Why a Jewish Comedian’s Interview With Candace Owens Is a Must Watch

Ami Kozak provided a blueprint of how one can speak about Israel in an effective way in a pointed but respectful interview with conservative star Candace Owens of The Daily Wire.
November 11, 2023
Screenshot from podcast

Appearing on the Candace Owens podcast, Ami Kozak, a co-founder of the group Distant Cousins, who has recently become known for his stand-up performances at comedy clubs in New York City, made a far better case for Israel than anyone in government.

Owens is one of the most popular conservative commentators in America. She has 4.3 million Twitter followers and is the host of the Daily Wire’s excellent new documentary “Convicting a Murderer.” Kozak appeared on the show after Owens tweeted that “no country has a right to commit genocide, ever,” a statement many thought was referring to Israel, though she said she was talking about any country.

Kozak asked Owens for her position on moral equivalence, if she believed the horrific Hamas attacks were the same as Israel’s military response.

Owens replied there should be a “full-throated debate and a conversation about where the line gets drawn,” mentioning the attacks on 9/11 and saying it would be a problem if as a result, people said a million civilians should be killed.

Kozak said in the current case, Israel knows Hamas is responsible and is targeting them, though a large amount of civilians have been tragically killed.

“When we are unclear on the moral difference, then what that risks doing is confusing murder and self-defense,” Kozak told Owens. “Confusing aggression and retaliation … and those are huge dangerous moral mistakes to make. It’s tragic what happens in war when innocent people die on both sides. But one has to look at accountability and all of these people that we mourn for and grieve for, when we see these horrific images of war, on the Palestinian side and on the Israeli side, all of those people were alive on October 4th, 5th and 6th and I think everybody is forgetting that context.”

Owens, who referred to herself as an isolationist, said since America was giving funds to Israel, there needed to be a plan of attack. She claimed those who have skin in the game understandably have a passionate position, but Kozak countered that he isn’t saying to support Israel because of his personal connection, but due to morality.

“You do not see the IDF dragging civilians through the streets to mobs of cheering crowds,” Kozak said. “You do not see streets in Israel named after suicide bombers or candies held out in the streets of Tel Aviv … Israel is the size of New Jersey surrounded by 22 Arab Nations. It’s a sliver — the only Jewish state in the world, and what we’re seeing now is like the case for a Jewish state has never been more clear.”

The conversation also touched on the tweet Owens wrote in support of Jordan’s Queen Rania, who told CNN that antisemitism was being “weaponized” to silence people from criticizing the Israeli government. Owens posted that she thought Elon Musk and conservative Charlie Kirk had been falsely labeled with that brush.  Kozak told Owens that it is true there are times where people jump the gun and label something antisemitic when it is not and that is unproductive.

“But when we see real antisemitism, to have the reverse instinct, to shy away from it and not call it like it is, has the exact same counterproductive effect,” Kozak said.

Owens said it was wrong to take down posters of Israeli hostages but also wrong to diminish the value of Palestinian children who have been killed.

It is not surprising that Jewish listeners have their ears perked for anything to come out of Owens’ mouth. She was in the news after she defended the rant of Kanye West, now known as Ye, who in the fall of 2022 infamously tweeted that he was going to go “Death Con 3” on Jews. She claimed his tweet was not antisemitic and that Jews were overreacting.

Kozak told the Journal he did not bring this up during the interview because it had been out of the news cycle for some time, and Israel was the pressing issue. While he disagreed with her stance, he knows people often come from a perspective of wanting to defend a friend.

Owens mentioned she thought Muslims in Jerusalem had to live in the Muslim quarter, but allowed that she could be wrong. Kozak politely corrected her on the show in a case where others might have made a big deal of it.

“People are often looking to dunk on people and find that satisfying,” Kozak told the Journal.

“But I think it’s important to give people a fair shot. People can misunderstand something, and you should give someone the benefit of the doubt when they are acting in good faith. We can be in a constructive place to understand things, or we can resort to name calling or ad-hominem attacks which I think unfortunately, in our political climate, is the goal for some looking to score points or be cheered on by people. That’s not my goal. My goal is bring out the truth.”

While Kozak has done his own podcast, this was his first interview for any major outlet where he spoke about politics.

“People get caught up on the points they want to make and forget you have to listen to the person you’re talking to, Kozak said. “If you don’t listen and just wait to make your point, at the end of the day, what have you done other than possibly reinforce the position of people who already agree with you. A debate should be a win-win, not a win-lose.”

Kozak said he has been influenced by Joe Rogan in being able to use active listening as opposed to making one’s case with rehearsed talking points.

 He was glad to have a respectful conversation with Owens, would be happy to return, and in the future may appear on other podcasts or networks to talk about Israel.

Kozak will headline at Stand Up NY on November 28.

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