Comedian Bassem Youssef explains how Israel is using Gaza propaganda to distract

Egyptian-American comedian Bassem Youssef, a vocal supporter of Palestine, pulled no punches as he flayed Israel for its war in Gaza as civilian casualties continue to mount in the war-torn strip.

Labelling Israel a “typical narcissist”, Bassem Youssef demonstrated at the India Today Conclave 2024 how satire can be used to take apart the Benjamin Netanyahu government’s “propaganda” to justify its military actions in Gaza.

Addressing the session ‘Viral from Israel-Gaza War Zone: A Stinging Comic Commentary’, Youssef, 49, began on a light note. “I now live in America which, in its spare time, invades people here and there…”

Full coverage of Conclave 2024

He quickly dived into how state-sponsored propaganda is creating an “alternative reality” leading people to “be okay with” what’s happening in Gaza and to the Palestinian people.

“You cannot refute propaganda with facts and truth. Propaganda is meant to make you emotional, have a visceral reaction. The lies have to be so elaborate as to prevent you from using common sense. They distract you, ignore reality, and make you focus on what they want you to focus on,” he said.

Referring to his viral appearance on the Piers Morgan show, Youssef said he was forced to defend “people who were vilified even as they were being slaughtered” because Israeli propaganda, through lies and emotional blackmail, made millions of people believe that they deserved to die.

To counter this, satire comes in handy, he said. To drive his point home, Youssef performed a brief skit: “How many people should we kill? All of them. But Israel is warning civilians before bombing them. Very, very cute!”

He alleged that the Netanyahu government used a number of oft-repeated clichés — from the October 7 attacks by Hamas, to dead babies and raped women, and even Syria — to divert the conversation on the crisis in Gaza. All he did was regurgitate their talking points back at them to show them “how stupid they are”.

The comedian called satire the “kryptonite” of propaganda.

“When you laugh at someone, you are not scared of them any more. When you ridicule their lies, they have no leg to stand on. And when you use common sense, laced with a little bit of humour, their talking points self-implode,” said Youssef.


Bassem Youssef is an Egyptian-American comedian, television host, and even a surgeon. He is best known for hosting Al Bernameg, a satirical news show that tackled Egyptian politics with humor. This was the first show of its kind in the region, and it became hugely popular, garnering millions of viewers weekly.

Youssef’s sharp wit and ability to use humour to critique political issues earned him the nickname “The Jon Stewart of the Arab World.” Time Magazine included him on their prestigious Time 100 list.

While Youssef started his career as a cardiothoracic surgeon, his comedic talent eventually took center stage. However, he still holds qualifications like being a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Published By:

Devika Bhattacharya

Published On:

Mar 16, 2024

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