Slap-happy comedian Sarah Silverman: Whose side are you on?

February 23, 2018 by Stephen M.Flatow -
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Stop the presses! A vulgar American Jewish comedian has praised a Palestinian teenage girl who assaulted an Israeli soldier. Put it on the front page!…writes Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.

Sarah Silverman at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The comedian, Sarah Silverman, recently sent out a tweet demanding that Israel release Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who staged a video in which she repeatedly slapped a soldier in the Israel Defence Forces. Tamimi tried, but failed, to provoke the soldier to respond in a way that would make useful propaganda.

“Jews have to stand up even when—especially when—the wrongdoing is byJews/the Israeli government,” Silverman pompously declared. She didn’t bother to explain what it was that was “wrong” about the Israeli authorities arresting someone who assaulted a soldier. In Silverman’s little bubble, everyone “knows” that it’s wrong to arrest a photogenic Palestinian teenager.

I’m never impressed when I hear an actress or entertainer comment on political issues. It’s like me having a say on recent advances in dentistry.

But I’m old-fashioned, I guess. Because in today’s culture, celebrities in the entertainment industry are treated with reverence. Their opinions, on issues that they know nothing about, carry weight. They are sometimes even looked upon as potential political candidates.

Even comedians, whose raison d’être is to not be taken seriously, are now taken seriously. Their entire lives are built around joking about the world, rather than knowing about it—yet too many people seem willing to pretend that they do know something about it.

I don’t particular enjoy Sarah Silverman’s vulgar brand of humour. Variety magazine once characterised her style as “foul-mouthed charm.” I, for one, don’t find a foul mouth charming at all. Nor do I find Silverman’s rape jokes very amusing. And frankly, in today’s #MeToo world, I’m surprised that anybody else does.

I don’t enjoy Nazi jokes very much, either. In 2016, she appeared on Conan O’Brien’s show dressed as Adolf Hitler, as part of a bit in which she said, in effect, that Donald Trump was worse than Hitler.

What I enjoy least of all about Silverman is the way in which uses her Jewish identity as a hammer with which to pound Israel.

Obviously, I’m not disputing a comedian’s right to express her opinions about political events in other countries, although I do find it curious when someone who does not seem to be part of the organised Jewish community suddenly has very specific opinions on Israeli politics.

Just before the 2015 Israeli elections, Silverman sent out a tweet appealing to Israelis to vote for the extreme-left Meretz Party. In 2017, she contributed to a book called Save Israel, Stop Occupation, in which she wrote: “Of all people, Jews know the bitterness of being oppressed—and not being in our own country. That’s what makes the occupation all so ironic.”

Stephen M. Flatow

What’s ironic is that Silverman is complaining about an “occupation” that ended in 1995. I guess she wasn’t paying attention that year, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew Israel’s forces from the areas where 98 percent of the Palestinian Arabs live. I guess she never heard of the Palestinian Authority regime that governs them, or the Palestinian police force, Palestinian courts and Palestinian schools they run.

Maybe Silverman thinks that a two-hour Israeli security operation in a terrorist-infested Palestinian town or the presence of Israeli soldiers along their own border constitutes an “occupation.” If so, then she simply doesn’t understand the meaning of the word.

There’s something else very ironic in all this. On June 18 last year, Silverman posted an Instagram photo of her 19-year-old Israeli nephew on the occasion of his birthday. She obviously feels a strong personal connection to him, and that’s sweet. “This baby is now a 19-year-old soldier,” she wrote, with a photo of him as a toddler next to a photo of him in his army uniform. “OY. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, @adar_abramowitz_silverman I LOVE YOU A ZILLION!!”

See the irony? The 17-year-old Palestinian teenager Silverman is now saluting so openly assaulted a young Israeli soldier who is no different from the teenage nephew the comedian loves and is so proud of. Her nephew, Adar, could just as easily have been on the receiving end of Ahed Tamimi’s slaps and taunts.

Sorry, Sarah! You can’t have it both ways. You have to choose: Ahed or Adar? The vicious assaulter or the soldier protecting his country?

Whose side are you on?

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.


2 Responses to “Slap-happy comedian Sarah Silverman: Whose side are you on?”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    As it turns out, David Faktor, the likes of Rabin and Barak were delusional. Nice ideas that didn’t shape up with the fact that the Palestinian leaders Arafat and Abbas spoke with two tongues: one for the international stage and one for their people. All the efforts of Rabin and Barak were barking up the wrong tree, as Palestinian violence and murder keeps on reminding us. There has never been a peace plan, with two states, seriously envisaged by the Palestinians; they want the lot and always have.

    Stephen Flatow is right to call out Sarah Silverman, and other celebrities, rock musicians, et al, who all pronounce judgement on the complex situation of Israel and its enemies. Give them a test on historical knowledge and local realities of the region and they’d fail miserably, yet they have the arrogance to butt in as they do. They do indeed live in their own bubbles of existence. If you’re going to voice an opinion publicly, using your public profile in which to do it, at least educate yourself on the subject before doing so. We don’t need ‘views’ and opinions, we need knowledgeable debate.

    As for the left, these days they are a far cry from what they were in the sixties and seventies. They’re as blinkered and caught up in their own narrow world as the far right. There’s ideology and there’s reality. You need a mix of the two for better understanding.

  2. David Faktor says:

    Stephen Flatow, I didn’t realise you have to be “part of the organised Jewish community” to have “very specific opinions on Israeli politics”. I’d also wrongly thought all along that you could support the IDF and still hold leftist views on Israel, Rabin, Barak et al must all be a figment of my imagination. I also didn’t realise Meertz had become part of the “extreme left”.

    People with contrary views to yours seem to be either illegitimate or extremist in your myopic world.

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