Stephen Colbert Nails Israeli Ambassador

Defense of Helen Thomas Exposes Double Standard for Jews and Palestinians

Stephen Colbert, taunted Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. thus: “Before we go, I just want to say. I repudiate what Helen (Thomas) said. She is 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 where they came from.” (Laughter and applause from the audience; Colbert continues more insistently and loudly, thus.)

“Do you agree? Do you agree, sir? It is time to get them back to wherever that was.”

Oren looks stunned, and only slowly recovers himself.1

Oren nailed, in very fine form indeed! Colbert exposed the double standard of Israeli propaganda wherein Palestinians are routinely exhorted to depart their ancestral homeland for another Arab state of which there are “so many,” but a similar prescription for the European colonizers of Palestine to return to their ancestral homes is considered viciously racist.

Colbert slices through the double standard using the original sin of Jewish ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, leaving the witless Israeli ambassador completely befuddled. Were this the 1950s, the ambassador would promptly retort that Zionism was all about “a land without a people and a people without a land.” Decades later Golda Meir would still insist “there are no Palestinians.” Later still, the admitted terrorist, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, would sneer that the Palestinians, now that Yasser Arafat and the PLO had made their existence undeniable, are “insects” – or was it “cockroaches.”

As time passed the Palestinians finally came into Israeli focus as “terrorists,” as Netanyahu (and all the other Yahoos here and in Israel) repeat endlessly. And at long last, oh so recently, Palestinians are now recognized as victims in the Apartheid state of Israel, as Jimmy Carter so acutely labeled it. It took half a century, but the truth is finally out to the point where a Colbert studio audience can applaud it.

So the Israelis are in a race against time. Can they complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestine before their lies collapse completely? We in the US have a lot to say about that – if we dare. After all our tax dollars and military power are the only things that allow the Israeli state to continue as an apartheid entity.

So what is holding us back. Turn to Tony Judt’s NYT op-ed “Israel Without Clichés” (June 10), consisting of six questions, the last of which is:

No. 6: Criticism of Israel is/is not linked to anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews, and Israel is a Jewish state, so, of course, some criticism of it is malevolently motivated. …..But criticism of Israel, increasingly from non-Israeli Jews, is not predominantly motivated by anti-Semitism. The same is true of contemporary anti-Zionism …— today it presses territorial claims, religious exclusivity and political extremism. …..We should beware the excessive invocation of “anti-Semitism.” A younger generation in the United States, not to mention worldwide, is growing skeptical. ‘If criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is potentially ‘anti-Semitic,’ why take seriously other instances of the prejudice?’ they ask, and ‘What if the Holocaust has become just another excuse for Israeli bad behavior?’ “(Italics, JVW.)

With this we should cease to discuss anti-Semitism when it comes to criticism of Israel. It simply does not deserve any more attention. This is doubly true for progressives in the U.S. and elsewhere who have spent much of their lives fighting racism in its many forms and should simply take charges of anti-Semitism as gratuitous, a transparent and underhanded ploy to change the subject. It should be so labeled and dismissed. No more apologies. And no more resignations.

Apartheid Israel is now on the defensive, because of its siege of Gaza and the barbarous attack on the Gaza flotilla. Here details of legality, which can be endlessly argued, are not the point. Israel’s action on the open seas is simply morally and ethically repugnant, just as its attacks on the Gazans are. Slavery was once legal but it was never right. And Israel’s partisans love to tie up discussion on minutiae, which diverts attention from the major point just as a charge of “anti-Semitism” does.

With Israel on the defensive, those who oppose its apartheid policies and its baleful influence on U.S. foreign policy should press their advantage. Appropriate discussions now are those like Justin Raimondo has initiated in a recent piece. Raimondo provides a fine example of the outrage over Israeli atrocities which deserve uncompromising condemnation. And Colbert gives us a fine example of the ridicule, which the increasingly absurd lies of the Apartheid state deserve.

Are you anti-Israel?, the question arises. The answer should be an uequivocal yes, because decency demands it just as an anti-South Africa attitude was warranted when it was an Apartheid state as Israel is today. It is not simply that there are “some things wrong with Israel.” It is fundamentally flawed, founded on ethnic cleansing, which continues to this day, along with its Apartheid structure.

