A Fly in the Ointment of Colbert’s Opening Show

by James M. Wall

Colbert's Late ShowWhile awaiting the final congressional vote that will confirm that President Obama has defeated the Zionist juggernaut which spent millions to block the Iran Nuclear deal, we must pause to consider a major moment in entertainment television.

The entertainment news has to do with the CBS network arrival of Stephen Colbert, who last week succeeded David Letterman as host of The Late Show (11:30 EST).

Even there, alas, the Zionist juggernaut lurks. You will have to look closely to see it, but there was a fly in the ointment of the otherwise successful launch of the next chapter of Colbert’s career.

Supporters of the BDS movement were quick to identify the fly.

Pretending to hate having to allow Corporate America to interrupt his non-stop comedic attacks on the establishment, Colbert snuck in an ad promoting a dip delicacy called Sabra hummus.

Not content with stealing Palestinian land and locking up its people behind a misnamed “security wall”, Israelis have created Sabra hummus, a name that insults Arabs everywhere by linking “Sabra”, a name for native-born Israeli Jews, with “hummus”, a popular Arab dish that is a combination of chickpeas and tahini.

Plain and simple, hummus is an Arab dish, as this hummus website explains:

“The simple fact is that hummus is an authentic member of the Arab kitchen, and has been so for at least the past few generations – and maybe long before that.

“It’s also pretty clear that hummus first became popular in Israel in cities where there’s a large Palestinian population, such as Haifa, Jerusalem and Acre (Akko).”

When Colbert launched his new network show with an ad for Sabra hummus, it prompted even the New York Times to report:

“A comedic product placement for Sabra hummus near the start of Stephen Colbert’s first episode as host of “The Late Show” on Tuesday night earned him praise from marketing experts, but catcalls from supporters of a movement to boycott Israeli-owned companies.

“In a segment that simultaneously mocked paid endorsements and was one, Mr. Colbert explained to viewers that he had made a deal with a demonic amulet, which gave him the chance to host the show but required “certain regrettable compromises,” like endorsing Sabra-brand hummus” (emphasis added).

The Times, ever sensitive to its Liberal Zionist readers and advertisers, acknowledged that “While most of Mr. Colbert’s viewers were quite likely unaware of any political implications of the tongue-in-cheek endorsement, fans who support a Palestinian-led campaign to pressure Israel through boycotts, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, were dismayed by the gag.”

Sabra hummus is produced in the United States, but it drew a call for boycott from BDS backers because it is produced in a joint venture between the American corporate giant PepsiCo and the Strauss Group, an “Israeli food company that has provided financial support to the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Golani Brigade”.

In a piece written by Ron Friedman five years ago (December 14, 2010), the Jerusalem Post offered this earlier background on the BDS versus Strauss struggle:

“The Strauss Group, one of the country’s foremost food and beverage companies, has returned its website banner in support of the IDF after it was removed following pressure and boycott threats in the US.

Three weeks ago the Post reported that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement in Philadelphia had initiated a campaign against Sabra and Tribe humous, produced by Strauss under its American logo, the Sabra Dipping Company, purportedly in protest of the company’s public support for the IDF. (note: “hummus” is the Arabic spelling; “humous” is preferred by the Post.)

The Post added that “BDS activists held demonstrations in supermarkets and called on them to stop selling Strauss’s products.”

To further explain the corporate squirming of Strauss, the 2010 Post story continued, “Until recently, the Petah Tikva-based Strauss Group affirmed its support for the IDF on its website under the banner of ‘Corporate Responsibility,’ with a statement that read:

‘Our connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further. We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and to sweeten their special moments. We have adopted the Golani reconnaissance platoon for over 30 years and provide them with an ongoing variety of food products for their training or missions, and provide personal care packages for each soldier that completes the path.”

“The Strauss Group dropped the statement from its website when the boycott campaign was launched, but has recently posted a new section with altered text.

“It now reads: “As part of its donations program, the Sales Division of Strauss Israel has made a contribution to the men and women who serve in the Golani Brigade.

“The funds are designated for welfare, cultural and educational activities, such as pocket money for underprivileged soldiers, sports and recreational equipment, care packages, and books and games for the soldiers’ club.”

The struggle over Sabra hummus, parallels a successful BDS campaign to call attention to the presence of a Sodastream plant in the West Bank which led to the plant’s move to Israel. The Guardian reported on September 2. Scarlett-Johansson--011-2

“For the BDS movement, SodaStream’s pullout from the West Bank was part of a domino effect that would see more companies sever interests to spare their bottom line.’This is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company,’ said Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the movement.

“He said it would continue to target SodaStream because its new factory is located in an area where Israel has in the past proposed to resettle Bedouin Arabs. The company employs more than 300 Bedouins.

