John Oliver officially dug in on the Israel-Hamas war and, among the many nuances he picked apart, the HBO host zeroed in on one claim in particular: that citizens of Gaza elected Hamas. According to Oliver, the “dips—s” at Newsmax and Fox News who are saying that clearly don’t understand how it came to happen.
Oliver led the show with his main segment Sunday night, prefacing it with the caveat that “There are 1000 different reasons why this is hard to talk about, but it does feel important to at least try.” That’s because, Oliver argued, there are some pretty bad takes going around.
That includes one from Republican congressman Brian Mast, from Florida, who argued on the House floor that “there’s not this far stretch to say there are very few innocent Palestinian civilians.”
“That is not only disgusting, it’s also evidently the sort of thing that you’re allowed to get away with saying on the House floor with zero repercussions, because that’s apparently where the conversation is right now,” Oliver said disgustedly.
“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.”
With that, Oliver zeroed in on the representation aspect, playing a supercut of hosts from Fox News and Newsmax saying that Palestinians elected Hamas, and thus should be blamed accordingly.
“Look, it is true that Gazans did at one point elect Hamas,” Oliver said. “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.”
The HBO host then immediately pointed out that Hamas was elected nearly 20 years ago, at time when the terrorist organization “went out of its way to present itself as more moderate.”
“That election happened in 2006, and there hasn’t been one since,” Oliver said. “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.”
Oliver went on to cite more recent polls, including one that was given just before October 7 (when Hamas first attacked) in which 73% of Gazans indicated that they favored a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“The fact is, there is much more criticism of Hamas in Gaza than Americans in general, and these dips—s in particular, are willing to admit,” Oliver said, pointing to a graphic of the Newsmax and Fox personalities. “Palestinians in Gaza are not a monolith, and nor, importantly, are Israelis.”
You can watch John Oliver’s full segment on the ongoing war in the video above.