Throw the Jew down the well


Every once in a while, somebody accuses Jewschool contributors of ignoring or belittling anti-Semitism. For those who found Borat to be a hilarious take-down of the haters, here’s a reminder from JTA of why some of us actually found Barron-Cohen’s shtick just a bit offense:

Bones found in a medieval well in England are probably the remains of Jews murdered in the 12th century, forensic scientists say…. The scientists, who along with archaeological investigations also work on contemporary crime-scene forensics, have speculated that the individuals were thrown into the well — victims of Jewish hatred that was rampant at the time.


A whole Jewish family. Still think its funny? Funny as the murdered Fogel family, I’d say.

31 Responses to “Throw the Jew down the well”

  1. I think it rather silly to point a finger at Sascha Cohen for his parody of ant-semitism. He is an extremely intelligent person and since he grew up in England he probably already knows about the murder of jews in 12th century England following the royal decree of banning jews from residence on the british isles.


    Søren Lindbo · July 1st, 2011 at 6:06 pm
  2. some of us actually found Barron-Cohen’s shtick just a bit offense

    Thank you! “Borat” was a disgrace.


    Jonathan1 · July 3rd, 2011 at 6:22 am
  3. So what you’re saying is that 12th century Englishmen traveled through time to the present and, inspired by Borat’s song, returned to their own era to carry out crimes against their Jewish neighbors?

    Because OBVIOUSLY it would be very difficult for a copy of Borat AND the equipment necessary to view it to travel back to to 12th century England intact…

    Or is this just another example of “too soon?”


    themicah · July 5th, 2011 at 5:01 pm
  4. The thing is that he is Jewish, and he probably should’ve made it more well known during the publicity of the movie, then we’d see what asses there really are in the world.


    Alissa · July 6th, 2011 at 1:40 am
  5. I think that whoever was offended by Borat missed the point


    yossi · July 8th, 2011 at 12:04 pm
  6. But that still didn’t make his country free.


    B.BarNavi · July 12th, 2011 at 11:38 pm
  7. I think that whoever was offended by Borat missed the point

    He filmed a sweet, well-meaning lady helping him wipe his butt, and then he put that footage into a movie, which he showed to millions of Americans, and then he made millions of dollars from it.

    What was the point?


    Jonathan1 · July 13th, 2011 at 12:58 am
  8. J1, I don’t know your exact age (I’m 28), but I think it’s a generational thing. When Borat first came out, I was neck deep in Jewish organizational stuff at my campus. The 18 and 19 year olds couldn’t get enough of him, but I frankly cringed the whole movie.


    Victor · July 13th, 2011 at 1:46 am
  9. We’re the same generation, but I do expect even 14-year-olds to have a heart.


    Jonathan1 · July 13th, 2011 at 3:12 am
  10. None of you saw the forest for the trees. The point wasn’t his OHSOEDGY anti-Semitic parody, the lulz were to be found in the fact that the Arizona crowd didn’t bat an eye, and some of its members were found cheering!


    B.BarNavi · July 13th, 2011 at 11:32 pm
  11. @BBN

    Unlike in Israel, America still has free speech, so you’re entitled to your opinion of course.

    But, seriously, what a I missing? When I saw this movie, I just saw Cohen going around humiliating one innocent, kind person after the next. Why is that so funny to so many people, especially, “Leftist Progressive” types, (who are willing to fight for the rights of dark people in other parts of the world, but have no problem mocking white, middle-class Americans?)

    Where is the symbolism in it all? That Americans are overly polite?

    Even the one famous “expose” scene was something like Borat and the three southern frat boys were drinking together. Borat kept saying racist things, over and over, about slavery, etc. And, finally, one of the frat boys says something like “I wish slavery still existed.”

    That’s it? That’s the big expose, that there is still some limited form of latent racism among whites in the Deep South?

    Shocking!


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 1:46 am
  12. @BBN The point wasn’t lost at all. I didn’t find it all that funny, and we’re reminded that horrible things have been done bye and in front of those who dont bat an eye. Or lend a hand in the pogrom.

    Glad he makes his point. But the fact that there is anti-semitism- be it latent, active or passive, in a bunch of hicks isn’t funny.

