Jewish Group Rips Jon Stewart for Lumping Israel With Turkey, Russia and Egypt
Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday slammed The Daily Show host Jon Stewart for categorizing freedom of expression in Israel with the repressive regimes of Turkey, Russia and Egypt.
“It’s offensive that Jon Stewart chose to lump Israel in the same boat as Turkey, Russia and Egypt,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean for The Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Algemeiner. “Israel may not be a perfect democracy but it doesn’t jail people for their ideas; for expressing their thoughts. If anything Stewart should’ve mentioned [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas and his PA who have the nasty habit of summoning and arresting political opponents, journalists and bloggers.”
Stewart made the controversial comments Monday night on The Daily Show. While lashing out at President Obama for not attending a massive Paris rally on Sunday in support of free speech, the television host sought to sarcastically point out who did show up at the march, including “Palestinian cartoonist-jailing Israel.”
Stewart pointed out that while some of the leaders at the rally were not known for supporting free expression, they still attended the event, while President Obama did not.
“How could the US not be there when representatives of such beacons of freedom and lack of censorship as journalist-punishing Russia was there?” Stewart asked. “Journalist-jailing Turkey was there. Egypt… ’nuff said. Palestinian cartoonist-jailing Israel was there. And of course, our greatest ally, Saudi Arabia was there — although a little out of breath having just days ago flogged a blogger.”
As back up, Stewart cited an Al Jazeera story about a Palestinian cartoonist whose work “landed him in an Israeli prison for five months.”
But Cooper called Stewart’s remarks “a cheap shot” against Israel. “The bottom line is let him go check and ask Palestinian journalists in the West Bank who are they worried about: the Israeli authorities or the Palestinian authority,” he added.
Cooper also said he found it odd that Stewart suggested it was inappropriate for Israelis to participate in Sunday’s march, considering that the four people murdered at the HyperCacher supermarket attack on Friday were Jews and at least one of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting days earlier was Jewish.