New Yorker article compares Jews to dogs

March 29, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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The B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) has today expressed strong reservations about an essay in The New Yorker magazine by actor and comedienne Lena Dunham in which she compares her Jewish boyfriend to a dog and employs offensive and insulting stereotypes about Jews and money.

Lena Dunham     Photo: David Shankbone/Wikipedia

Lena Dunham Photo: David Shankbone/Wikipedia

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, issued the following statement:

“While humour is certainly welcomed, comparing Jews to dogs and using demeaning, tasteless and hurtful stereotypes about Jews and money is not.

By referring to her Jewish boyfriend as cheap since he never tips and never brings his wallet, Dunham, who herself is Jewish, resuscitates the classic and pernicious antisemitic myth that Jews are ‘tight with money’— namely, that they are cheap. This vile charge has nothing do with the actual behaviour of the Jewish people and has fuelled anti-Jewish sentiments that often lead to harassment and violence.

We are also concerned that Dunham equated her boyfriend to a dog. Those who know history, would be aware that during dark times, Jews were banned from certain areas, while dogs were permitted entry. In fact, such episodes have occurred recently.

Last year, A Belgian café had a sign on its window which read, “Dogs are allowed inside, Jews are not”. Moreover, as has happened for centuries, there are still parts of the world where Jews are defamed and dehumanised as dogs and other animals.

Lena Dunham has a huge following and what she says matters to many people.  While we don’t think that Dunham intended to degrade and denigrate  Jews, we would urge her, and all celebrities, to exercise caution so as to avoid irresponsible expressions that malign and belittle any minority. We would also call on magazines, such as The New Yorker, to exhibit better judgement when considering such pieces for publication.”


The Anti-Defamation Commission, founded in 1979, is Australia’s leading organisation fighting antisemitism  through educational  programs and initiatives that counteract hatred, discrimination and bigotry


18 Responses to “New Yorker article compares Jews to dogs”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Satire is a clever form of comedy, with depth, nuance, irony and sharp wit. So, the question here is, does the writing of Lena Dunham deserve this nomenclature? If satire is taken to an extreme that becomes grotesque, it becomes other. If name-calling stays at base level, it remains abusive. Does LD deserve to be ‘laughed along with’? That is another question. We should be aiming our analysis there rather than at audience.

  2. Malvina says:

    I think that this comedian is being satirical about her Jewish boyfriend. The problem which Dr. Abramovich identifies is that not all people understand satire. Certainly not anti-Semites who would take it as it is written.However, who are the readership of The New Yorker? Are they an intelligent lot who would laugh along with her or are they a straight-laced lot who would agree with her stereotyping of Jews?
    We certainly are sensitive and we certainly do not need this kind of humour,- unless it is in-house! We know how to laugh at ourselves but not against us.

    • Gabrielle Gouch says:

      The New Yorker is considered a top magazine, its readership would have a significant % of Jews.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    The point here is that Lena Dunham has used the word ‘Jew’ and/or ‘Jewish’ to preface her remarks. If she simply wanted to vent her vulgarity and abuse at her boyfriend, leaving Jewish out of the equation, that’s a different matter (although one I would still find repugnant). It’s not just a loose-mouthed celebrity, full of her own importance while assuming some sort of buoyant charisma she doesn’t actually possess, enjoying having a go while getting herself published. (And what’s literary about it?!) She knew what she was doing all right. And she just doesn’t care.

    Again, I agree with Gil. This particular response by B’nai Brith was mealy-mouthed, flat in tone due to absolute lack of passion or conviction, and completely inappropriate. Is this soft-pedalling because the woman is Jewish? We really do have to do better than this.

    Why do we want to go easy on, or applaud, celebrities just because they’re Jewish? It’s ridiculous. With the death of Joan Rivers, that other loud-mouthed American comedienne, we had Benjamin Netanyahu saying all sorts of wonderful things about her and lamenting her death, just because she was Jewish. To my knowledge she’d contributed nothing to her Jewish heritage; all she’d cared about was her fame and how she looked, the notoriety or ‘splash’ she could cause. I thought her a narcissistic, extremely unattractive, vulgar person, lacking in any kind of wit that might have made her funny. It seems Lena Dunham could be the same.

    Are we supposed to excuse people for their lack of integrity, sensitivity, civility and awareness of others, as well as use of stereotypes that have grown from anti-Semitism, just because they happen to be New Yorkers who are also comedians? It doesn’t cut the mustard with me, as the colloquialism goes.

  4. David Faktor says:

    I think we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and get a sense of perspective. The day we become a gormless, mean-spirited and humourless society will herald a true victory for the real haters out there.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      Hi David,

      Have you heard the one about the Jew who got on a tram in Berlin in 1935 and saw a Jewish friend immersed in reading the Nazi newspaper?
      Astonished, he asked his friend, “Why?”
      Friend’s response: ” When I read the other papers, it’s all doom and gloom: Nuremberg Laws, boycotts, exclusions from universities etc etc, but THIS paper tells me that we rule the world- the banks, industry, the arts etc etc.”

