Bill Maher’s Message to the Palestinian People? Essentially, “Tough Luck.”

In the latest episode of his satirical talk show, Bill Maher delivered a monologue about the ongoing genocide in Gaza, siding with the ferocious Netanyahu arguing that times change and the mightiest prevails. Let's dissect the nonsense Maher cynically uses to justify the unjustifiable
Bill Maher's Message to the Palestinian People? Essentially, "Tough Luck."

In the latest episode of his satirical talk show, Bill Maher delivered a monologue about the ongoing genocide in Gaza, siding with the ferocious Netanyahu (who should be tried for war crimes) arguing that times change and the mightiest prevails. His message to the Palestinian people? Essentially, “Tough luck.” Let’s dissect the nonsense Maher cynically uses to justify the unjustifiable

by Daniele Luttazzi

In the latest episode of his satirical talk show (Real Time, HBO), the stand-up comedian Bill Maher delivered a monologue on the ongoing genocide in Gaza, taking a stance alongside the ruthless Netanyahu (who should be tried for war crimes), with the argument that times change and might makes right. His message to the Palestinian people? Essentially, “tough luck.” Maher’s progressive fans are aghast.

Maher calls himself a libertarian: he’s for the legalization of marijuana, prostitution, gambling, abortion, ethical treatment of animals, and the death penalty; he’s against corporate tax breaks, industrial pollution, political correctness, and religions, particularly Islam. He shot to TV fame during George Bush’s presidency, challenging his foreign policy and the Iraq War. In 2002, he lost his show (Politically Incorrect, ABC) after a controversial remark about 9/11. Bush had called the terrorists “cowards,” and Maher retorted: “We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2000 miles away, that’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, not cowardly.”

With Democratic leanings, Maher voted for Obama (then criticized his leniency with energy companies, banks, and healthcare lobbies) and Hillary Clinton (attacking Julian Assange for the email leak that muddled her campaign); but he also cast votes for Republican Bob Dole and independent environmentalist Ralph Nader. To bolster his views on Gaza, Maher manipulated facts like a third-rate propagandist. Here’s what he said to justify the ongoing genocide and the forced new exodus of Palestinians from their land (comments in parentheses).

Maher: “I know, it’s supposed to be that magical time of year, but maybe, what we all really need right now, is a good dose of realism. I see a lot of nativity scenes when I’m out, as you always do before Christmas. And I can’t help thinking about where that manger really is. It’s in the West Bank on Palestinian land, controlled by the Palestinian authority. In 1950, the little town of Bethlehem was 86 percent Christian, now it’s overwhelmingly Muslim. And that’s my point tonight, things change. To 2.3 billion Christians, there can be no more sacred site than where their Savior was born but they don’t have it anymore. And yet, no Crusader Army has geared up to take it back.” (This ridiculous argument was neatly summed up by Russell Dobular: ‘Have you ever seen other genocide victims complain?’).

Maher: “Things change. Countries, boundaries, empires.” (Maher here is unrecognizable. Why then did he oppose the Iraq war?).

Maher: “Palestine was under the Ottoman Empire for 400 years, but today, an ottoman is something you put under your feet” (A fascistic taunt: he mocks the Palestinians, a people “under Israeli military occupation since 1967” suffering “systematic and widespread arbitrary deprivation of freedom, often for the simplest acts of living and exercising fundamental human rights,” as written by UN special rapporteur Francesca Albanese)

Maher: “The city of Byzantium became the city of Constantinople, became Istanbul. Not everybody liked it, but you can’t keep arguing the call forever.” (Is Israel bombing civilians in retaliation, killing 26,000 people in three months, two-thirds of them women and children, and forcing all the rest into exile? Tough luck). “

Maher: “The Irish had the entire island to themselves, but the British were starting an Empire, and well, the Irish lost their tip. They blew each other up over it for 30 years, but eventually everybody comes to an accommodation, except the Palestinians.” (Lorenzo Kamel: ‘The Irish took four centuries to gain their freedom. Jews themselves have a millennia-old tradition of resisting oppression. You can’t expect anything different from the Palestinians’).

