Stewart’s impact has not gone unnoticed by the right. Several conservative media outlets attacked Stewart over his recent expressions of concern for Palestinian civilians.

And just last week, Stewart addressed the current fighting in Gaza in two remarkable moments. First, he responded to the conservative argument that the people of Gaza, who are crammed into a densely populated area, can simply leave to avoid the IDF’s bombing campaign.  “Evacuate to where?” Stewart asked incredulously. “Have you fucking seen Gaza? Israel blocked this border, Egypt blocked this border. What, are you supposed to swim for it?

Later in that same show, guest Hillary Clinton hawked her new book together with her hawkish views on the Middle East. But Stewart challenged the former Secretary of State: “Can we at least agree the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is overwhelming and that the world must do more for that people who are trapped by this conflict?”

So where we have seen Stewart’s impact? I would argue we’ve seen it in the reactions of certain celebrities and in an increasing number of college students. Typically, celebrities have stayed out of the Middle East conflict, knowing full well the tsunami of emotions it carries. But in the last week, some entered the fray, and I believe we have Stewart to thank for it.

We saw actor John Cusack tweet in response to a conservative, self-proclaimed Israeli supporter who was defending the IDF’s bombings in Gaza: “I have been to Israel and Palestine & Bombing civilians is not self defense.”

While Cusack is known for being a progressive activist, the other celebs that spoke out are not. Singing superstar Rihanna and the NBA’s Dwight Howard both tweeted “Free Palestine.” The New York Knicks’ Amare Stoudemire, who has Jewish heritage, tweeted a photo that read: “Pray for Palestine.” True, these three ultimately deleted their respective posts after they caused a stir, but it was still momentous to see these developments.

And then there was the 21-year-old singing sensation, Selena Gomez, who posted an image on Instagram that read: ““It’s about humanity—Pray for Gaza.” This post received more than 605,000 likes.

Unfortunately, her post did elicit some vicious, misogynistic comments from some right-wing supporters of Israel. And worse, TMZ even inferred Gomez was supporting terrorism with its article: “Selena Gomez: Pro-Humanity or Pro-Hamas”? TMZ attempted to bully the young star to agree with its own politicswith the line: “Maybe she doesn’t realize Hamas has launched an untold number of missiles in an effort to destroy Israel, or maybe she supports it.”

Despite these attacks, Gomez did not back down. Her post still stands.

And I’ve personally seen Stewart’s impact on the young people I meet at colleges when performing the comedy show “Stand up for Peace” with my friend Scott Blakeman, who is Jewish. Time and time again I hear from students that The Daily Show has informed them about political issues, including the Middle East.

Indeed, a poll released last week bears this out. While overall Americans “sympathize” with Israel 51 percent to only 14 percent for Palestinians, the gapcloses dramatically among younger people, Stewart’s very demographic. In that age group, Palestinians find their greatest support, at 22 percent—dramatically higher than the only 9 percent of people who are 50 and older.

Part of Stewart’s appeal with students is that he’s very proudly Jewish and a supporter of Israel. Consequently, he has inspired others who support the Jewish state to criticize it when its government’s policies are not in keeping with their own sense of right and wrong. You know, like the way we, in the United States, criticize certain policies of our government despite our deep support for our nation.

Stewart’s impact has not gone unnoticed by the right. Several conservative media outlets attacked Stewart over his recent expressions of concern for Palestinian civilians.

But it’s too late. The seeds Stewart has planted over the years have taken root and are starting to blossom. And here’s why that’s a good thing for all. Stewart’s message is truly one of empathy—something often missing in discussions of this conflict. Too often, people view this contest as a zero sum game where even the slightest acknowledgment that the other side is suffering is an attack upon their own side.

Why not give Stewart’s approach a chance? Stop with the knee jerk, blind defense of your own side—regardless of which that may be. Instead, if the people you support are committing acts inconsistent with your own sense of morality, then you should speak out.

Maybe, just maybe, this approach will yield common ground that can be the foundation to build a bridge to peace.  It’s certainly worth a shot because the current path is an abject failure for all involved.

10 things you need to know today: July 16, 2014

A woman cries as Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza.

