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Media star defends Israel in Gaza

Bill Maher

Even the notoriously leftist TV host Bill Maher recognizes reports of Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza create a slanted picture of the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

On his Friday edition of “Real Time With Bill Maher,” the HBO host took Muslim panel member Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American known for writing “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” to task for claiming Israel was killing a disproportionate number of civilians in the ongoing conflict.

When Aslan argued there was “no evidence whatsoever” of Hamas using human shields in the conflict, implying Israel was wantonly killing civilians, Maher interrupted, exclaiming, “It’s a war! … People die in wars. … If the situation was reversed, Hamas would kill every single person in Israel. The reason why that is not happening is because they can’t. Because [Hamas] can’t doesn’t make them good, it makes them weak.”

Video of the exchange, edited for length by the Media Research Center, can be seen below:

At the heart of the exchange is a double standard whereby Israel is given a black eye in the international media for civilian casualties, even though Hamas forces in Gaza are hiding in and fighting from populated areas, effectively using the civilians as "human shields."

The conversation ignited when Aslan claimed jihadist forces in the Middle East "address a lot of grievances that aren't being addressed by governments."

"They're crucifying people on the side of the road," Maher objected. "Where are the protests about that? I know that Israel's horrible, but where are the protests about crucifying people? Boko Haram has killed more people than Israel this year, with the war going on."

"But not with American weapons, and I think that is why you're seeing a lot more emphasis in the United States," Aslan said.

"You're going to defend Hamas?" fellow panel member Andrew Ross Sorkin asked.

"I'm not defending Hamas," Aslan replied. "All I am saying is that if you are going to have a situation where 1,600 people, 85 percent of them civilians, hundreds of children are being killed every day ..."

"That's because [Hamas forces] are putting [civilians] in front of them!" Ross Sorkin interrupted.

"That is nonsense!" Aslan fired back.

A few moments later, Aslan elaborated: "Amnesty International, which is on the ground right there, did a month-long review of this. They have found no evidence whatsoever of any kind of human shield being used."

The denial was more than Maher could take.

"It's a war," Maher interrupted. "It's a war that Hamas started, and somehow when Israel reacts to this they have to do everything that doesn't kill any civilians. People die in wars. Now, I've said this before on this show, if the situation was reversed, Hamas would kill every single person in Israel. The reason why that is not happening is because they can't. Because they can't doesn't make them good, it makes them weak."

Aslan countered by insisting Israel, as a democracy, has to be held to a higher standard than Hamas.