When Jon Stewart is called a “smug, self-loathing Jew” by a right-wing Jewish personality (who is often called upon by conservative pundits to wax political), it’s tempting to dismiss the comment as a disgusting tribal dig.
When Jon Stewart is called a Judenrat who “would have been first on line to turn over his fellow Jews in Poland and Germany” by this same hawkish voice, it’s tempting – even though this voice has a visible platform – to just ignore the comment as the product of the Republican, FOX-inspired echo chamber.
However, ignoring these comments wouldn’t just be dangerous, it would be to allow a growing brand of hatred coursing through America’s veins – produced on the fringes – to continue infecting our public discourse (and public opinion) on matters both foreign and domestic.
It’s a hate-filled islamophobia that masquerades as patriotic, as anti-terrorism, as proudly American and Zionist (as though the two are synonymous). It’s a brand of hatred that the current GOP seeks, a hatred it feels it needs, a hatred it foments for perceived political gain at great cost to civil society. And, as much as it pains me as a progressive Jewish American to say, it’s a hatred right-wing American Jews are often solicited to be spokespeople for on venues like Fox News, with claims of anti-Semitism at the ready should they be critiqued by people such as, well, Jon Stewart.
So, wait – what happened to Jon Stewart, exactly? – you ask. Here is the context:
Jason Jones and The Daily Show crew produced this rather brilliant segment on how Broward County Republicans orchestrated a campaign to block membership of a Muslim Republican to the Broward Republican Party’s executive committee. This was done with the help of the Muslim-hating group ironically called Americans Against Hate (headed by Joe Kaufman, who is running against Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Congress).
The segment elicited this disgusting display from Pamela Geller:
This is not the first time that The Daily Show made fun of, ridiculed, and smeared proud Americans and passionate zionists. What’s he doing? And why? Does he know how much CAIR raised for their home office, Hamas, whose stated goal is to destroy the Jewish homeland, through the Holy Land Foundation? Stewart missed his calling. He would have been first on line to turn over his fellow Jews in Poland and Germany. Smug self-loathing Jew.
Yes, Geller is a nut. And yes, this particular display has been limited – so far – to her personal site. But Geller, just one of many fringe figures who inexplicably get airtime aplenty, knows what she’s doing. She knows the game: play the anti-Semitism card.
And not just any anti-Semitism card – the self-hating-Jew card. And she plays it against one of our country’s most important media critics and defenders of reason. Why? Because he represents exactly what she and her right-wing minions loathe: someone willing to call out islamophobia for what it is, even when promoted by American Jews.
While it would be easy to dismiss all this due to the messenger, does Jon Stewart shy away from railing against hatred and bigotry when it is perpetrated by the unhinged?
And neither should we.
Follow the author on Twitter @David_EHG
That segment on the Daily Show was awesome. There was no part of it that was anti-Jewish or Zionist. Perhaps the CAIR part is true. I don’t know, but that was so not the point of the segment.
As Americans and as Jews, we must never lose our humanity.
It sounds like Geller with her gross (on many levels) Holocaust reference has lost hers.
Just curious, why did he change his name. And why does he instinctively come down against Israel? But fear not David. Mr. Leibowitz married a catholic. Doesn’t observe any aspect of Judaism and doesn’t have Jewish kids. So what does make him Jewish exactly?
What makes him Jewish? How about having a Jewish mother, and celebrating Hanukkah, and claiming Judaism as his religion and culture?
As for changing his name, there is a very long tradition of adopting new names when going into show business.
Please. I am so tired of other people deciding whether OTHER people are Jewish.
Phil Weiss, Norm Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Richard Silverstein, Brant Rosen, What are they exactly?
Well, Brant Rosen is a rabbi, and, as a member of his congregation, I can tell you that he is a great prayer leader and sermonizer, is married to a Jewish woman, and is raising Jewish kids. So what makes him not Jewish? You disagree with him.
I’m not going to dispute with you any further, as you are clearly convinced that you are the best arbiter of what makes someone Jewish or not. Based on politics.