A woman cries as Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The Week

Israel resumes air strikes after Hamas rejects cease-fire, Buffett gives away a record $2.8 billion, and more

1. Israel launches more air strikes after Hamas rejects truce
Israel resumed its air strikes in Gaza on Tuesday after Hamas, which runs the Palestinian territory, rejected a cease-fire plan proposed by Egypt and approved by Israel’s security cabinet. Israel warned that Hamas “would pay the price,” and urged tens of thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes in northern and eastern Gaza, suggesting their neighborhoods would be targeted next. A fresh barrage of rockets from Gaza killed one Israeli man. [The Dallas Morning News]

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2. Buffett gives his biggest annual charity gifts ever
Investment billionaire Warren Buffett donated a record $2.8 billion in securities to charity this year, according to a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. The contributions, which went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four Buffett family foundations, brought his contributions to $18.7 billion over the eight years since he pledged to give nearly half of his wealth to the foundations in annual gifts. [Omaha World-Herald]

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3. Typhoon kills 10 in the Philippines
At least 10 people were killed on Tuesday when a powerful typhoon struck the Philippines. Typhoon Rammasun, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, knocked down trees, telephone wires, and power lines as it cut across the main island, Luzon, south of Manila on Wednesday. [Reuters]

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4. Officials impose fines for wasting water in California
California authorities approved drastic new water conservation measures on Tuesday to help the state handle historically low levels of rainfall this year. The new rules include fines of up to $500 per day for watering a garden, washing a car, or rinsing a sidewalk. Gov. Jerry Brown had already declared a drought emergency. “People don’t understand the gravity of the drought,” State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said. [The New York Times]

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5. Nigeria catches a top Boko Haram commander
Nigerian police said Tuesday they had arrested a top Boko Haram commander, Mohammed Zakari. Police spokesman Frank Mba said Zakari, 30, was wanted in the recent killings of seven people. Nigeria has launched a push to round up members of Boko Haram, which is fighting to establish a state under sharia law. Boko Haram has been blamed for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls in recent months. [Xinhua]

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6. Survey finds that 2.3 percent of Americans are gay or bisexual
About 2.3 percent of U.S. adults are gay or bisexual, according to the annual National Health Interview Survey, which was released Tuesday. Gay or bisexual men and women far more likely to suffer anxiety or engage in self-destructive behavior than their straight peers. It was the first time questions about sexual orientation were asked in the annual survey. [Al Jazeera]

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7. Police free hundreds of abused children from group home in Mexico
Mexican police rescued 452 boys and girls from a children’s home where they were allegedly sexually abused and forced to beg in the streets. More than 130 adults were also rescued. The owner of House of the Big Family facility in the state of Michoacan was arrested along with eight employees. “I’m in utter dismay because we weren’t expecting the conditions we found at the group home,” local governor Salvador Jara said. [BBC News]

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8. SpaceX gets approval for private spaceport
The Federal Aviation Administration has granted approval to Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to build the nation’s first private rocket-launching site, in Cameron County, Texas. SpaceX wants its own launch facility to give it more control so it can meet its ambitious schedule. It plans to send up 12 rockets a year from the site. The company plans to use the site to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles, and other rockets. [Space.com]

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9. Jon Stewart tries to get Hillary to reveal her 2016 plans
Hillary Clinton withstood a grilling by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, but she avoided shedding any light on whether she had decided to run for president again in 2016. The appearance came as Clinton wrapped up a tour to promote her book, but Stewart joked: “She’s here solely for one reason: to publicly and definitively declare her candidacy for President of the United States.” Clinton did say she wanted an office with “fewer corners.” [CNN]

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10. Jeter helps the American League win his last All-Star game
The American League beat the National League 5-3 in the 85th annual MLB All-Star game on Tuesday night. This year’s game was the last for New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, both of whom are retiring at the end of the season. Jeter got a three-minute ovation when he left the game in the fourth inning after getting two hits. “It was a wonderful moment,” Jeter said. [The Boston Globe]

Jon Stewart Blasts NRA, Open Carry Texas ‘Gun Nuts’ (VIDEO)

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TPM LiveWire

After members of Open Carry Texas cut up their NRA membership cards in response — as Stewart pointed out, if open carry advocates were “sitting on a bunker full of assault rifles,” why did they choose to make their point with scissors? — the NRA quickly reversed course and apologized.

“Wow. Everyone’s scared of gun nuts — even other gun nuts,” he said.

While the open carry advocates and NRA members live by the mantra of being a “good guy with a gun,” Stewart continued, the “members of the National Everybody Else Association” have no idea whether the person standing behind them in line at Chili’s carrying a rifle is indeed a good guy.

“We are at the intersection of Open Carry Road and ‘Stand Your Ground’ Place,” he observed. “Here’s where we are. So what the f*ck are we supposed to do now? According to the NRA’s basic principles, you have a right to carry a weapon that may cause a reasonable person to believe they are in danger of great bodily injury. And they have a right, if they feel that way, to respond with deadly force. It’s a perpetual violence machine. It’s ‘Gunfight at the Golden Corral.’”

