Jon Stewart proposes Israel-Gaza peace plan: ‘Honestly, what is the alternative?’

<span>Jon Stewart on the Israel-Gaza war: ‘Israel, the United States, the United Nations, the Arab nations – no one seems to be incentivized to stop the suffering of the innocent people in this region.’</span><span>Photograph: Youtube</span>
Jon Stewart on the Israel-Gaza war: ‘Israel, the United States, the United Nations, the Arab nations – no one seems to be incentivized to stop the suffering of the innocent people in this region.’Photograph: Youtube

Late-night hosts talk prospects of peace in the Middle East, Donald Trump’s new sneakers and Nikki Haley’s loss in the South Carolina Republican primary.

The Daily Show

For his third monologue as the returning Monday night host for the Daily Show through the election, Jon Stewart took on the famously thorny topic of Israel-Palestine. The war, he noted, is “an awful situation. We’re coming up on five months of a brutal bombing campaign brought on by a horrific massacre and hostage-taking, and we seem no closer to ending anything but the reign of a couple of Ivy League presidents.”

The host went hard on Israel, which has killed more than 30,000 people in Gaza in retaliation to the 7 October attacks and whose plan, according to its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is to continue bombing until Hamas is eliminated. “You’re planning to eliminate Hamas by destroying all of Gaza?” an incredulous Stewart asked.

The group, he continued, is “an idea. Do you have a bomb that kills ideas? I mean, how long would it even take to bomb the shit out of an idea?”

Related: Jimmy Kimmel on CPAC: ‘A who’s who of who won’t accept the results of the election’

As for the US, Israel’s closest ally and “work emergency contact”, Stewart had some advice: “Maybe it’s time for the US to give Israel some tough moral love.”

While the US roundly condemned Russia’s killing of civilians in Ukraine, he continued, US officials have tempered their criticisms of Israel, essentially asking them to be more careful with their bombs. “Couldn’t the United States have told Israel that when we gave them all the bombs?” he wondered. “They’re our bombs! This is like your coke dealer coming in with an eight ball and going, ‘Don’t stay up all night.’

“So Israel, the United States, the United Nations, the Arab nations – no one seems to be incentivized to stop the suffering of the innocent people in this region,” he concluded, before proposing three possible solutions.

Two were jokes, of course, such as phoning God for input. But the final one was sincere: “Starting now, no preconditions, no earned trust, no partners for peace: Israel stops bombing, Hamas releases the hostages,” he said. “The Arab countries who claim Palestine as their top priority come in and form a demilitarized zone between Israel and a free Palestinian state. The Saudis, Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Jordan – they all form like a Nato arrangement guaranteeing security for both sides. Obviously, they won’t call it Nato. It’s the Middle East Treaty Organization – it’s Me Too.

“Obviously, I have not worked out the exact verbiage,” he added, “but anything is better than the clusterfuck cycle we have now. Because honestly, what is the alternative?”

Stephen Colbert

On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert celebrated the $355m penalty in Trump’s New York civil fraud trial, which found him guilty of illegally inflating his assets, among other crimes. Because the ruling comes with back interest, Trump really owes the state of New York $454m.

“Obviously, Trump needs cash fast. So he’s getting into foot stuff,” Colbert quipped, noting his recently launched “Never Surrender” limited-edition sneakers, selling for $399 a pop. “Yes, they are a bold fashion statement. It’s like if King Midas touched a turd,” Colbert joked.

Trump also won the South Carolina primary over the weekend, though his one remaining rival, Nikki Haley, vowed to continue her long-shot campaign. “I’m grateful that today is not the end of our story,” she told supporters in her home state.

“You’re absolutely right. This isn’t the end – we’re way past the end,” Colbert corrected. “This is like the second or third post-credits scene in a Marvel movie where they hint at some character that no one’s ever heard of.”

Seth Meyers

“Trump’s election delusion has infected the entirety of the GOP,” said Seth Meyers on Late Night, citing an exit poll from South Carolina in which only 32% of primary voters thought that Biden legitimately won the 2020 election.

“The GOP is fully committed to the delusion that Trump won in 2020, and that delusion has short-circuited the normal mechanisms of politics,” Meyers added. “In a healthy democracy, when one party keeps losing over and over, they would re-evaluate and become less extreme. But if you can just keep telling yourself lies about why you lost or that you never actually lost in the first place, you never have to change to appeal to voters.”

That’s why, he continued, Trump continues to brag about being responsible for overturning Roe v Wade, despite the unpopularity of that decision, as evidenced by public outcry over a recent Alabama supreme court decision declaring IVF embryos “human beings” with equal protection under the law.

The South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, speaking on Fox News, evidenced the Republican position by trying to distance the ruling from the supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe in 2022. “Saying this has nothing to do with Republicans is like saying Dolly Parton’s song Jolene has nothing to do with a woman named Jolene,” said Meyers, “which is another argument I’m sure Lindsey Graham would be happy to make.”

Jimmy Kimmel

And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel recapped the South Carolina primary, which contained some concerning stats for Trump; for one, Trump and Haley were near even among college-educated voters.

“Trump won by a large margin among voters without a college degree – he does well with non-educated voters,” Kimmel explained. “Absolutely dominates among voters who have been hit on the head with a boulder or a falling brick.”

Haley vowed to continue her campaign, as she’s “a woman of my word”.

“And that word is denial,” Kimmel added. For anyone confused as to why she’s still running, Kimmel spelled it out: “It’s because the guy she is competing against has 91 criminal charges against him – in New York, in Florida, in Washington and in Georgia. That’s why she’s staying in it. It’s like being Charlie Sheen’s understudy in a Broadway play – pretty good chance you’re getting on stage!”