Manger things

Actor Brett Gelman joins ‘Eretz Nehederet’ to skewer US progressives

In Christmas-themed skit, star of ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Fleabag’ plays professor who misinforms woke students about Jewish ‘colonialist power,’ insists Jesus is Palestinian

Tamir Bar (L), Liat Harlev (R), and Brett Gelman (C), in their roles as two Berkley students and their professor, on sketch comedy show "Eretz Nehederet," December 27, 2023. Screen capture: Eretz Nehederet, Channel 12. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law.
Tamir Bar (L), Liat Harlev (R), and Brett Gelman (C), in their roles as two Berkley students and their professor, on sketch comedy show "Eretz Nehederet," December 27, 2023. Screen capture: Eretz Nehederet, Channel 12. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law.

Israeli sketch comedy show “Eretz Nehederet,” which has been picking up new viewers worldwide since October 7, on Tuesday evening teamed up with American Jewish actor Brett Gelman for a skit skewering the anti-Israel sentiment in the American left and especially on campus.

The “Stranger Things” star, who is on a solidarity visit to Israel, joined the cast of the Channel 12 comedy show to film a nativity scene with a twist: Instead of three wise men from the east, baby Jesus is visited by a threesome from the University of California, Berkley, who are well-versed in anti-Israel talking points.

In the skit, Gelman plays a professor at Berkley who follows “the Star of Bethlehem and GPS” to Jesus’ manger. The professor is flanked by two devoted students, played by Liat Harlev and Tamir Bar, who reprise their roles from an earlier sketch that went viral.

“We are three wise men from the wast,” says the professor upon entering the manger, only to be corrected by Harlev’s character: “three wise persons.” Jesus’ mother Mary, played by Alma Zak, asks the three to let her rest, and her husband Joseph, played by Yaniv Biton, adds that the family had just been visited by three wise men from the east, to which Gelman’s character replies: “with all due respect to these eastern wise men, we’re from Berkley.”

Joseph proudly tells the trio how the earlier visitors had blessed baby Jesus and prophesied he would become king of the Jews, prompting laughter from the three wise persons, with Bar’s character saying, “I don’t see anything Jewish here.” The professor informs Joseph that “Jews will only come to this land 1948 years from now,” and his student, portrayed by Harlev, adds, “as a colonialist power,” earning praise from her professor.

Mary and Joseph are visibly confused: “What do you mean? We are Jews!” exclaims Joseph. The professor contradicts this. “So what are we?” asks Mary. “You are Palestinians, of course,” responds Gelman’s character. “Pales – what?” asks Mary.

“Palestinians,” answers the professor, “the indigenous inhabitants of this land.” He proceeds to misquote the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the Heaven, the Earth, and the Palestinians.”

Judea was renamed Palestine by the Roman colonial oppressor only in 132 CE, over a century after Jesus was born.

“So my baby is also a Palestiniman?” asks a befuddled Mary. “Of course,” says the professor, as he informs Mary and Joseph that they practice Islam, not Judaism. “Allahu akbar, man,” says Bar’s character as he drapes a keffiyeh on Joseph.

“So akbar,” chimes in the student portrayed by Harlev.

The Muslim religion was founded by the prophet Muhammad, who was born almost 600 years after Jesus.

When Joseph asks what Islam is, the professor chastises him: “That’s a very Islamophobic question.”

“Actually, it makes me feel unsafe,” adds Harlev’s character.

Actors Debra Messing (2L) and Brett Gelman (1R) meet Noam Ben David (center) at Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital in Ra’anana, December 20, 2023 (Courtesy Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital)

Joseph begins to understand: “So our baby will be king of the Palestinians?” he asks. “Yes,” answers Gelman’s character, expressing his regret that Jesus will die young because the Jews will murder him.

Jesus was crucified by the Roman rulers of Judea for fomenting revolution. The trope that Jews killed him, based on the historical opposition to Jesus’ movement in Pharisaic circles, has featured prominently for nearly two millennia in official rationales for the persecution of Jews in Christian countries.

Now, it is the students’ turn to be confused: “Excuse me, professor, so there are Jews living here?” inquires Harlev’s character. The professor vigorously denies this. “So the Palestinians will kill Jesus?” asks the other student. “No, no, no Palestinian would ever hurt anyone,” responds Gelman’s character.

“Especially not Hamas,” he adds, telling his students that his next class will address how the nonexistent Jews killed Jesus. “It’s going to be fun,” says the professor.

Demonstrators protest against Israel at Columbia University in New York on November 15, 2023. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

The students are excited to hear this, with Bar’s character noting that it is “so worth 54 grand a year in tuition.” As they leave, the students ask their professor to visit Santa Claus in the North Pole, but are immediately corrected: “North Palestine. Santa is a Palestinian,” says the professor.

Gelman is one of several Jewish Hollywood celebrities to make solidarity trips to Israel since the start of the war on Palestinian terror group Hamas. Other visitors include comedian Jerry Seinfeld, “Will and Grace” star Debra Messing, and Michael Rapaport. The latter three in particular have been vocal in their support of Israel on social media.

On his visit to Israel, Rapaport also partnered with “Eretz Nehederet” to produce a skit satirizing American higher education.

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