    That’s my point.


    adam · July 14th, 2011 at 3:16 am
  13. whether or not any particular individual finds SBC’s style of comedy funny, he is just one in a very long line of Jewish comedians who have all done, more or less, the same thing whether they were the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges or Lenny Bruce. What Jewish comedians are known for, and what they should frankly be thanked for, in my opinion, is pushing the envelope.

    SBC’s style of comedy is offensive to some. So what Lenny Bruce smoking cigarettes, reading the newspaper on stage and swearing about it. So was Woody Allen’s ‘Vodka Ad,’ so was Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles… Comedy is supposed to push people into an uncomfortable place so they can laugh at the absurdity of it all. SBC illuminates the absurdity of intolerance by mocking the intolerant. Personally, it makes me laugh til it hurts, and I understand it’s not for everyone. But we also have to recognize that pushing the envelope is what Jewish comedians have done since stand-up existed at all.

    On a side-note, I found Bruno to be much more offensive and much less funny than Borat…


    Justin · July 14th, 2011 at 9:12 am
  14. *so was Lenny Bruce…


    Justin · July 14th, 2011 at 9:13 am
  15. more or less, the same thing whether they were the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges or Lenny Bruce

    They chased down innocent people on the street and tried to kiss them, or had very polite ladies help them wipe their butt, or brought human feces to a dinner table, or made all kinds of absurd remarks to a driving instructor, or tries to “entrap” a gunstore owner into saying the best gun with which to kill Jews, or calls one man’s wife ugly at a party, etc. etc., etc.?

    SBC illuminates the absurdity of intolerance by mocking the intolerant.

    Really?

    To steal Chistopher Hitchen’s thought, the most amazing thing about the movie was how absurdely polite most of these people were.

    I really do think I’m missing something.

    Comedy is supposed to push people into an uncomfortable place so they can laugh at the absurdity of it all.

    I guess. A lot of kids laugh as the bully picks on his latest schoolyard vicim too. Maybe that’s the same idea of comedy?

    So what Lenny Bruce smoking cigarettes, reading the newspaper on stage and swearing about it. So was Woody Allen’s ‘Vodka Ad,’ so was Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles

    None of them made millions of dollars by humiliating innocent people, though.

    Again, I just must be missing something.


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 10:18 am
  16. www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/nov/24/usa.film

    A piece by Joe Queenan:

    “When Borat was first released, blue-state sophisticates in New York and Los Angeles were delirious, overjoyed that Baron Cohen was savaging evangelicals and cowboys and hicks, as if this were either daring or original. Their rationale was that Cohen was merely playing with our heads, forcing us to reassess our convictions. No, he isn’t. Baron Cohen is just another English public school boy who hates Americans.”


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 10:28 am
  17. @J1-
    The comedians I mentioned did the equivalent for their era. When Lenny Bruce got on stage and sat on a stool and read newspapers and used explicit language, no one had ever seen anything like that before and it offended lots and lots of people. I don’t know if you recall, but Pulp Fiction was one of the most violent and explicit movies up to its time, and by mid-90s standards it was shocking. Today it could be shown on daytime network television…


    Justin · July 14th, 2011 at 1:24 pm
  18. @J1
    If you don’t think he’s funny that’s one thing but if you fail to see what he is trying to accomplish in his comedy then perhaps you are missing something.


    Uri Allen · July 14th, 2011 at 1:31 pm
  19. I don’t know if you recall, but Pulp Fiction was one of the most violent and explicit movies up to its time, and by mid-90s standards it was shocking.

    But, you don’t see the difference? Pulp Fiction was a movie with actors.

    Borat humiliated real-life human beings! With real feelings! Who’s good names were really besmirched! For what?

    The Tana taught before Rabbi Yitzchak: “Anyone who blanches the face [humiliates] of his fellow in public, is seen to have spilled his blood.” Rabbi Yitzchak said, “Well spoken, For I have seen the redness drain from a person’s face and he becomes pale.” Abayye said to Rav Dimi: “What are they most careful about in the west [in Israel]?” He said to him: “Making a face blanch. For Rabbi Hanina said:

    “Everyone goes to Gehennom except for three.” “Does he really mean everyone goes to Gehennom?” Rather he must mean everyone who does go to Gehennom ascends from there except for three, and these are the three:

    Anyone who has relations with another man’s wife.
    Anyone who humiliates a person in public.
    Anyone who calls someone by a disparaging nickname.

