The American late-night comedy landscape hasn’t been kind to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this election season. But on Friday, Bill Maher – always one in favor of shaking things up – came to the prime minister’s defense on his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher.
Maher dismissed hypothetical comparisons by critics of Netanyahu’s controversial statement warning his right-wing base of a strong Arab voter turnout to Romney making similar statements against African Americans in 2012.
“I heard a lot of commentators here say, it would be as if Mitt Romney in 2012 on the eve of the election said black voters are coming out in droves to the polls. But I don’t know if that’s really a great analogy,” he said.
Suggesting that his comments were justified given the terrorist threats Israel faces from its borders, he added, “I think that would be a good analogy if America was a country that was surrounded by 12 or 13 completely black nations who had militarily attacked us many times, including as recently as last year. Would we let them vote? I don’t know.”
Echoing his thoughts, Real Time panelist and former Republican Congressman from Georgia, Jack Kingston, added to the pro-Netanyahu support, saying, “He was making sure his base showed up...
He was fighting not just for his own political future but for Israel’s.”
Invoking racist stereotypes is just part and parcel of the political game, Maher argued.
“Like Reagan didn’t win races with racism? Or Nixon? Or Bush? Like they didn’t play the race card? Remember Willie Horton?” Maher asked, referencing a controversial Republican PAC ad against Michael Dukakis, which was widly blasted for its racist undertones.
In his monologue, Maher also defended Israel itself. Mocking the White House’s announcement that it plans to “reassess” its ties with Israel given Netanyahu’s waffling on the two-state solution, he said, “Yeah right, we’re going to stop dating Israel and date Syria now. Can we have some perspective?” He then compared the recent attack on the Tunisian museum and human right violations against women in Syria as topics that should take priority when discussing the problems of the Middle East.
But Maher couldn’t resist taking a jab at Speaker of the House John Boehner who is scheduled to visit Israel next week.
“[Boehner] will be traveling under his secret service nickname – Agent Orange,” he joked, referring to the speaker’s famously tan complexion.
Earlier last week, fellow comedian Jon Stewart also had some fun at Romney’s expense after the Netanyahu’s comments.
While Stewart’s comedic analysis on the elections had a much more anti-Netanyahu bent, he too, saw the political mastery of Netanyahu’s campaign and suggested that perhaps Romeny had a lot to learn from him.
“You know that stuff you say in private? Your core beliefs? Those things you try to hide from people because you fear society will shun you? It appears all you have to do is turn into that skid. The real message is go big or go home!,” He said, after showing a clip of Romney addressing a private fundraising dinner where he sharply condemned America’s poor.