“SodaStream made headlines in 2014 when the actor Scarlett Johansson parted ways with the international charity Oxfam because of a dispute over her work as brand ambassador for the Tel Aviv-based company.”

An inference could be drawn, or perhaps it would be unfair to point out, but the fact of the matter remains, that this same Scarlett Johansson was a featured guest on Stephen Colbert’s second The Late Show program last week.

Nothing was said between them that suggested either Sodastream or Palestine. But Johansson on the program one night after the ad for Sabra hummus? 

We will be watching Stephen Colbert to see where his comedy takes him next.

The picture of Stephen Colbert is from his first program on CBS. The picture of Scarlett Johansson is from the Guardian. It was taken by Rex Rex/REX.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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12 Responses to A Fly in the Ointment of Colbert’s Opening Show

  1. Pauline Coffman says:

    Good one, Jim! I hadn’t seen any comment about the Sabra hummus bit, nor did I see any comment about Scarlett being on the second night. Hard to believe this is coincidence. I’m hoping against hope that the show will redeem itself, but so disappointed in these two occurrences so prominently displayed in the first two shows.

  2. I’m glad that I’ve never watched the guy and am now determined never to do so. Palestine Is Still The Issue. But the Zionists are employing every ploy, scheme, wordfare, lawfare, provocation and constantly devised new or evolved military- and commercial-use tools in their demonically evil enterprise to eliminate the native and rightful 20th-21st Centuries’ inhabitants of Palestine. My frustration is palpable; imagine that of any Palestinian.

  3. Rabbi Dr Steven Ballaban says:

    300,000 dead in Syria. 5 million refugees. Women sold in slave markets and children beheaded. And you can only write about Hummous. Tell me again how you are not an anti-Semite…

  4. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Jim, thanks for sharing your excellent observations. Yes, with all the pre-launch hype about the opening night of the Colbert Late Night Show, it was a “steal” for the Israeli brand,”Sabra” Hummus, to make “an appearance”. Shocking, indeed, as Colbert dug into it, with his signature humor!

    Thanks to the distribution power of PepsiCo, the Israeli Hummus brand now enjoys wide distribution in the US, benefiting Israeli occupation. I wonder how this will affect mighty Pepsi-Cola in the Arab World, as pro-BDS folks start spreading the word?

    As for the name, “Sabra”, the word is simultaneously, Arabic and Hebrew, since they are both Semitic languages that have much in common. One of the meanings of “Sabra” refers to the thorny type of cactus fruit found throughout the Middle East. I remember it well as a child in Palestine, watching my mother prepare it. It has to be “patiently” pealed, while avoiding the prickly thorns, in order to get to the fruit. And just when you think you can start enjoying it, you realize that tiny seeds are densely spread throughout the flesh of the fruit. So, one learns to chew, gingerly, and enjoy the flavor, while basically having to swallow much of each bite.
    Another meaning for Sabra, is “Patience”.

    I guess that both meanings are appropriate analogies for stereo-typical descriptions of what is going on in the Middle East.

    As far as the “origin” of Hummus, it was all over the Middle East for hundreds, or perhaps, thousands, of years. And Hummus platters (“dip”) was an indigenous part of the cuisine in the Middle East. Talking about food, Falafel was available in the Middle East for many, many generations. Falafel and Hummus are, both, Arabic words and an indigenous part of Arab cuisine.

    Israel has attempted to hijack “Hummus” and “Falafel”, as though they were Israeli “inventions”.

    The most telling point is this. When Jewish immigrants came to Palestine in the early 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s, they had no idea what Hummus or Falafel were. Furthermore, there wasn’t a single Jewish restaurant, or shop, or outlet, that sold Hummus, or Falafel.
    Only Arab Palestinians made it and served it. Many Jews got a taste of it and started to love it, which is great. Nothing wrong with that. We welcomed that. But, they loved it so much that, soon after Israel was created in 1948, they started to market and declare them, both, as “National Israeli Cuisine”. After all, Israel swallowed our entire country, while it “de-Falafelized and de-Hummusized Palestine.
    It is as though the USA declares that Tacos and Boritos are a “US invention” and a “National US food”, not a Mexican cuisine. Well, maybe PepsiCo-owned Taco Bell, can claim that one day.

