Do comics hate Jews?

Anti-semitic row hits Edinburgh

A major row has broken out over claims an anti-semitic sentiment is rife among comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Jewish writer Jamie Glassman, who worked on the Ali G show, says after spending a few days at the festival ‘it is becoming increasingly acceptable to hate the Jews. Again’.

He took particular issue with Australian comedian Steve Hughes who, he said: ‘Did little to hide his Jew-hatred.’

In an article in today’s Times, Glassman quotes Hughes as joking that kids should play  Nazis and Jews, which was greeted with one audience member saying: ‘Throw them in the oven.’

Hughes also said: ‘I want to bash Condoleezza Rice’s brain to bits and kill that f****** Jew Richard Perle.’

Glassman said: ‘For me, Hughes represents a growing trend among left-thinking people to accept as dogma that those on the Left should hate Bush, Blair, American imperialism, Israel and, while we’re at it, the Jews.’

Hughes said Glassman had got the wrong end of the stick about his joke, which, in full, goes: ‘I grew up playing Cowboys and Indians - which as an adult; I can see is very strange; that you market the genocide of an indigenous people as a game for kids.  Australians are far from perfect - I've never played Cops and Aboriginals, and you wouldn’t play Nazis and Jews!’

The comic said: ‘What I am actually saying is that it is preposterous to trivialise or make human suffering into a game.  The whole message of the show is how the obscenity of war affects every human being on earth.  I don't base the idea of human condition on race, religion, colour or creed.

‘Secondly, I’d like to point out that the hecklers in my audience are not necessarily a reflection of my beliefs and opinions.  I did not actually hear the heckle that has been quoted and if I had, I would have stamped on it immediately.  I do not tolerate ignorance.’

Glassman also took issue with a joke from Reginald D Hunter, about the fact it is illegal to deny the Holocaust in Austria.

‘I’ve a good mind to go to Austria, stand in the street and say the Holocaust didn’t happen,’ Hunter says – only to wind up in court and tell the judge he was talking about the Rwandan holocaust.

Glassman says: ‘Of all the possible targets, of all the things he might wish to say, his complaint is that he is not permitted to parrot the greatest anti-Semitic slur of the last hundred years — that the Holocaust never happened.’

Hunter’s spokesman Paul Sullivan told the Press Association: ‘He's not making anti-Jewish remarks, all he's saying is it's very difficult to criticise Jewish people in this world at the moment. He writes about things he believes in. We should be able to talk about most things.’

Doug Stanhope also has material in his Edinburgh show about Jews, even secular ones, inserting their religion into everything they do, although Glassman did not quote this. ‘You can hate them for the same reason you hate the KKK,’ he says. ‘They believe they’re the chosen people

Glassman is no stranger to rows about anti-semitism, as Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Kazakhstani journalist who featured on The Ali G Show, has also been accused of such prejudice.



Published: 15 Aug 2006

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