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23 May, 2018 01:11

Israeli ambassador says Dutch parody of Eurovision song is anti-Semitic

Israeli ambassador says Dutch parody of Eurovision song is anti-Semitic

Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands made a formal complaint over a sketch show version of Israel’s winning Eurovision entry. The spoof song included references to Israeli violence in Gaza and has been called anti-Semitic.

Israel's ambassador to the Netherlands Aviv Shir-On has lodged an official letter of protest to BNNVARA, the public broadcaster that aired the show, the Foreign Ministry and the Central Jewish Board group in the country.

The ‘Samme Wallis de Vries Show,’ created a spoof of the winning Eurovision performance, with comedian Martine Sandifort playing the part of singer Netta Barzilai. The lyrics of the female empowerment anthem “Toy” were changed to something more politically relevant: “The world’s leaders are eating out of my hand… we’re throwing a party, are you coming? Later, at the al-Aqsa mosque, which will be empty soon anyway.” The al-Aqsa Mosque is one of Islam’s most holy places, located in a part of Jerusalem that Israel claims for its own.

The video also features footage of protesting and wounded Palestinians, as well as a reference to the US Embassy opening on Israel’s 70th anniversary, to which Sandifort sings, “the Palestinians aren’t invited to her party.” Instead of the lyrics, “I’m not your toy,” the comedic version says, “look how beautifully I launch missiles.” On the day of the embassy opening on May 14, almost 60 Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli forces at the border.

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The letter said that while freedom of speech, the press and satire are important to Israel, the show went “too far.” Israelis "don't rejoice when Palestinians are killed,” the letter went on to say. “When people lose their lives, and it doesn’t matter on which side, we don't laugh. You shouldn’t either!"

"Israel has to defend itself since it was founded 70 years ago because the Arabs have rejected, until today, every square centimeter of Jewish independence,” the letter claimed. “Ever since we have to fight wars and terror attacks by organizations like Hezbollah, ISIS and Hamas in which tens of thousands of Israelis, of Arabs and Palestinians were killed.”

The letter said it was “wrong and disgraceful” to show “sad and depressing” videos in the background. “It was not only biased against Israel, it included unfortunately also some anti-Semitic hints like mocking kosher food or referring to money in the old anti-Jewish way," it said.

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The song references kosher satay and fireworks “from Haifa to the Dead Sea,” following the lyrics about a party. References to “ching-a-ling and your ping-a-ping, with your dollars and cents” are also referenced by the accusers as anti-Semitic.  

BNNVARA released a statement defending the show and saying it was not “an indictment against the Jewish community.” It explained the show’s format, which discusses the week’s events in a satirical way, and said, “last week the winning song of Israel happened to coincide with the flaring conflict in the Gaza Strip. The parody questions Israel’s policy and is emphatically not an indictment against the Jewish community."

The video garnered a lot of attention from Israelis and pro-Israel accounts, who largely said the video was anti-Semitic. Israel’s recent actions in Gaza have made it the target of both criticism and satire. The Onion, a satirical news site, has published an array of articles which highlight the violence perpetrated by the Israeli Defence Forces in response to the Great Return March protests, which have seen over 100 killed.