  5. Jack Graham says:

    I will tell the good Rabbi why I am not an anti-Semite. The Semitic peoples are a language group, including Hebrew and Arabic, and I want the United States to mediate peace between Jews and Arabs according to the Geneva accord, the Saudi peace plan, or the Roadmap, and not blindly support Israel in anything and everything they demand of us, even when it is contrary to our national interests. I want the United States to have a foreign policy in the Middle East not directed by Likud or similar governments in Jerusalem. As for Syria, Israel wanted our President, without authorization of Congress, to attack Assad in retaliation for using poison gas, which, as Seymour Hirsch has shown, was not used by Assad. Israel wanted us, contrary to our national interests, to support rebels against Assad which harbored Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. AIPAC, which is Israel’s agent in Congress and does not speak for American Jews, claimed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and so wanted us to invade Iraq, although, as Hans Blix had warned, and in empirical fact, Saddam did not have such weapons. In 2013-2014, in compliance with Netanyahu’s wishes, bills were introduced in Congress to repeal the War Powers Resolution of 1973, and direct our President to bomb Iran, if the prime minister of Israel to bomb Iran, — and that was contrary to our national interests. I simply recognize that our special relationship with Israel is dangerous to them and to us, and so should be terminated in favor of normal diplomatic relations with them, with a Palestinian state, and with all of Israel’s Arab neighbors. I believe that Israel has not been a loyal and useful ally, and does not deserve a special relationship with the United States, which, in any event, retards Israel from making peace with its Arab neighbors, without which Israel cannot survive. It is puerile to call such views anti-Semite, — enough is enough of such talk. I think that the national interests of the United States are more important than the agenda of the Likud governments of Israel, and most American Jews in my acquaintance feel the same way. And now that we are making peace with Iran over the protest of Netanyahu, we may be entering a new era in which the United States will have an independent foreign policy in the Middle East, in consequence of which Israel will have better chances of survival. Peace always entails risks, but those risks are always less than the risks of war. — John Remington Graham of the Minnesota Bar (#3664X)

  6. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Re- Rabbi Ballaban’s preposterous comment – that is not worthy of repeating – demonstrates an incurable case of Chutzpah and a swath of self-inflicted anti-Semitism.
    It has been a traditional Israeli ploy (Thanks for reminding me) to put on a convenient cloak of “peace”, and talk about “Hummus” to deflect from the real issues and deceive the world.
    Israel Usurped Palestine and ethnically cleansed 80% of its Native Palestinian people, runs a tyrannical apartheid rule, and has a chilling monopoly of nuclear bombs. But, then Israel makes it sound like the only way to solve Israel’s ultra form of colonialism is by sitting down with Palestinians and Arabs and sharing a plate of well-smashed, er.. er.. Hummus, perhaps like a “Final Hummus Solution” for Palestinians.
    Rabbi Ballaban, this is what anti-Semitism is all about.

  7. Charlton Pice says:

    I think that no Web source but Wall Wwritings has drawn attention to the significance of the product placement of Sabra hummus on the hot new Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert, and the “hasbara” implications of same.

  8. Rabbi Dr. Steven Ballaban says:

    For Jack, Awad and others…

    I don’t think you are anti-Semites simply because you have an obsessive focus on your hatred for Israel and all things Israeli, and your reflexive comments that “Zionists” control the media, the government of the United States and all other such anti-Jewish canards.

    No… You are anti-Semites because, as Jack correctly points out, Semites are a language group that includes Hebrew and Arabic, along with Aramaic and other dialects as well. Those who speak these languages (and Persian is NOT one of them, and Iran is not an Arab state) are experiencing horrific upheavals across their region. Tens of thousands die or are imprisoned and tortured by their governments. The majority of refugees on earth today are fleeing the brutality and barbarity of their Arab governments. The most vicious wars being fought are civil wars that pit Arabs against Iranian backed militias (Yemen) or governments (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Gaza).

    You believe that 5 million Jews are able to control the affairs of 600 million Arabs. That means that you think that Arabs are either too stupid or too weak to control themselves, and achieve peace if that is what they truly want. That is racist. Or you think that Arabs do not deserve Democracy, or the right to self-determination and that is why you support totalitarian Arab regimes but continually condemn the democratically elected government of Israel. That is racist. Or you believe that Jews will ultimately respond to calls to exercise morality and will change their treatment of Palestinians, while you think that no Arab government is capable of moral action. That is racist. Or you think that 350 million Americans are too stupid and weak to resist the control of 5 million Jews, That is also racist, and also anti-Jewish (not anti-Semitic).

    In short, you are racist because you believe that the rest of the Arab world is not capable or deserving of peace. You would rather focus on who invented smashed chickpea salad while real human beings suffer and die. You are coffee-shop revolutionaries. You support the Iranian puppet government in Gaza and parrot their propaganda, and ignore the horrendous suffering that Iranian influence throughout the region has wrought over the past 3 decades since your hero, Jimmy Carter, abandoned the country to the Mullahs. You remind me of the lefties who sympathized with Stalin and his vision of the worker’s paradise while he swallowed up much of Eastern Europe and enslaved or slaughtered tens of millions of people. The Saudis do not want nuclear weapons because they don’t trust Israel. They want them because they know that the wolf of Iran is now at the door. The rest of the Gulf states are not interested in Palestinians anymore, because they now see them as the clients of Iran – and a dangerous force in their own countries. Your support for this Iranian program of destruction for the Arab states, and their people religion and culture is what makes you an anti-Semite.

