It was disappointing, but not surprising that the Daily Show’s incoming host, Trevor Noah, be labeled anti-Semitic. He’s not, but that’s never stopped the Anti Defamation League . Of his 8,828 tweets, two have been called anti-Semitic—that’s .0002 of his twitterfeed. In fact, one jokes about Israel’s hawkishness ( not Jews’ ) and one joke references the Holocaust (which he acknowledges and does not endorse). While Noah says his mother is half Jewish, he is not perceived to be Jewish, for several reasons, including some quite racist ones. And as a perceived non-Jew, he lacks the Member of the Tribe protection that goes along with mocking your own.
The same cannot be said, however, of the other major alleged anti-Semite in the headlines, Lena Dunham. The outraged response to Lena Dunham’s Dog or Jewish Boyfriend: a quiz,in the March 30 New Yorker would have you believe Dunham penned a chapter in a modern-day Mein Kampf. The comedian and writer is far from anti-Semitic. Dunham is doing what so many comedians have done and will continue to do: mock their own. When Larry David or Woody Allen do it, they are geniuses. When Lena Dunham does it, she’s an anti-Semite. Dunham, who was raised in a very New York secular Jewish world (much like I was—full disclosure) and her mother is Jewish. So, she is between fully Jewish and half Jewish, depending on how you define Jewishness. Religious Jews say you’re a Jew if your mother’s Jewish. My own standard is JEH, Jewish Enough for Hitler. Dunham’s boyfriend is Jack Antonoff, the lead singer and songwriter of Bleachers and lead guitarist of the indie rock band Fun–and a Jew.