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‘Anti-Semitism has become a comical accusation’: Comedian Bassem Youssef

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FRANCE 24 spoke to Egyptian-American comedian Bassem Youssef, who is speaking out against the war in Gaza. Formerly a TV icon in Egypt before fleeing to the US, Youssef called accusations of anti-Semitism against him “laughable”. Calling the label “overused”, especially against Jews supporting the Palestinian cause, he said that anti-Semitism “has become a comical accusation”. “Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism,” he added.

Asked about the recent rise in tensions between Israel and the Biden administration over the war in Gaza, Youssef said “it’s sad it took 32,000 people to be killed [in Gaza] to get to that.”

The heart surgeon-turned-comedian expressed frustration at the debate surrounding the classification of Israel’s offensive in Gaza as genocide, calling it “counterproductive”.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says at least 32,490 people have been killed, most of them women and children, since Israel began its offensive in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas attacks.

Youssef, whose wife hails from Gaza, has become a strong voice for the Palestinians. “I don’t like to be called an activist,” the stand-up comedian insisted. “I just say things that other people think.”

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