A promotional video clip for a new satire show set to air on Israel’s public broadcast Channel 1 was removed minutes after it was first posted online Sunday, as viewers complained bitterly of an offensive anti-right-wing bias in the clip.
As part of its ongoing effort to become a more competitive television station, Channel 1 purchased “Hayehudim Ba’im” (“The Jews Are Coming”), which the production company bills as a show of satirical sketches focused on the Biblical period, on the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and on European Jewry, but with a “contemporary twist.” The show is set to begin airing in October, after the Jewish High Holidays.
The 19-second promotional video shows three religious-looking men, two with rifles and one with a handgun. The three represent the three “songwriters” credited in the video: Baruch Goldstein, an American-born doctor who opened fire on Palestinian worshipers in Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994, killing 29 and wounding 125; Yigal Amir, who assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995; and Yona Avrushmi, who lobbed a hand grenade into a left-wing rally in 1983, killing Emil Grunzweig and wounding nine others, among them former Labor Party minister Avraham Burg and current Likud minister Yuval Steinitz.
In the beginning of the video, the Avrushmi character “pops up” in a set reminiscent of a children’s show, with flowers and a rainbow behind him, and sings, “Sometimes I’m a hero, sometimes a killer.” He is followed by the Amir character, singing “Sometimes I assassinate,” and the Baruch Goldstein character, whose line is “Sometimes I slaughter.”
As the three begin to dance in a circle, entering the chorus, “But I’m a right-wing murderer,” the video cuts to a baby’s pacifier being dipped in a cup of wine and placed on a table with the instruments used in a ritual circumcision. The caption reads, “The Jews are coming. And they are godless.”
Jerusalemite Evyatar Gat saw the promotional clip on the Channel 1 website and quickly downloaded it to his computer. He then uploaded it to YouTube. Within minutes of posting it online, Channel 1 removed the promo, Gat told The Times of Israel.
Channel 1 said that the clip was taken down because it had not been approved for broadcast.
“The director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority instructed that the promo be removed after we were apprised of its content,” Channel 1 said in a statement. “[He] will conduct an inquiry with the programming manager in order to establish how the promo went up without anyone having seen it and without the approval of an authorized party in the programming department.”
YouTube commenters raked Channel 1 over the coals, calling the channel and those who created the clip “racists,” “anti-Semites,” and “Nazis,” and accusing the channel of incitement.
A few users wrote that they felt the channel had done nothing wrong: It showed three right-wing activists who had in fact committed murder, they said. But the vast majority of viewers who commented were not as forgiving. “This isn’t satire. It’s cheap provocation,” one wrote.
According to a report on Ynet, Jewish Home party MK Ayelet Shaked was among those who appealed to Channel 1 about the clip, saying, among other things, “The promo portrays settlers as bloodthirsty murderers. Is this what the taxpayers’ money is being spent on?”
As of Sunday evening, the clip was nowhere to be found on Channel 1′s Facebook page, but several users posted it to the page of the channel’s ombudsman, and the handful of comments that followed were highly critical. The website of the production company, take2.co.il, was inaccessible on Sunday evening.
One user wrote, “Have you lost your minds? With whom are you competing — the anti-Semitic television series from Syria and Turkey?” He added that “somebody there had better get a grip before this deranged horror airs.”
Perhaps ironically, while “Hayehudim Ba’im” has been in the works for several months, Channel 1 was also recently rumored to be negotiating with the cash-strapped right-wing satire website Latma.co.il for a deal that would see some of Latma’s programming included in Channel 1′s lineup. That initiative fell through.
“Hayehudim Ba’im” is set to star several veterans of other successful satirical shows, including Moni Moshonov of “Zehu Zeh” and “K’tzarim” fame; Yael Sharoni, who has starred in a host of comedic and dramatic shows; and Yaniv Biton, who has featured in the Israeli comedies “Comeback” and “Tzchok Me’avoda.”