Promoting his debut film Rosewater, which is set to premier later this month, Daily Show host Jon Stewart spoke about the fighting in Gaza, why Iran thinks he’s a Mossad agent, and why Israel was never an option for the film’s location – despite it being set in Iran.
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Stewart – born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz – defended his comments on Gaza saying “I’ve made a living for 16 years criticizing certain policies that I think are not good for America. That doesn’t make me anti-American. And if I do the same with Israel, that doesn’t make me anti-Israel.”
During the operation, Stewart used the Daily Show to criticize the “asymmetrical” nature of the fighting between Hamas and Israel, and poked fun at Israel’s policy of warning Gazans before attacks on civilian centers – known in Israel as ‘knock on the roof’.
“(Israel warns) Gaza’s residents of imminent bombing with a smaller, warning bombing, an ‘amuse-boom,’ if you will. And then at that point, what are Gazans supposed to do?! Evacuate to where? Have you f—ing seen Gaza? Israel has blocked this border. Egypt blocked this border. What are they supposed to do? Swim for it!?” Stewart said at the time.
As the Hollywood report aptly noted the piece set off a “flurry of counterattacks” from pro-Israel hawks, some of which slammed Stewart as a self-hating Jew.
“Look, there’s a lot of reasons why I hate myself — being Jewish isn’t one of them,” Stewart told the Reporter.
“So when someone starts throwing that around, or throwing around you’re pro-terrorist, it’s more just disappointing than anything else… If there is something constructive in what they’re saying, hopefully I’m still open enough … to take it in and let it further inform my position. But I’m pretty impermeable to yelling. As soon as they go to, ‘Your real name is Leibowitz!’ that’s when I change the channel.”
Rosewater – Stewart’s first film both as a director and screenwriter – tells the story of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian Canadian journalist that was arrested after the covering the controversial 2009 Iranian elections. Bahari’s arrest also took place and was at least partially facilitated by his appearance on the Daily Show, and clips of the segment were reportedly used in his interrogation by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
As can be imagined, Iran is not thrilled with the movie, which takes a very critical view of the controversial reelection of then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – and has already begun to attempt to discredit Stewart.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Iran’s state-run media already has dubbed the film “anti-Iranian” and “ultra-formulaic” and says it was funded by the “Zionist lobby” which it described as Stewart’s “masters,” including, but not limited to the “Jewish family Pritzker.”
Stewart shrugs off the comments, saying “The suggestion is that the CIA and Zionist lobby funded this… I guess I’m still waiting for the money.”
When asked why Israel was never considered as a possible location, despite its recent popularity in foreign productions, Stewart responded that “You’ve already got a Jewish guy directing it. They’re already putting out seven-minute pieces, the Iranian press, that I’m a CIA and a Mossad agent. So the last thing we want to do is add fuel to that.”
Earlier in the week, we reported that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak would be in Israel to speak at a conference on education.
During his visit, Wozniak toured communities in Israel near the Gaza border, which he called “one of [his] best experiences [he's] ever had.”
While visiting Jerusalem, Wozniak noted: “had a good time visiting Jerusalem and Gaza Strip today. If Israel did not react, the rockets would continue anyway. If Hamas halted rockets, Israel would not attack them. Peace.”
The technology legend also visited the offices of Israeli startups. On the topic of tech, Wozniak admits that he’s heard amazing things about tech in Israel, and has bought great products from Israeli companies, including the pocket printer.
Check out a video of Woz discussing his time in Israel here.
:: Israel 21C
Hey Israeli artists, the man who discovered the Ramones, Talking Heads and other rock icons wants to sign you. Seymour Stein, co-founder of Sire Records and current vice president of Warner Bros., will deliver the keynote address at the upcoming Tune In Tel Aviv, an annual conference for the music industry in Israel.
Tune In Tel Aviv is billed as Israel’s international music industry conference, and takes place Nov. 19-23. Over 50 local artists will be showcased for global bookers, agents and labels. In addition to handling keynote duties, Stein hopes to find a new artist to sign.
