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Thursday, June 10, 2010


Stephen Colbert: "No greater friend of Israel than yours truly"

Not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions Stephen Colbert had to utter that phrase on last night's show, along with two "repudiations" of "everything Helen [Thomas] said." The entire segment was framed around what the event has done to Israel, not around what it did to the (former) lives of nine people (and the continuing lives of their families), not to mention what the blockade is doing to the lives of a million and a half people of Gaza. "This attack handed Israel's enemies video footage they can use to try to make Jews look like bad guys in the eyes of the world," said Colbert, as well as "People died, and that is just bad for Israel."'

In that context, he admitted he didn't agree "100%" with what Israel had done (what percent do you agree, Stephen?) and then segued to the worst part of all - a softball interview with Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren. Since I don't believe that transcripts exist of this show, I went ahead and made one. The interview is so full of slime I can barely bring myself to comment on it - I think (and hope) it speaks for itself:

Stephen Colbert: I just want to say that there is no greater friend of Israel than yours truly. I even have a cup to prove it (Cup reads: World's Greatest Friend of Israel). Now sir, did Israel have to do this? It seems like this was bad for Israel.

Michael Oren: Israel had to do it.

SC: Why did they have to?

MO: Israel had to do it because Gaza is under the control of Hamas. Hamas is not your friendly neighborhood organization. Hamas is a terrorist organization that has sworn to destroy the state of Israel. As you said, it's fired thousands of rockets into Israel, it's kidnapped our young soldier Gilad Shalit and held him four years in solitary confinement. We don't want to have this blockade, but if we let in the lettuce, what's going to get in is more rockets, machine guns. We try to give the lettuce from the boats...

SC: Wait a second. It goes lettuce, rockets, machine guns?

MO: Exactly.

SC: This is why I don't eat salads. But why, why can't you actually let in...today, the Israeli government announced that it was easing the blockade to allow in snack food like potato chips and soft drinks into Gaza. What made them suddenly less dangerous? Because if you look at America, it seems pretty grim what snack food has done to us.

MO: It's true. Listen. Gaza is a hostile entity. Alright. The government of Gaza has sworn to destroy us. We led in 100 truckloads of food and medicine every day. We don't feel particularly obliged to provide them with snack food. We did today, and Hamas rejected our snack food. Our pretzels were not good enough for Hamas.

SC: Now why not support an international investigation into this incident? Why does Israel have to do it themselves? Why not international observers?

MO: Just like American soldiers would not like the Libyans or the North Koreans judging their actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, our people don't want Libyans and North Koreans judging out acts.

SC: But this is different. Civilians were killed here.

MO: Civilians unfortunately can get killed everywhere but here...

SC: But Americans don't kill civilians. We have smart bombs. They arrive at someone's house, ring the doorbell, ask for I.D., then if the terrorist identifies themselves, we get the women and children out of the house, we pack up all the breakables, allow the person to make peace with their God, and then explode, then everyone else is resettled someplace pretty.

MO: The people on this particular boat were 70 hired thugs from a radical Islamic organization that had sworn to destroy the state of Israel.

SC: But were the women and children also thugs?

MO: But they were not killed.

SC: But they could have been killed.

MO: We have encountered many flotillas trying to get through, including five of the six ships in this flotilla, were all taken without incident, without any casualties whatsoever. It was only on this one ship which had been taken over by this radical organization where our guys, who came on board expecting to encounter peace activists, encountered these people armed with clubs, knives, and apparently guns as well. They were shot, some of our boys, and they had to defend themselves.

SC: How then, given the situation right now, do you think there is a chance for peace?

MO: I think there is a great chance for peace, and we're willing to take the risk for peace, but as you talked about before, the landmines, when we go down that path to peace, we make sure it's not a path lined with landmines.

SC: Now before we go, I just want to say that I repudiate when Helen said. She's a friend, but I repudiate everything she said. "Go back to Poland, go back to Germany." That's ridiculous. Israel is for Israelis. If anything, the Palestinians should go back to where they came from. Do you agree?

MO: I do not agree.

SC: Do you agree sir, it's time to get them back to wherever that was?

MO: I don't agree. I think there's room for both of us to share this homeland. Palestinians living in their homeland, Israelis living in their homeland, in a position of permanent and legitimate peace.
As I said, for those of you (everyone, I hope) who has read any of the legitimate (i.e., not sourced to the Israeli military or government) accounts of what happened, you know what a load of rubbish almost every word coming out of Oren's mouth is, and you can judge for yourself Colbert's "hard-hitting" cross-examination. But there is one very subtle thing in this interview you might miss - this: "We don't feel particularly obliged to provide them with snack food."

Now there are two things about that statement worth noting. First, of course, is that it was the Freedom Flotilla that was bringing supplies to Israel, Israel wasn't "providing them" with anything. But second, we in the pro-Palestinian movement often argue that Gaza is the "world's largest open-air prison." And of course Israel's supporters would pooh-pooh that. But what else can you call it when the Israeli Ambassador openly admits that they get to decide what food the people of Gaza can eat? Isn't that exactly what happens in a prison? (Actually, prisons are more lenient, since outside visitors like the Flotilla can bring in foods the prison itself doesn't serve)

Some will be thrilled that Colbert actually alluded to the "right to return." He did, but I'm guessing the allusion went right over the heads of 95% of his audience, who have never even heard the words, much less a discussion of the subject. As for Michael Oren, he might want to acquaint himself with a little history to learn exactly where the "homeland" of the Palestinians is.

I have tried mightily to find a way to contact the Colbert Report to issue my "demands" that they have on Paul Larudee or Huwaida Arraf or someone who can provide the truth to Oren's lies, but have been utterly unsuccessful. If anyone has any information, please share it in the comments.

Update: Add in today's "news shocker" from McClatchy - official Israeli government document admits the blockade is an illegal act of collective punishment. OK, the document doesn't use the word "illegal."

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