Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Are Charlie Sheen, Glenn Beck, John Galliano and Julian Assange Anti-Semites?

How does one know when someone's comment is anti-Semitic? I suppose it's the same as how United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart explained pornography in the 1964 case of Jacobellis v. Ohio: "I know it when I see it."

There have been several high profile examples of anti-Semitic outbursts recently. And like famous anti-Semitic rants in the past, there has been much debate as to whether these recent cases should be classified as anti-Semitic. In all of these instances, one could argue that "I know it when I see it."

There are times when a celebrity makes a poor choice, but is likely not being intentionally anti-Semitic. Examples are when Roseanne Barr dressed as Adolf Hitler and posed for a magazine and when Prince Harry went to a costume party in a Nazi uniform. However, when Mel Gibson repeatedly espoused his anti-Jewish feelings, there was no question about his motivation or true feelings.

In recent days, we've heard questionable comments by Charlie Sheen and Glenn Beck. We've seen video footage of Dior designer John Galliano expressing his love for Hitler and berating innocent people with anti-Semitic slurs. And a recent report said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested that British journalists, including the editor of The Guardian, were engaged in a Jewish-led conspiracy to smear his organization.



Charlie Sheen, who continues to prove that his "Wild Thing" character in the movie "Major League" was pretty close to his real persona, referred to the executive producer of "Two and a Half Men" by his Hebrew name. Rather than calling him Chuck Lorre, Sheen referred to him as "Chaim Levine" and raised red flags throughout the media and in Jewish organizations. Not only has Sheen denied that there was any anti-Semitic undertone in his rant, he is now requesting that the Anti-Defamation League and its director Abe Foxman apologize to him for condemning his remarks.

It's pretty obvious that Sheen's not getting very good PR counsel these days (if any at all) because he expressed his admiration for Mel Gibson in an interview with Howard Stern. I don't think Mel Gibson is the guy you want to bring into your corner when you've been accused of an anti-Semitic rant.

Glenn Beck recently apologized for his insult to Reform Jews. The Fox News talking head said Reform rabbis are "almost like radicalized Islam." He was responding to a letter condemning his virulent attack on George Soros. I was one of several non-Reform rabbis who signed the letter urging Fox News to fire Beck. While I don't agree with Soros' politics and certainly find his views on Israel to be troubling, I understood Beck's comments about Soros (comparing him to the Nazis) to be anti-Semitic in nature. While Beck will likely never apologize for his Soros tirade, it is telling that he apologized to the angered Reform (not "Reformed" as Beck called them) rabbis.

The anti-Semitic comments by Christian Dior designer John Galliano in a shocking videotape (see below) were quite obviously anti-Semitic. Dior has fired him for his hateful comments and he was arrested by French police over allegations that he abused a couple in an angry, drunken, anti-Semitic diatribe. Oscar winner Natalie Portman who represents Dior in perfume ads said she was disgusted with John Galliano over his anti-Semitic rants. In a written statement, Portman said, "In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr Galliano in any way."

Finally, Julian Assange's comments seemed to be more paranoia than anti-Semitism. He suggested that British journalists were conspiring to smear his organization. The NY Times reports that Assange "was especially angry about a Private Eye report that Israel Shamir, an Assange associate in Russia, was a Holocaust denier. Mr. Assange complained that the article was part of a campaign by Jewish reporters in London to smear WikiLeaks."

While Assange's accusation does sound like the age-old charge that the Jews own and run the media, it might not be anti-Semitic. Rather, Assange is probably feeling like everyone is out to get him after the recent WikiLeaks dumps of classified information.

Are anti-Semitic comments on the rise? I don't think so. Rather, there has been a trend of high-profile individuals making anti-Semitic statements. It's entirely possible that these hate-filled tirades reveal the true sentiments of these celebrities. Hopefully, they will apologize for their outbursts and be more dignified and sane in the future.

Cross-posted to the Huffington Post

4 comments:

Avinoam Sharon said...

Antisemitism may or may not be on the rise, but the social respectability of antisemitic statements seems to be growing.

Art Bernstein said...

I belive anti-Semitism is increasing globally with the rise of radical Islam and I disagree with your defense of Assange. When he singles out Jews for no apparent reason, it's anti-Semitic. I also think Martin Sheen, Charlie's dad, is anti-Semitic. Daddy is a major spokesperson for, and appears frequently at, pro-Palestinian - anti-Israel rallies in the US. That makes him precaciously close to Ahmadinijad. A little more high tone in his language, perhaps, but just as wrong, just as bigoted and just as self-justified.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? Why oh why are Jewish people always about themselves? Why does any problem not even remotely involving anything Jewish, become a Jewish problem?

Why do some Jews stick their noses into something that does not concern them? For the attention?

I think the Jewish people are far too sensitive and profoundly a people of "Poor-little-me," syndrome.

Oh it's not nice to hear any comment that's derogatory about anyone, but to say Charlie Sheen made any slander towards Jews is absolutely insane and with criminal intent towards Mr. Sheen.

When will this stop by Jews?

Anonymous said...

giving him to g-d fully as an expression of faith in g-d not science- part of life, parts of this adventure, walk in time with ancient ways in modern days an end & a beginning let me/us be drawn closer to g-d