The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed shock at a “vulgar and hideous” remark by Joan Rivers on her E! Entertainment Television show “Fashion Police,” in which she commented on a dress worn by German-American supermodel Heidi Klum with the quip: “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.”
Aside from doubling over with laughter, neither Rivers nor any of the co-hosts responded to the remark, and no apology was offered. The segment first aired on February 25 and has since been shown at least four times on the network, and it appeared briefly on YouTube.
“Of all people, Joan Rivers should know better,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, himself a Holocaust survivor.
“This remark is so vulgar and offensive to Jews and Holocaust survivors, and indeed to all Americans, that we cannot believe it made it to the airwaves,” he said. “Making it worse, not one of her co-hosts made any effort to respond or to condemn this hideous statement, leaving it hanging out there and giving it added legitimacy through their silence. Almost as bad as her original comment is the fact that she sat there doubled over with laughter after saying it.
“There are certain things about the Holocaust that should be taboo,” Foxman continued. “This is especially true for Jews, for whom the Holocaust is still a deeply painful memory. It is vulgar and offensive for anybody to use the death of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to make a joke, but this is especially true for someone who is Jewish and who proudly and publicly wears her Jewishness on her sleeve.”
In a letter to Suzanne Kolb, President of E! Entertainment Television, ADL urged the network to prevail upon Rivers to issue a formal apology, and to remove the segment from future broadcast.
This is not the first time Rivers has made offensive comments trivializing the Holocaust. Last year, when protesting Costco’s decision not to carry her book, Rivers compared the company’s policies in selecting books to those of the Nazi regime. Her response, rather than to recognize her error, was to throw it back at her critics with the remark, “Don’t talk to me about the Holocaust!”