    @Justin

    I invite you to provide one Jewish source that justifies the humiliation of an innocent human being (like, for instance having a sweet lady naively wipe your butt, and then putting that in a movie that makes you millions of dollars.)


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 1:54 pm
  20. If you don’t think he’s funny that’s one thing but if you fail to see what he is trying to accomplish in his comedy then perhaps you are missing something.

    No, I do understand why people think it was a funny movie. Like I said, I’m not going to pretend that when I was a child I didn’t take some type of small pleasure in watching the playground bully humiliate other kids.

    On the other hand, I really don’t understand what SBC is trying to accomplish, other than to get rich and famous.

    What am I missing?


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 2:00 pm
  21. my point re: Pulp Fiction was how times change and social mores change.

    you’re 100% correct. humiliation of people is strictly forbidden in Jewish law and is one of the most serious and egregious of transgressions. 100%.

    Again, I’m not defending his actions but simply pointing out that, Jewish law aside, by ‘comedy law’ all he was doing was pushing the envelope. He’s not the first comedian to make a living embarrassing people. I also believe that people had to sign a release to have their footage in the film.


    Justin · July 14th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
  22. Again, I’m not defending his actions but simply pointing out that, Jewish law aside, by ‘comedy law’ all he was doing was pushing the envelope.

    Ok, I misunderstood you then.

    He’s not the first comedian to make a living embarrassing people.

    He’s not, but I don’t accept the analogy between SBC and comics who I see as brave idealists ultimately–like Bruce, George Carlin, and the Smothers Brothers, who all took their lumps by challenging the status quo, and they did so at only their own expense–the exact opposite of SBC, who has only benefited from hurting others.

    I also believe that people had to sign a release to have their footage in the film

    Right, that’s why all of those lawsuits against SBC were dismissed. But, all that means is that he went up to all sorts of strangers, lied to them about who he was and what he was doing, had them sign a release–which they almost certainly didn’t even read–that said that they granted him permission to use whatever he filmed of them in a movie . . . how brave of SBC.


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
  23. J1, as far as I know, SBC is a Jew. Certainly, this was not your intent, but we should be careful with regards to loshon hora and empowering the Accuser. You’re making good points, but it’s not strictly necessary to be referring to SBC in particular. For all we know, he’s long since done teshuvah.


    Victor · July 14th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
  24. @Victor

    That is a very legitimate point, and it brings up problems because that movie’s damage still lives on. But I see what you are saying.


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
  25. which they almost certainly didn’t even read
    but that’s not SBC’s fault, it’s their own fault for not reading what they sign! and in their day, the comedians mentioned were not viewed as brave idealists, but as smut peddlers. we’ll have to wait and see how history judges Mr. Baron-Cohen.


    Justin · July 14th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
  26. @Justin

    it’s their own fault for not reading what they sign!

    I don’t accept that. I don’t accept the idea that naivete and/or stupidity and/or ignorance are the equivalences of moral turpitude.
    It’s not their own fault.

    Go into any big city in America and you’ll-unfortunately–find slum lords who pray on the ignorance and poverty of their tenants. To me, the tenants ignorance does not justify the slum lords behavior, whatever the civil law of the given jurisdiction might say.

    Victor has made an excellent point, though, so I’m not going to mention this subject any longer.


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
  27. “On the other hand, I really don’t understand what SBC is trying to accomplish, other than to get rich and famous.
    What am I missing?”

    What I think your missing is that SBC was demonstrating certain things about America as only could have been exposed by Borat. A regular American, so to speak, could never have elicited those reactions from the people in the movie. Under the guise of a travel correspondant or whatever Borat was able to reveal some disturbing things about some Americans. I get that you don’t like his tactics, I”m not sure I like them either.
    But I sure did laugh my ass off. As comedy goes, I think it’s pretty high end imho.


