Last night's Daily Show on Comedy Central was dominated by the Middle East, and much of it was serious stuff - in stark contrast to what passes as "real news coverage." In the show's central interview Jon Stewart asked Zaki Chehab (whose new book "Inside Hamas" we posted about last month) what America should do, clarifying that, by 'we,' he meant the President, as most of the public was too busy watching American Idol. Chehab seemed nervous, but got his main point across - that the American failure to back moderates in the region with efforts at serious political problem solving gave a constant boost to radical al Qaedist groups.
Chehab detailed that strengthening moderates needed to mean more than just visits to the region, warm embraces, and involvement to get, for instance, "tomato trucks out of gaza on time," but had to extend to "imposing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." While I'm skeptical that an American-imposed solution is either realistic or desirable, there would be real value if America made resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a national priority, and, acting accordingly, presented its own detailed parameters for what a permanent status agreement should look like.
Perhaps more interesting than the interviewee were the rather leading "questions" being posed to him by Jon Stewart that seemed to more than hint at the hosts own understanding of the issue - Stewart really seems to get it
If we used the resources and strength we have used in Iraq in the Palestinian territories [the implication is to make peace -DL] would we have been successful?
Would it take the steam out of the conflict with Islam if that [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] gets solved?
The other segment of the show was about Lebanon. It was far more amusing, albeit inaccurate at times. For a good laugh click here. For a better idea about what is going on in Northern Lebanon, see the post below.