  1. Colbert Report, Formidable Opponent – Michael Oren. The earlier part of this piece is also a hoot. Colbert, debating with himself as his “Formidable Opponent” takes out charges of anti-Semitism with a barrage of well deserved ridicule. []
John V. Walsh, @JohnWal97469920, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for several independent media. Read other articles by John V..

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  1. bozh said on June 14th, 2010 at 9:31am #

    For long time now i have been glad when called an antisemite; for then i know, i [we, really] was correct once again.
    I am even an anti-israeli when it hides the fact that it means a state for ‘jews’ only; with probable ouster of all pal’ns from expalestine.

    It does not matter an iota to me even if there had been a country called israel. If it existed in any proportions, it wld have been hebraic; and not solely, anyway.
    And ‘jews’ have no connection whatever with ancient hebrews! tnx

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 14th, 2010 at 10:20am #

    Of course anti-Zionism or anti-Israelism is not anti-semitism.The proposition that criticism of a barbaric,rogue, aggressive and fundamentally racist apartheid state like Israel is in fact a form of racism is an example of the Big Lie, a propaganda technique recommended by those earlier exponents of brutal, intimidating,propaganda, the German Nazis.To justifiably criticise Zionism for the evil that it is, and Israel for the terror state that it is,is,in my opinion, the exact moral equivalent of criticising Nazi Germany, or the religious tyranny of Saudi Arabia or the Quisling despotism of Egypt. Such criticisms are morally correct and in no way racist criticisms of Germans, Saudis or Egyptians. The Zionists push an explicit propaganda line that Jews are, unlike any other group known to history,uniformly incapable of crime or wickedness.When an Israeli Jew kills in cold blood, with several bullets to the head, or with high explosive, white phosphorus, depleted uranium or DIME munitions, that, according to the Zionist confabulators, is entirely the fault of the victims, or their parents in the all too common case of children. When passengers defend themselves from pirates boarding their boats, shooting people dead through practised head shots, it becomes the Jewish pirates who are the victims, although none, regretably, died, and many of the peaceful passengers were despatched with ruthless relish.
    Of course this inversion of reality is old news. The Zionazis, with their ideology based on the extreme narcissism of religious delusions of universal supremacy to the rest of creation, European colonial contempt for the indigenous to be dispossessed or eradicated to free the land for the God-ordained Herrenvolk and visceral hatred of all non-Jews borne of the Nazi Judeocide, have set out for decades to control the West and thus to set themselves up above the rest of humanity and the absurd ‘Christian morality’ of international law that refuses to recognise Jewish exceptionalism. While many decent Jews and Jewish Israelis remain, Israel and the Jewish diaspora are today dominated by creatures who can only be compared to Nazis and other racist and fascist European state terrorists from the past. And Zionazism shows no sign, whatsoever, of desiring to step back from the precipice.On the contrary their bloodlust seems unquenchable, with Iran targeted and Turkey itself now clearly to be subverted or set up for attack. And, with their absolute controlof Western politics, media and finance,laughably and contemptibly denied despite the overwhelming evidence of craven complicity by Western elites omnipresent and perennial, there appears no chance that Israel will reverse its descent into yet more and more depraved acts of state terror and humanitarian abuse.

  3. hayate said on June 14th, 2010 at 9:11pm #

    “The trouble with television is that it is like a sword rusting in the scabbard during a battle for survival.”

    -Edward R. Murrow

    That was my reaction after watching the colbert clip. It was limp noodle criticism, to put it politely. This is “radical” television by current american standards. It’s also why I don’t bother with the shit anymore, and have not for years, there’s nothing there. Politically, the zionists have got it wrapped up so tight, lame criticism on a “comedy” show is about the most one can expect. Culturally, american television is at the level of an amateur bringing a video camera along when they go to use the can.

