Kingdom of Fear Meets the Cult of Outrage With Israel, Hamas
Fear is an excellent motivator for stifling discussion. For controversial issues especially, the fear of reprisal or “saying the wrong thing” can severely limit the points of view American news audiences hear. In fact, it is often with these most troubling issues that turning to the imprecise art of comedy can more accurately depict what’s happening than the press.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is at its best when it criticizes the news media. Stewart has often directed the satirical barrel of his comedy-gun at specific issues like the First Responders Bill in 2010. However it’s in their criticism of the 24-7 cable news media that it shines. So when commenting about the recent crisis in Gaza Stewart criticized Israeli response and a Times of Israel editor responded implying that he was turning a blind eye to the crimes of Hamas.
So in the first two minutes of Monday’s show, Stewart and his team created a perfect piece of satire about what’s it like to talk about this issue in any kind of reasoned way. Whenever he mentions Israel or Hamas, what he is saying gets drowned out by people angry that he’s saying anything at all.
On MSNBC, according to Mediaite.com, Rula Jebreal “criticized MSNBC, NBC News, and other news outlets for vastly over-presenting the Israeli side of the Israel-Hamas conflict.” She called their reporting “disgustingly biased” and “ridiculous.” Jebreal also claims that after saying that, her “forthcoming TV appearances have been cancelled.”
The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is not as cut-and-dried as some might think. While the Jewish people have legitimate reasons to fear for their safety, their enemies in Gaza are drastically outmatched. Yes, Hamas – the democratically-elected government of Palestine – has roots in terrorism and reportedly favors digging in near civilians either to use them as human shields or something even worse.
However, there is no question that the Palestinians are an oppressed minority, much like the Native Americans were here in the U.S. Similarly, when the U.S. sends in drones to take out a terrorist target, we rightly take flack for any collateral damage or civilian deaths. Which is why criticism of Israel’s response – even to the point of the ill-informed saying “Free Palestine” – shows that like the U.S., Israel is a country from which a higher standard is expected.
Fear is at the heart of this problem. There is no substantive discussion about it because people are afraid to be painted as anti-Israel or pro-terrorist. Israel is afraid that one hint of weakness and the Arab world will descend on their country and annihilate them. The Palestinians are afraid that Israel is going to do the same to them.
If in the Kingdom of Fear even the jesters can’t speak freely, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Image via screengrab