Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY) said in a June 4 appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” that the “hysterical demonization of Israel” in the recent conflict with Hamas “has set off a global wave of antisemitic violence.”
Host Bill Maher praised Torres for being “incredibly gutsy” in defending Israel at a time when “the woke” on social media have analogized the recent conflict to “our racial problems here in America.” “What’s going on in Israel has nothing to do with George Floyd. It’s not about racism… less than half of Israelis are white. The reason why they are bombing buildings is not because they are racists, it’s because there are rocket launchers in those buildings.” Maher told Torres that he seems to be “the only Democrat who has been forthrightly standing with the country that seems to be more aligned with our liberal values.”
Torres said that the progressive view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for two states to live side-by-side in peace. “There’s a difference between promoting peace and inciting hatred, and most of the words and ideas and memes that I’ve seen amplified on Twitter are aimed at inciting hatred for Israel rather than promoting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And my concern is that the hysterical demonization of Israel has set off a global wave of antisemitic violence and vitriol, and you know hate is never going to bring us peace; it’s only going to bring us more violence.”
Torres also pointed out that 20% of the Israeli population are Arabs, and the majority of Israel’s Jewish population are Mizrahi Jews–who are from the Middle East and North Africa–as well as Sephardic Jews (who are Spanish) and Ethiopian Jews. “This is not a black and white conflict; this is a brown vs. brown conflict.” Maher then quipped, “Only about 44% of the Israelis look like your dentist.”
Maher went on to criticize progressives who sided with the Gaza Strip, arguing that Gaza is “so against liberal values.” “Gaza is a theocratic state. They have no political democracy, they haven’t had elections since 2006, they’re never going to give up power, they run it like a mafia, it’s kind of a thugocracy, I mean women are treated worse than in porn.” He also pointed out that honor killings occur in Gaza; honor killings are when a family murders one of its female members because the victim allegedly “brought dishonor upon the family name or prestige,” according to Britannica. Maher then asked Torres why some progressives have sided with Gaza despite the lack of liberal values in the area.
“Israel is held to a double-standard,” Torres replied. “I ask people, ‘Ask yourself a simple question: If you and your neighbors were the targets of 4,000 rockets, what would you expect your government to do? Would you expect them to do nothing?’” He added that “there is an undercurrent of antisemitism in the disproportionate scrutiny of Israel.”