Egyptian comedian and TV host Bassem Youssef offered a grimly satirical take on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the suffering of Gaza’s Palestinian residents during a combative interview with British journalist Piers Morgan. Youssef, who has been described as Egypt’s Jon Stewart for his political satire show El-Bernameg, appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored on Tuesday night, shortly after a blast at the Al-Ahli Baptist hospital in Gaza killed over 500 people.
Morgan kicked off the interview by asking Youssef about the Hamas assault on Israel on 7 October 2023, which led to the deaths of 1,400 Israeli citizens. The Egyptian comedian condemned the assault as “terrible”, but then went on to speak about the plight of Gazans amid Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes that have led to at least 3,061 Palestinian deaths. Talking about his wife’s relatives, whose house in Gaza was bombed this week and whom they haven’t heard from in the last few days, a sarcastic Youssef remarked that “It’s very repetitive. We are used to that… It’s just like those Palestinians are very dramatic, ‘Oh Israel killing us’. But they never die. They always come back. They are very difficult to kill. I know because I’m married to one. I tried many times, couldn’t kill. I tried to get to her many times but she uses our kids as human shields. I can never take her out.”
A visibly uncomfortable Morgan tried to get the conversation back onto safer territory, but Youssef was having none of it. He went on to mock US columnist Ben Shapiro, who had appeared earlier on the show and suggested that Israel annex Gaza and “kill as many people as possible.” There was the expected condemnation of Hamas, but Youssef followed that up with a pointed reminder that the conflict—and the Israeli subjugation of Palestinians—predates the rise of the militant organisation. “Let’s for a minute imagine a world without Hamas. What will this world look like? Let’s give this world a name, and let’s name this world ‘the West Bank,’” he told Morgan. “Hamas has no control over the West Bank, and since the beginning of the year only through August, 37 Palestinian kids were killed. No music festival, no paragliding, no Hamas.”
Youssef maintained this dark, confrontational tone throughout the interview, as he used humour to address anti-Arab racism, the dehumanisation of Palestinians, and the warped logic of bombing civilians as a “proportionate response” to terror. Over the 30-minute-long interview, Youssef gave us a masterclass in how political satire can reveal the absurdity of contemporary geopolitics, and the tragic difference in how global media values Arab and Israeli lives. In doing so, he also captures the shock, horror and helplessness of people watching the world enter yet another cycle of mass violence and atrocity-induced psychosis.