Israeli comedian Tom Aharon hit back with humor-tinged anguish to an on-air broadside against Israel delivered by John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”
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“It pained me to see a personal hero of mine” make remarks that were “unfair, unjust and simplistic,” Aharon said in a monologue he delivered Oliver-style on his show on the Kan public television, sandwiching his critique between self-deprecating jokes about oral sex and his dog’s bad behavior.
Aharon played a clip of Oliver attacking the media for framing the violence as a tit-for-tat war, although one side suffered ten times the number of casualties, "something which speaks to both the severe power imbalance at play here and how that often gets obscured by how we choose to talk about it."
“This isn't tit-for-tat,” Oliver said, “There is a massive imbalance when it comes to the two sides' weaponry and capability."
Oliver said Israeli airstrikes on civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip "sure seem like a war crime" during a monologue in which he blasted Israel for using disproportionate force in the violent conflict that has claimed the lives of 227 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel.
"It is true that the militant groups from Palestinian groups like Hamas fired over a thousand rockets towards Israel this week. And that is reprehensible... but the majority of those rockets thankfully didn't reach those targets for a very clear reason," Oliver said, pointing to Israel's Iron Dome defense missile system.
“It almost says you are mad at us for not taking more casualties,” observed Aharon in response. “Let me get this straight. Hamas fired over a thousand missiles at civilians but they don’t count because we stopped them in mid-air? That doesn’t make sense. That’s like me going to a nursing home and injecting the elderly with a live COVID sample and the nurses going: “Well, they’re all vaccinated, so I guess that’s cool. You only got a small number of them.”
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He added that while he wanted Israel would do more to avoid civilian casualties, it is “pretty fucking hard” to do so given that Hamas is “rooted” inside civilian populations in Gaza.
Mentioning that, Aharon said, would have provided context to Oliver’s remarks, he noted.
“Simplifying a complex matter doesn’t do justice for either side. It’s a luxury for bystanders to make cutting statements on a centuries-long conflict that people live through every day,” he said, adding, “I would hope to have just a fraction of a white man’s confidence when I’m talking about things that happen thousands of miles from where I live.”
Aharon injected a dose of political humor in his reaction to Oliver’s point that the people of Gaza shouldn’t suffer for the sins of Hamas.
“We can’t change the regime in Gaza,” Aharon said. “We can’t even change the regime in Israel and we’ve had like 20 elections in one year.”