General Antisemitism

Most banal observation about antisemitism ever at the Guardian?

I confess that I agree with CiF contributor s argument in Hitler video shouldn’t have caused Tom Harris’s downfall“, Jan. 18.

Alderman makes the case that Tom Harris, MP for Glasgow South, shouldn’t have had to step down from his role as Labour’s new media adviser simply “because he made a spoof video, taking a scene from the movie Downfall and resubtitling it as if Hitler having a hissy fit in his führerbunker were Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, losing his rag.”

As anyone familiar with the genre of Downfall spoofs surely knows, there’s nothing even remotely antisemitic, or pro-Nazi, about such videos, which use a scene in the film, in which Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) launches into a furious tirade upon realizing that the war is truly lost.  In these videos, the original audio of Ganz’s voice is retained, but new subtitles are added so that he seems to be reacting instead to some setback in present-day politics, sports, popular culture, or everyday life.

However, while Alderman is correct when she observes that such videos are consistent with “a grand tradition of mocking Hitler” (starting with Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator in 1940), a subsequent passage stands out as both facile and painfully banal.

Alderman, commenting on the dangers of a culture which doesn’t allow for such mockery of Hitler, notes:

Jews have always known that the greatest weapon against oppression and tyranny is laughter.


First, yes, I’ve often acknowledged my gallows humor in the face of antisemitic tropes at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ – the only thing philosemites and Zionists can do to keep themselves sane in the face of a media group so viscerally hostile to the Jewish state.  

And, no doubt, a history of dealing with the moral absurdities of their enemies’ malign obsession has served as a creative muse for quite a bit of Jewish humor.

But, the Jews’ often highly developed sense of irony as “the greatest weapon against [antisemitic] oppression”?

I’d humbly suggest that other less cerebral tools have also likely played a role in defending against antisemitic onslaughts.

Perhaps this is just my Zionist militancy talking, but I’m sure those Jews involved in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, WWII Partisan Groups, the Haganah, and soldiers who serve in the army of the modern Jewish state all – while, no doubt, maintaining a wry wit – likely also benefited from, you know, weaponry, ammunition, and the will to fight.

However, as this is a blog, and not a combat unit, and thus dedicated to the supremacy of the pen over the sword, I hereby rededicate myself to employing unmerciful and simply ruthless wit, satire, (and, of course, good old-fashioned Schadenfreude) in our cognitive war against the anti-Zionist low-hanging fruit known as the Guardian.

Let the mockery begin!

12 replies »

  1. Thank you, This observation is right on. I’m as fond of Jewish humor as anyone else, but frankly, Uzis work better than dry wit in some situations. Nevertheless, many people who applaud other people’s liberations movements would like us to stick to the dry wit. Or better yet, shut up completely.

    As for the “Downfall” videos, I have to say that I much prefer the ones with pop cultural themes, or at least the ones that don’t clearly place Hitler on one ‘side’ of a political divide. As an American, I find the ones that do ‘Hitler as Republican’ or ‘Hitler as Democrat’ too disturbing to watch. The ones with Hitler ranting about the Grammys or the housing market…OK. It’s hard to cast a specific politician ‘as’ Hitler, even in this now rather timeworn gag, and not expect him to be offended.

  2. There’s enough comedy potential in the inane rants of your Islamic Jihads etc. for an entire standup routine – with new material every week. But would it actually deliver results? Of course not.
    What Naomi surely meant was that humour has over the centuries provided some (albeit very minor in relative terms) relief to Jews facing oppression.

    • “But would it actually deliver results? Of course not.”

      Actually it would: At the very least, death threats to those who made such standup routines. “There is no humor in Islam,” to quote the late and unlamented Ayatollah.

      “…humour has over the centuries provided some (albeit very minor in relative terms) relief to Jews facing oppression.”

      There wasn’t much of a choice. It seems the anti-Zionists’ complaint about Israel is that the situation is no longer so.

  3. I’ve never seen a Hitler whatsit. But I do see this banality slouching towards something very nasty indeed. What’s the attraction?

    Do they switch their minds or their sympathy off to write for the Groan or are they not endowed with such riches in the first place?

  4. God some of you need to get a sense of humour! Get out a bit more, enjoy yourselves. Don’t be so serious. Bring back Tom Harris!

  5. Hah. Charming. “Most banal observation ever about antisemitism” a candidate for “most hyperbole ever in quibbling with a single sentence”?😉

    FWIW I didn’t say that laughter is a weapon against antisemitism, I said it is a weapon against “oppression and tyranny”. I do rather wish that the German people had been able to laugh at Hitler; perhaps naively I think that would have helped.


    • Naomi, humour is the best thing. That’s why the best thing here is to laugh at these self-important twerps. They hate it when you laugh at them and do so openly.