Podcaster Ethan Klein facing backlash

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‘There’s no source’: Podcaster Ethan Klein blasted for comments on Israel-Palestine, demanded ‘proof’ over history of conflict

The podcaster faced backlash after his debate with Twitch streamer Hasan Piker.

 

Braden Bjella

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This story contains discussion of sexual assault and rape.

Podcast host Ethan Klein is facing criticism after comments made during a debate with Twitch streamer Hasan Piker.

On their podcast The Leftovers, Piker and Klein recently discussed the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine. Piker is an outspoken critic of Israel; Klein used to live in Israel, is a dual citizen, and is married to an Israeli, though he has criticized Israel in the past and, during this episode and in other instances, shown sympathy for Palestinians. 

As part of this discussion, Klein played a clip from one of Piker’s streams in which he discusses sexual assault as a weapon of subjugation. In the clip, Piker claims that “Israel raping Palestinian women is a well-documented part of Israel’s apartheid apparatus.” This claim led to questioning from Klein. This section of the conversation begins at 3 hours, 36 minutes, and 57 seconds.

Piker explains the theory behind his statement, as well as citing a case from 2016 in which an Israeli military officer was convicted of “raping a Palestinian woman, as well as committing sexual assault against other Palestinian women and a man and extorting them for sexual favors, among other crimes,” per the Times of Israel.

Klein counters by saying that he would like to see more evidence. Looking to a post liked by Piker, he pulls up an article from The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) titled, “Israeli Guards Rape Palestinian Women.” The article includes the following line: “A Palestinian female freed from Israeli detention said more than 15 fellow Palestinian women were raped by Israeli interrogators to force them to confess to charges leveled against them and collaborate with the Israeli intelligence.”

“This doesn’t seem super credible…That’s a huge claim, 15 Palestinian women were raped…I don’t know what this is,” Klein says in the video.

He later adds that, in his research, he did not find substantial evidence of Israeli military officers raping Palestinians. “Frankly, there wasn’t much else, other than sporadic, isolated, kind of unconfirmed, nebulous accusations,” he states. “And I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I’m just saying that this one article is the only real, significant one that I could find, and the dude was arrested.”

Piker responds by saying that gag orders may make convictions difficult to find. After a bit more conversation, Klein says that, though the IDF is “horrible and they do horrible things,” he feels that this framing “dehumanizes the Israelis.” Piker answers by saying that he “should have used [his] words more carefully.” While there is more debate along these same lines, the episode appears to end amicably.

After this video went live, some users on X took particular issue with Klein’s response to the discussion of rape. X user Gio (@TheSportProhet) later posted a thread containing the aforementioned clips, sparking discussion in the process.

In response, many users pointed to stories that they claimed supported the idea that Israeli soldiers raped Palestinians.

One user cited a statement from Col. Eyal Karim, head of the Military Rabbinate of the Israel Defense Forces, in which he appeared to say that raping non-Jewish women during wartime was permitted. Karim later claimed that he was “not precise with my words” and that this interpretation was incorrect. 

Another user offered a screenshot of an article from Haaretz in which the publication details how Israeli officers performed an invasive cavity search on a Palestinian woman who “didn’t pose clear and present danger.”

Further users pointed to evidence of rape in events like the Safsaf Massacre, reports of sexual torture by Israeli authorities against Palestinian men, and more.

However, others supported Klein’s comments or made claims of their own against Piker’s allegations.

That said, some were simply supportive of the debate, chiding those who were calling Klein out for not engaging with the breadth of the pair’s discussion.

The Daily Dot reached out to Klein via email.

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