Bassem Yousef delivers history masterclass in second Piers Morgan interview

Bassem Yousef delivers history masterclass in second Piers Morgan interview
Youssef is seen gifting the television host with a jug of olive oil from the West Bank. (Screenshot)
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Updated 03 November 2023
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Bassem Yousef delivers history masterclass in second Piers Morgan interview

Bassem Yousef delivers history masterclass in second Piers Morgan interview
  • Satirist and actor highlights the ongoing denial of Palestinian rights, excoriates ‘apartheid’ Israel
  • Morgan surprisingly slams Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for being ‘complicit in keeping Hamas in power’

LONDON: Bassem Youssef delivered a history masterclass, in his inimitable satirical and subversive manner, in his second interview with Piers Morgan on Nov. 2 — highlighting that Palestinian rights were continually being denied by the powerful, “apartheid” state of Israel and its allies.

The two-hour Piers Morgan Uncensored interview has amassed over 6.6 million views since it was posted. It was a stark contrast to the stiffness of their viral interview on Oct. 17 which was heated, marred by signal delays, and saw Morgan struggling to respond to the Egyptian-American comedian’s satirical humor on the conditions Palestinians face under Israeli occupation.

This time the interaction between the two was noticeably warmer, with Morgan flying halfway across the world to meet with Youssef in a Los Angeles comedy club.  

Youssef is seen gifting the television host with a jug of olive oil from the West Bank, where centuries-old olive trees are passed down through generations and recognized as symbols of Palestinian national pride. 

Reflecting on their previous conversation, Morgan admitted that he was initially uneasy when Youssef used dark comedy to respond to his talking points on the war Israel has launched in occupied Gaza. 

“Then I realized what you were doing was very powerful. It was savagely satirical and extremely effective,” he added.

According to Youssef, satire does not push against talking points but rather exaggerates the reality of the situation. Laughter, he explained, was an effective way of emphasizing the extreme nature of Israel’s response to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. 

Opening up further, Youssef confessed his initial refusal to appear on Morgan’s show was that he feared being critical of Israel would be “career suicide.”

“I left Egypt and came to America: the land of the free, the home of the brave. But I didn’t know that there was a fine print that you cannot speak about Israel,” Youssef said.

The comedian argued that the word antisemitism has been abused to smear anyone opposing Zionism. This, Youssef highlighted, even extends to Jewish peace advocates championing a free Palestine, who have been derogatorily branded as “self-hating Jews” or “Kapos,” a term denoting Jewish prisoners in Nazi camps who were forced to serve as guards.  

Youssef clarified that while he does not endorse celebrations post the Oct. 7 attacks, he explained why many viewed them as a victory over a “criminal state who has been killing their people while receiving backing by the international community.”

“These people from a very young age have seen that they are not being heard by the media and that the plight of their brothers and sisters in Palestine and the Arab world are not being heard,” he said.

“Is it right? No, but it is understandable,” he stated. 

Morgan seized the moment to clarify his stance on Israel’s war on Gaza, which has been a subject of fervent online debates. He said his talk show has served as a platform for some of the strongest pro-Palestinian voices in recent weeks.

Morgan’s interviews have generated millions of streams, which translate into significant financial rewards. The Yousef interview now appears to be his most lucrative one with 20 million viewers, far outnumbering those with Andrew Tate, Kanye West and Cristiano Ronaldo.

He revealed: “Seeing thousands of children being killed in Gaza, it fills me with utter horror.

“I find it very easy to condemn Israel turning off the water … off the power. I think it’s ridiculous that Israel should have that much power over millions of people that are not a part of their country. I think it’s terrible what’s happening in the West Bank. I think that the stuff there is completely easy to condemn.

“But can I hand on heart condemn Israel for trying to destroy Hamas for what they did on Oct. 7? That is where I’m struggling to condemn it because I believe they are right in trying to destroy Hamas.”

Morgan sought an answer to his own moral quandary about what constitutes a proportionate response for Israel to eliminate Hamas, to which Yousef responded: “I would give the Palestinians what they deserve.”

Youssef, a medical doctor, proposed a solution likening extremism to viruses.

“If a patient comes to you with the flu and you are the doctor. How can you treat that patient?” he asks Morgan before offering his own answer. “You give them nutrition, fluids and rest so that the immunity of the body gets rid of the virus on its own.”

“But if I (start beating) that patient with the flu with a sledgehammer … you are weakening the body and making them worse.” 

