Daily Show Heckled, Attacked For Airing Interview With Leader Of Palestinian Nonviolent Democratic Movement

This past Wednesday, The Daily Show aired an interview with Anna Baltzer, a Jewish American peace activist and author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories, and Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a leading figure in the Palestinian democratic and nonviolent movement for peace.

At the beginning of the interview, Barghouti told Stewart that he thinks the “Jewish people have been in the avante garde of struggling for justice…and democracy,” and concluded that it was “natural” for Palestinians like himself and Jewish activitists like Baltzer to work together for a just resolution of the conflict.

Barghouti explained his experience as a Palestinian growing up under occupation. “It’s Palestinians who have been subjected to the longest occupation in modern history and a system of segregation that is totally unjust,” he said. This prompted a heckler from the crowd to yell, “Liar!” — the first heckling in The Daily Show’s 11-year existence. Stewart responded by joking, “Apparently Joe Wilson is with us tonight.” Watch it:

Following their joint appearance, Baltzer revealed in an open letter that “the show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. … The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired.”

While some may feel that views like those of Barghouti should not be aired, the truth is Barghouti represents a Palestinian voice for nonviolence and democracy that is valuable to voice on U.S. airwaves. Despite the suffering he has endured living under occupation — he has been imprisoned and beaten several times for taking part in demonstrations and sit-ins — he has been a leading voice for nonviolent resistance and democratic reform, crafting his philosophy after that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Barghouti’s many accomplishments include founding a leading health relief NGO, removing anti-Semitic programs from the Palestinian airwaves, and running as an independent presidential candidate offering a “democratic and independent ‘third way’ for the large majority of silent and unrepresented Palestinian voters, who favour neither the autocracy and corruption of the governing Fatah party, nor the fundamentalism of Hamas.”

Baltzer is urging viewers who appreciate Stewart’s fortitude in bringing them on to thank him and the producers of The Daily Show by using the show’s contact form here.