Sheldon Kirshner

Trevor Noah’s Naive Comments

Trevor Noah, the host of the popular television program, The Daily Show, got himself into hot water the other day by implicitly advising Israel to lie down and play dead in reacting to naked aggression by Hamas.

In the past seven days, Hamas has fired more than 3,000 rockets at Israel, twice as many as in the 2014 war. These unguided projectiles have killed ten civilians and a soldier in indiscriminate barrages that have damaged apartment buildings, shops, a synagogue and an oil refinery.

By way of response, Israel has launched hundreds of retaliatory air strikes at military targets in the Gaza Strip, which has been ruled exclusively by Hamas since 2007. Unfortunately, Palestinian civilians have been killed in the crossfire.

Wading into this highly controversial issue, Noah said, “I know people are going to hate me for this, but I just want to ask an honest question here: If you are in a fight where the other person cannot beat you, how hard should you retaliate when they try to hurt you?”

The comedian then compared himself to a child dealing with an annoying younger brother whose mother admonishes him to exercise restrain because he’s so much stronger than his sibling. Demanding that Israel should consider toning down its air offensive due to its military superiority, he said, “All I’m asking is: when you have this much power, what is your responsibility?”

In closing, he said he could not see a “fair fight” in the latest bloody installment of Israel’s long-running confrontation with Hamas, which is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and seeks to create an Islamic state in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.

Noah’s comments are downright silly, superficial, naive and dangerously misleading. If I understand him correctly, he was suggesting that Israel should not even respond to Hamas rocket barrages, but should rather grin and bear it.

Does he not understand that this gratuitous advice is a prescription for national suicide? It’s obvious that he’s oblivious to the glaring fact that Israel is situated in a very rough neighborhood where weakness and lack of resolve can be fatal.

Just because Israel is militarily far more powerful than Hamas does not mean that it should refrain from using its sophisticated assets in self-defence. Hamas, after all, is throwing everything it has in its arsenal at Israel.

If not for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system, hundreds of Hamas rockets would have landed in residential districts and killed hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of Israelis are fully behind Israel’s current air campaign to deal a crushing blow to Hamas’ military infrastructure. If Israel fails to achieve this important objective, Hamas will be free to stoke further tensions and ignite more wars in the not too distant future.

Ever since Hamas established itself as the dominant force in Gaza, its short-sighted Islamic fundamentalist leadership has converted Gaza into an armed camp and doomed its two million Palestinian inhabitants to deprivation and wars. Gaza’s radical and self-absorbed leaders bear full responsibility for turning Gaza into an economic basket case, a wobbly statelet that could not survive without generous subsidies from Arab benefactors like Qatar.

Let’s also remember that Hamas started this war, the fourth in 13 years, so as to gain political advantage over its rival, the Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank. Hamas is coldly sacrificing the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Palestinians for that end. Hamas, which is supported by Iran, Israel’s foremost enemy, would like nothing better than to extend its rule to the West Bank, but this scenario is not in the cards at present.

Noah did not address these vital issues on his show. But to give him some slack, he was speaking from the gut, not the brain, as he probably would admit. Yet one can only wonder how many of his viewers were brainwashed by his simple-minded rhetoric.

In Hamas, Israel has a determined and resourceful enemy that is squandering blood and treasure to achieve its aims. There is no military solution in Gaza, but Israel has no alternative but to fight back with all its might and resources so that Hamas, hopefully, will learn a lesson it will never forget. It is in Israel’s national security interest to deter and contain Hamas.

If Noah decides to revisit this volatile topic, he should definitely educate himself on its complexities and intricacies before he shoots off his mouth again. Noah is not a fool, but he certainly sounded like one when he fell into the noxious morass of the Arab-Israeli dispute.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,
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