9 comedy bits Lena Dunham critics need to call anti-semitic

image via youtube
image via youtube

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.

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Worst analogies of the week: why marriage equality is like serving ‘bacon-wrapped shrimp’ in Jewish delis

images via wikipedia
images via wikipedia

In an age of terrible, hyperbolic, trivializing analogies, it takes a special one to really stand out. Here are the best, or worst, examples of terrible comparisons from the week.

Black people… they’re just like zoo animals.  Benjamin Cole, a top advisor to Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) wrote the following about two Black people he saw outside of his Washington DC apartment: “So apparently the closing of the National Zoo has forced the animals to conduct their mating rituals on my street.” Cole, the former Baptist pastor and energy industry spokesman is not just a brilliant anthropologist/ zoologist/ racist, but a sharp political aid, because he posted these thoughts on Facebook. See other racist gems from Cole, here.  Shock accepted Cole’s resignation on Thursday. So, we are now back to living in that post-racial world in which Rosa Parks ended racism and the President is Black.

Continue reading…

 

The HindJew Connection: why Israel and India are becoming BFFs

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Things are getting really hot and heavy between Israel and India. Just hours after arriving in New York City for the UN General Assembly last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. Modi even spent some quality time with the American Jewish Committee. Moving forward, India will finally receive the Barak-1, the missile manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). On the archeological front, Modi’s government is speeding up the renovation and restoration of India’s synagogues. And, in the ultimate metaphor of penetration, a cyclone named after the state bird of Israel is headed towards India!

So what explains the increasingly intimate relations between these two countries? According to Netenyahu,

We’re two old peoples, some of the oldest civilizations on earth. But we’re also two democracies… If we work together we can [seize the future]….We’re very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky’s the limit.

And Modi said,

I agree with you that India Israel relations are historical. I met this morning with people from the Jewish community, the American Jewish Council. …India is the only country where anti-semitism has never been allowed to come up, and where Jews have never suffered, and lived as an integral part of our society.

Indeed, Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh or BJP, is right wing. And as Philip Weiss points out in a post on the “Bromance” between Modi and Netenyahu, the two leaders have a special connection: Continue reading “The HindJew Connection: why Israel and India are becoming BFFs”

Dear Jews: Have a happy and healthy New Year by inter-marrying!

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Oy! Can you believe it’s 5775 already? It feels like 5765! Am I right? Anyway, Happy New Year! L’Shana Tovah. As we celebrate the new year, let us commit to a health and happiness. And to do that, we really may want to consider diluting the gene pool.

I know how much we Jews like to keep it in the family. But sometimes it’s a little too close for comfort, as we know from certain unfortunate certain outcomes and diseases, like Tay Sachs. A new study tracking Jewish genes, or “Jenes,” has determined that every single Ashkenazi Jew alive today can be traced back to a group of 330 people from the Middle Ages. The Ashenazi are the Jews who came out of Eastern Europe, France and Germany, while Sephardic Jews descend from Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East. 80% of Jews today are Ashkenazi.

99% of the time that we use Jewish as an adjective to describe a behavior or look, we really mean Ashkenazi. Like, “Woody Allen is so Ashkenazi!” Or, “male comedians love talking about their guilt-inducing, passive-agressive Ashkenazi mothers!” Or, “if you haven’t been to Zabars, you’re not a real ashkenazi.” So, maybe Jews should embrace inter-marriage or inter-breeding or  diluting our gene pool as a mitzvah (good deed) instead of condemning it as a shandeh (a shame).

On this week’s Morning Jew (see video above), Katie Halper (little old me) and Heather Gold talk with the brilliant illustrator and author Lisa Brown about Jewish genes, dating, Pope fashion and the now defunct Upper West Side Manhattan match-making cafe with the unfortunate name of  Drip.

Originally posted on RawStory

What if a Muslim comic said about Jews what Joan Rivers said about Palestinians?