Youssef said that Israel has not only weakened the Palestinian body by making it unable to combat radicalism, but has “openly boasted” that it provided it funding.

In a surprising agreement, Morgan opined that Netanyahu was “complicit in keeping Hamas in power.”

Youssef maintained that Israel was not willing to make peace, but was intent on the forced displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

“It is not about (Israel PM Benjamin) Netanyahu. It is the policy of Israel not to give Palestinians their state. It’s always been there.”

He added: “Israel is a racist, apartheid country. It is projecting this shining example of secularism … so people can accept whatever they do. Because they look at Palestinians as lesser people. This is the whole point.”
 


Arab News scoops 4 Merit Winner nods in 59th Society of Publication Designers competition

Arab News scoops 4 Merit Winner nods in 59th Society of Publication Designers competition
Updated 20 April 2024
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Arab News scoops 4 Merit Winner nods in 59th Society of Publication Designers competition

Arab News scoops 4 Merit Winner nods in 59th Society of Publication Designers competition
  • Awards across print, digital, infographics and illustrations ‘testament to talent and dedication of design and editorial teams’

LONDON: Arab News, the leading English-language daily newspaper in the Middle East, has won four Merit Winner awards at this year’s Society of Publication Designers competition.

Arab News’ “The Kingdom vs. Captagon” Spotlight piece garnered recognition in the two categories — Custom Feature and Single Page.

The two remaining accolades went to the “Onions’ tears and inflation fears” in the Feature Opener category and the “Guide to Hajj” in Infographic, commended for its exceptional data visualization.

“We are extremely proud to have won four awards at this year’s prestigious SPD competition,” Omar Nashashibi, head of design at Arab News, said.

“To win awards across print, digital, infographics and illustrations is testament to the talent and dedication of the Arab News design and editorial teams in creating engaging content for our readers.”

Since 1965, the annual SPD awards have promoted and celebrated excellence in editorial design, photography and illustration across both print and digital mediums. This year, the competition’s jury received thousands of entries from around the globe.  


Man who set himself on fire outside Trump trial dies of injuries, police say

Man who set himself on fire outside Trump trial dies of injuries, police say
Updated 20 April 2024
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Man who set himself on fire outside Trump trial dies of injuries, police say

Man who set himself on fire outside Trump trial dies of injuries, police say
  • Some officers and bystanders rushed to the aid of the man
  • The man, who police said recently traveled from Florida to New York, had not breached any security checkpoints to access the park

NEW YORK: A man who doused himself in an accelerant and set himself on fire outside the courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial has died, police said.
The New York City Police Department told The Associated Press early Saturday that the man was declared dead by staff at an area hospital.
The man was in Collect Pond Park around 1:30 p.m. Friday when he took out pamphlets espousing conspiracy theories, tossed them around, then doused himself in an accelerant and set himself on fire, officials and witnesses said.
A large number of police officers were nearby when it happened. Some officers and bystanders rushed to the aid of the man, who was hospitalized in critical condition at the time.
The man, who police said recently traveled from Florida to New York, had not breached any security checkpoints to access the park.

The park outside the courthouse has been a gathering spot for protesters, journalists and gawkers throughout Trump’s trial, which began with jury selection Monday.
Through Friday, the streets and sidewalks in the area around the courthouse were generally wide open and crowds have been small and largely orderly.
Authorities said they were also reviewing the security protocols, including whether to restrict access to the park. The side street where Trump enters and leaves the building is off limits.
“We may have to shut this area down,” New York City Police Department Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said at a news conference outside the courthouse Friday, adding that officials would discuss the security plan soon.


Russian war correspondent for Izvestia killed in Ukraine

Russian war correspondent for Izvestia killed in Ukraine
Updated 20 April 2024
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Russian war correspondent for Izvestia killed in Ukraine

Russian war correspondent for Izvestia killed in Ukraine
  • Izvestia said Semyon Eremin, 42, died of wounds from a drone attack in Zaporizhzhia region
  • Eremin had reported for the Russian daily from hottest battles in Ukraine during the 25-month-old war

Semyon Eremin, a war correspondent for the Russian daily Izvestia, was killed on Friday in a drone attack in southeastern Ukraine, the daily said.

