The Independent recently covered the evidently serious controversy surrounding the following Tweet by comedian Bill Maher.
Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u – u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) July 18, 2014
The Indy, in an article published today (July 18th), had a clear critical editorial stance towards the Tweet:
Bill Mayer has sparked a bitter backlash online for appearing to condone Israeli aggression in Gaza and domestic violence in one, foul Twitter swoop.
“You can only hold her wrists for so long before you have to slap her,” he wrote.
The caustic American comedian, who is himself of Jewish heritage, compared Palestinian Sunni Islamic organisation Hamas to a “crazy woman trying to kill you”.
His controversial “joke” comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the IDF had launched a directive for “ground action” against Gaza.
Palestinian health officials say that 233 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air and naval strikes during 10 days of conflict. Meanwhile, one Israeli civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza.
His comments were heavily criticised, not just for appearing to suggest a pro-Israel stance, but also for appearing to be insensitive to victims of domestic violence:
Note that readers are informed that Maher is Jewish, despite the fact that he’s only half-Jewish, and is a well-known agnostic and fierce critic of religion – a gratuitous reference which may be inconsistent with the section of the Editor Code which warns against providing details of an individual’s religion unless relevant to the story.
However, for some reason, editors at the Indy covered the story of a British comedian named Alexis Sayle – who gave an interview where he likened Israel to a child rapist and a psychopath – in a context which appeared to at least legitimize his comparison:
First, here’s the video:
[vimeo 100743742 w=500 h=281]
The July 15th Indy story begins:
Comedian and pro-Palestinian activist Alexei Sayle has fiercely condemned Israel’s air strikes in the Gaza Strip, by comparing the nation’s behaviour to that of prolific sex offender Jimmy Savile.
His comments were released after Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip – killing one Palestinian civilian – after Hamas rejected a ceasefire plan and continued rocket attacks. 166 people in Gaza have died in the week-long offensive, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
“Israel is the Jimmy Saville of nation states,” Sayle said on Tuesday during an interview with advocacy group Caabu.
“It clearly doesn’t care about damaging the lives of children,” he added, referring to the late entertainer.
Sayle also described Israel as a “teenager that’s never been given any boundaries.”
“[Israel] is endlessly indulged by its doting parents, the West, and has become a psychopath as a result.
“It thinks that everybody else is in the wrong and it is in the right,” he said.
Note that while Maher’s Tweet was criticized for “taking a pro-Israel stance” (and offending women, which, by itself, is a reasonable conclusion), there’s not a word in the Sayle story suggesting that his comparison between Israel and a child molester just may be a bit offensive, either to Israelis or victims of child abuse.
Of course, the big difference between Maher and Sayle is that the former was taking aim at an Islamist group which openly incites its followers to kill Jews, while Sayle was going after the state being targeted by these antisemitic extremists.
The moral confusion amongst segments of the British Left is at times astounding.