    Uri Allen · July 14th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
  28. slum lords who pray on the ignorance and poverty of their tenants
    a completely different issue. slum lords are breaking the law by not fulfilling their obligations under legislation relating to rights of the renter and so forth. If slum lords had the practice of having tenants sign leases which allow landlords to be slum lords, that’s a different story. but that’s not a slum lord–a slum lord abstains from doing things the law requires of them to no fault of the tenant. were the tenants signing leases without reading them which absolve them of their rights, then that very much would be there fault. If someone is stupid enough to sign a contract without reading it, that is no one’s fault but the person who signed it. If SBC made false claims as to what he was going to use the footage for, and so forth, you’d have a point. but the fact is that the release said that the footage was for a major motion picture, and as far as I understand included the actor’s real name, the name of the director, producer, studio and so on and so forth. this was a legal document and stupidity does not absolve someone from the constraints of the law.


    Justin · July 14th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
  29. slum lords are breaking the law by not fulfilling their obligations under legislation relating to rights of the renter and so forth.

    No, I brought up slum lords for the exact reason that they do “play by the rules,” and run their businesses according to the civil law.

    That’s the point. You can do plenty of terrible things that are legal under civil law.

    If someone is stupid enough to sign a contract without reading it, that is no one’s fault but the person who signed it.

    Wow. Really?

    Is this the way of the Torah, whose “ways are pleasant?”

    Wow.


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 5:31 pm
  30. this was a legal document and stupidity does not absolve someone from the constraints of the law

    Baruch HaShem the judge on this case wasn’t Jewish:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williams_v._Walker-Thomas_Furniture_Co.#Judgment


    Jonathan1 · July 14th, 2011 at 5:37 pm
  31. A regular American, so to speak, could never have elicited those reactions from the people in the movie. Under the guise of a travel correspondant or whatever Borat was able to reveal some disturbing things about some Americans.

    @Uri Allen

    Ok, I went back and watched this movie, to try to pick up on these things. And, honestly, from the bottom of my heart . . . . .. . . .. . . . . . . . .

    I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    Another quote from Queenan:
    Similarly, most of the people who have made Borat such a monstrous hit were young men. But eventually the women will be heard from, and a lot of them will not be fawning Baron Cohen groupies. To the women I know, when you ridicule redneck racists, you are a hero. But when you go out of your way to humiliate middle-aged feminists and harmless socialites and hapless hotel employees and office workers on their lunch breaks, and use plump black women as a running sight gag, you expose yourself not as an iconoclastic wit, but as a pig.

    From Hitchens: www.slate.com/id/2153578/

    Among the “cultural learnings of America for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan” is the discovery that Americans are almost pedantic in their hospitality and politesse. At a formal dinner in Birmingham, Ala., the guests discuss Borat while he’s out of the room—filling a bag with ordure in order to bring it back to the table, as it happens—and agree what a nice young American he might make. And this is after he has called one guest a retard and grossly insulted the wife of another (and remember, it’s “Americana” that is “crass”). The tony hostess even takes him and his bag of shit upstairs and demonstrates the uses not just of the water closet but also of the toilet paper. The arrival of a mountainous black hooker does admittedly put an end to the evening, but if a swarthy stranger had pulled any of the foregoing at a liberal dinner party in England, I wouldn’t give much for his chances. “The violence that Borat encounters on the New York subway after trying to greet male strangers with kisses is frighteningly real,” writes Gilbey, who either doesn’t use the London Underground very much or else has a very low standard for mayhem.

    Is it too literal-minded to point out what any viewer of the movie can see for himself—that the crowd at the rodeo stops cheering quite fast when it realizes that something is amiss; that the car salesman is extremely patient about everything from demands for pussy magnets to confessions of bankruptcy; and that the man in the gun shop won’t sell the Kazakh a weapon? This is “compliance”? I have to say, I didn’t like the look of the elderly couple running the Confederate-memorabilia store, but considering that Borat smashes hundreds of dollars worth of their stock, they bear up pretty well—icily correct even when declining to be paid with locks of pubic hair.


    Jonathan1 · July 19th, 2011 at 3:26 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik