♪ ("LAST WEEK TONIGHT" THEME MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ -(CROWD CHEERS) -Welcome, welcome, welcome to Last Week Tonight! I'm John Oliver. Thank you so much for joining us. It has been a busy week. Elections on Tuesday saw big wins for Democrats. Ohio voted to enshrine abortion rights in its state constitution and the SAG strike finally ended, meaning that movies will be back in production. Although, to be honest, I'm not even sure that I need movies anymore since this seventeen-minute video was released of what I can only describe as a hamster Gatsby living its best life. ♪ (UPBEAT POP MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ (SQUEAKS) (SQUEAKS) It's a complete masterpiece. And it goes on for 60 more minutes. I mean, Barbenheimer was fine. I liked it fine. But be honest, it's just not as good as that. And I really hoped you enjoyed watching it, I really do, because we're gonna dive straight in with our main story tonight, which concerns the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. A sentence which is a terrible way to start a comedy show, and a great way to end a first date. And look, before we even begin, I know a lot of the conversation surrounding this has been extremely heated. You may have seen friends or co-workers posting *** takes that have shocked you. Suddenly, that guy who offered you coke at a wedding is writing thesis-long Instagram stories on the two-state solution. Kathy from work is posting something that's antisemitic in a way that you really hope she doesn't realize. And it's all shoved in between your favorite influencer showing hole while also calling for a "Free Palestine." The internet is a wild place. Things are understandably very tense right now. And it seems like everyone is finding themselves making mistakes. And I do mean everyone. Meanwhile, K-Mart has had to pull one of its Christmas items off the shelf because of its unfortunate wording. The shopping giant selling ham in Christmas calico bags with the slogan, "Merry Ham-Mas," which appears to be too similar to the name of the terrorist group, Hamas. Yeah, that is too similar. It'd be like naming your child John Blaine Gacy. It's too close for comfort! But spare a thought for Australian K-Mart there. How were they supposed to know that Hamas was gonna launch a terrorist attack so close to the Ham-Mas season? A think we all definitely celebrate and have heard of before. I feel like Ham-Mas starts a little earlier every year, doesn't it? One day it's Ham-oween, the next, your neighbors hanging up Ham-Mas lights. And celebrities have also found out the hard way that it's easy to get things wrong. A few weeks ago, Justin Bieber posted... ...over a picture of a devastated city that he apparently didn't realize was actually Gaza. He then deleted the post and re-posted the same prayers over a blank background which, as we now know, thankfully did solve everything. There was also a statement issued by a group of celebrities calling for the immediate return of Israeli hostages, which TMZ covered like this... Anyone involved, it seems, in the Hollywood industry all put their names to a letter to President Biden. It really does feel like it's everyone. It's Chris Rock, it's Gwyneth Paltrow, it's-- HARVEY LEVIN: Can I ask you something? CHARLES LATIBEAUDIERE: It's Adam Sandler, it's-- HARVEY: Let me ask you something. Who doesn't want to get the hostages out? CHARLES: Bradley Cooper-- I mean you're right. You know what I mean? It's a non-statement. Of course everybody wants the hostages out. I just think it's beyond ridiculous. Like, if we play that out for a second, Joe Biden's gonna get this open letter and be like, what? "Oh, my God, the Rock signed this. I have to get the hostages out." Like, are you kidding me? Yeah. As much as I hate to agree with paparazzi SportsCenter, they're right about that. The Rock probably isn't going to solve the conflict in the Middle East. It's one of those things so obvious, it shouldn't need saying. Like, "Pie tastes good," or, "Rainbows are pretty," or, "Yoshi is amazing in the sack." Look at that tongue. End of discussion. But even as Harvey Levin leveled some fair critiques on the utter futility of celebrity, he couldn't help taking a pretty strong stance of his own. HARVEY: The statement of a cease fire is that you are going to allow-- CHARLES: You want Israel to stop attacking. HARVEY: Right. So, you are gonna then allow Hamas to come back in and try to exterminate the Jews in Israel, and Israel-- Presumably, their peace-- their ceasefire means Hamas should not be attacking either. -REPORTER: Yeah, yeah-- -Wait, wait, wait, wait. That's exactly what the ceasefire means. Right, and Hamas attacked in the first place. -This was a terrorist attack. -LATIBEAUDIERE: Right. HARVEY: And the idea that there's gonna be a ceasefire now invites Hamas just to do it again. Yeah. TMZ is now hashing out its preferred solutions for what's happening in the Middle East, raising many questions, including, what exactly is TMZ now? (LAUGHTER) It used to be ESPN for B-listers leaving the airport and stories like... And now it's doing geopolitics. Pick a lane, guys! It's either... ...or... You can't have both! The point is, there are strong opinions everywhere. And in some cases, they undeniably been informed by bigotry. (READS PROMPT) ...in the past month. To put it mildly, it's not been an easy time to wear a yarmulke or a hijab in America over the last month. And I say that knowing it's not necessarily been easy on our best days. So, there are 1,000 different reasons why this is hard to talk about, but it does feel important to at least try. As you undoubtedly know, on October 7th, Hamas-led militants launched an unprecedented and brutal attack against Israel, killing over 1,000 people, mostly civilians, including women and children in their homes, In what has ended up being... Over 200 hostages were taken, including a 9-month-old baby, most of whom have not been returned. It was hideous and it was sickening. In response, Israel has launched what's now become a month-long siege of Gaza. Cutting off nearly all water, food, electricity, and fuel to the territory. In just the first six days of the war, it dropped 6,000 bombs on a strip of land just 25 miles long and at most seven miles wide. That is nearly as many as the record number that the US dropped on Afghanistan in a single year. As of this taping, more than 11,000 people have been killed, including at least 4,000 children. There is almost no piece of footage that I could show you from Gaza that is not horrifying or heartbreaking. But we did find one piece of footage where a child very aptly sums up what things are like there. INTERVIEWER: How have the past few days been, Abdulaziz? -(SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -TRANSLATOR: Like shit. INTERVIEWER: It's okay. We can cut it out. Tell me. How have the past few days been, Abdulaziz? Explain to us. You mean about the war? Yes. How has it been with the war? -(SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -TRANSLATOR: Like shit! Yeah. Of course it feels like shit! There is no other way to put it. And I'm honestly glad that he didn't even try there. I also appreciate him asking for clarification when the reporter started over. "So, just to be clear, you're asking what it's like to live through this war, right? Okay, I've got it. My answer remains 'Like shit!' Next question please." And I've gotta say, it is hard to see a kid like that and then hear a glib pronouncement like this one from Representative Brian Mast of Florida. I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians as is frequently said. I don't think we would so lightly throw around the term, "Innocent Nazi civilians" during World War II. There's not this... far stretch to say there are very few innocent Palestinian civilians. Okay, that is not only disgusting, it's also evidently the sort of thing you are allowed to get away with saying on the House floor with zero repercussions because that's apparently where the conversation is right now. But just so we're very clear, there are absolutely innocent Palestinian civilians, in the same way that there are Floridians who aren't brain-dead bigots with a penis for a head. A region's worst does not represent them all. (APPLAUSE) And look, we don't have time to talk about the history of the Middle East tonight. And I know what you're thinking. "But, John, are you sure about that? Aren't you school?" Well, fun fact, I'm not. It just seems like that. I'm actually technically a comedy show. I just hide it better than most. So, I'm not gonna get into the thousands of years of generational trauma informing the response to this. Including the Holocaust, and the Nakba, or mass violent displacement of Palestinians during and after Israel's founding. I'm also not gonna do a historical blow-by-blow of how Palestinians came to live in Gaza and the West Bank right now. You can Google that for yourselves. Or even Bing it. That's honestly completely fine too. Although, I will say, I wouldn't Ask Jeeves about this. He has some unexpectedly pretty nasty views on the subject. Instead, I'd like to zero in on one of the biggest misconceptions that you may have been hearing over the last few weeks. Specifically, the tendency to collapse leaders and citizens when discussing this. To assume that Netanyahu speaks for all Israelis or that Hamas speaks for all Palestinians. Because that is emphatically not the case. So, tonight, let's look at Hamas and Netanyahu. How they came to be in power, whose interests they do and don't represent, and what role they've played in bringing us to this current conflict. And let's start with Hamas. It has been around since 1987 and has governed Gaza for the