David Schwimmer, Sarah Silverman and others condemn anti-Semitism in David Baddiel documentary ‘Jews Don’t Count’

David Schwimmer, Sarah Silverman and others condemn anti-Semitism in David Baddiel documentary ‘Jews Don’t Count’

“Jews Don’t Count,” a new documentary by British writer and comedian David Baddiel that will air on the UK’s Channel 4 next week, is an examination of how, particularly in progressive circles, there is a persistent sense that Jews they are not entitled to the same protection and support as other minority communities. This sentiment is based on the anti-Semitic belief that all Jews are rich, successful and “dominate” industries such as Hollywood, if not the world order itself.

It is symbolic of the catch-22 at the heart of the film that the succession of Jewish celebrities who appear in it to talk about their experiences of anti-Semitism, such as David Schwimmer, Sarah Silverman, Stephen Fry and Jonathan Safran Foer, can to end up. further persuasive anti-Semites that the very premise of the documentary is baseless.

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Baddiel, a comedian and writer, acknowledged that predicament at a press screening in London on Wednesday, though he was ultimately upbeat about it. “I want [the documentary] so that only the Jews don’t see me,” he explained. “A very simple way to do that, I hope, is to have big names in it. It’s a pragmatic decision.”

Despite the star-studded guest list, when Variety When asked if there were any Jewish public figures who had refused to appear in the film, Baddiel replied “many”. Out of respect for their privacy, he did not reveal their names, but said the list included “some pretty prominent Jews who don’t want to bring their Jewish identity to the fore and just don’t want to talk about it.”

“This” is the uncomfortable but important debate about how anti-Semitism plays out in modern times. On the right, it has remained largely unchanged since the days of the Nazi Party in Europe and the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. left and it is here, as Baddiel shows in the documentary, that it takes a more insidious form, firstly by being cloaked in terms which, while not explicitly discriminatory, serve to exclude only Jews from supposedly inclusive spaces and secondly refusing to get involved when Jews are subjected to the kind of treatment that would cause outrage on behalf of other groups (authentic casting, for example).

“Particularly in the last 20 years, with social media and all the rest, I think there’s been an incredible focus on trying to right the wrongs, a lot of which were good,” Baddiel said during the Q&A. “But some of which were performative. And I think that within the performing space, [in which] People [are] trying to make it clear that they are allies in a way that is more about a sense of self than about actual alliance, the Jews have no currency for them.”

The documentary is based on Baddiel’s non-fiction book of the same name, but the two are separate works. “The book is a very personal project,” he explained during the Q&A. “I’m talking about my own experience of this particular phenomenon. [In the documentary] I can go talk to other Jews and they can tell me if they have experienced the same thing or not. It turns out that this is something that, as Sarah Silverman says, many Jews have felt for a long time, but maybe it hasn’t been articulated before.”

“And I guess the other thing that the book can’t do is you can feel things like the Colleyville incident, for example,” Baddiel continued, referring to the hostage crisis that took place earlier this year, in which a young British man held up a Texas synagogue at gunpoint. Convinced of Jewish power and influence, the hostage-taker randomly chooses the synagogue to demand that an unrelated (and bewildered) New York rabbi order the release of a prisoner and alleged al-Qaeda operative from Fort Worth.

David Badiel, Sarah Silverman

David Baddiel and Sarah Silverman in “Jews Don’t Count.”

The rabbi, Angela Buchdahl, is also featured in “Jews Don’t Count.” “The way we rendered it, you can feel what it is [her] All of a sudden it’s being interpreted as this ridiculous stereotype of Jewish power that it has four lives in its hands,” Baddiel said.

It also shows how Jewish schools in the UK engage in active shooter drills, an exercise almost unheard of in Britain, linking it to ingrained anti-Semitism on all sides of the political divide.

Despite the sober subject matter, audiences may be surprised to discover that “Jews Don’t Count” also has plenty of laughs (at one point Silverman proclaims “I love money!” before acknowledging that this documentary probably isn’t the best part to say this out loud). “It’s an integral part of a Jewish tradition that when you talk about problems and awful things, you also try to be funny about it,” Baddiel said.

The documentary also sees Baddiel, who rose to fame as a comedian, grapple with anti-Semitism in the industry. The film examines ‘Bo’ Selecta!’, a British sketch show from the early 2000s that saw comedian Leigh Francis dress up as a range of public figures, including black (and Jewish) musician Craig David, for which Francis wore Blackface. Francis also caricatured Baddiel in the show, depicting him with a hook nose, long curly sideburns (which Baddiel has never worn) and a thick accent. It was a depiction that a friend of Baddiel apparently found so appalling that he suggested it constituted a hate crime.

In 2020, Francis released a video apology that featured black celebrities, including David and Michael Jackson. Baddiel, however, received no apology from Francis. “I don’t like calling out other comedians. We’re comedians and it’s weird to do that. But in this particular case, it’s such a clear example of selective outrage in the sense that, as far as I know, no one has ever called attention to it. [lack of apology]Baddiel said during the Q&A. He also revealed that Francis had turned down a request to appear on “Jews Don’t Count.”

During the Q&A, Baddiel also discussed Dave Chappelle’s SNL monologue about Kanye West, which took place just a few days earlier. “I love Dave Chappelle, he’s a brilliant comedian,” Baddiel said, but added that he had found his SNL monologue “weird.” “Dave Chappelle was basically saying, ‘Look, Kanye’s right. We can’t say it out loud, but Kanye was right, because look what happened to him,” Baddiel said, referring to the many brands that cut ties with West after a litany of his public anti-Semitic comments, including threatening to “go away . death con 3 on jews [sic].”

“There are consequences, as there are [in the case of] all other minorities, when people say racist or discriminatory things,” Baddiel said. “But with the Jews, these consequences seem to be indicative of Jewish power.”

One of the most powerful moments in “Jews Don’t Count” is when Baddiel confronts his own racist caricature of black British footballer Jason Lee during a 1990s BBC sketch show called “Fantasy Football League”. . In the show Baddiel appeared in blackface as Lee with a pineapple on his head, while his co-host Frank Skinner played Lee’s manager.

Baddiel has publicly apologized several times for the sketch, but had never met Lee in person. In the documentary, he appears as a guest on Lee’s podcast, “AbsoluteLee”, during which he again apologizes. The duo then discuss racism and anti-Semitism. During the Q&A, Baddiel revealed that although he doesn’t appear in the document, he apologized to Lee again before leaving the podcast studio. “I just went back to him and said, ‘Sorry, again.’ And he just said, “Now it’s over.” And he shook my hand.” The experience, Baddiel said, was difficult but one he was grateful for. “I’m very glad I did.”

Ultimately “Jews Don’t Count” ends on a hopeful note. “I think the dial changes, I say at the end of the movie,” Baddiel said. “I think things have definitely moved on since I wrote the book. Hopefully the film will make people think about that.”

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