Izvestia said Eremin, 42, died of wounds suffered when a drone made a second pass over the area where he was reporting in Zaporizhzhia region.
Izvestia said Eremin had sent reports from many of the hottest battles in Ukraine’s eastern regions during the 25-month-old war, including Mariupol, besieged by Russian troops for nearly three months in 2022.
He had also reported from Maryinka and Vuhledar, towns at the center of many months of heavy fighting.


WhatsApp being used to target Palestinians through Israel’s Lavender AI system

WhatsApp being used to target Palestinians through Israel’s Lavender AI system
Updated 20 April 2024
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WhatsApp being used to target Palestinians through Israel’s Lavender AI system

WhatsApp being used to target Palestinians through Israel’s Lavender AI system
  • Targets’ selection based on membership to some WhatsApp groups, new report reveals
  • Accusation raises questions about app’s privacy and encryption claims

LONDON: WhatsApp is allegedly being used to target Palestinians through Israel’s contentious artificial intelligence system, Lavender, which has been linked to the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, recent reports have revealed.

Earlier this month, Israeli-Palestinian publication +972 Magazine and Hebrew-language outlet Local Call published a report by journalist Yuval Abraham, exposing the Israeli army’s use of an AI system capable of identifying targets associated with Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

This revelation, corroborated by six Israeli intelligence officers involved in the project, has sparked international outrage, as it suggested Lavender has been used by the military to target and eliminate suspected militants, often resulting in civilian casualties.

In a recent blog post, software engineer and activist Paul Biggar highlighted Lavender’s reliance on WhatsApp.

He pointed out how membership in a WhatsApp group containing a suspected militant can influence Lavender’s identification process, highlighting the pivotal role messaging platforms play in supporting AI targeting systems like Lavender.

“A little-discussed detail in the Lavender AI article is that Israel is killing people based on being in the same WhatsApp group as a suspected militant,” Bigger wrote. “There’s a lot wrong with this.”

He explained that users often find themselves in groups with strangers or acquaintances.

Biggar also suggested that WhatsApp’s parent company, Meta, may be complicit, whether knowingly or unknowingly, in these operations.

He accused Meta of potentially violating international humanitarian law and its own commitments to human rights, raising questions about the privacy and encryption claims of WhatsApp’s messaging service.

The revelation is just the latest of Meta’s perceived attempts to silence pro-Palestinian voices.

Since before the beginning of the conflict, the Menlo Park giant has faced accusations of double standards favoring Israel.

In February, the Guardian revealed that Meta was considering the expansion of its hate speech policy to the term “Zionist.”

More recently, Meta quietly introduced a new feature on Instagram that automatically limits users’ exposure to what it deems “political” content, a decision criticized by experts as a means of systematically censoring pro-Palestinian content.

Responding to requests for comment, a WhatsApp spokesperson said that the company could not verify the accuracy of the report but assured that “WhatsApp has no backdoors and does not provide bulk information to any government.”


Eastern European mercenaries suspected of attacking Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati

Eastern European mercenaries suspected of attacking Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati
Updated 19 April 2024
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Eastern European mercenaries suspected of attacking Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati

Eastern European mercenaries suspected of attacking Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati
  • UK security services believe criminal proxies with links to Tehran carried out London knife attack

LONDON: Police said on Friday that a group of Eastern European mercenaries is suspected to have carried out the knife attack on Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati in late March.

Zeraati was stabbed repeatedly by three men in an attack outside his south London home.

The Iran International presenter lost a significant amount of blood and was hospitalized for several days. He has since returned to work, but is now living in a secure location.

Iran International and its staff have faced repeated threats, believed to be linked to the Iranian regime, which designated the broadcaster as a terrorist organization for its coverage of the 2022 protests.

Iran’s charge d’affaires, Seyed Mehdi Hosseini Matin, denied any government involvement in the attack on Zeraati.

Investigators revealed that the suspects fled the UK immediately after the incident, with reports suggesting they traveled to Heathrow Airport before boarding commercial flights to different destinations.

Police are pursuing leads in Albania as part of their investigation.

Counterterrorism units and Britain’s security services leading the inquiry believe that the attack is another instance of the Iranian regime employing criminal proxies to target its critics on foreign soil.

This method allows Tehran to maintain plausible deniability and avoids raising suspicions when suspects enter the country.

Zeraati was attacked on March 29 as he left his home home to travel to work. His weekly show serves as a source of impartial and uncensored news for many Iranians at home and abroad.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program this week, Zeraati said that while he is physically “much better,” mental recovery from the assault “will take time.”