The Shmooze

Fleeting Jewish Fragments In 'The Notebook'

By Masha Leon

To my knowledge, there seem to be only two Hungarian films that address the plight of the country’s Jews during the Holocaust.

One is the 1983 gem “Revolt of Job.” Now, there’s the puzzling macabre “The Notebook” (“Le Grand Cahier”) which hints at Hungarian Jews’— one scene shows the Jewish population of a small rural town being taunted by their Hungarian neighbors, another, filmed by an overhead camera, shows men, women and children being herded through a narrow street passage — suggesting cattle being driven to slaughter.

With a cast of characters out of a Grand Guignol theatre piece, one of the few people in the film to show kindness to the film’s central characters — real life twin brothers Andras and Laszlo Gyemant — is the town’s Jewish shoemaker. Improbably another is a menshlich — and possibly a pedophile — Nazi officer.

Sony Pictures Classic

It’s WWII, and the boys have been brought by their loving, doting, cosmopolitan mother to their peasant grandmother for safekeeping. A huge grotesque apparition brilliantly acted by Piroska Molnar she singlehandedly manages a farm set on a bleak barren landscape. You recoil — yet can’t take your eyes off the screen — as in a modern day version of the Hansel & Gretel fairytale, the grandmother — aka “The Witch” — works the boys to within a breath of death. Still, the boys, as they had been joined in utero by an umbilical cord, continue to cling to one another training themselves to withstand the often hard-to-witness brutality at the hands of the townsfolk and others. Each day they write everything down in their notebook.

In a rare emotional display they exact brutal revenge for the murder of the Jewish shoemaker who had shown them kindness. Based on Agota Kristol’’s best- seller “The Notebook” (Le Grand Cahier) I was stunned by director Janos Szasz’s merciless j’accuse showcasing the brutality of his country and landsmen. Perhaps it is intended to validate what I have heard many a Hungarian survivor aver, “I will never again set foot in Hungary!”

In “Revolt of Job” it is a Christian child adopted from an orphanage by an elderly barren Jewish couple — in exchange for two cows —who, in the end, witnesses his adopted parents taken away by Hungarian authorities to what was understood to be their death. In “The Notebook” the ultimate cruel twist is the grotesque grandmother who wins the allegiance of the boys when their mother and later father — separately — –return to reclaim them, holding onto them for her own reasons.

Grippingly filmed by Christian Berger there is no resolution or answers at the end when the twins make an unexpected final decision about their post war future.

Read more


Gary Oldman Bashes 'Hypocrites' Who Shun Mel Gibson

By Anne Cohen

Mel Gibson has finally found someone willing to stand up for him.

In an interview with Playboy magazine promoting his role in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” actor Gary Oldman donned his defender-of-pariah-celebrities cape, labeling the climate of political correctness in Hollywood as “crap.”

I don’t know about Mel. He got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things,” the 56-year-old actor said. “We’re all f—–g hypocrites. That’s what I think about it. The policeman who arrested him has never used the word n—-r or that fucking J–? I’m being brutally honest here. It’s the hypocrisy of it that drives me crazy.”

Oldman also had a kind word for Alec Baldwin, who recently made headlines when he made a homophobic slur to a paparazzo who was trying to take his picture.

“Alec (Baldwin) calling someone an F– in the street while he’s pissed off coming out of his building because they won’t leave him alone. I don’t blame him.”

It’s been almost eight years since Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade during his arrest on a DUI charge.

“So they persecute. Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him-and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough.

“He’s like an outcast, a leper, you know? But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, “That f—- kraut” or “F— those Germans,” whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone, that we all stand on this thing going, ‘Isn’t that shocking?’

The New York Daily News points out that at this point, the self-described Libertarian seemed to realize that his words could be seen as offensive.

You have to edit and cut half of what I’ve said, because it’s going to make me sound like a bigot,” Oldman told his interviewer, reportedly told his interviewer.

Read more


There Could Have Been an Anti-Semitism Scene in ‘D3: The Mighty Ducks’

By Adam Soclof

(JTA) — If you feel Disney’s “The Mighty Ducks” trilogy could have ended better, you’re not alone.

