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Watch Hillary Clinton vs. Jon Stewart on Gaza

The former Secretary of State places blame for conflict squarely on Hamas

Yair Rosenberg
July 17, 2014
(The Daily Show)
(The Daily Show)

This past Monday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart devoted two-and-a-half minutes to tackling the current conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. The segment was seen as so one-sided in its excoriation of the Jewish state that it went viral among the country’s opponents, and provoked a full rebuttal from David Horovitz, the editor of the Times of Israel. Online columns, however, are no match for viral video—while Horovitz’s column racked up an impressive 10,000 Facebook shares, the clip of Stewart’s segment has been viewed over 700,000 times. But the next night, a guest on Stewart’s own show challenged his assumptions about who is to blame for the current violence: Hillary Clinton.

The widely presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner joined the show for a far-ranging interview about her life and political aspirations. Naturally, the conversation soon turned to the war in Gaza. “Can we at least agree the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is overwhelming,” Stewart asked, “and that the world must do more for the people who are trapped by this conflict?” Clinton agreed with the premise–and then turned it on Hamas. “Yes, and they’re trapped by their leadership. Unfortunately, it’s a two-pronged trapping. They have leadership that is committed to resistance and violence, and therefore their actions are mostly about ‘how do we get new and better missiles to launch them at Israel,’ instead of saying ‘hey, let’s try and figure out how we’re going to help make your lives better.’”

Stewart interjected soon after and asked, “If you’re living in that situation, couldn’t you see yourself thinking, ‘these are our freedom fighters,’ even if they might be viewed differently?” Clinton immediately rejected this characterization of Hamas. “I don’t agree with that for a couple of reasons,” she said. “You know, when Israel withdrew from Gaza … they left a lot of their businesses–there was a really very valuable horticultural business that was set up by the Israelis who had lived in Gaza. And the idea was that this would be literally turned over–money was provided, there would be a fund that would train Palestinians in Gaza to do this work. And basically the leadership said ‘we don’t want anything left from Israel’ [and] destroyed it all. That mentality to me is hard to deal with.”

The pattern repeated itself throughout the interview, with Clinton drawing on her own extensive experience in the Senate and as Secretary of State to buttress her points. Watch the complete exchange:

As it turns out, it’s not just Hillary Clinton who places the onus on Hamas for the current fighting. In an interview today, former President Bill Clinton was even more pointed in his assessment, telling an interviewer, “Hamas was perfectly well aware what would happen if they started raining rockets on Israel. They fired a thousand of them, and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them.” Like his wife, Clinton called for a return to peace negotiations, noting that “over the long run, it is not good for Israel to keep isolating itself from world opinion because of the absence of a viable peace process.”

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.