Watch below:

Jon Stewart blasts Fox: You’d love Bergdahl’s dad if he wore a ‘Duck Dynasty’ bandana

Jon Stewart blasts Fox: You’d love Bergdahl’s dad if he wore a ‘Duck Dynasty’ bandana (via Raw Story )

Daily Show host Jon Stewart tore into Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade on Tuesday over his criticizing the father of recently-released American POW Bowe Bergdahl for his beard, considering the Fox lovefest over the hirsute Duck Dynasty clan. “First of all…

(more…)

Jon Stewart Slams GOP Hypocrisy Over VA Scandal

The Huffington Post

The GOP has been blasting the Obama administration for failing to give veterans timely care in the VA hospital scandal. But as Jon Stewart pointed out on Thursday’s “Daily Show,” the Republicans haven’t been helping, either.

Stewart played video clips of Republicans in the Senate undermining efforts to increase funding for veterans’ benefits, then took a trip down “Terrible Memory Lane” to show how U.S. veterans have gotten the shaft for much of the nation’s history no matter who’s in power.

“On this Memorial Day weekend eve, we can finally admit that America has had for over 200 years a great bipartisan tradition of honoring those who have fought for our freedom by fucking them over once they give their guns back,” Stewart said.

In the clip above, watch Stewart rip into the GOP for calling out the president while refusing to boost funding for veterans. Even Bill O’Reilly gets in on the act.

Then, in the clip below, take that trip down “Terrible Memory Lane.”

Jon Stewart deftly shows Sean Hannity why you don’t pick a fight with Jon Stewart

The Week

On Thursday night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart admitted that he is, in fact, a bit obsessed with Fox News host Sean Hannity, as Hannity had suggested on his show Tuesday night. But obsession isn’t pretty, and Stewart didn’t mean it in a nice way. On The Daily Show, calling someone “the Arby’s of news” isn’t a compliment.

This brewing spat started on Monday night, when Stewart mocked Hannity for supporting Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in his battle against the federal BLM. Hannity hit back on Tuesday night. On Wednesday’s show, Stewart walked through Hannity’s criticisms and showed why the Fox News star is tossing his verbal stones from a glass house.

Stay with it until the end, though. That’s when Stewart moves from his typical clip juxtaposition and satirical gymnastics to a timely history lesson about the founding fathers and the rule of law. Hannity’s colleague Bill O’Reilly has a long-running, largely friendly, mutually beneficial feud going with Stewart, but Hannity just walked into a trap: Stewart’s simply better at this game, and his writers do their homework. –Peter Weber

Sarah Palin Takes Shots at Hillary, Sharpton… But Praises Jon Stewart

 

Hey, it’s Saturday, a slow news day…

Mediaite

Sarah Palin joined Fox News’ Eric Bolling onCashin’ In Saturday morning and shared her thoughts on some of the big news stories of the week. After throwing some harsh words towardsHillary Clinton and Al Sharpton, the only person she seemed to have anything nice to say about was Jon Stewart.

Despite the fact that Palin recently suggested Clinton should run for president in 2016, she clarified to Bolling, “I said it’s fine if she ran, I didn’t say it’s fine if she won.” She added, “We don’t need, you know, more of the blue blood. We need new energy!”

On the recent revelations about Sharpton possible role as an informant for the FBI during the 1980s, Palin said, “There are so many reasons to look at Al Sharpton and not be impressed, this is just one of those.” Without much elaboration on what about helping the FBI makes the current MSNBC host a bad person, she instead focused on his role as a “critic of the average American” like her. “He’s not one to help to get the country back on the right track,” she said.

Towards the end of the interview, Bolling brought up a recent PSA in which both Palin and Stewart’s voices appear side-by-side. To be fair, Palin avoided saying anything explicitly positive about The Daily Show host, but did highlight his role in the effort to help wounded soldiers who are looking for training and work.

Watch video below, via Fox News:

Jon Stewart Slams CPAC: ‘As Jesus Once Said, ‘If You Give A Man A Fish, Don’t, Period, End Of Bible’

The Huffington Post

This year’s CPAC convention offered plenty of material for Jon Stewart to dig into, and throw some shade upon, from Paul Ryan’s dubious “brown bag” anecdote to Wayne LaPierre’s intro music (Huey Lewis’ “The Power of Love”).

To sum up Ryan’s point about the ills of giving free lunches to school children, Stewart recalled, “As Jesus once said, ‘If you give a man a fish, don’t, period, end of Bible.’”