      Funny enough for you?

      Peace and justice.

      • Gil Solomon says:

        Well said Leon.

        On the whole we are a pathetic lot, always trying to be smart and finding ways to rationalise the irrational.

  5. Gabrielle Gouch says:

    Give us a break, all of you.
    Did it occur to you that she just hates her boyfriend and her sense of humour is questionable.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      Yes; but coincidentally, her literary piece was published hard on the heels of our Lynch scandal, so people are sensitised.
      And don’t forget the recent manifestations of all the warm love, friendship and multiculturalism that we witnessed during those carnivals in the streets of Sydney, when thousands marched down George Street, yelling “Death to Israel,” “Jews…..”,
      and other expressions of love for humanity.
      There is a global climate; her literary effort reflects it.
      Paranoia is bad; ostrich behaviour is worse.
      We’ve been here before.

  6. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Pablo Cristiani, Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, Bruno Kreisky——these are just some of the self-loving antisemites “of Jewish background,” whose names will live in infamy.

  7. Kevin Charles Herbert says:

    Leon Poddebsky;

    care to provide the source of your allegation re Palestinians (which group?)claiming that Jews are ‘the offspring of apes & dogs’?

    If you’re going to make an allegation, then you are duty bound to provide the source.

    Whenever I make this point with you, there’s deafening silence…J Wire deserves better.

    • Gil Solomon says:

      Kevin Charles Herbert,

      By this and other posts you are obviously a pro “Palestinian” supporter trying always to give the appearance of moderation.

      Normally I don’t give the time of day to people of your mindset.
      However, for the record, there’s no “deafening silence” from me.
      Many Arabs offensively call Jews the “Offspring of pigs and apes” and these are the same lot the world expects Jews to make peace with.

      Below is just one link that you can check up on.
      The rest you do for yourself.

    • Erica Edelman says:

      Kevin Charles Herbert:

      The deafening silence you hear is ….well, believe it or not, just silence.

      Why don’t you Google “The offspring of apes and dogs and pigs” and you might find the source of this. It’s well published.

      The reason ppl don’t respond to you is that, by now, people are recognizing your name and naive questions on J-Wire and fathoming you don’t read much. (Outside of J-Wire, that is)

      If you really want to acquaint yourself with what’s going on in the Jewish world and sound knowledgeable then you should be reading some reliable and informative literature. Maybe then you could contribute usefully to the comments section on J-Wire – instead of just asking rhetorical questions all the time.

    • Eleonora Mostert says:

      Actually Kevin, Leon Poddebsky is correct. I too have hear and read we were compared not only dogs but to apes and pigs as well. I’m don’t usually take down names as to whom said what where and when, but I will next time as it is quite frequently said, Mainly by Muslims.

  8. Kevin Charles Herbert says:

    I agree with with Rabbi Woolstone….i.e. no sweat mate.

    I’ve heard some Catholic comedians who woulod definitely not please the Archbishop with their take on the Church and its institutions.

    There’s a lot more important things to consider than the downbeat humour of an acid toungued New Yorker.

  9. Gil Solomon says:

    We are surely the most pathetic people on the planet.
    We have leadership that is not prepared to even denounce the fools within our midst let alone virulent anti-Semites.

    The comments by this woman cannot be totally unexpected coming from one of those brain dead morons of the Diaspora, namely American Jews, who in the majority have lost their identity and their heritage. Their grandparents would be rolling in their graves at their stupidity.

    Compounding this is the limp, pathetic response “While humour is certainly welcomed, comparing Jews to dogs and using demeaning, tasteless and hurtful stereotypes about Jews and money is not” and then the call for magazines to “exhibit judgement” and as Rabbi Woolstone says in his comments “bad taste, comedy gone wrong, nothing to sweat over.”

    That’s it?
    That’s all we can say?
    What the hell has happened to us?

    Dr Abramovich makes statements that I find gutless, politically correct and in normal times some (but not me) would say passable. These times however are not normal. This loon should have been denounced in the strongest possible terms with US counterparts of B’nai B’rith advised to do likewise.

    I wonder if his response would have been the same if a non Jew made these comments? The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if comments comparing Jews to dogs and saying that Jews are cheap were made by Jew or Gentile.

    Like other so called “leaders” I feel that Dr Abramovich has not got it in him to denounce this woman or go on the offensive. Like other organisations such as the Board of Deputies, the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission should open its electoral process to the general community to attract leaders who have the intestinal fortitude to lead and say what needs to be said.

  10. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    It may be in bad taste, but as a New York based Chassidic guy this woman is not know to be a self hating Jew and her comments should be seen as comedy gone wrong, with a edge of self mocking humor.
    As you say in Australia nothing to sweat over.
    Wishing all my friends Downunder…A kosher un Freilichen Pesach

  11. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Wait a minute, the “Palestinians” claim that we are “the offspring of apes and pigs,” so which is it, dogs or apes and pigs?

    Lena Dunham sounds like a Bruno Kreisky-type; that is, a self-loving antisemite “of Jewish background.”
    We have some here, too.

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