Pamela Geller is an easy target for satirists like Jon Stewart and Jason Jones. But we should ignore her.
She has nothing to do with the way most Jews think or act politically.
Read the first 7 comments. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can “allow” or not allow ” a growing brand of hatred coursing through America’s veins” which is David H-G’s claim on our attention in this post. It’s there, it’s ugly, and it ain’t going away. No matter whom it makes sick.
So, closer to home, I am more distressed by the crappy level of discourse in the comments.: 2 actual comments, 2 irrelevant rants, and one guy who wants to complain about/delegitimize leftist secular Jews: Good luck with that….
For myself, Stewart is an ally in the battle to stay sane — and smile sometimes — in a scary and irrational world.
Your observations are right on, in my opinion.
The way to fight hate is with love and grace. Some commenters believe you can fight hate with hate. When you do that you become the twin of the one you are fighting!
Shame on Bill Pearlman. As a Jew, I say that he shames us all, represents the worst, most
dangerous, self-destructive, corrupting influences on Yiddishkeit today.
Just pointing out that Geller was right about Jon Liebowitz. I’d be interested where you guys think I’m wrong.
Jon Stewart is a wonderful example of the intelligent, deeply insightful and humorous Jewish American character. He makes me proud to be an American Jew. American Jews have a wonderful and proud history of providing cultural and social criticism in service to humanitarian goals. The fear-mongering and hate-spewing bile of people like Pam Geller is deeply unspiritual, and actually holds much more in common with the racist and genocidal anti-semites of the world than it does to freedom and universal values like human and civil rights, social and economic justice. Geller would love to start a genocide against Muslims, and her writings clearly point in that direction. After all the Jewish people have been through in the past 100 years, one would think we’d have learned a deeper wisdom and spirituality than this. If it was wrong to kill 6,000,000 Jews then it is wrong to foment hatred and violence against other religious groups as well. It can’t be wrong for one group and right for another. There is no morality, justice or logic to such a position. Jon Stewart understands this. It is time you and the Geller’s of the world learned it as well.
Take a valium. OK, if Jon Liebowitz is born Jewish by some strange accident of birth but married a catholic. is raising Christians kids. Doesn’t observe any aspect of Judaism. Frankly doesn’t give a shit. And comes down against Israel in every instance. How is he still Jewish.
The “facts” you iterate in your response are largely baseless. Stewart does not “come down against Israel in every instance.” In fact, I firmly believe that those who insist that Israel respond in a belligerent manner to all muslim interactions, and those who insist that Israel maintain its apartheid and inhuman treatment of the Palestinian people, are not helping Israel survive into the new millenium. I believe those who take your attitude are almost as big a threat to the continued existence of Israel as those who would try to destroy Israel from the outside. Jon Stewart may agree with my views on this, I’m not sure. However, I don’t claim that you “come down against Israel in every instance” because Israel is a place that has many people that hold differing views about how to proceed politically and strategically in the middle east. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean either side is “against Israel”. According to your definition all the members of J Street are against Israel, and indeed a huge percentage of the Jewish population of Israel are against Isreal.
As far as how he raises his children I do not know whether they observe the outward forms of Jewish observance and don’t really care. Which observances must one follow in order for you to define them as Jewish? I’m assuming you attend a conservative synagogue. If my assumption is correct, there are Jews that believe you are not really Jewish because you don’t wear the proper garments and don’t observe the religious rites in the “correct” way. What are the “proper” rites — if one observes channukah, pesach, yom kippur and rosh hashannah does that make one Jewish? Or must one observe all of the holidays to be Jewish? Just because you define Judaism in a narrow fashion doesn’t mean all of us do, and when did God give you the right to decide who is and who isn’t a Jew?
The narrow definitions you insist on are based in fear and trap you into the belligerent attitudes you express.
How about anything. This slightest thing. Jon Liebowitz does nothing. Less than nothing.
I don’t see things your way. Nevertheless, may goodness find you today and everyday.
“take a valium” is not a mature argument.
Arguing over the details of a maniac’s dream is acting just as insane as the dreamer. When do we drop all the imaginary labels and go back to being human?