last 17 years. It was founded in part in opposition to where Palestinian politics was heading at the time. With the dominant political party, Fatah, embracing a peace process with Israel. A process, by the way, that Palestinians had high hopes for when it started. But Hamas branded itself as the party of resistance to Israel and undermined the peace process with a long series of attacks and suicide bombings. And as prospects for peace collapsed, Hamas seems to be vindicated in its messaging. And you can see that philosophy continuing through to today. This senior Hamas official, Ghazi Hamad, recently doubled down on the massacre of October 7th by saying... And for many commentators, all the citizens of Gaza are implicated in that sort of rhetoric, thanks to one key fact that you hear all the time. The people of Gaza, the Palestinians elected Hamas people, Hamas fighters, Hamas terrorists to their board of governors. The people in Gaza elected Hamas! It's a terrorist organization. That is their government. How do you say Hamas doesn't represent the Palestinian people when they voted Hamas in to represent them? Okay. So, very quickly, that is Tucker Carlson's replacement at Fox, Jesse Watters. He's a lot like Tucker, except less charismatic, way dumber, and with somehow even more of an, "I've killed someone during a fraternity hazing accident" vibe. Which is really saying something. Because, look, it is true that Gazans did, at one point, elect Hamas. But if you think that makes them all complicit in war crimes their government commits, then boy do I have bad news for you about decades of U.S. foreign policy. And also, there are some huge asterisks on Gazans electing Hamas. First, that election happened in 2006, and there hasn't been one since. And given that children make up roughly half of Gaza's population, that means most Gazans weren't even born when the last election took place. What's more, Hamas didn't win a majority. It only won with a bare plurality of the votes. And it did so by running against Fatah, which was widely reviled for incompetence and corruption at the time. Those were the key issues in that election. Also, Hamas went out of its way to present itself as more moderate back then. In fact, here is that same Hamas official who recently justified the October 7th attacks shortly before that 2006 election. We are a moderate organization. Really, we are not a radical organization. And we are not extremist or fundamentalist. No. We are an open-minded organization. We believe in democracy and freedom and political pluralization. Yeah, Hamas really tried to re-brand itself. Kind of like Domino's did when they ran ads admitting that... ...and they... But unfortunately, like Domino's, Hamas is a terrible organization that in no way kept its promises. Because in the years following, that tone of open-minded freedom clearly fell away. Not only has there not been another election. Most people in Gaza don't believe they have the freedom to speak openly. One poll found that under Hamas rule... And human rights groups have said that Hamas forces have carried out a brutal campaign of... ...against Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel, and have... And the truth is, many Gazans will say that they don't want Hamas in charge. Polls show if true peace were available, many Palestinians would embrace it. In fact, one conducted right before October 7th found... And it's notable that in July, despite all the restriction on dissent in Gaza, there were actually people on the streets chanting slogans including, "Fuck off, Hamas!" and, "We want to live!" And look, even if all Palestinians in Gaza did support Hamas, which they do not, the relentless bombings of civilians there would still be abhorrent. Collective punishment is a war crime. But the fact is, there is much more criticism of Hamas in Gaza than Americans in general and these dipshits in particular are willing to admit. Palestinians in Gaza are not a monolith. And nor, importantly, are Israelis. Because now let's talk about Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who's been Prime Minister of Israel for a combined 16 years. Here in the U.S., discussion of the current conflicts sometimes conflates the current Israeli government with Israel as a whole, as if the two are entirely representative of each other. You'll hear, "We need to support Bibi and Israel." Or, "This is not a time to criticize Netanyahu." But that is not the case within Israel. Criticism of Netanyahu there is fierce. One poll found that 76 percent of Israelis want him gone. And many blame him for the security lapses that led to the October 7th attack. And immediately after that attack, videos went viral of Netanyahu ministers visiting hospitals where some of the victims were recuperating and being yelled at. Just watch this one minister essentially get chased out of the hospital first