Debunking Bill Maher’s Dehumanizing Caricature Of Gaza – Robert Inlakesh 6/4/24


A segment on Bill Maher’s HBO show, Real Time, has recently gone viral on social media and features him making a range of arguments about how Israelis “look like us, in most ways, values wise”, while the culture in Gaza is painted as backwards. He also compares Hamas and the Israeli government, presenting Tel Aviv as a beacon of light in comparison to Hamas, which he depicts as being the equivalent of savages.

this is amazing. Here’s Bill Maher, with the good “progressive” Matt Duss sitting and nodding along, saying Palestinians are all pedophiles. This is coming from a Zionist as he’s defending Israel which is literally a safe haven for pedophiles and gives them honorary awards

— ☀️ (@zei_squirrel) June 2, 2024

The original clip, from Bill Maher’s show, which has been consistently pro-Israeli over the years, actually aired over 7 months ago and has recently resurfaced in a major way online, drawing both agreement from some and the ire of others. Maher infamously gave a softball interview to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in October of 2022 when he was out of office and went on a US media tour to promote his new book. Bill Maher jokingly asked Netanyahu “I have three questions for you: Are you massacring Palestinians, are you ethnic cleansing, and are you an apartheid state?“, to which he replied “no, no and no” after which applause broke out and Maher moved on to another softball question.

Although Bill Maher strikes a stance of protecting Israel to the hilt, while attempting to blame every Israeli problem on Benjamin Netanyahu, he tries to come off as an edgy truth teller. This act makes him a rather effective propagandist for the Israeli war machine and that is why it is important to point out his distortions, lies, and attempts to package a genocide as plausible. Despite his language clearly striking an orientalist, Islamophobic and racist tone, simply labelling him as such is both giving him an easy way out, allowing him to call his critics “woke” and fails to debunk his propaganda for those who aren’t aware of the reality of the Palestine-Israel conflict. So, let’s go through Maher’s list.

“Religious Tolerance”

“Religious tolerance. That doesn’t exist in Gaza” says Bill Maher, who goes on to say “you are either a Muslim or an Infidel and you better be a Muslim”. Contrary to Bill Maher’s ridiculous claims, there is a small but thriving Christian Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, many of whom have now been unfortunately killed by Israeli airstrikes or driven out of the territory during the ongoing war.

Palestinian Christians have always been an essential part of Palestine’s society and while a majority of them that still live there are located in the West Bank, there has always been a Christian community in Gaza. Over 1,000 Christians lived in Gaza before Israel’s attack began in October, of which 70% were Greek Orthodox and the remaining population were Roman Catholics. The Christians in Gaza were always known to be wealthy and well educated. On a personal note, my mother-in-law told me that, growing up in Gaza, every single one of her teachers at the local UN school she attended in her refugee camp were Christians. It is a well known fact that as a financially prosperous community, the Christians of Gaza have a better chance than Muslim Palestinians to leave Gaza, as the cost of fleeing is extremely high, starting with bribing the Egyptian border guards that demand between 5,000 to 8,000 USD in order to allow a single person to leave.

There are also historic churches in Gaza, two of which the Israelis bombed and destroyed during the ongoing war. In December, Israeli soldiers even shot dead an elderly Palestinian Christian woman and her daughter while they were seeking refuge in Gaza City’s ‘Holy Family Church’. On the other hand, Hamas not only publicly supports the full rights of Palestinian Christians, as per its 2017 Charter, it actively congratulates the Palestinian Christians on their holidays, while making sure to frequently mention the rights of Christians in their press briefings. The head of Hamas, Ismail Hanniyeh, has even performed various public visits to Churches in Gaza, while Hamas condemns frequent Israeli attacks on Christian Holy Sites in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli propagandists will often point to there being no Jews living in Gaza, as proof that Hamas is somehow not tolerant of Judaism, to which Hamas has responded by affirming that its problem is with Zionism and not the Jewish faith. However, it would be rather foolish to take the word of Hamas as proof here, yet the accounts of the various anti-Zionist Jews who have travelled to Gaza and been treated well by the authorities does support this claim, yet this is not enough to close the argument. It is important to note that Israel makes it illegal for its own Jewish citizens to enter Gaza, or any Palestinian controlled territory for that matter.

While the issue of Christian Palestinians in Gaza could be dedicated an entire book, Bill Maher’s argument about Muslims and “infidels” is not only false, it seeks to play on stereotypes created about Muslims and Islamic cultures in general, in order to make it seem as if Palestinians in Gaza will kill you for not belonging to their faith — a lie that Israel and its representatives are all too happy to lean into.

“Female Freedom”

On the topic of female freedom, the Western regimes love to employ what is often termed “colonial feminism” in order to argue their superiority over other nations. While there are a mountain of different issues surrounding women’s rights everywhere in the world, and Gaza is in no way an exception to this, the idea that Hamas is implementing some uniquely evil system is just ridiculous….

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