Maher: “Was it unjust that even a single Arab family was forced to move upon the founding of the Jewish state? Yes. But it’s also not rare. Happening all through history, all over the world, and mostly what people do is make the best of it.” (Israel killed 26,612 Palestinian civilians – 10,305 children and 5,475 women –, injured 52,390, killed 93 journalists and 222 medics, displaced nearly 2 million refugees, and destroyed 64,000 homes, as reported by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor? Tough luck).

Maher: “After World War II, 12 million ethnic Germans got shoved out of Russia, and Poland, and Czechoslovakia because being German had become kind of unpopular.” (Keaton Weiss: ‘Yes, and why? Because Germany had committed one of the most atrocious crimes in human history. And the Palestinian people paid for those crimes by being forced to give up their land. If we Jews had been given a quarter of Germany, this conversation would be very different, it would be a very different world’. The Nazis had militarily occupied those regions, oppressing them. But in Gaza, the oppressive military occupation isn’t Palestinian. Moreover, today international law prohibits collective expulsion. But Wikileaks revealed Israel’s plan for ethnic cleansing, a secret 10-page document written on October 13 by Israeli intelligence detailing the forced exodus of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to northern Sinai, from where they can never return to their homes or previous businesses. Israeli intelligence knew of the Hamas attack but did nothing to prevent it, being “caught by surprise” like the U.S. on September 11, the U.S. whose cooperation – Israeli intelligence writes – Israel will need for the plan. Tough luck).

Maher: “A million Greeks were shoved out of Turkey in 1923.” (It was the model Hitler aspired to: ‘The German nation will one day have no choice but to resort to the Turkish methods’. Maher, in defending Netanyahu, is effectively justifying Hitler).

Maher: “A million Ghanaians out of Nigeria in 1983.” (Illegal immigrants expelled during a severe economic crisis in retaliation for an earlier expulsion of illegal Nigerian immigrants from Ghana 14 years before. It has nothing to do with Gaza, where Israel moves Palestinians ‘to safe areas,’ then bombs right there. Is this denounced by the United Nations and the New York Times? Tough luck).

Maher: “Almost a million French out of Algeria in 1962” (Because it was a colonial occupation force defeated in the Algerian War of Independence. Russell Dobular: “Are the Palestinians the French equivalent? What the fuck is he saying?” In Gaza, it’s not the Palestinians who are the colonial occupiers. For three months, Israel has been bombing homes, schools, hospitals, and refugee camps in Gaza as a vengeful and colonial scheme, flattening it with plans for future seafront villas and real estate deals? Tough luck).

Maher: “Nearly a million Syrian refugees moved to Germany eight years ago. Was that a perfect fit? (Chancellor Merkel decided under the Dublin Regulation to address the humanitarian disaster caused by the Syrian civil war, saying, “We can do this,” and integration did work. This bears no relation to Gaza, where Israel deliberately deprives the population of water, food, and electricity as a method of warfare. Is it a war crime, as Human Rights Watch alleges? Tough luck).

Maher: “And no one knows more about being pushed off land than the Jews. Including being almost wholly kicked out of every Arab country they once lived in.” (Maher displayed a sign showing the Jewish population in Arab countries from 1948 to 2018. Russell Dobular: “I wonder what happened in 1948 to cause that outcome. I thought Israel was supposed to make Jews safer.” Lorenzo Kamel: “A significant percentage of Jews voluntarily left Arab countries for the Land of Israel.”)

