There’s a lot of buzz on Facebook and blogs about Bassem Youssef’s interview last night on LBC– namely the interviewer’s baseless accusation that American comedian Jon Stewart is a Zionist.
Because the show is ridiculously long–as is the case with most Lebanese TV interviews–I thought I would save you all the grief of watching the whole thing by posting this embedded snippet of the specific moment show host Neshan utters the phrase “Jon Stewart the Zionist” as if it was a medieval title.
Youssef looks shocked at first, but then calmly explains to Neshan that Stewart has been a strong critic of Israel, settlements and AIPAC– and that there is a difference between being Jewish and Zionist.
“It’s like saying every Muslim is a terrorist,” Youssef says.
I’ve started the embed just a moment before this when Neshan broaches the subject of the two comedians’ friendship by asking who has a bigger production team. Youssef answers by saying his staff is relatively small and works “by hand” while Stewart’s has sophisticated keyword scouring video software–probably the only informative/redeeming aspect of the interview. It goes downhill from there.
Nishan (Interviewer): Does he (Stewart) have a production team as big as yours? Youssef: He has a much bigger team, especially all the stuff they shoot outside the program. He has a sophisticated production team. He has keyword search software, while my team, my research team, does things by hand (manually) and we don’t have the same software. He has a big capacity, a big budget–his show has been around for 14 years. Nishan: John Stewart, the Zionist– Youssef: Zionist?? Nishan: the word Zionist..Today when we say in the Arab world the word Zionist–
Youssef: He’s not a Zionist at all.
Nishan: When we say the word Zionist… Is this still a taboo in the Arab World? That a Zionist is a boogieman, that– Youssef: Wait, there is a big difference between Zionist and Jewish. Nishan: mmm… But he serves the Zionist agenda– Youssef: It’s like you are saying a Muslim is a terrorist. It’s not helpful. Not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every terrorist is a Muslim, not every Jew is a Zionist. And by the way, not every Zionist is a Jew. Many Zionists in America are rightist Christians. Nishan: That’s the stereotype. Youssef: That’s the stereotype. On the contrary, this Jew–and he’s not a Zionist–is the biggest defender of the Palestinians in Gaza (the Israeli operation) in 2006… a defender against those who oppose building settlements… And in one episode he talked about how the US presidential candidates John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama serve AIPAC, the Zionist lobby…. He also defended what was called the “911 Mosque”… He also did a series of episodes criticizing water-boarding as an interrogation method… that even terrorists should be treated as humans… Nishan: (Trying to change subject) You didn’t tell me, what are you going to do in your new show?