American Jewish Committee Head David Harris Rips Trevor Noah for ‘Ignoring the True Nature of Hamas’

Trevor Noah speaks onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center on March 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

After Comedy Central’s The Daily Show host Trevor Noah suggested Israel not retaliate against Hamas terrorist attacks, likening the conflict to a teenager fighting back against his bratty younger brothers, American Jewish Committee (AJC) executive officer David Harris fired back at Noah’s “troubling monologue.”

Noah addressed the recent Hamas attacks on Israel and the latter’s response on his Tuesday show, criticizing Israel for striking back at Gaza following indiscriminate Hamas terrorist rocket attacks.

“If you are in a fight where the other person cannot beat you, how much should you retaliate when they try to hurt you?” he asked his viewers during the 10-minute monologue. “Honest question.”

The Daily Show Twitter account, which boasts nearly ten million followers, also posted the monologue which has received over 1.6 million views as of Friday morning.

In response, AJC head David Harris penned an “open letter” to the liberal host, critiquing the monologue.

In it, Harris berated Noah for framing his remarks as though “there were competing narratives” and he was “nothing more than a curious third party.”

Harris then put the current conflict in context, starting with the history of the land at its center.

“When you assert that the British took the land from the Palestinians, not quite,” he wrote. “Actually, the British took the land from the Ottoman Turks, who had ruled there for centuries.”

“Palestinians never had a sovereign state of their own,” he explained. “The Jews did, by the way, though that was vanquished by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago.”

Seeking to communicate “demonstrable facts” over “personal opinions,” Harris described the very origins of the conflict.

“The UN recommended… a two-state settlement as early as 1947,” he wrote. “It was accepted by the Jews, rejected by the Arabs.”

He continued by explaining that for nearly two decades after that, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza were all under Arab control. 

“A Palestinian state could have been created at any time,” he wrote. “It wasn’t.”

Harris also noted that since the outset of the century, Israel has offered several two-state accords to the Palestinians, but each time the latter rejected it. 

In 2005, Harris wrote, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and gave local residents “their first chance in history to govern themselves.” Subsequently, Hamas took control and has “wielded power ruthlessly ever since.”

“What exactly is Hamas?” asked Harris, criticizing Noah for avoiding to address the crucial point. “It is a terrorist organization. That’s not a personal view. It is the formal designation of the United States and the 27-member European Union.”

The goal of Hamas, which Harris said was also missing from Noah’s monologue, is “Israel’s annihilation and replacement by an Islamist regime,” which he writes is both frequently expressed and well-documented.

Harris continued to blast Noah for ignoring “relevant facts” such as “the violent nature of Hamas” and “its doctrinal aims.”

Addressing Noah’s claim that the battle is unfair because Israel possesses more might, Harris said, “You compare casualties, simplistically suggesting the side with the higher number is somehow automatically granted victim status.”

Harris then reiterated Hamas’ aims.

“Hamas’s ire for Israel is permanent, as is its goal of one day dominating Palestinian allegiances not only in Gaza, but in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, as part of its larger strategy,” he wrote.

Calling out Noah’s insensitivity to Israeli victims of the conflict, Harris described the harrowing reality for millions of Israelis.

“You’re downplaying the trauma of millions of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters, caring for the elderly and disabled, and comforting traumatized children, as rockets fly overhead today and could strike anywhere,” he said.

Harris also sought to understand just what Noah proposes for Israel in the face of such hostilities, having exhausted diplomatic resolutions.

“You sidestep a key question — what is Israel supposed to do under such circumstances?” he asked. “What would any country do, when the traditional tools of diplomacy — from conflict management to conflict resolution — don’t stand a chance with an ideologically and theologically driven Hamas?”

Ending on a positive note, Harris emphasized his hope of peace.

“I believe [peace] to be the quest of the vast majority of Israelis,” he wrote.

“They have not experienced a single day of true peace since 1948, nor their families who were survivors of the Holocaust, refugees from communism, or victims of evictions from Arab countries,” he added.

“One day, that peace will be realized, I pray, with the Palestinians,” Harris concluded. “But it won’t happen as long as Hamas rules Gaza, clings to its genocidal goals, and snookers well-meaning people abroad to believe it’s the victim in a conflict, alas, of its own making.”

In recent days, actors, popstars, and Nobel Prize laureates have taken to social media to accuse Israel of “apartheid” and “crimes against humanity” for defending itself against the rocket barrage it faces from the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

Those who did not explicitly condemn Israel were attacked online.

On Wednesday, Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot, most famous for her role as Wonder Woman, faced outcries after a relatively neutral post on social media.

Also on Wednesday, New York City mayoral candidate and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang backtracked after tweeting earlier support of Israel as it continues to be bombarded by rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists.

After the original tweet, progressive Democrats attacked Yang, calling him a “white supremacist” and urging New Yorkers to oppose him. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) even encouraged Muslims not to host him at communal religious celebrations.

In the face of the criticism from anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists in his own party, Yang backed down.

“For those who have spoken to me on this — thank you,” he wrote.

Noah, who replaced Jon Stewart on The Daily Show in 2015, has a history of divisive comments, including some seen as antisemitic or anti-Israel.

A tweet from 2010 accused the Jewish state of an inability to be peaceful.

In 2014, Noah wrote, “Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man.”

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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