by a family member, and then by somebody who works there. That is pretty intense. I don't know much about medicine, but after seeing that, I'm gonna assume that the Hippocratic Oath actually goes... Because he was clapping at her there like you do when you're trying to get a bird out of your house. And while that anger at Netanyahu has certainly intensified since October 7th, it's also been there for a long time. Before the attack, Israel saw nearly 40 weeks of protests, including hundreds of thousands of Israelis marching in the streets in opposition to his plan that would effectively end the independence of the judiciary and endanger civil rights. And look, Netanyahu has always been a hard-liner. He's forged his entire political persona around an extreme version of safety through strength. Which has included active opposition to the peace process at crucial points. When former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to the Oslo Peace Accord, which attempted to set a framework for an eventual resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu was fiercely against it, infamously speaking at a rally, where protesters chanted... And held aloft pictures of him in a Nazi uniform. Soon after that, Rabin was killed by a far-right Israeli extremist, and Rabin's widow blamed Netanyahu for stoking the flames that led to that. And in the wake of that assassination. Netanyahu's political career seemed dead. And it wasn't until a series of bus bombings by Hamas in Israel, as part of their own efforts to derail the peace accords, that Netanyahu was first elected Prime Minister. And his message of "I am the only one who can keep you safe" has been consistent ever since. Here he is in the run up to Israel's 2014 election, making that point again. (SPEAKING IN HEBREW) TRANSLATOR 2: I feel the Jewish nation is under threat, and I'm prepared to mitigate that danger. It's what the state of Israel expects from me, and it's what I'll do. (APPLAUSE) Well, that is a big claim that just hasn't dated very well. Honestly, I haven't seen a politician's words age so poorly since Hillary Clinton tweeted... So, he has always been hard right, but it's worth taking a minute to underscore just how extreme his current government is. Because the truth is, Netanyahu has been struggling to hold office in the last half a decade. Voters there actually endured five elections in just four years, because neither Netanyahu nor anyone else could form a stable majority. He only made it back into power last year by forming a coalition with those on the furthest right wing of Israeli politics, leading to the most right-wing government in the country's history. His cabinet is stocked with extremists. Take Itamar Ben-Gvir. He... He was once considered so fringe... But he's now Netanyahu's Minister of National Security. Meanwhile, his current Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, has said... He's also advocated for... Very basically, seizing land in the West Bank and driving Palestinians from their homes to the point where, quote... Settlements are widely understood to be against international law, yet Smotrich wants a massive expansion of them. And Netanyahu gave him a special role in charge of settlement affairs. But perhaps the most surprising way that Netanyahu has actually jeopardized Israel's safety is that for years, he deliberately used Hamas as a way to undermine the Palestinian Authority, a rival to Hamas, which administers parts of the West Bank and has much more legitimacy on the world stage. Experts say that the idea was basically "divide and conquer." If Palestinian leadership remains split, and one of the main parties at the table has a terrorism label on it, it's gonna be much easier for Netanyahu to refuse to engage with them and say that he has no partner for peace. Here is Smotrich explaining that strategy out loud in 2015. (SPEAKING HEBREW) TRANSLATOR 3: The Palestinian Authority is a burden, and Hamas is a terrorist organization that no one will recognize, and no one will give it status in the ICC. No one will let them lead a decision in the Security Council. The main pitch we are playing now is international delegitimization. Hamas, at this point, in my opinion, will be an asset. Hamas is an asset. If you are calling the group that has repeatedly killed your people an "asset," it shows pretty clearly that what you care about isn't safety, but total control. And for years, Netanyahu's government was actually allowing suitcases of cash to be delivered to Hamas. Something, by the way, that earned suitcases of cash the title "Most Morally Disreputable Way to Transfer Money" for the 900th year in a row. When that scandal broke, Netanyahu insisted that that money was for humanitarian aid, which still doesn't explain why it had to be delivered in luggage, in the back of a fucking car. The point is, Netanyahu took the risk of betting that he could control Hamas and use them to his own ends. And he was horribly wrong about that, to the point that his ministers are now getting screamed out of hospitals. So, to recap so far, Palestinians and Israelis have both been relentlessly let down by their leaders. And the result has been a decades-long cycle of extremism, violence, retaliation, and more extremism. And Palestinians have been on the receiving end of that extremism twice over, subject to the inadequacies and cruelties of a Hamas government and the punishing isolation and daily misery of an Israeli one. Because Israel's approach to Gaza has been truly punishing. Fencing people in, limiting exits, and trapping them inside of what has been called an "open-air prison" by many human rights organizations. Life under a blockade there has been hard for a long time, even when there aren't bombs flying. REPORTER 2: The United Nations says just 10 percent of Gaza's 2 million people have access to safe drinking water. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) TRANSLATOR 4: My children get sick because of the water. They suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. All the streets are full of trash, full of garbage. All the people, they have no work. They have no employment. When people here run out of electricity, they only get three hours a day, they can either use a small battery to try operate lights, or they just go outside and light fires. This life has given Emad, like many Gazans, a sense of having little to lose. Right. And you can't really blame him for feeling that way. Once you've lost clean water, sanitary space, job prospects, and most electricity, there's really not much left to lose but hope. And it's worth noting that there is one more major player in all of this that I haven't mentioned yet. And it's us. And I don't just mean the British, who are absolutely responsible for some of this, I'm talking about America. Because this country has emphatically picked a side. In recent years, we've given Israel 3.8 billion dollars a year in military aid. And you can make geopolitical arguments for why that is or isn't a valid thing to do, but it means we're heavily implicated in everything you've just seen. Just listen to Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian whose 10-year-old daughter was killed by an Israeli border guard in 2007. Right. Everything is American. And I know that is hard to hear, but the fact is, "made in America" is something that we understandably love to brag about when it's slapped on things that we're proud of, but unfortunately, it's not just tractors, truck nuts and Toby Keith songs. Sometimes it's stuff that's killing people. And so, having explained at least some of how we got here, now might be the time to talk about where we are. As of right now, Hamas is still holding all but four of the hostages that it's taken and firing rockets toward Israel every day. And Israel is bombing relentlessly. Again, thousands in Gaza have been killed so far. Which honestly shouldn't be a total shock, given that early on, an IDF spokesperson said out loud... And there have been some maddening efforts to downplay the suffering in Gaza. Like when Israel's ambassador to the UN said this last weekend. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In coordination with the US and the UN, we allow the number of trucks entering Gaza now with food and medicines to reach almost 100 trucks every day. You've said this before, that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That's kind of an amazing statement because there were humanitarian problems there before the war. And now, obviously, it has gotten bad. Take their numbers aside. It has gotten to the crisis point. I'm-- I'm-- I'm not... No, I'm not saying that the life in Gaza is great. Oh, okay. Okay. But "I'm not saying it's great" is a severe understatement there. That is something you say when you're describing the band at a wedding or a sandwich from Panera Bread. But it's not how you describe life in the middle of a fucking warzone. Because those on the ground in Gaza will tell you it's absolutely a humanitarian crisis. Just watch this woman who works with Doctors Without Borders. It is the worst humanitarian catastrophe I've experienced in my lifetime. You know there's an acronym in the Gaza Strip right now. You know, I'm a pediatric intensive care doctor. I see a lot of suffering in my career. There's an acronym that is unique to the Gaza Strip, and it's called-- it's WCNSF. Wounded child, no surviving family. Children-- And it is used not infrequently in the last three weeks. Wounded child, no surviving family should not exist as an acronym. She's right. And personally, I'm gonna take my cues about what constitutes a humanitarian crisis from the humanitarians here. And I really don't have it in me to show you footage of people in agony tonight, but I do want you to see some kids in Gaza, who've been displaced, speak about what they've been going through. MUHAMMAD ASSALAYA: INTERVIEWER 2: Yeah. I'd really like them to be able to chill the fuck out too. 