Fact Check

A Brief Overview of the Situation

Did comedian Dennis Miller author an essay detailing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Published May 8, 2002

Claim:   Comedian Dennis Miller authored "A Brief Overview of the Situation," an essay about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2002]

Dennis Miller's rant on the Middle East crisis.

"A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still don't get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need. Don't thank me. I'm a giver. Here we go:

The Palestinians want their own country. There's just one thing about that: There are no Palestinians. It's a made up word. Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years. Like "Wiccan," "Palestinian" sounds ancient but is really a modern invention.

Before the Israelis won the land in war, Gaza was owned by Egypt, and there were no "Palestinians" then, and the West Bank was owned by Jordan, and there were no "Palestinians" then. As soon as the Jews took over and started growing oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know, say hello to the "Palestinians," weeping for their deep bond with their lost "land" and "nation."

So for the sake of honesty, let's not use the word "Palestinian" any more to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deaths until someone points out they're being taped. Instead, let's call them what they are: "Other Arabs From The Same General Area Who Are In Deep Denial About Never Being Able To Accomplish Anything In Life And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death." I know that's a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN. How about this, then: "Adjacent Jew-Haters."

[Rest of article here.]


Origins:   Comedian Dennis Miller is known for his R-rated, no-holds-barred political commentaries because they cut to the heart of disturbing issues by using humor as a lens through which to view current events. His "rants" make us laugh, but they also make us think, which lifts his form of humor above mere entertainment and into the realm of provocative editorializing that so often helps folks see old situations in a new light.

The voice of the Internet essay referenced above has been attributed to him and seems to many to be his, and its appearance in their inboxes emblazoned with a notation that it's "from Dennis Miller" confirms this perception. Yet the piece laid at his feet was not his work; it was the effort of another social commentator who bears a similar name.

This piece is actually part of a column by humorist Larry Miller that appeared in the Weekly Standard on 22 April 2002. It is a reaction piece to a 10 April 2002 FOX News Network

interview conducted by Greta van Susteren with Ishmael Abu-Shanab, spokesman for the Hamas political wing in the Gaza strip, and American attorney Stanley Cohen, who has represented the head of Hamas.

The version circulated on the Internet omitted a four-paragraph lead-in about the ludicrosity of anyone named Cohen's defending Hamas, the Palestinian organization responsible for the 27 March Passover bombing that killed 19 and injured 100 at a hotel in Netanya, as well as many other bombings. It also leaves off the five-paragraph finish primarily devoted to a discussion of Colin Powell's (then) projected peace mission and disparagement of van Susteren's politeness to her two guests. The core of the article — the "brief overview" — is reproduced faithfully.

This was not the first piece by Larry Miller to have gained widespread Internet circulation while attributed to a different source. In March 2002, his essay decrying a tendency to minimalize the horror of terrorism and society's washing its hands of problems that don't yield to easy solutions ("You Say You Want a Resolution") rocketed through cyberspace attributed to Gen. Richard E. Hawley, a United States Air Force general.

Larry Miller suffers the unenviable fate of seeing not one, but two of his essays acclaimed by the masses but attributed to other writers. This is not the sort of fame every author aspires to.

Barbara "yet again, one too many Millers has led to befuddlement" Mikkelson

Last updated:   2 August 2014


    Miller, Larry.   "Whosoever Blesses Them."

    The Daily Standard.   22 April 2002.

    van Susteren, Greta.   "On the Record."

    FOX News Network.   10 April 2002.

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