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Jewish group pans new Netflix show over Yiddish-speaking villain

British Board of Deputies VP says portrayal in ‘Umbrella Academy’ of crime boss seeking global domination plays to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories

A screen capture from the Netflix superhero series 'The Umbrella Academy' (screen capture: Netflix)
A screen capture from the Netflix superhero series 'The Umbrella Academy' (screen capture: Netflix)

A leading British Jewish organization has accused Netflix of employing anti-Semitic tropes in its new superhero series for having the evil villain, the leader of a nefarious organization that seeks to control the world, speaking in Yiddish.

Amanda Bowman, the vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said last week that the Yiddish-speaking villain of “The Umbrella Academy” plays to the conspiracy theory of global Jewish domination.

“The use of a Yiddish saying by the evil boss of an organisation which controls the world’s timeline is clearly an antisemitic trope,” Bowman said, according to British tabloid The Sun.

“Whether intentional or not, this makes for very uncomfortable viewing. Netflix should take action to remove the racism from this scene,” she said.

“The Umbrella Academy” is the streaming giant’s adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, about a family of estranged siblings with superpowers who reunite to save the world from the impending apocalypse. The siblings are up against The Commission, an evil organization that controls the world timeline and eliminates those who threaten their control.

In the final episode, the head of The Commission says several lines in Yiddish to her assassins so her prisoners won’t understand them. According to The Sun, as she berates her assassins for failing in their mission, she switches to Yiddish to urge them to kill the siblings, saying: “The eggs think they’re smarter than the chicken.”

The report also noted that the original comic book series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba did not have the character speaking Yiddish.

The show premiered on Netflix last month to largely positive reviews from critics and viewers. On Monday, reports in US entertainment outlets said Netflix picked up “The Umbrella Academy” for a second season.

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