'Cause kids should never be losing sleep due to the fear of war. They should only be losing sleep for completely normal kid reasons like tummy aches from eating too much candy or apparently, for Australian kids, staying up excited all night because it's Christmas Eve and you can't wait to see if Santa brought you a brand-new bag for all of your holiday ham for some deeply weird reason. It should be impossible to watch those kids and not feel shattered. There is a natural human impulse to protect children, to grab a toddler you don't know if you see them running into traffic, and if that impulse is broken or disincentivized by a government, there is absolutely a humanitarian crisis, no matter what any asshole has to say about it. And look, I don't have a solution for peace in the Middle East. And even if I did, which again I don't, this really would be the worst voice in which to relay that message. But it does seem to me personally that a ceasefire has to be the first step. That is something that people have been calling for all over the world, but it's something that world leaders have been reluctant to say. Just watch Justin Trudeau almost say it and then correct himself. We need to see a cease... Uh, we need to see a humanitarian pause, so we can flow. Uh, we need to see ceasing of-- of-- of the levels of violence that we're seeing. Wow! He stopped himself mid-word there. He literally ordered a ceasefire on the word ceasefire. I only regret that he just keep that word salad, or word poutine, going. "Uh, we need a ceasing of the violence. A-- a-- a stopping of the explosions. Sort of a halting of the booms, if you will. A halt of boom would be great right now." And it's not just Trudeau, Joe Biden has said there is no possibility of a ceasefire, which is a hell of a thing to hear from perhaps the only world leader whose pressure could actually make one possible. And listen, there are those, like noted Mid East peace expert, Harvey Levin, who will say, and not wrongly, that there are real dangers to a ceasefire, that Hamas might regroup once the bombing stops. Although that's arguably gonna be a danger whenever it stops. So, why not stop right now? Continuing down this path only creates more extremists, which is the last thing that anybody needs. And I don't want to say anything that denies the pain of those in Israel who have lost loved ones to a truly barbarous act or who are waiting anxiously for the return of hostages. Although you should know, some hostages' families are also utterly furious at the military tactics that Netanyahu is employing right now. We have to engage in negotiations. We have to do it now. They say that the only solution is to destroy, to flatten Gaza. They never mentioned the hostages, never. Right. And you can see how infuriating that would be. And I know that for many Israelis, there is an understandable sense of fear and precarity right now, amid the specter of Hamas attacks and rockets flying overhead, but it's worth also acknowledging the overwhelming sense of precarity among Palestinians, living under a blockade and a barrage of Israeli rockets. And it has to be possible to feel the pain in one community without denying it in another. -It has to be. -(APPLAUSE) That is perhaps the most necessary precondition for peace because real peace here will clearly be difficult. It's gonna be struggled toward as part of a larger pursuit of justice, which will, in turn, require an honest and uncomfortable reckoning with all the decisions that brought us to this point. And I know that hope is scarce right now, but I did see something this week which gave me a seed of hope. It involved this Israeli man, Rami Elhanan, who lost his 14-year-old daughter to a Hamas suicide bombing 26 years ago. He actually co-directs a group called The Parent's Circle with that Palestinian man that I showed you earlier, where parents who've lost children to this conflict get together to work toward peace. Elhanan was asked if recent events had changed his world view at all, and his response is worth listening to. Exactly. And it is inspiring that despite what that man went through, he's still committed to achieving peace through talking. And it shows that any conversation around this has to begin with empathy or we're just fucked. And obviously, we don't know how all this ends, but there are a few things that we do know. We know that dehumanizing people leads to violence. We know that violence leads to even more brutality and destruction. And we know that, crucially, breaking that cycle is unfortunately gonna require leadership significantly different than the ones currently in place. - Generated with https://kome.ai