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Sammy Obeid on Palestine Censorship | Transcript

Explore the complex issues of Israel-Palestine censorship, empathy in conflict, and the nuances of Zionism through a comedian's insightful perspective
Sammy Obeid on Palestine Censorship

In a candid monologue, comedian Sammy Obeid explores the complexities of the Israel-Palestine conflict, criticizing the use of the colonial term “Palestine” and suggesting the alternative “Festine.” They passionately advocate for a ceasefire, empathizing with the suffering of hostages on both sides and condemning censorship surrounding the conflict. Sammy humorously addresses the absurdity of certain terms being banned and the ambiguity of political language, particularly focusing on the varied interpretations of Zionism. They highlight the need for understanding and empathetic dialogue while stressing the humanity and resilience of Palestinian people, especially men, in the face of adversity.

Published on YouTube, December 26, 2023

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I don’t speak for Palestinians. I think that we should stop using the name Palestine; it’s the colonial name. I think we should drop it and go with Falastin. Festine is the Arabic way of saying it. The only issue with that is that Americans would have to pronounce that, and they’d be like, “Falastain? We’re going for the Falastain, kids!” It’s been an incredibly difficult time for people who have family over there and, you know, are watching everything that’s going on. I’m actively calling for a ceasefire because, uh, I suffer from this condition called empathy.

I posted that I want a ceasefire, and this guy was like, “Oh, so you’re just for taking hostages?” What a horrible thing to say. No, no, I am against hostages. I want the hostages to come home. I want the Israeli hostages to come home, and I want the thousands of Palestinian hostages to come home. Nobody should be a hostage. I am anti-hostage, okay? I don’t even like having people over. I don’t like inviting people over to my house. I don’t like them willingly coming over to my house. I am anti-guest, okay?

One time I had guests over for too long; it became a hostage crisis. I didn’t want them there. You have to feed them, take care of their emotional needs. I live with my mom; I’d have to clear it by my mom first before I could even think about taking hostages. I’m not taking hostages ’cause I don’t want to be a host. You got to be a host to take hostages, and it’s very stressful. That’s where the root of the word hostages comes from because the host ages from the stress.

But that’s been the wildest part as a comedian about this whole thing, the censorship. The censorship on Israel-Palestine is pretty wild, man. You guys know Elon Musk, the president of X? So, Elon Musk, he visited Israel but wouldn’t visit Gaza, which is like, you’d think Elon would have a little more sympathy for the Palestinians ’cause he has a history of building tunnels, um, and he could learn how to finish them. But um, Elon Musk came out on X and he said, “Anyone who uses the term ‘decolonize’ or ‘from the river to the sea’ will be suspended on this platform.” It’s like, so much for freedom of speech, big guy. Thought that was your whole thing.

You can’t say “From the River to the Sea.” What if you’re giving directions to someone on a boat? See a guy in the boat near the ocean at a little lake, like, “Hey buddy, what you’re going to want to do is you’re going to want to go from the river to the— whoa, whoa, what are you doing there? Hey, I’m just in from the river to the sea; his boat will be free.” That’s all I was saying. No, but you’re saying, once it gets out on the ocean, it’s going to sink the other boats. Like, this isn’t Battleship. I’m just giving directions. I’m just—I want the liberation of that particular boat. That is simply what I’m saying: From the River to the Sea.

You know who else uses “from the river to the sea”? Baby salmon! Yeah, all the baby salmons are born; they’re hatched upstream and they have to swim from the river to the sea. “From the river to the sea” is a tale of the liberation of the baby salmons that you eventually eat. You want to ban that?

Okay, I’m not going to be completely insensitive. I like to sympathize and empathize with people. I understand if the term “from the river to the sea” makes you feel uncomfortable because you’ve heard it in a certain way. I want to sympathize with that, okay? Has the term, let’s be honest, has the phrase “from the river to the sea” been used with the implication of the dissolution of Israel? Yes. But has it also been used by Israelis with the implication of the dissolution of Palestinians? Yes, it’s in the Likud Manifesto in the 70s. So, can we be fair here? Are we just going to ban all ambiguous terms?