Maher: “Yes, TikTok fans. Ethnic cleansing happened both ways.” (Keaton Weiss: “Wow! Maher just admitted that Netanyahu’s actions are ethnic cleansing!” And that “both directions” bit is Zionist propaganda equating two events with very different origins and consequences. Lorenzo Kamel: “Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians found refuge in neighboring countries during and after the 1948 war: for a long time, many were prohibited from obtaining citizenship and practicing a wide range of professions. Arab leaders have exploited—and in some cases continue to exploit—the suffering of Palestinian refugees for their own political gain.” On the other hand, “the relatively quick ‘absorption’ of Jewish refugees and immigrants is linked to the process through which many of them went to live in homes that had previously been ’emptied’ of their Palestinian inhabitants. Conversely, a significant percentage of the Palestinian population still lives in camps composed of second, third, or fourth-generation refugees.” One and a half million Palestinian refugees, plus 4 million not residing in the camps, are assisted by the UN with a dedicated agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, “in full recognition of the price paid by Palestinians for the decisions made by the international community in the late 40s,” that is, “to support the refugees who were deprived of their homes during the 1948, in the months following the UN General Assembly’s partition plan for Palestine in November 1947.”

Maher: “In Fiddler on the Roof, the family is always moving to stay one step ahead of the Cossacks, but they deal with it. When they’re leaving Anatevka, they say, ‘Hey, it wasn’t so great anyway. Come on. Like other countries don’t have roofs you could fiddle on.’ Now, that’s not how they really felt, but they were coping. They coped. Because sometimes, that’s all you can do.” (Russell Dobular: “Yes, that’s exactly how Jews reacted to the pogroms. With humor. ‘Well, I guess we have to leave the places we’ve lived for centuries because the Cossacks are burning our villages!’ “)

Maher: “History is brutal and humans are not good people. History is sad and full of wrongs, but you can’t make them unhappen because a paraglider isn’t a time machine.” (This quip refers to Hamas’s terrorist attacks, which are rightly condemned, as are Israeli war crimes, which Maher seems to justify with the survival of the fittest. He forgets that Hamas was funded by Qatar with Netanyahu’s consent and that Qatar financed Netanyahu’s 2012 and 2018 election campaigns with 65 million dollars.)

Maher: “People get moved, and yes, colonized. Nobody was a bigger colonizer than the Muslim army that swept out of the Arabian Desert and took over much of the world in a single century. And they didn’t do it by asking. There’s a reason Saudi Arabia’s flag is a sword.” (He shows a chart of Arab expansion from 632 to 720. Russell Dobular: “But today we recognize that committing colonial atrocities is wrong, and we strive not to commit genocide to steal people’s land anymore.”)

Maher: “Kosovo was the cradle of Christian Serbia, then it became Muslim. They fought a war about it in the ’90s, but stopped. They didn’t keep it going for 75 years.” (Because NATO intervened by bombing the Yugoslav Republic; then the UN established an international protectorate in Kosovo, but the situation is far from resolved or pacified. In Gaza, Palestinians have been bombed for three months without any peacekeeping force to defend them. Maher also forgets that the Palestinians had already ‘stopped’: in 1976, a draft UN Security Council resolution proposed peace in exchange for a Palestinian state on 22% of Palestine, i.e., Gaza and the West Bank, with Israel withdrawing ‘from all Arab territories occupied since June 1967.’ The PLO approved the resolution. All Security Council countries voted in favor, but Israel would have none of it, and the U.S. vetoed.)

Maher: “There were deals on the table to share the land called Palestine. In 1947, ’93, ’95, ’98, 2000, 2008. And East Jerusalem could have been the capital of a Palestinian state that today might look more like Dubai than Gaza. Arafat was offered 95 percent of the West Bank, and said no.” (Maher blames the Palestinians, but it’s not that simple. Norman Finkelstein: “Since 1997, the UN’s annual resolutions for peace—two states, pre-1967 borders—have always been approved by almost all nations of the world, and always rejected by Israel and the U.S.” Maher forgets all the times Israel said no to peace, preferring conflict to a Palestinian state. Jon Schwarz1 listed them, along with a summary of how we got to the current situation. Schwarz also explains why Arafat was right to say no at Camp David: the Israeli proposal was for three Bantustans2. Talks continued in Egypt with good results, but Barak was succeeded by Sharon who stopped everything.)

