Paul Ben Ishai
Paul Ben Ishai
Just muddling through.......

Dear John – Or why John Oliver is a sanctimonious little pr…

Dear John,

I am, I suppose, a fan of yours. I enjoy your wry British humour picking apart the inconsistencies and injustices of American society. I love the casual use of British swearing and depreciating behaviour. It reminds me of home (I too am an expat) and I am sure it flies over the head of many of your American viewers. I really like how your research team does its job. Something tells me they know the American scene inside out. So I just have to say what an absolute sod you are.

I watched your in-depth exposure of our little conflict over here. Even better, I did it from inside my little bomb shelter. You and Trevor Noah really know squat!

So let’s unpack your little missive, as you like to do, without the complicated back story, as you also like to do. Sheikh Jarrah is an ugly little land dispute involving six families, about 58 people, out of a population of 3,000. Hardly the mass expulsion your piece seemed to suggest. And yes, it involves a settler group who many in Israel find objectionable and our Supreme Court is ruling on the legality of it. But the tear-jerking interview you featured would have you think it is more. There have been violent demonstrations against it, attacks on passersby and police violence. I do not deny it. But, ugly as it is, does that justify rockets? Your piece seems to suggest yes.

And then you get to ‘Tit for tat”. What drivel!  Hamas, which is not a “Palestinian Group” as you suggest, but the ruling authority of Gaza, holding sway of 2 million people, a standing army of 60,000 (it is a shame that your researchers didn’t bother checking that one) a rocket arsenal of 16,000 short and mid-range rockets (which are falling on my friends at the moment. Fortunately, not on me at the moment) declared a war by firing 6 rockets at Jerusalem.  What else do you call that?  Or do you need to refer to the Geneva convention for that one too.

Now we could have done what the US did in Fallujah, Iraq. Or maybe what Putin did in Aleppo or in Grozny, or what the Saudis are doing in Yemen and simply carpet bombed the place, killed thousands indiscriminately. That would stop rocket attacks on our cities. That would stop Israelis dying. But we did not, did we. Not that you made a pithy little piece about those instances did you……?  Couldn’t you find the definitions in the Geneva conventions?

No doubt because those instance of dealing with rockets and violence are not in the news at the moment. And that is the crux of the matter. Distressing pictures of kids looking at broken homes makes good TV. Pithy TV is made by asking direct one sentence questions like “But you killed children, didn’t you?” as a BBC reporter did to an Army spokeswoman. I always thought you were into “in depth” reporting. The fact is in your 4 minute 55 second piece you totally misrepresented the story over here. Totally played the facile emotional aspect and not for a second looked deeper. That makes you a bigger prick than most, because from you I would expect better.

And then we (the collective we – for all Israelis) have to apologize that we have the Iron Dome system.  For f**k’s sake, John! They are firing volleys of hundreds of missiles at a time with 90 kg warheads at our towns for the express purpose of killing civilians! Me! And you dare to suggest that its ‘unfair’ that we have an anti missile system that works!  Just for once, come to Israel and sit in a home bunker under fire. Feel what fear is. See your neighbour’s kids flinch at the booms and explosions. And then say “Thank Christ!” for it wasn’t you this time, because for 10 of my country men it was, despite the Iron Dome system.

Unlike you, we know the cost of wars.  The broken people they leave behind, the families they destroy. So don’t you dare get sanctimonious at us in your comfy little studio. Get a taste instead. Visit some PTS veterans or bereaved families. While you do speak to someone in the US Army or Air Force and ask them if they think the civilian death toll on the Palestinian side is outrageous, or rather amazingly low. But I forgot; you don’t want to get into depth on this one. You are right. The Palestinians don’t have an Iron Dome or bomb shelters. You could ask why Hamas, who have ruled Gaza now for 14 years, saw fit to build 1,000 kilometers of attack tunnels for their army and their missiles at the cost of millions of US dollars, but not a single shelter for the civilian population. You could, but you didn’t. Even though Hamas starts firing missiles at every opportunity at Israel  (4 time s this year alone, not including now.  Your researchers can check it out here.  This is why I am furious at you.

Finally, those buildings you object to.  According to the Geneva conventions:

“Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

Our military claims (and guess what, I believe them) that those buildings are being used for military command and control, despite the presence of civilians, of these rocket attacks. Not really so far-fetched, seeing as the rocket stores are kept in the middle of residential neighbourhoods, as are rocket launchers  (or are you going to deny that too).  You could have demanded proof from the Israeli military, but you didn’t, instead you just called it a war crime.  You didn’t even mention, not a peep, the claims that these buildings have a military side.  That makes you an asse, playing to the tune of Hamas propaganda, because, as you can read above, in that case it isn’t a war crime, it’s a military necessity .

Eventually all the proofs will come out and many an American military man will stand in awe of just how few civilians have died, given that Hamas purposely placed its rockets amongst them, using them as human shields (which is a war crime).  You, however, won’t report an apology or a retraction or an in-depth study.  It will not be news by then. Actually, it will not be American news.

About the Author
Originally from the UK, I made Aliyah 36 years ago. I am an Academic Staff member of the Physics Department of Ariel University, married with 3 children. I have authored of 80 publications in various fields of Physics and Chemistry. One of the subjects I specialize in is the interaction of Human skin and high frequency radio waves. I am also a scientific advisor for the Environmental Health Trust (
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