Should we also ban “I’ll call you later”? That’s extremely ambiguous. For some people, that means I’ll call you in an hour; for some, it means I’m never calling you. That last one is extremely disingenuous. I’ve been hurt by that phrase many times. Should we also ban “I love you”? Nobody knows what the fuck that means. That term has been abused. Terms can be ambiguous, you know. We do need to acknowledge that.

In the meantime, I’ll avoid ambiguous terms. I don’t even use the term “Zionist,” okay? Not because I don’t know what it means, which I don’t, okay, but because nobody knows what it means. No, not even Zionists know what Zionist means. It’s a very ambiguous term. Like, you know, ask your Jewish friends, talk to your Jewish friends about Zionism. Sounds like an infomercial: “Talk to your Jewish friends about Zionism.” Well, step one, get Jewish friends, okay? Step one, get Jewish friends and ask them how they feel about Zionism, and you’ll discover that there are many different interpretations of Zionism. It’s like levels of a video game.

There’s like level one Zionism, which is like, “I believe the Jews should have a homeland, and they should be safe,” and you’re like, “Hell yeah, who would disagree with that? You’d have to be a monster to disagree with that.” And then there’s level two, which is like, “Yeah, it should specifically be in Palestine, and they’re going to have to work it out with the Palestinians,” and you’re like, “Okay, where is this going?” And then there’s level three Zionism, which is suddenly like, “God wants me to be here. If you got a problem with that, say hello to my little friend.” Like, whoa, I’m just trying to pick olives, man.

And those are like the lower levels. The most extreme level of Zionism isn’t even coming from Jewish people; it’s coming from the Christians, the evangelicals. Christian Zionism, that’s the wildest one. That’s like the final level. That’s like, “All Jews, proceed to the Holy Land so Jesus can commence the end times.” Like, whoa, what was that? Do you even like Jewish people? Why do you want the end times so bad, buddy? You want this video game to be over? The evangelicals want game over. Yeah, and then we should also note that there is also Jamaican Zionism for some reason. Yeah, occasionally in reggae song, “You Zion, Zion bom,” like, okay, that’s a thing too. Okay, sure.

Alright, well, my point is, is that nobody knows what Zionism means, right? But if you speak with your Jewish friends, okay, of course, there are anti-Zionist Jews as well, but if you speak with your Jewish friends, you’ll find that many of them, most of them, I would say, are the first two levels. And if we can be understanding of that, then we should also be understanding of the fact that when most people say “from the river to the sea,” they just mean that Palestine will be free. That’s all they mean. That’s all they mean. They’re not asking for anybody to get hurt. They want the liberation of millions of people to live with freedom and self-determination. You would think we would understand this in this country, America. America, America,  the land of freedom of speech, where as long as your intentions are good, you should be able to say whatever the fuck you want. From the river to the [ __ ] sea.

What the fuck was that? You know, every day I send everybody I know videos coming out of Gaza because, even before all of this madness, I liked ruining people’s holidays, and I think people need to know. I think people need to see the realities. A lot of people are just not watching the videos from Gaza. Anybody who just looks, okay, they’re not watching videos from Gaza. Every time you hear the devastating news coming out of Gaza, you hear, “This many thousand people have been killed, and this many of them are women and children.” Children! Every time, it’s “this many of them are women and children,” and this is horrible. Women and children are getting killed. And also, do we not care about men anymore? Do we just stop caring about men? Where you at, Jordan Peterson? I’m here to say that Palestinian men matter, okay? There is nothing wrong with being a Palestinian man. I tell myself this in the mirror every morning: “There is nothing wrong with being a Palestinian man.”

If you watch the videos coming out of Gaza, every time a bomb drops, you see a neighborhood of Palestinian men rushing to the scene, moving giant rocks, lifting bodies from the rubble, and carrying them to safety, all while wearing sandals. Open toe. Open toe. The fearlessness of these men and their feet is underrated, okay? You don’t want to go toe-to-toe with a Palestinian man. Strong arches, these fellows. Strong arches. These men are out here doing God’s work without proper footwear, and this is proof that Palestinian men have good soles.

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