On Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver devoted the first section of his show to a passionate monologue about the current crisis in Israel and Palestine, referring to it as “a form of apartheid.”
Tensions between Israel and Palestine rose over an Israeli Supreme Court decision on whether to uphold the eviction of 13 Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah - a heavily Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
As a result of the ruling, Israel and Hamas have exchanged heavy rocket fire in response to rockets launched by Palestinian militants. According to Gaza health ministry, at least 192 people have been killed in Gaza since last Monday, including 59 children, and 34 women. Eleven Israelis, including one child, have also died in the fighting.
“One side has suffered over 10 times the casualties, something which speaks to both the severe power imbalance at play here and how that often gets obscured by how we choose to talk about it,” Oliver reported on his show.
Rather than trying to “recap the history,” Oliver decided to explain why the incidents of the past week were “just wrong.”
“Look, there is a real tendency, particularly in America, to both-sides this situation. And I am not saying that there aren’t some areas where that’s warranted, but it’s important to recognize there are also areas where it’s simply not,” Oliver explained. “Both sides are firing rockets, but one side has one of the most advanced militaries in the world.
In addition, Oliver highlighted Israel’s Iron Dome, which is an air defense system that intercepts missiles—and is largely funded by the U.S. He explained that citizens of Gaza “don’t have an Iron Dome to protect them the way the citizens of Israel do” which is one of the many ways why they’re at a disadvantage.
“There is a massive imbalance when it comes to the two sides’ weaponry and capabilities. While most of the rockets aimed toward Israeli citizens this week were intercepted, Israel’s airstrikes were not,” Oliver explained in the 19-minute long segment.
Oliver concluded the show by criticizing the false similarities which prevent individuals from talking honestly about the situation.
“But we have got to start having this conversation honestly, and falling back on convenient, sanitized terms like “real estate disputes” and “airstrikes on militants” feels a little disingenuous when what you’re describing is forcing people from the homes they’ve lived in for decades and killing civilians and children,” Oliver said.
“And again, none of this frees Hamas from responsibility, but Hamas doesn’t represent all Palestinians, just as what Israel is doing right now doesn’t represent all Israelis or indeed, Jewish people. Lots is complicated here. But some things are pretty simple. One side is suffering much more. And if America really wants to help, it might want to seriously consider changing its long-held position here, because for decades, the backbone of America’s policy in the middle east is that America is an unwavering friend to Israel.”
He said that America calls itself a great friend to Israel, but added: “At the end of the day, I would hope that a real friend would tell me when I’m being an a**hole, and definitely when I’m committing a f***ing war crime.”