Stein told the Jerusalem Post that he’s been hearing about “all the fantastic music coming out of Israel these past years; and I truly look forward to seeing for myself the best artists which [Israel] has to offer. I would love to sign another Israeli act.”
Read more at Billboard.com.
In petition published Saturday, stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen express support for Israel, say Hamas ‘cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor … hold its own people hostage.’
Scores of celebrities and power-brokers from the Hollywood establishment have come out in support of Israel and a peaceful resolution to its conflict with Hamas, with stars as diverse as Sarah Silverman, Seth Rogen and Arnold Schwarzenegger signing a joint statement released Saturday.
The statement of support was initially to be published in magazines Billboard, Variety and Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, and later be featured in influential newspapers in the US.
While many of those are famous names to the general public, such as Schwarzenegger and Rogen, as well as Sylvester Stallone, Kelsey Grammer and Joel and Benji Madden, more than a few are entertainment industry heavy-hitters, including director Ivan Reitman, writer Aaron Sorkin, producers Michael Rotenberg and Avi Lerner, chairman and CEO of PMK•BNC Michael Nyman, talent manager Danny Sussman and mogul Haim Saban. Barr and Bialik, who have been outspoken in their support for Israel, are also signatories.
The statement decries Hamas attacks on Israel and its operation within civilian population centers, and condemns the organization for its charter that calls for the killing of Jews.
Hamas, it says, “cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles.”
The statement comes after weeks in which a number of celebrities, including Penelope Cruz and husband Javier Bardem, have condemned Israel for its handing of conflict, with Cruz and Bardem even accusing Israel of genocide. But with the notable exceptions of comedian Joan Rivers and actors Roseanne Barr and Mayim Bialik, few have expressed support for Israel.
The petition, the largest of kind to ever appear in Hollywood, is the brainchild of the Creative Community for Peace, The organization says “represent(s) a cross section of the creative world – those who create and help create music, films, and television programs – and their fans.”
The statement, which appears on the organization’s website, says that despite differences over how to achieve Middle East peace, all its members oppose the policy of “singling out Israel” for boycott.
“We may not all share the same politics or the same opinion on the best path to peace in the Middle East,” the statement says. “But we do agree that singling out Israel, the only democracy in the region, as a target of cultural boycotts while ignoring the now-recognized human rights issues of her neighbors will not further peace.”
We, the undersigned, are saddened by the devastating loss of life endured by Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. We are pained by the suffering on both sides of the conflict and hope for a solution that brings peace to the region.
While we stand firm in our commitment to peace and justice, we must also stand firm against ideologies of hatred and genocide which are reflected in Hamas’ charter, Article 7 of which reads, “There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” The son of a Hamas founder has also commented about the true nature of Hamas.
Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields.
We join together in support of the democratic values we all cherish and in the hope that the healing and transformative power of the arts can be used to build bridges of peace.
“Oh, Israel.What a month it’s been for you and me. I lost a lot of fans this month because of my love for you. But it’s OK. I love you more than popularity, even when you make me crazy”
Pope Francis is personally organizing an all-star soccer “peace match” to promote coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Argentina’s star player Lionel Messi says the pontiff has personally called him to play in the match, scheduled for September 1 in Rome.
Entitled The Match of Peace, it will take place at Rome’s acclaimed Olympic Stadium. While the entire list of all stars has yet to be announced, fellow Argentinean star Diego Maradona is also scheduled to participate.
Messi, who is the star Barcelona FC striker and UNICEF ambassador, may have been tapped due to his involvement in the Gaza crisis. Last week, the star striker posted a photo of a wounded Palestinian child from the Gaza Strip on his Facebook page, calling to end all violence affecting children in the region .
“I am terribly saddened by the images coming from the conflict between Israel and Palestine, where violence has already claimed so many young lives and to injure countless children,” Messi shared, in both English and Arabic, with his nearly 68 million Facebook followers.
Yossi Benayoun, Israel’s star player in recent years, will also participate in next month’s Rome match, as will players from Russia, Cameroon, Italy, France and Brazil.
The Pupi Foundation, a charity founded by the Argentine soccer player Javer “Pupi” Zanetti, as well as the Pontifical Academy for Social Science will host the match.