Maher: “The Palestinian people should know, your leaders and the useful idiots on college campuses who are their allies are not doing you any favors by keeping alive “The River to the Sea” myth. I mean where do you think Israel is going? Spoiler alert, nowhere. It’s one of the most powerful countries in the world with the 500-billion-dollar economy, the world’s second largest tech sector after Silicon Valley, and nuclear weapons. They’re here, they like their bagel with a schmear, get used to it.” (“The useful idiots on campus” are students protesting the ongoing genocide in Gaza, perhaps more clued into the situation than Bill Maher. Before October 7, 2023, this year had already been the deadliest in Palestine due to the high number of Palestinian civilians killed in the West Bank. This is what Doctors Without Borders are shouting from the rooftops. Do they have your attention yet?)

Maher: “What’s happening to Palestinians today is horrible, and not just in Gaza, in the West Bank too.” (Because Israel is a colonial power treating all Palestinians as if they were Hamas terrorists, committing war crimes. Israel has killed 26,000 Palestinian civilians in retaliation and ethnic cleansing, about 150 Palestinian children a day? Have you heard enough?)

Maher: “But wars end with negotiation.” (But Palestinians aren’t at war with Israel: they’re undergoing a genocide.)

Maher: “And what the media glosses over is– It’s hard to negotiate when the other side’s bargaining position is: you all die and disappear.” (Which is the current Zionist stance. Jon Schwarz has laid out all the times Israel has sabotaged peace talks that would have led to a Palestinian state; remember that in 1997, Israel tried to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, who had proposed a 30-year ceasefire to Israel; and that Israel killed the Hamas leaders – Ahmed Yassin in 2004, Ahmed Jabari in 2012 – who wanted to negotiate a decade-long truce: see Schwarz.)

Maher: “I mean, the chant “From the River to the Sea.” Yeah, let’s look at the map. Here’s the river, here’s the sea. Oh, I see, it means you get all of it.” (No. “From the river to the sea” doesn’t mean that: it’s a call for equal rights for Palestinians, see this article from Jewish independent magazine Forward.)

Maher: “Not just the West Bank which was basically the original UN partition deal you rejected because you wanted all of it” (FALSE: see Schwarz.)

Maher: “And always have. Even though, it’s indisputably also the Jews’ ancestral homeland.” (Lorenzo Kamel: “Palestine has never exclusively belonged to any one people in history.” Reminder: the Balfour Declaration, 1917, did not intend for all of Palestine to become Israel but rather established “a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine,” a stance approved by the Zionist leadership before the British mandate containing it, the White Paper, was affirmed by the League of Nations. The Peel Commission, 1937, thus divided it: 17% of Palestine to the Jewish state, 75% to the Arab state, Jerusalem under international control. In 1947, post-Holocaust, the UN approved a new plan: 56% for the future Israel, 43% for the Palestinian nation.)

Maher: “And so, you attacked and lost. And attacked again and lost. And attacked again and lost. As my friend, Dr. Phil says, ‘How’s that working for you?’ “ (Here, Maher trivializes the history to justify the ongoing genocide, see Schwarz.)

Maher: “Look at what Mexico used to own. All the way up to the top of California, but no Mexican is out there chanting, ‘From the Rio Grande to Portland, Oregon.’ Because they chose a different path. They got real and built a country that’s the world’s 14th biggest economy now. Because they knew the United States wasn’t going to give back Phoenix, any more than Hamas will ever be in Tel Aviv.” (Did the U.S. also slaughter Native Americans? Let’s not even go there.)

Maher: “One of the Hamas leaders says, ‘Save your time and fanciful dreams. In a few years, God willing, we’ll be discussing the situation in the region post-Israel.’ I’m sorry, who’s the one with imaginary dreams?” (Maher brings up Hamas, but the Palestinians enduring bombardment, deprived of water, food, and electricity, and subjected to forced exodus; they aren’t Hamas terrorists. And historically, Israel has killed Hamas leaders who sought peace, see Schwarz).

