The Shmooze

Why Is Jewish 'X-Factor' Contestant So Unpopular?

By Nathan Jeffay

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Kate Middleton, fiancée of Prince William, is old news. The British public is fixated on another celebrity Kate — a 24-year-old Jewish woman named Katie Waissel.

Rarely in the history of television talent shows has so much attention been focused on a single contestant.

Waissel is a singer on the television show “ X-Factor,” the British equivalent of “American Idol.” She grew up in Jewish youth movements, and as you’ll see from this interview with the Jewish Chronicle, as recently as January had the more heimishe last name Vogel. She seems like the nice Jewish-girl-next-door type.

But the British public doesn’t think so. She has ranked at the bottom in the public vote on four occasions — an “X Factor” unpopularity record. On each occasion, she had to take part in a “sing-off” against the other low-ranked contestant, and has been kept in the completion because judges “saved” her. A Facebook group called “It’s easier to get rid of Chlamydia than it is Katie Waissel” has almost a quarter of a million fans. (Just for the record, nobody serious is suspecting anti-Semitism, though there has been a tabloid story that claimed “race” is playing a part.)

On Sunday, she heard the happy news that after this performance she wasn’t in the bottom two (note the yiddishism when she says shtick instead of stick). But the joy was short-lived. She’s now has a new crisis on her hands. The British press has dug up that her 81-year-old maternal grandmother Sheila Vogel is apparently a prostitute. As the Daily Mail says, “It could only have happened to Katie.”


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