Comedian Orna Banai put her foot in her mouth last week while appearing on Guri Alfi’s “Hayom Balaila” evening show.
Banai told Alfi she suffers from Tourette Syndrome.
“Who can I curse?” she joked, referring to a condition characterized by tics such as rapid blinking or shoulder shrugging, as well as coprolalia, involuntary compulsive swearing.
Amir Dan, the father of Yoav Dan, a teenager who suffers from Tourette, wasn’t amused by Banai’s joke and called her out on Facebook, demanding she apologize.
“I have nothing personal against Orna Banai,” said Dan. “But I was broadcasting the feelings of thousands of people who felt the way I did. She didn’t attack my son, but she did something that one doesn’t do in 2017 — laugh at people publicly.”
Banai sent him a personal apology, he said.
He responded to her in turn, telling her he appreciated her quick response but that it shouldn’t be to him but rather publicly, on the stage where she first made the joke.
Dan also said he contacted the ombudsman for Channel 2, asking for a public apology. Ombudsman David Regev contacted Alfi’s program and has demanded an apology which is as yet not forthcoming.
Yoav Dan, his 17-year-old son, published a moving column about his condition on the Ynet news site.
He explained that the way to treat someone who suffers from Tourette is to not relate at all to the tics or expressions they make.
“There are people who limp, who wear glasses, who are bald. And I am just me, with a small addition,” wrote Yoav Dan.
He described himself as an average 17-year-old who loves to play guitar and ride his bike, and who has tics. He began suffering from Tourette three years ago, without any warning, during a family vacation in Italy.
“It scared me,” he wrote. “I didn’t know how to react to it or what to do with myself.”
He saw how people looked at him, and it shocked his family as well, although they learned how to accept it and to see him as himself.
“I’ve learned to live with the tics,” he wrote. “I’ve learned that the tics don’t determine who I am.”
He has also learned to live with the fact that the tics won’t just disappear.
“People felt that Yoav gave expression to what they’ve carried for years,” said Amir Dan.