Daily show hosts Mustafa Barghouthi 29Oct09 October 30, 2009

Ma’an News Agency -  29 October 2009


Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) appeared on The Daily Show Wednesday night alongside Jewish activist Anna Baltzer, speaking about the demands of Palestinians for equal rights and respect.

During the show one audience member called Barghouthi a “liar,” and shortly thereafter announced he was leaving the New York studio, escorted out by guards after a second outburst following the condemnation of Israeli violations by Baltzer.

“There is nothing defensive about denying Palestinians water. There is nothing defensive about preventing people from having materials to build their homes. So much of the institutions that I understood to be defensive cannot be justified by security anymore,” Baltzer, who authored Witness in Palestine, told the show’s estimated 1.6 million viewers.

Stewart, who reportedly knew what he was getting into when he announced the show would host the two authors and activists, told the studio audience that whenever he gets calls about Israel/Palestine, from either side, “he treats them like calls from his grandmother (and he mimicked holding the phone away from his ear as he went about his business),” one audience member wrote following the show.

Taking cues from the audience outburst, Stewart commented to Barghouthi, “there are incredibly strong opinions [on the issue of Israel/Palestine]. A man shouted ‘liar’ at you when you just said that this was the longest occupation.”

Barghouthi replied, saying he “would like very much to meet with him [the audience member] and explain to him…” at which point Stewart interjected sarcastically, “I think that would go very well.”

Both host and guests were unanimous on the issue of the presentation of Palestinian and Israeli news in North American media being biased. “People aren’t getting that information, the information about what’s going on…people don’t want to hear,” Baltzer told Stewart.

While Barghouthi insisted the issue was no longer “just an Arab issue or a Muslim issue, but it is a human issue,” Baltzer, speaking directly to an American audience, said, “There is no reason why we as American citizens should not be disproportionately concerned with what’s happening with our weapons and our money,” she said referring to the aid and support the United States gives Israel, reaching billions of dollars each year.

Speaking much more directly to American sensibilities and recent media concerns than Barghouthi, who nonetheless provided a solid line on Palestinian non-violence, stressing what he called the “90%” of Palestinian resistance that is non-violent and resolutely demanding equal rights for Palestinians, Baltzer cut to the chase and told the audience:

“The question is not whether Israel should be singled out for criticism, it’s whether Israel should be held to the same standards as any other country. Israel is in violation of more UN resolutions that Iraq and Iran, yet Iraq and Iran were targeted by the US, we give Israel more aid than we give anyone else.”

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