Endless Rockets Fired From Gaza, But Trevor Noah Only Questions Israel’s Response
By now, millions have seen “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah’s piece to camera, titled “Let’s Talk About the Israel-Palestine Conflict.”
A picture of earnestness, Noah addresses his audience saying that while he doesn’t have the answers, the situation in the Middle East all seems “rather unfair.”
The video, uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday, was accompanied by the description, “Tensions between Israel and Palestine escalate, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries. Here’s a look at the nuances of the conflict.”
To his credit, Trevor Noah clearly does try to be nuanced. He makes an attempt to be balanced, and recognizes that this is an issue complicated by decades of history, religious divides, the interests of other countries in the region, and more.
“I don’t think that any TV show in ten minutes is going to come close to solving Israel-Palestine,” Noah admits, saying he’s deliberately staying away from good and bad, and who started. Instead, he continues, people should “ask a different question.”
To the neutral viewer, Noah comes across as level-headed and impartial. But as he continues, his ignorance of Hamas’ cynical manipulation of both international law and media exposure leads him to a disastrous conclusion: “Instead,” he opines, “let’s look at who’s dead, and who’s alive.”
Invoking the perverse morality of body counts, Noah tells the camera that significantly more Palestinians have been killed and wounded, and that he “cannot watch that footage, and hear those numbers, and see a fair fight.”
Sadly, he fails to take several crucial factors into account:
- Each and every single rocket fired by Hamas is a war crime on two different counts: First, because terrorists in Gaza are aiming rockets at innocent Israeli civilians. Second, by storing weaponry and locating personnel in residential buildings, schools and other densely-populated non-military areas, Hamas deliberately and cynically uses civilians as human shields.
- Every sovereign state has a right to defend itself. Even if Israel is capable of defending itself from 90% of attacks, that doesn’t mean that Hamas and Islamic Jihad should be allowed to continue lashing out. Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens.
- While Noah mentions the number of people killed in Gaza, he fails to mention that many of those dead are terrorists — some of them were actually neutralized while launching attacks against Israel.
- Noah includes the number of children killed, but does not include the fact that at least six of those children were killed as the result of a rocket fired from Gaza that fell short. According to IDF estimates, roughly a third of the projectiles fired from Gaza landed inside the densely populated enclave.
- The numbers game is misleading in another way: The fact that there is an imbalance between the number of Israeli civilians killed and Palestinian terrorists killed is not a negative thing. If 50 terrorists in Gaza were killed, and 50 civilians in Israel were killed, would that be “fair”? Obviously not.
Toward the end, Noah says, “I know people are going to hate me for this, but I just want to ask an honest question here: If you are in a fight where the other person cannot beat you, how hard should you retaliate when they try to hurt you?” He then proceeds to compare himself as a child dealing with an annoying younger sibling, and being told by his mother that he had to restrain himself.
Likening the situation to someone bringing a knife to a gunfight, Noah pointedly finishes by rhetorically demanding Israel consider its use of power, “All I’m asking is: when you have this much power, what is your responsibility?”
On the face of it, the point is reasonable. But both are poorly thought-out metaphors.
While Gaza is indeed significantly weaker than Israel, the terror groups there are funded and equipped with weapons by Iran. And as opposed to these parallels, Israeli civilians are actually being grievously wounded and killed by these rockets. This week alone, two Israeli children have been killed by rockets.
Finally, Noah, like so many others, disregards the numerous attempts Israel has made over the last few days to prevent escalation:
- Jewish pilgrims were prevented from ascending to Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, on Jerusalem Day.
- The traditional Jerusalem Day flag parade was rerouted, so as to keep Jews away from the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, a predominantly Arab area.
- The controversial court hearing regarding the question of ownership of properties in Sheikh Jarrah/Shimon HaTzadik was postponed by a month, so as to ease tensions.
- When Hamas started firing rockets, Israel did not initially respond. Only after several dozens of missiles were unleashed did Israel fire back.
All of the above shows that Israel has made genuine attempts to de-escalate. But Israel alone cannot stop the violence.
As long as Hamas continues to commit war crimes and kill Israeli civilians, Israel is compelled to react. And as long as Noah and others make demands of Israel, and Israel alone, then the media give Hamas exactly what it wants.
In using simplistic analogies, Noah falls naively into the trap set by Hamas.
Just a reminder: Hamas sacrifices its own civilians on the altar of bad publicity for Israel.
And when journalists focus on these needless deaths, without making clear that Hamas’ strategy of using human shields is to blame, news outlets give Hamas EXACTLY what it’s looking for.
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) May 11, 2021
Emanuel Miller is a writer-researcher for HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias.
This article originally appeared at HonestReporting, which is providing vital work in correcting anti-Israel narratives during the current crisis.