Producer Jordan Kerner recently told Time that part of his original plot line for D3 — the Ducks failing to defend their title at the international Goodwill Games — would have featured an off-the-ice fight triggered by an anti-Semitic comment directed at Ducks’ Jewish goalie Greg Goldberg:

…we were going to use — and please forgive me, Bulgaria — we were going to use the Bulgarian team that would say something off-color to Goldberg, and could be anti-Semitic possibly — making fun of a guy named Goldberg — and fun of a guy like who’s a little bigger than the average guy on the ice. Then a fight would ensue and in that room was also the Icelandic team who hated the Ducks. And rather than having them sort of look and chuckle, they got involved, and they helped Goldberg. Then the Ducks lose to Iceland in the semi-finals.

According to Kerner, the rest of the film focuses on Coach Gordon Bombay beseeching the Ducks to bury the hatchet with Iceland and ends with the team members helping their erstwhile rivals train for the title.

Of course, the plot line was scrapped in favor of a prep school setting, a decision that Kerner attributed to a different studio that helped make the third and final film.

“I just thought to have the Ducks lose would have been a really great way to go out,” Kerner told Time. “But in the end of course, yes, they lost, but they gained so much. That was the story I wanted to tell.”

I think I have a pretty good idea of what the Goldberg scene might have looked like:

Read more


Macklemore Dresses Up as Stereotypical Jew

By Anne Cohen

Really, Macklemore? A big Jewish nose? Subtle.

On Friday night, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed a secret show in their hometown of Seattle in honor of a new exhibit at the city’s EMP Museum. As Gawker points out, this would not have been news if it had not been for Macklemore singing “Thrift Shop” while dressed as the embodiment of a Nazi propaganda flyer about the dangers of the all powerful greedy Jew.

Media outlets like the Daily Dot and Buzzfeed were quick to criticize the rapper, calling his outfit “some kind of Jewish caricature, prosthetic schnozz included.”

Even Seth Rogen had something to say about it:

This isn’t the first time the rapper’s been involved in some Jewish shenanigans. Back in August, he blew a shofar in his announcement for the VMAs. (And in case you’re wondering, he’s not Jewish, despite what Wiki Answers says. He’s just got “hella good Jewish homies.”)

Once the story started making the rounds, Macklemore took to Twitter to defend (but not apologize for) his questionable choice of attire.

Oh, dear — that’s a relief. If only that image hadn’t been co-opted for hundreds of years of discrimination, pogroms and mass murder, you’d totally be in the clear.

Maybe something to consider next time you’re shopping in the Groucho Marx aisle.

Read more


Enrico Macias, Sephardic Superstar

By Anne Cohen

If you’ve grown up as a Sephardic Jew, there’s one singer that you’ve reliably heard at every single wedding, bar/bat-mitzvah, engagement party, Shabbat, or celebration of any kind.

His name is Enrico Macias.

Born Gaston Ghrenassia in Constantine — then in French Algeria — in 1938, the Jewish “Pied Noir” singer has come to embody the bittersweet memories and nostalgia felt by Jews who left their Arab homelands in the 1960s and ‘70s.

In other words, you’re not a Jew of North African descent until you’ve seen your grandmother tearing up to “Adieu mon pays,” (“Goodbye My Country”), Macias’s first hit, written from the deck of the boat carrying him and his family away from their war-torn home.

Macias and his wife, Suzy, fled the Algerian War for Independence in 1961 after his father-in-law, Cheikh Raymond Leyris — also a famous musician — was murdered. Macias’s father, Sylvain Ghrenassia, was a violinist in an Andalo-Arabic orchestra.

Since then, he’s become an international superstar of French music, an “Ambassador at Large for Peace and Protection of the Children of the World” (named by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in 1997), and most recently, a successful comedy actor.

The Forward’s Anne Cohen sat down with Macias at the Gansevoort Hotel in New York City to talk about his upcoming move to Israel, his new movie career and, of course, his favorite songs.

This interview has been translated from French.

Anne Cohen: A movie about your life premiered at the 17th Annual New York Sephardic Film Festival. You also star in “Would I Lie To You 3”, which will close the festival on March 20. How do you like acting?