  4. Maien said on June 15th, 2010 at 8:21am #

    Excellent point, Hayate. I agree wholeheartedly. I am pleased that Colbert’s comments at least represent a beginning. And North American Culture? Let’s face it…. it’s all pretty much “limp noodle”, the direct result of an education system meant to keep the population at a very needy pre-teen age, where what is important is appearance, getting laid and most important having the cash to get laid again.

    Just like a north american pre teen with Daddy’s money always making everything ‘safe’, Daddy’s money has been turned into weapons. Popularity contests are won by those who are the biggest bullies willing to do the most inhumane acts to foreign peoples. And the population held at a pre-teen function? Well, they have been so useful, haven’t they? The winners populate the government (including Scary Stevie of Canada) and they keep dispensing enough pharmaceuticals and fear to keep everyone quiet.

    Every action creates an equal re-action. Whatever goes up must come down. We are witnessing the beginning of the end. And a few people in North america are beginning to take notice. I thank all those who have worked tirelessly, to assist in writing this last chapter for the gory enterprise of the last empire, this earth will see.

  5. Eileen Fleming said on June 15th, 2010 at 6:22pm #

    Journalist Helen Thomas has taken a lot of heat for daring to address the fact that any Jew without any historical connection to Israel is encouraged to settle-as in colonize-upon legally owned Palestinian land.

    I learned about, Aliyah, which means ‘going up,’ during my first of seven trips to Israel and occupied Palestine in June 2005 from an American Jewess who had taken the deal and she informed me:

    “I get fifteen hundred shekels or about thirty-six hundred dollars a year in increments to help with my expenses. I can apply for unemployment benefits after seven months, as long as I look for a job. I just completed Ulpan, which was five hundred hours of Hebrew language immersion studies that took five months, five hours a day, for five weeks. I get subsidized rent and just moved out of the Absorption Center Projects. All the new immigrants get room, utilities, and three meals a day for the first five months in Israel. We also receive free medical care and all the doctors here are dedicated. We can go to the university with 100 percent of the tuition paid by the government. College is much cheaper here; it’s about three thousand to four thousand dollars a year. Until I am thirty years old, I can receive up to three years of education for my master’s degree.”

  6. Hue Longer said on June 15th, 2010 at 8:35pm #


    not to take away any truth to be found in the Murrow quote but the guy was a shill lending credibility to his “estate” as he made it clear that going after commies was only wrong if the witch was not a commie. Of course his wonderful on air cig ads were awesome as too were his Libarace interview concerning Lib’s future wife. har!

  7. hayate said on June 15th, 2010 at 10:09pm #

    Hue Longer

    You wont get any argument from me about morrow, few of those guys were actually worth anything. For all I know, the quote might have been over his disappointment with television for not being MORE right-wing than it already was.

    The quote till sounds good. ;D

  8. hayate said on June 15th, 2010 at 10:39pm #

    Nader came out in support of Helen Thomas:

    Cashiering Helen Thomas

    By Ralph Nader

  9. beverly said on June 16th, 2010 at 7:39pm #

    The only thing Helen Thomas did wrong was to apologize for her statements. Thomas’ comments may not have been of the diplomatic variety but in the so-called land of free speech, she had a right to say them. Further, what she said was true – Israel should get the hell out of Palestine. This option is never up for discussion in mainstream media and among politicians. Why is it verbotten? The way mainstream press, politicians, and lefties went apeshit over Thomas’ comments only proves that what she said hit too close to the truth about the facist, racist, murdering, greedmongering, wrongheaded Israeli regime.

  10. Deadbeat said on June 17th, 2010 at 3:36am #

    Helen Thomas is right get the hell out of Palestine. There’s nothing “nasty” about the truth.

  11. Deadbeat said on June 17th, 2010 at 3:39am #

    The way mainstream press, politicians, and lefties went apeshit over Thomas’ comments only proves that what she said hit too close to the truth about the facist, racist, murdering, greedmongering, wrongheaded Israeli regime.

    Unfortunately there is lot of support for Zionism in the “Left” and this is why the “Left” is unprepared to deal with both the Capitalist crisis and confronting Zionism. This is not just about the “Israeli regime”. This is about the belief system known as Zionism and its racist goals.