Maher: “If I give you the benefit of the doubt and say your plan for a completely Jew-less Palestine isn’t that all the Jews should die. What is the only other option? They move. You move all the Jews. Okay, I got to warn you, there’s gonna be some kvetching.” (Here Maher is unabashed. It’s Israel that’s displacing the Palestinian population and continuing colonization, in defiance of international law.)

Maher: “You move all the Jews and we do this with what? A fleet of trucks called Jew-haul?” (This pun on the moving company U-Haul is an old anti-Semitic joke: ‘Which company moved the Jews to concentration camps? Jew-Haul.’ Maher’s comedic trivialization flips the script, casting the current perpetrators as victims.)

Maher: “And to where are we moving this entire country? Texas?” (Why not, since the Mexicans aren’t there anymore?)

Maher: “Sure, they have room and I guess we could put the Wailing Wall on the border and kill two birds with one stone.” (Maher’s hyperbole grotesquely transforms the Wailing Wall into a wall on the Mexican border against illegal immigration. The smug reference to ‘killing two birds with one stone’ also evokes the shameful apartheid wall, 730 km long, erected by Israel in the West Bank.)

Maher: “Or we could just get serious.” (Yeah, right. You first.)

Il Fatto Quotidiano, December 28/29/30, 2023; January 2/3/4, 2024

* * *


1. The article All the Times Israel Has Rejected Peace With Palestinians by Jon Schwarz, published on November 28, 2023, argues that Israel has consistently chosen conflict over peace with the Palestinians, preferring to maintain control over the occupied territories. The piece highlights several instances and offers historical context to support this claim, starting with the early proposals for a two-state solution, which were met with complex reactions from both sides. It discusses the consistent rejection by Israel of international peace proposals, including the 1976 UN Security Council resolution, which was vetoed by the U.S.
The article also critiques the mainstream U.S. narrative that Israel has always been the side yearning for peace, labeling it as nearly the opposite of reality. It mentions several Israeli leaders and their strategies for expanding territory and power, arguing that these aspirations have often hindered peace efforts.
The author provides details of various negotiations and peace proposals over the years, including the Oslo Accords, Camp David talks, the Arab Peace Initiative, and the Olmert Offer, noting the complexities and the ultimate failures to achieve a lasting peace, often due to Israeli reluctance to fully commit to the terms.
The article also discusses the role of Hamas, acknowledging its controversial stance and actions but also noting signs of moderation and willingness for long-term agreements, which were often met with disinterest or aggressive responses from Israel.
In conclusion, the article suggests that Israel’s consistent choice of conflict over peace and the resulting endless cycle of violence has been a significant obstacle to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite various opportunities and efforts to establish a two-state solution.

2. A Bantustan, also known as a “homeland,” was a territory set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa and South-West Africa (now Namibia) as part of the policy of apartheid. The term itself comes from “Bantu” (meaning “people” in some of the Bantu languages) and “-stan” (a suffix meaning “land” in Persian). These areas were created by the apartheid government to segregate the majority black population from the white minority, ostensibly giving them self-governance, while in reality subjecting them to indirect control and economic dependence on the South African state.
There were several Bantustans in South Africa and Namibia, each intended for different ethnic groups. The system was used as a means of weakening opposition to apartheid by dividing black South Africans along ethnic lines and depriving them of citizenship rights within South Africa proper, relegating them to citizens of the often economically unviable and internationally unrecognized Bantustans.
Bantustans were characterized by poor infrastructure, limited access to resources, and underdevelopment. Despite the claim of autonomy or independence, they lacked real power and were dependent on South Africa for economic subsidies and political direction.
The Bantustan system was abolished with the end of apartheid in the early 1990s, and the territories were re-integrated into South Africa, with their inhabitants becoming full citizens. The term “Bantustan” is sometimes used metaphorically to describe situations where a minority group is segregated and given nominal autonomy without significant power or resources.



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