Enrico Macias: My first movie experience was “La Vérité Si Je Mens 2” (“Would I Lie To You 2”). When they asked me to be in “La Vérité Si Je Mens 3” (“Would I Lie to You 3”) it was like a reward, because it meant that I wasn’t so bad. The movie was a big success in France. Not just for the actors, but for me personally. I’m not a seasoned actor, I did this on a lark. But it turns out I really like acting. Especially comedy acting. Which is funny because I’m not necessarily like that in everyday life. I like to laugh, and I like to make jokes. But in front of a camera, I only have to stare and people laugh.

I think a new, younger audience has joined my traditional fans – and when I saw traditional fans, they also span a couple of generations. It’s great. Young people see me in movies and say “Oh, he’s also a singer, I’m going to listen to his songs.” And that’s how they discover my work.

Read more


John Galliano Spills to Vanity Fair

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images
John Galliano

Guess what? John Galliano feels bad.

In an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair, Galliano publicly apologized for the anti-Semitic remarks that got him fired from Dior in 2011.

“It’s the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn’t mean it …” the disgraced fashion designer told contributing editor Ingrid Sischy. ” I have been trying to find out why that anger was directed at this race. I now realize I was so f***ing angry and so discontent with myself that I just said the most spiteful thing I could.”

Galliano added that he has been sober for two years, and that this will be his first sober interview. “I never drank in order to be creative, or to do the research,” he said. “I didn’t need alcohol for any of that. At first alcohol was like a crutch outside of Dior. Then I would use it to crash after the collections. I’d take a couple of days to get over it, like everyone. But with more collections, the crash happened more often, and then I was a slave to it. Then the pills kicked in because I couldn’t sleep. Then the other pills kicked in because I couldn’t stop shaking. I would also have these huge bottles of liquor that people got for me. Towards the end, it was whatever I could get my hands on. Vodka, or vodka-and-tonic. Wine, in the belief it would help me sleep. Wrong. I did manage to stop the voices. I had all these voices in my head, asking so many questions, but I never for one second would admit I was an alcoholic. I thought I could control it.”

Galliano has tried to show remorse for his remarks by educating himself on the Holocaust and Jewish culture, and has met with Jewish leaders like Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League — a surprising supporter of the designer’s efforts. “He is trying very hard to atone,” Foxman has said in the past.

But what to do with the penitent designer? As Forward Editor-In-Chief Jane Eisner put it in a recent editorial: “Is Galliano a permanent affront to Jews and to all good-hearted people everywhere? Or is he, in the words of his unlikely defender, Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation Leagure, a “poor shnook” with an addiction problem who is trying to make amends?”

Only time will tell.

The interview is available in full in the July 2013 issue of Vanity Fair.

Read more


Jewish New School Students Petition Against John Galliano

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images
John Galliano

The New School’s Jewish Student Union has put out a petition protesting John Galliano’s teaching appointment at the Parsons School of Design.

“We do not want money from our tuition going to this kind of person. We feel like we’ve been slapped in the face by our school. There should be no room for this kind of person as a staff member on the faculty at Parsons,” the petition statement reads.

“Imagine if the school were hiring a person who publicly voiced support for the KKK — there would likely be backlash because it’s not right to have someone like that teaching at a school. But because this is someone who has made anti-Semitic remarks, people are willing to look the other way. This is unacceptable.”

The Parsons School of Design announced on Monday that John Galliano would be teaching a 3-day design workshop called “Show Me Emotion.”

“It doesn’t matter if its for three months or three days,” the statement added, “hiring someone who has made such horrific comments shows that the school values Galliano over their entire Jewish student body.”

Galliano was fired from Dior in 2011 after he was caught on video making anti-Semitic remarks in a Paris cafe. The New School JSU included the video in its petition (see it below).

The JSU calls on students and alumni to sign the petition and write an email to David Van Zandt, the president of the The New School, and Joel Towers, the dean of Parsons, calling for Galliano’s resignation. So far, 110 people have signed.

Read more


John Galliano to Teach Design Class At The New School

By Reuters

Getty Images
John Galliano

NEW YORK — Disgraced fashion designer John Galliano is continuing his public image rehabilitation with an upcoming stint teaching a master class at one of New York’s leading design schools.

Galliano, who was fired by Dior in 2011 after he was caught on camera making anti-Semitic remarks in a Paris cafe, will teach a course titled “Show Me Emotion” at Parsons The New School For Design, the school said on Monday.

