The Daily Show skipped a guest last week and instead devoted two satirical segments to a little reported story.
The United States has stopped funding UNESCO, the United Nations educational and cultural organization, because it has admitted Palestine as a member. Under a 1990 and 1994 law, the US is legally required to stop funding any UN agency which recognizes Palestine.
As Care2 reported in November:
The biggest loser isn’t the Palestinians or Israelis, or even the U.N. It’s the United States.
The defunding has bipartisan support and correspondent John Oliver first speaks to US Congressman Robert Wexler (D-Florida). He defends it saying that Israelis and Palestinians directly negotiate before it gets UN recognition. “If the Palestinians go directly to the UN or any of its agencies, we’re not going to fund those agencies,” Wexler says.
Oliver then gives Wexler a high-five, saying, “Send a message!”
“Well we did send a message,” a jovial Wexler replies.
“Boom! Suck it, UNESCO! Suck it!” Oliver says exuberantly, as Wexler begins to look uncomfortable.
Oliver then speaks to UNESCO, who point out how it harms American interests. Going back to Wexler, he again gets told it’s about ‘sending a message.’
“Right, and when you physically cut off your nose to spite your face, you’re sending a message,” Oliver replies. “And that message is don’t fuck with me. Because if I’m willing to do this to myself, what am I willing to do to you?”
The “epic” report then sees John Oliver travel to the West African nation Gabon, which has given UNESCO $2 million. Gabon is one of the richest African countries due to low population and high oil revenues, although it has enormous wealth disparities. Oliver flies there to “confront these tyrannical philanthropists face to face.”
Visiting a UNESCO-funded school he tells the kids:
“Once upon a time, twenty years ago, there was a US congressional law that outlawed funding to any UN organization that allowed Palestine as a member. And that is why you cannot have books anymore.”
“Israel and Palestine must negotiate directly, or else it just doesn’t count,” he tells them.
Back to Wexler, who claims: “We are the good guys here.”
Ending at the studio, Jon Stewart tells Oliver, “It seems like the real loser in this is the United States.”
“And obviously Palestine,” Oliver replies.
Image, screengrab of John Oliver explaining their relationship with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Gabonese children