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18th May 2021

John Oliver condemns Israel and urges US to change its stance on conflict

Charlie Herbert

The host devoted a 10-minute segment of his show to the conflict.

John Oliver has criticised President Joe Biden for his response to the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine, and urged the US to reconsider its position on the crisis.

On his weekly late-night show Last Week Tonight, the British-born comedian spent 10 minutes discussing the conflict in his traditional monologue style, criticising the “sanitised terms” in some of the media coverage of the events in Gaza.

“If I may quote the riskiest thing you could possibly say on a first date, let’s talk about Israel,” he began.

“The vast majority of the Palestinians in Gaza are not part of Hamas,” he continued. “They don’t get together and all decide to launch rockets. It’s not a fucking co-op board. But when Israel fires rockets at Gaza, it endangers all Palestinians there.”

Over the past week the region has seen its worst violence since 2014, which was sparked after weeks of clashes in Jerusalem between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.

President Biden has asked for peace in the region but has consistently defended Israel’s right to defend itself, a stance that Oliver labelled “deeply underwhelming” and “generic.”

He said: “It’s the exact same line that Obama said and that Bush said before him.”

“There is a real tendency, particularly in America, to ‘both sides’ this situation, and I’m not saying that there aren’t some areas where that’s warranted, but it’s important to recognise there are also areas where it’s simply not.”

The host did acknowledge that “lots is complicated here,” but suggested that the US “might want to seriously consider its long-held position.”

His views are similar to those expressed by US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders.

“If the Biden admin can’t stand up to an ally, who can it stand up to?” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted over the weekend. “How can they credibly claim to stand for human rights?”

Sanders wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times last week: “In this moment of crisis, the United States should be urging an immediate cease-fire.”

“With a new president, the United States now has the opportunity to develop a new approach to the world — one based on justice and democracy,” he added.

“Whether it is helping poor countries get the vaccines they need, leading the world to combat climate change or fighting for democracy and human rights around the globe, the United States must lead by promoting cooperation over conflict.”