Parsons said the class “will be a dynamic and intimate opportunity for our students to learn from an immensely talented designer.”

“We believe that over the past two years Galliano has demonstrated a serious intent to make amends for his past actions,” the school added.

Earlier this year, the 52-year-old British designer, widely thought of as one of the most talented and creative names in fashion, spent several weeks working at Oscar de la Renta’s studio in New York, preparing for de la Renta’s New York Fashion Week show in February.

A French court handed out a 6,000-euro ($8,000) suspended fine to Galliano in 2011 after he was found guilty of anti-Semitic behavior. Galliano has said an addiction to drugs and alcohol had left him out of control and he was determined to make amends.

Parsons said students in the master class “will have the opportunity to engage in a frank conversation with Mr. Galliano about the challenges and complications of leading a design house in the 21st century.”

Following his Dior dismissal, Galliano designed British model Kate Moss’s wedding dress.

Read more


Anti-Semitic ‘Elmo’ Ran Cambodian Porn Site

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

It turns out that the anti-Semitic “Elmo” from recent news might also be called the pornographic Elmo.

Anti-Semitic Elmo is back in business in Central Park following the release of a viral video of him spewing anti-Jewish vitriol and his subsequent psychiatric evaluation at Metropolitan Hospital Center. But Michael Wilson of The New York Times has done some digging and discovered some even more disturbing information on the man behind the big, red, furry mask.

Read more


Mom Helped Kid Paint Swastikas

By Eileen Reynolds

Jon Lovitz via Twitter

When Jon Lovitz tweeted his outrage over an anti-Semitic act of vandalism in Southern California this April, his ire was directed primarily at a group of teenage girls he called bullies. Lovitz’s friends, parents of a teenage daughter, found feces left on their doorstep and swastikas and the word “Jew” painted in maple syrup in the yard. They believed that perpetrators were classmates from their daughter’s school. A neighbor had caught the vandalism on a surveillance camera.

Now justice is being served — and it looks like this isn’t just a case of teenage bullying. Catherine Whelpley, a Southern California mom, is being charged with aiding in the crime. She allegedly drove her daughter and two other girls to and from the crime scene, as well as to a second home where they’re also accused of committing vandalism.

Read more


Italian Soccer Star Taunted By Racist Fans

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

As many had feared, racism has reared its ugly head at Euro 2012. Italian football star Mario Balotelli was subjected to non-stop verbal abuse during the Italy-Spain match earlier this week at the Arena Gdansk in Poland.

The Mirror reported that 300 Spanish fans made monkey chants at Balotelli, and that the stewards (ushers) thought this was “funny.” A sports photographer who was on the scene said, “I was sat behind the goal with all the Spanish fans behind me and they were involved in monkey chanting and laughter and mockery whenever Balotelli was on the ball.”

Read more


English Soccer Team To Visit Auschwitz

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

In an educational effort to combat the troublesome phenomenon of anti-Semitism and racism in soccer, England’s national football team will visit Auschwitz and other Holocaust-related sites while in Poland next week for the Euro 2012 tournament.

According to the Algemeiner, the team will visit Auschwitz some time between its arrival in Poland on June 6 and its first game (against France) on June 9. The players are expected to light candles along the train tracks leading to the camp, and to sign the guest book there.

Read more


Calling Out Ricky Gervais for Anti-Semitism

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Jon Stewart seemed uncomfortable with some of the things guest Ricky Gervais was saying about famous Holocaust victim Anne Frank and the Nazis on the Daily Show on April 11. But while Stewart took it no further than trying to humorously push back at Gervais during their broadcast conversation, a guy in Boston named Dan Bloom is taking Gervais’s remarks more seriously. He has started a petition and is calling for “a worldwide boycott of any TV shows showcasing the sick anti-Semitic humor of Ricky Gervais and [Gervais’s professional colleague] Karl Pilkington, both ugly and sick anti-Semitic Brits.”

What upset Bloom so much was Gervais’s telling Stewart that Pilkington thought that Anne Frank and her family were hiding in the attic to avoid paying rent to their landlord. He also went on and on — while grinning— about how he couldn’t understand why the Nazis had not found Anne earlier. “Nazis must be stupid,” he exclaimed.

