Joan Rivers Slammed by Arab-American Group for "Racist Comments on Palestinians"

Charles William Bush

The group wants NBC to discipline the comedian

Joan Rivers is being taken to task for comments she has made about Gaza.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is asking NBC to discipline Rivers, highlighting a quote the comedian gave TMZ about Palestine's conflict with Israel: "They started it. We now don't count who's dead. You're dead, you deserve to be dead." 

Rivers later told the site the quote was taken out of context and that she was praying for peace between Israel and Palestine.

"Rivers is a prime example of media actors either encouraging or obliging the dehumanization of the Palestinian people," the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said in a statement. "Her comments, in which she also says that all Palestinians should get nose jobs, make light of and intend to degrade the humanitarian crisis of which the Palestinians are victims."

The group says it has reached out to the organizations doing business with Rivers — including NBCUniversal (whose E! broadcasts Fashion Police), AMC (parent company of WE tv, which broadcasts Joan & Melissa) and QVC (which sells Rivers products).

"Because Rivers has made a number of racist jokes against different communities that have been continuously written off as 'controversial,' it is more important than ever for this offensive and inexcusable behavior to be addressed," the group says.

Rivers released a statement on Facebook, saying the question in the video caught her off guard.

"I said 'Palestinian,' when I meant to say 'Hamas.' This started a controversy which has turned into a tempest in a teapot, which the media is happily exploiting," Rivers said.

"I regret that I did use the word 'Palestinian' when I meant to say 'Hamas' and obviously, there are many good Palestinians like Israelis who want peace and Israel's right to exist. Unfortunately, this is not so with Hamas (which has been recognized as a terrorist entity by The United States, Israel and many other Western democratic nations).

"So let’s all take our energies and concentrate on fixing the mess that’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri."

Other stars have gotten in hot water for making comments about Gaza, with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz among those denouncing Israeli "genocide" in an open letter. The pair later backtracked on their statements. Meanwhile, Jon Voight called stars who signed that letter "ignorant," while Relativity's Ryan Kavanaugh also criticized Bardem, Cruz and the stars who signed.

NBCUniversal, AMC and QVC did not respond to requests for comment.

Aug. 15, 1:50 p.m.: Updated with Rivers' Facebook statement.