But “The Daily Show” host simply had to hide from LaPierre’s description of America as a nightmare, GTA 5-esque landscape.

Watch the clip above and click over to “The Daily Show” for more.

Jon Stewart Is Shocked (But Not Surprised) By GOP Killing Veterans Bill

The Huffington Post

When a bill came up for vote that would have expanded health care and education for veterans, we knew two things would happen next. First, Republicans would block the bill, because that’s kind of their thing. Then, Jon Stewart would deliver a passionate monologue explaining just how disgraceful this is.

Stewart did just that on “The Daily Show” last night, correctly attacking senate Republicans for their shaky argument for voting against the bill — which was somehow made even worse when an unrelated Iran sanctions amendment was attached to it. Of course, at least one senator argued that it was the only way the bill would get noticed.

“How do you justify attaching the Iran sanctions bill to the veterans’ benefits bill?” Stewart responded. “That’s right, you’re the victim here. You’ve been denied something that you need by an impersonal government bureaucracy. How can anyone know the anguish that you must feel?”

Check out the full clip above to watch Stewart wish the same shame on Republicans that has been brought upon John Travolta.

Watch The Daily Show mock the Kochs’ meddling in small-town politics

“From Funding Climate Deniers to Shadowy Groups, Koch Brothers Network Spent $400 Million in 2012″ | Democracy Now

The Week

Jon Stewart talks about the mess in Syria, but Jason Jones steals the show from Coralville, Iowa

Jon Stewart started out Wednesday night’s Daily Show with an update on the situation in Syria — the spinach the audience had to sit through, he quipped, before they got their dessert, guest George Clooney. Things aren’t going well in Syria, he noted, with the recent United Nations–supported Geneva II peace talks ending in failure, leaving no end to the bombings, starvation, disappearances, and other assaults on Syria’s civilian population. (Watch below)

Things are so bad in Syria, Stewart noted, that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had to disown the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a brutally violent al Qaeda–affiliated group trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This schism in the terrorist group is a major challenge to Zawahiri’s authority — a fact that doesn’t exactly win sympathy points from Stewart.

For more on the situation in Syria, Stewart turned to Senior Foreign Correspondent Samantha Bee, live from “Beirut.” She coined a phrase — TINOs (terrorists in name only) — saying that’s what ISIL is calling al Qaeda’s central management. She then ended the segment with al Qaeda’s response to this inter-operational challenge: A recruitment video, eerily similar to a famous Apple add, for terrorists who respect “a well-established chain of command.” Watch:

The highlight of Wednesday’s show, however, was Jason Jones’ excursion to Coralville, Iowa, a town of 20,000 that had a nasty mayoral race last cycle. (Watch above) Jones talks to Mayor John Lundell, who was the recipient of a sleazy direct-mail campaign. It’s a classic Jones interview, ending with the mayor laughing and uttering a mild explicative.

Jones moved on to a city council candidate, Chris Turner, who was supposed to benefit from the mailings. Turner had nothing but nice things to say about the incumbents who beat him, including Lundell. Only then did Jones unveil the source of the attack ads: brothers David and Charles Koch and their deep-pocketed super-PAC, Americans for Prosperity. “Tired of losing in big national elections,” Jones explained, “they’re embracing a new strategy of buying wins in local races, using national-style cutthroat tactics.”

The tactic didn’t work in Coralville, or anywhere else it turns out. Turner says that when Americans For Prosperity entered the race, it was “kind of like being endorsed by Charles Manson.” He tied for last place. To find out why these “yokels” didn’t “embrace the future of small-town attack-ad politics,” Jones interviewed “big city super-PAC sympathizer Matthew Vadum,” a conservative author and polemicist.

At this point in the interview you have to wonder why conservatives agree to appear on camera with The Daily Show. Vadum, though, took to his assigned role with relish. He called (presumably) the residents of Coralville “small-minded” for rejecting attack politics, and defended the misleading mailers by arguing that private organizations have the right to try and influence elections. That takes a bit of showmanship, Vadum added.

So Jones confused everyone at a Coralville town hall meeting by doing a song-and-dance number, a la Harold Hill in The Music Man. Yeah, I don’t know what to make of it either. He then confronted Vadum with Turner’s statement that he’s happy he lost, since it might help shoo the Koch brothers away from Coralville. Vadum said Turner took the wrong lesson from the election.

When Jones asked what the right lesson would be, Vadum was stumped for a comically long time, then finally offered this: “There’s nothing he can do about another group coming in.” That’s probably bad for small-town America, but promising fodder for Daily Show writers down the road.

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