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A week after her death, Joan Rivers remains in the headlines. The exact cause of her death is still being debated. And reports of her star-studded theatrical funeral continue to emerge. Howard Stern delivered the eulogy, Hugh Jackman sang and people like Sarah Jessica Parker, Carolina Herrera, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Kelly Osbourne, Andy Cohen, Donald Trump, and Diane Sawyer paid their respects.

Rivers deserves the attention she is getting. She was hilarious, brave, and an undeniable trailblazer. And the funeral was  a perfect fit.  But I can’t help but wonder how different the event would have been if a Muslim comedian had said about Jews what Joan Rivers recently had said about Palestinians.

In August, when a TMZ reporter approached Rivers at an airport and asked her what she thought of the casualties in Gaza, the comedian responded,

Good. Good. When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. We don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead. You deserve to be dead. You started it. Don’t you dare make me feel sad about that. You can’t get rid of Hamas, you have to say you do not recognize them, they are terrorists … They were re-elected by a lot of very stupid people who don’t even own a pencil… They were told to get out and if you don’t get out you’re an idiot. And at least the ones who were killed were the ones with low IQs.

Rivers issued a statement that was more damage control than apology. But, the truth is, it’s not Joan Rivers’ statements, per se, that I find so horrifying. It’s the response, or lack thereof, from Rivers’ peers and the double standard and pervasive dehumanization of Muslims that it reveals. Let’s imagine that there was a very famous  Muslim-American comedian, of Joan Rivers proportions. Then let’s imagine this comedian  had been asked to share his thoughts on an attack which killed over 2,000 Israelis, the majority of whom were civilians. Imagine that the response was,

Good. Good. When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. We don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead. You deserve to be dead. You started it. Don’t you dare make me feel sad about that. You can’t get rid of Israel, you have to say you do not recognize them, they are terrorists …

Now, imagine that a month after these statements are made, the comedian dies. Can you imagine the stars mentioned above attending the funeral? Or if attending, not at the very least clarifying that they disagreed with the anti-Jewish statements? Wouldn’t the ADL launch a campaign?

There was, indeed, a very strong response to what Rivers said on social media. One friend of Rivers claims that the comedian received death threats and hired a body guard, though Rivers’ publicist has said she was not aware of this.  Yes, among the social media comment were those that were clearly vitriolic, misogynistic, and/or anti-Semitic, as is often the case in online comments.  In contrast, no respected leaders, no celebrities, no organizations, no parts of any establishment have felt the need to at all dissociate themselves from the hateful comments made by Rivers.

For some reason, most people, even people who are usually intelligent, become incredibly dense when comedy is being discussed or analyzed. So, allow me to clarify a few things. This is not a debate about free speech. Nobody is debating whether Joan Rivers has the legal right to say what she said. This also isn’t an issue of outrageous humor. Comedians trade in transgression, at least the great ones like Rivers.  But Joan Rivers was clearly not joking when she made her comments that the civilians in Gaza “deserve to be dead.” Perhaps she was being slightly hyperbolic. But she was not being sarcastic or ironic. She was being genuine. Her comments were offensive, but for what? They were shocking in their cruelty. But did they challenge anyone’s ideas or prejudices or go against the status quo? No. They confirmed and perpetuated them.

I am sad that Joan Rivers is dead. I don’t speak ill of the stupendous woman and comedian. It’s the the U.S. media and entertainment establishment’s blind spots about its own prejudice and callousness that shocks me in the aftermath of Joan River’s death.

Watch Heather Gold and me debate the Joan Rivers controversy on this week’s Morning Jew.

Originally posted on RawStory

Morning Jew Ep. 50: Joan Rivers, Jack the Jewish Ripper & Gwyneth Paltrow


Comics Heather Gold (@heathr) and Katie Halper (@kthalps) look at the headlines and ask: Is it good for the Jews? This week we look at the Air Force’s intolerance of atheism; get kind of excited about Jack the Ripper being a Jew; get offended by Gwyneth Paltrow; and discuss what Joan Rivers’ funeral would look like if she had been a Muslim comedian whose statements were about Jews.
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