Thanking Jon Stewart

I’ve had a lot of reasons to thank Jon Stewart and The Daily Show for the past several years, and if you have felt the same, you might want to join me in taking this easy opportunity to do it.

The reason for this specific thank you campaign, organized by Jewish Voices for Peace, is that Jon Stewart is one of the only voices in the media willing to challenge the astoundingly one-sided non-debate about the causes of and solutions for the current Israeli war in Gaza. (The video clip of his show is viewable on the website above.)

Since my commentary last week on the Israeli war in Gaza:

The International Committee of the Red Cross accused the Israeli military of blocking medical attention and aid to severely wounded civilians, including women and children.

Human Rights Watch charged Israel with using white phosphorous (think naplam) against civilians.

The United Nations compound was shelled.

A coalition of nine mainstream Israeli human rights groups called for an immediate cease-fire, immediate relief to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and investigation of war crimes committed by their government and military in Gaza during the past three weeks.

More than 1100 Palestians have now been killed and 5,000 physically wounded, approximately half of them women and children.

Let no one for a second misconstrue anything above as representing support, in any way shape or form, for Hamas’ continued launching of rockets into civilian areas of Israel. I believe, as the Talmud says, “Whoever destroys a single life, destroys the entire world.”

What I can say though – what we must absolutely affirm if we are to survive as a species on this planet – is that no one is ever justified in committing a war crime to stop a war crime. Or, as in this case, committing an exponentially larger war crime, or collection of war crimes, to stop a war crime. And using modern military weapons in a civilian population center, with all the obvious and predictable death and destruction meted out to noncombatants, is by definition a war crime. (As is the embargo Israel has maintained against the Gaza Strip for the past two years – a form of collective punishment – which Nobel Peace Prize Winner Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has characterized as “worse than apartheid.”)

In addition to being both immoral and illegal, such military action is absolutely contrary to Israel’s security interests, as outlined by Israeli peace activist and journalist Uri Avery in his commentary “Israel is Losing this War.”

In a nutshell, picture any of the tens (or more likely) hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have been forced to flee, or were trapped, or who were grievously wounded, or had family members killed, or watched their homes or neighborhoods destroyed as a result of this war. Are these physically and emotionally scarred people likely to become the “partners for peace” Israel claims to want? Or are they more likely to turn into implacable enemies of Israel? And what about the 100 million Arabs in the Middle East, and 1 billion Muslims around the world, who have watched this horror unfold on their TV screens over the past month?

Violence begets violence. Always has, always will.

Of course none of this gave the U.S. Congress so much as a moment’s pause before passing, by close to unanimous vote in each chamber, resolutions giving complete support to anything and everything Israel has done in Gaza. With no mention of Palestinian civilians. And receiving the editorial backing of pretty much the entire mainstream U.S. media.

Which is where our friend Jon Stewart becomes so important. It’s richly ironic that U.S. officials continue to see themselves as “honest brokers” in the Middle East conflict when they are not even able to publicly acknowledge there are two sides in this conflict. Well, at least there’s one person in the media who’s willing to do it, and that’s Jon Stewart. Feel free to give him your thanks.

As of this writing Israel has just declared a temporary cease-fire (in time for Barack Obama’s inauguration), and it appears they and Hamas are closing in on a truce. (Even as the fighting has increased over the past few days. As the Washington Post noted dryly, “In past wars, Israel has intensified its military campaign in the final days and hours before a cease-fire in order to achieve favorable truce terms.”)

Since there is little reason to believe this truce will be any longer-lasting than the previous ones, and none that it will do anything to resolve the underlying conflict, I would also recommend the following two groups as reliable sources of information and action for the future. (Including information and action for the massive aid and reconstruction that is now required in Gaza.)

Jewish Voices for Peace

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

2 Responses to “Thanking Jon Stewart”

  1. beth Says:

    and thank you gordon for sharing this link.

  2. The Intellectual Redneck Says:

    Israel unilaterally declared a ceasefire yesterday. Of course it quickly vanished when Hamas fired five rockets into Israel. Hamas does not want to cease fire unless it is on their therms. They are concerned about looking defeated in the eyes of the Arab world. In truth, they have been defeated from a military standpoint. The vanishing Israeli cease fire

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