Travelers on Israeli airline El-Al report that its flights now feature a satire about residents of Hevron which many have termed “anti-Semitic.” The producers of the film may face libel suits.
The offending skit was aired earlier in the month on the satirical Eretz Nehederet (A Wonderful Land) show on Channel 2 TV. The popular show has run for six seasons in Israel and is similar to the American program Saturday Night Live. (The Hevron film clip can be viewed here in Hebrew.)
The skit, entitled “Everyone Hates Rabin,” showcased a family in Hevron. The mother is depicted as ironing clothes on the back of an Arab and later hanging the laundry on his arms. The father, named Ketzaleh after the Ichud Leumi (National Union) party head Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz, describes how he beat up an Arab flower vendor.
The children in the show scream “Nazi” and “Hitler” every time someone upsets them. The daughter of the family also wants to attend a "Baruch Goldstein" celebration, in reference to the Kiryat Arba pediatrician who killed 29 Arabs in Hevron in 1994. In addition, the family prepares acid to pour on soldiers, while the grandfather shoots two Arabs and a soldier in the course of the skit.
The credits jokingly name Noam Federman as the director of the skit. Federman lived on a farm near Hevron before being violently evacuated with his family by government forces several months ago. Federman commented on the film, “I was deeply disturbed by the film and its overt message. It is similar to clips that Nazi Germany made about Jews sixty years ago.” Federman, who has studied law, has promised to sue the program. “Right now I’m gathering material,” he said.
Several groups, including the Israel Media Watch, the Center for Democrary in Israeli Media, and Forum against Incitement, all lodged formal complaints with both the Second Authority, responsible for television broadcasts, and with the State Prosecutors Office. They called the skit “poisonous and anti-Semitic” and claimed it “used all possible stereotypes against ‘settlers’.” The groups called on the State Prosecutor to open a libel investigation against the program.
The State Prosecutor’s office has yet to respond, but Second Authority chief Norit Dobush agreed that the program was inappropriate. “It was rude and insulting and completely unnecessary,” she said. “It would have been better if it hadn’t been aired,” she added, but claimed that “the Authority regulates broadcasts but does not censor them.”
El-Al also claims it is not at fault for airing the show and blamed the HOT company which is responsible for in-air programming. El-Al promised to discuss the issue with HOT.
In a similar incident in February, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticized Channel 2’s late night show with Lior Schlein, after Schlein insulted Christians in a skit mocking Jesus and Mary.