Read more


Jon Lovitz Gets Tough On Hate Crime

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

We may know Jon Lovitz as a joker, but he was very serious when he tweeted about a recent anti-Semitic act perpetrated against his friend’s teenage daughter by other students from her school. It was reported that Lovitz’s posts about the incident, which took place in Northridge, California on April 3, led to the expulsion of the perpetrators from their middle school.

“Some coward & idiot left this on a friend’s doorstep, yesterday. This is an insult to all of us,” the comedian tweeted along with a photo of the pile of feces and swastikas and the word “Jew” written in maple syrup on the front walk and doorstep of his friend’s home.

Read more


German Soccer Marred By Anti-Semitism

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Itay Shechter

Soccer hooligans called Israeli soccer player Itay Shechter a “dirty Jew” and made the Nazi salute at him during a training session for the Kaiserslautern team in southwest Germany on Sunday, prompting an outcry in the German media against anti-Semitism in German football.

Although DFB, Germany’s national football association, condemned the incident and said it does not tolerate any kind of racism in the sport, it was reported that police and security personnel are reluctant to eject people making anti-Semitic remarks from the stadium. The media criticized the police’s inaction as part of a “deescalation” strategy, and journalist Alex Feuerherdt, who covers anti-Semitism in German soccer said it was “completely inexplicable that the police did not intervene” the minute the hooligans began calling Shechter a “dirty Jew.”

Read more


Top 10 Anti-Semitic Slurs of 2011

By Forward Staff

As 2011 draws to a close, children writing to Santa Claus aren’t the only ones making lists. Editors everywhere are furiously compiling the annual news round-ups that give us a chance to look back and smile — or cringe — at the year’s bests and worsts, in every category from books to fashion and beyond.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been hard at work, too, compiling something much more chilling — a list of the top ten anti-Israel and anti-Jewish slurs from 2011. It won’t fill you with holiday cheer, but it’s worth reading. A statement from the center, followed by the full list, appears below.

Read more


Holocaust-Denying Radio Host Gets His Job Back

By Renee Ghert-Zand

A German radio host who allegedly made Holocaust-denying remarks and also made light of 9/11 has been reinstated to his position after having been temporarily suspended.

Ken Jebsen, the host of the “Jugendwelle” program on Radio Fritz, which is based in Potsdam just outside Berlin, had written in an email to a listener that “Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels implemented the public relations plan of the Holocaust, and the Americans provided fuel for the entire Nazi bombing campaign,” according to a report in the Jerusalem Post. In a separate comment, he said that the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York was a “warm demolition.”

Read more


Anti-Semitic ‘Jingle Bells’ Song Heard at Oxford

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head again at Oxford University in England. Disillusioned officers of the university’s Conservative Association recently leaked documents to the campus newspaper The Oxford Student, showing evidence of anti-Semitic behavior among its members.

The paper found one video to be particularly offensive. It is of a student leading others in a drunken chant of “Dashing through the Reich / in a black Mercedes Benz / killing lots of kike / ra ta ta ta ta. ” It was evidently recorded toward the end of the Michaelmas term in 2010. That would have been in December, which would explain why — at least to The Shmooze’s ear — these lyrics sound as though they go to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” The song has reportedly been enthusiastically sung by OUCA members in other seasons, as well.

Read more


Spielberg Censored in Lebanon

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

It’s not quite worthy of a Sherlock Holmes story, but the mystery continues: Who censored Steven Spielberg’s name at a movie theater in Lebanon?

In a piece picked up by The Washington Post, the country’s Blog Baladi reported yesterday that the director’s name had been covered up on a poster for his next movie, the kid-friendly “Adventures of Tintin.”

Read more


Islamic Sex Guide ‘Fights Jews’ With Polygamy

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Despite claims by its distributor that it is selling “like hot fried bananas,” an Islamic sex guide with anti-Semitic overtones has been banned by Malaysian authorities.

The 115-page “Islamic Sex: Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World,” was published in October by the Obedient Wives Club, a pro-polygamy group believed to be an offshoot from the Al-Arqaam sect. Al-Arqaam was banned by the Malaysian government in 1994 for its allegedly deviant teachings. The club, which touts itself as being selective, is believed to have at least 800 members in Malaysia, as well as branches in Indonesia, Singapore and the U.K.

Read more



Would you like to receive updates about new stories?






















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.