A right-wing Canadian comedian and social commentator made waves recently with a controversial video provocatively titled “10 things I hate about Jews.”
The eight-and-a-half-minute long video, posted on Youtube, was produced by Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice Media and a comedian and pundit for The Rebel Media.
Originally titled “10 things I hate about Jews,” the name of the clip was altered to “10 things I hate about Israel,” following an outcry on social media and accusations of anti-Semitism.
McInnes, known for his over-the-top comedic style and tongue-in-cheek humor, has appeared in the past on The Greg Gutfeld Show on Fox News, a news satire show mirroring programs by left-wing comedian-pundits like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show.
The video in question was released after a group of Rebel Media hosts spent a week touring Israel, producing a number of pro-Israel viral videos – and sparking outrage among white supremacists angered by the positive coverage of the Jewish state.
The faux rant, recorded at night on a secluded Tel Aviv street, mixes humor with political commentary, in an intentionally offensive message some critics say crossed the line.
Among McInnes’ complaints listed in the video are the length of Israeli crosswalk signals, customer service at Israeli stores, Israeli drivers, and the obstacles civilians face in procuring firearm licenses.
Israelis like to laugh at themselves and have no shortage of comedy routines that do just that, but not everyone found McInnes’ diatribe funny – or appropriate.
The video’s mockery of modern Hebrew and McInnes’ suggestion Jews are excessively focused on the persecution they faced historically struck many as offensive and self-defeating for a trip billed as a pro-Israel event.
“Spit talk – they [Israelis] spit when they talk,” claimed McInnes. “The whole language is clearing your throat.”
Later, McInnes said Jews had a “paranoid fear” of persecution.
“There’s this overall sort of whiney, paranoid fear of Nazis that is making them scared of Christians and Trump who are their greatest allies.”
Unsurprisingly, criticism of McInnes was not long in coming.
“We love humour about Israel,” wrote the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “But Gavi McInnes’ ’10 things I hate about Jews’ on Rebel Media just isn’t funny… it’s offensive and stupid. If Rebel thinks this helps Israel’s cause, think again.”
Left-wing media outlets were even less forgiving, with Salon.com writer Amanda Marcotte outright accusing McInnes of becoming a “full-on neo-Nazi”.
While some white supremacists expressed their disgust with the Rebel Media trip to Israel and the videos produced during the trip by staff members including Faith Goldy, a few seemed encouraged by McInnes’ statements. Former KKK leader David Duke was one of several white supremacist activists who endorsed some of the Rebel host’s material.
McInnes was quick to reject Duke’s support, tweeting to Duke: “F*** you. You’re talking about a clip out of context that includes the words, ‘Don’t take this out of context’.”
In a video message filmed shortly after his return to Canada, McInnes said “No offense, Nazis, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I don’t like you. I like Jews.”
Rebel Media founder and owner Ezra Levant, a Jewish Canadian writer and publisher, defended McInnes, calling him a “provocative commentator and humorist.”
“He’s not to everyone’s taste,” Levant wrote to Canadian Jewish News. “But during the week I spent with him in Israel, I laughed more than I have since I was a child. Humourless liberals hate him, but Israelis seem to love him.”
“He did a comedy show in Tel Aviv that was standing room only, and people stayed for two hours afterwards to talk with him.”
In an interview with the National Observer, Levant denied “10 things I hate about Jews” was anti-Semitic.
“The entire shtick could have been delivered by a comedian in Tel Aviv,” he argued.
Later, Levant released a 22-minute video “For Jews Only” responding to the controversy and putting McInnes’ 8-minute diatribe into the context of other comments made during the trip to Israel.
Among the comments Levant cited were: “Sorry Nazis, you're wrong, Israel's right again," and "Israel should enjoy their wall [sic] and be proud of it."
McInnes also "visited" the Palestinian Authority in the character of his radical left-wing alter ego Miles, poking fun at the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat and Arab objections to Israel’s security wall.