The host of the comedic political commentary that is The Daily Show, Jon Stewart responded harshly to critiques during an interview with Canada.com at the Toronto Film Festival, the site of the release of his new film, “Rosewater.” During the interview, Stewart discussed his personal views on Israel and Judaism, for which he has been a target of much criticism.
"It’s so interesting to me that people want to define who is a Jew and who is not. And normally that was done by people who weren’t Jewish but apparently now it’s done by people who are, and I find that very interesting. It’s more than nationalism," said Stewart.
Stewart said that the right-wing Jews are "fascistic" for claiming to be the sole determinants of what qualifies one as Jewish and who is a Jew. He said, "How dare they? That they only know the word of God and are the ones who are able to disseminate it. It's not right. And its something that they're going to have to reckon with.”
Stewart responded to critics who compared him to the Jews that turned their backs on each other during the Holocaust; "I have people that I lost in the Holocaust and I just … go f**k yourself. How dare you?" he said.
"I always want to say to people when they come at me like that: 'I would like Israel to be a safe and secure state. What’s your goal?' So basically we disagree on how to accomplish that," Stewart said, defending himself against those who criticized his position on Israel.
Stewart expressed his belief that the harsh criticism of those who disagree with Israeli policy comes from the abuse experienced by Jews throughout history. Stewart said, "The danger of oppression is not just being oppressed, it’s becoming an oppressor. Because that will deteriorate a society as quickly as being oppressed.”
In reactions to announcements of Israel’s continued building of settlements, Stewart said, “A thousand more acres in the West Bank? Why?”
Stewart's new film "Rosewater" was filmed inside a prison in Jordan. The film was based on a memoir written by Canadian Iranian journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari, entitled "Then They Came for Me." While covering the 2009 Iranian elections for Newsweek, Bahari was imprisoned.
Accusations that Stewart was a CIA and Mossad agent from Iran were prompted by the release of the film. In the cananda.com interview, Stewart said he found the allegations to be amusing "in the same way that a lot of what happens in the movie is humorous to me."