Bethlehem - Ma'an - Mustafa Barghouthi, former information minister and head of the Palestinian National Initiative, appeared on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show on Wednesday night.
Broadcast to some 1.6 million American viewers, Jewish activist Anna Baltzer joined the former presidential candidate in studio, where the two called for Palestinian equal rights and respect.
A generally friendly audience broke into applause multiple times throughout the taping, although at one point an attendee called Barghouthi a liar, announced he was leaving, and was indeed eventually escorted out by guards after a second outburst, according to studio audience members.
Taking cues from the outburst, Stewart commented to Barghouthi, "There are incredibly strong opinions. A man shouted 'liar' at you when you just said that this was the longest occupation."
Barghouthi replied, saying he "would like very much to meet with him [the audience member] and explain to him--" at which point Stewart interjected sarcastically, "I think that would go very
Stewart, who apparently knew what he was getting into when he announced Wednesday night's lineup, told the audience that whenever he gets calls about Israel/Palestine, from either side, "he treats them like calls from his grandmother, and he mimicked holding the phone away from his ear as he went about his business," one attendee told Ma'an after the taping.
Both host and guests were unanimous that North American media is biased toward Israel. "People aren't getting that information, the information about what's going on… people don't want to hear," said Baltzer, who authored Witness in Palestine.
"There is nothing defensive about denying Palestinians water," she added, in response to a question from Stewart over Israel's right to self-defense. "There is nothing defensive about preventing people from having materials to build their homes."
While Barghouthi insisted the issue was no longer "just an Arab issue or a Muslim issue, but it is a human issue," Baltzer, speaking directly to her predominantly US audience, said, "There is no reason why we as American citizens should not be disproportionately concerned with what's happening with our weapons and our money," referencing aid and support the US gives Israel, reaching billions of dollars each year.
Also speaking much more directly to American sensibilities and recent media concerns than Barghouthi, who nonetheless provided a solid line on Palestinian non-violence, stressing what he called the 90 percent of Palestinian resistance that is non-violent, as well as resolutely demanding equal rights for Palestinians, Baltzer cut to the chase and told the audience:
"Israel is in violation of more UN resolutions that Iraq and Iran, yet Iraq and Iran were targeted by the US - we give Israel more aid than we give anyone else," she said. "The question is not whether Israel should be singled out for criticism, it's whether Israel should be held to the same standards as any other country."