For several years now Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show has shown himself to be the only major media figure to fearlessly challenge the official "line" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Repeatedly, he has slammed the occupation and has even mocked the pretensions of AIPAC which (along with the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee) works hard to keep media figures, like Members of Congress, from addressing the conflict in an honest way.
Last night, Stewart did it again. He and Daily Show correspondent John Oliver did a routine in which they described America's hypocrisy in addressing human rights disasters (like the one in Libya). Their point was that in order to get U.S. assistance, rather than mere equivocation, people struggling for freedom need to meet certain criteria. For instance, it helps if the offending government is America's enemy and if it has oil. (Sudan was offered as an example of the kind of country — poor and without natural resources we need — to which we offer words of support, and not much else.)
The bit ended with the list of criteria an oppressed people must meet in order to get the kind of assistance we are providing Libya. It was a long list, delivered rapid fire like the side-effects described in a pharmaceutical commercial.
But the offer was not for a particular pill or medicine but for America's help in throwing off the bonds of oppression.
And then the kicker:
The audience erupted in applause.
As is usually the case, Jon Stewart is the voice of a younger generation (including Jews like himself) that does not buy into the conventional wisdom accepted and delivered by its elders. Uncritical and unconditional support for Israel, and acceptance of the horrific 44-year occupation, is one example.
Of all the icons that the iconoclastic Stewart chooses to smash, this is the one that gets media figures in the most trouble, which is why Jon Stewart is all alone out there. But not for long.