"The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart on Thursday denounced as "fascistic" the pressure that right-wing Jews put on other Jews to prevent them from criticizing Israel or expressing their Judaism in controversial ways.
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Discussing his new movie "Rosewater" at the Toronto Film Festival with Canada.com, the American Jewish satirist began talking about the accusations he's faced from Iran about being a Mossad agent, then spoke about the pressure he's come under from Jews outraged at his irreverence toward Israel and the Jewish religion.
"It’s so interesting to me that people want to define who is a Jew and who is not. And normally that was done by people who weren’t Jewish but apparently now it’s done by people who are, and I find that very interesting. It’s more than nationalism," Stewart said.
Interviewer Jon Dekel: "You can’t criticize Israel, right?
Stewart: "No. And you can’t observe (Judaism) in the way you want to observe. And I never thought that that would be coming from brethren. I find it really sad, to be honest.
Interviewer: "I know the feeling."
Stewart: "Yeah, and you see it and it is pretty vicious. And how are you lesser? How are you lesser? It’s fascistic. And the idea that they can tell you what a Jew is. How dare they?"
Stewart went on to say that his criticism of Israel is meant constructively, but some of his fellow Jews don't take it that way.
"I always want to say to people when they come at me like that: 'I would like Israel to be a safe and secure state. What’s your goal?'" Stewart said. "So basically we disagree on how to accomplish that but boy do they, I mean, you would not believe the shit. You have guys on television saying I’m a Jew like the Jews in the Nazi camps who helped bring the other Jews to ovens. I have people that I lost in the Holocaust and I just go fuck yourself. How dare you?"
He suggested that Israel's policies were an overreaction to the legacy of Jewish oppression: "The danger of oppression is not just being oppressed, it’s becoming an oppressor. Because that will deteriorate a society as quickly as being oppressed. And that’s a real danger."
Interviewer: "The difference is, in my mind, that the west trumpets Israel as a realistic, functioning democratic society."
Stewart: "And then you look and say, 'A thousand more acres in the West Bank? Why?' But I agree with you. I find it fascinating and troubling."