  9. Peace with Justice says:

    To the Rabbi:

    One wonders why a Rabbi who is supposed to be teaching people about the sanctity of life and repentance from wrongdoing, does not acknowledge the Massacres inflicted on the Palestinian nation from Deir Yassin, to demolishing hundreds of villages, to the grave massacre of Sabra and Shatilla, to the wars of extermination against the besieged people of Gaza, not once, all by the weapons of Mass Destruction that Israel has. The Rabbi doesn’t comprehend that the Palestinians are Semite, and all the wrongdoings that Israel inflicted upon them are Anti-Semitic and anti human. He pokes on Former President Carter’s peaceful initiatives and ignores the fact that all of previous and current Zionist governments never wanted to have peace in Palestine. They do the Kissinger” step by step” accords with some neighbors contrary to the hopes and aspirations of the Arab people. The Rabbi message is full of venum to say the least. It’s not expected to be from a person of religion. May Almighty God direct him to the right path. And that is to call on Israel to stop its Apertheid practices, and stop the inhuman treatment inflicted upon the indigenous people of Palestine, by those who are not Semite but invadors from East and west Europe, and as of late from Africa, Australia and more. Are those considered Semite or settlers? Have a conscious Mr Rabbi.

    Peace on Earth

  10. Rabbi Dr Steven Ballaban says:

    “Peace on Earth”-I fail to see how raising the plight of 300,000 dead Syrians, 6 million refugees (3 million of them are children), the destruction of Yemen, terrorism and government oppression in Egypt, the murder of PA supporters in Gaza by Hamas, the bloody civil war in Lebanon that destroyed the country, and the complete devastation of Iraq including the end of the Assyrian Curch, the enslavement of the Yazidis and the extermination of the Zoroastrian community is “full of Venum” (sic). I thought that all human life is sacred, but apparently in BDS circles only Palestinians can be victims, and only Jews are villains. I have read my postings over; nowhere have I denied that real harm has been inflicted on Palestinians. Nowhere have I denied that Palestinians have experienced real suffering, some (but certainly not all) by Israelis. No; I have simply pointed out that focusing EXCLUSIVELY on Israel brands you as anti-Israel, not pro-Palestinian and certainly not pro-Arab.

    Other than name-calling, I have not seen any responses to my observation, either by Mr. Wall or any of those who have posted here. If you have a reasoned, intelligent response I would love to hear it.

  11. Every day more and more Jews, Christians, Muslims, and secularists across the world are endorsing the BDS campaign. I am proud to join academicians such as Steven Hawking and Judith Butler, journalists such as Naomi Klein and Max Blumenthal, musicians such as Roger Waters and Gil Scott-Heron, activists such as Omar Barghouti and Ali Abunimah, and Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire, in support of the global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) ~ Michael Levin

  12. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    For clarification, let me start out by, respectfully, saying that “Semites” are most definitely ONE “racial” group, not one “linguistic” group, as such, as mentioned by Rabbi Ballaban.
    All Semites originated in the Arabian Peninsula and gradually spread in and populated the entire Middle East / North Africa region, primarily through trade and other trading posts throughout the Mediterranean region, including in Spain, France, Italy, and Greece.
    The “original” Arab people of the Arabian Peninsula, by far outnumber any other Semitic group, in terms of population. Hebrew tribes constituted a numerical “minority” among the Semitic people, but they did make their mark through the Holy Torah.
    Though all ancient Semites, such as, Hebrews, Arabs, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Amorites, Gergashites, Parasites, Aramians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Sumerians, and others, are of the same Semitic “race”, and have the same Semitic “linguistic roots”, they spoke different languages and dialects, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Canaanite, Aramaic, etc. It is similar to noting that “Latin” is at the base of Italian, French, and Spanish languages, as an example.

    When the original Arabs (of the Arabian Peninsula), under the banner of Islam, conquered the Middle East and North Africa, virtually all the different people in this huge region adopted the Arabic language. They are called “Arabs” because they adopted “Arabic”, the language of the Holy Quran, as their language. The population of “Arab” people is around 300 – 350 Million, while “Muslims” are close to 1.5 Billion people.

    By contrast, other countries who adopted the religion of Islam, such as Iran, Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Chechnya, to name a few, did not adopt Arabic as their language, despite adhering to the Islamic religion. Consequently, they are NOT referred to as, “Arabs”, but rather as, “Muslims”.

    Just wanted to use this post to help clarify.

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