Israel, Palestine: No laughing matter

The latest Israel-Palestine conflict took place in an east Jerusalem comedy club

by Emma Teitel

Yuk Yuk's

The Legacy Hotel in east Jerusalem turned comedy club last weekend where Mark Breslin, the Jewish founder of Canada’s very own Yuk Yuks, thought it would be a good idea to entertain a predominantly Arab neighbourhood with some of his Canadian comedians’ finest jokes—about Israel. Not at Israel’s expense (which might have gone over a little better) but about Israel— that is, for an Israeli audience.

Comedian: “What does a polite Israeli magician say?…. “To-DAH!” (Todah means “Thank you” in Hebrew)

Nobody laughed — and not for the obvious reasons.

The emcee who kicked off the show got hissed off the stage. His opener: “Man, what a beautiful country, we are having such an incredible time here in Israel.”

His crime? Saying “Israel,” not “Palestine.” (East Jerusalem is technically a part of Israel, but the majority of its residents identify as Palestinians.)

“It took just seven seconds,” Sam Easton said of his opener. “I’ve never seen anyone blow it in seven seconds.”

Yuks Yuks founder Mark Breslin brought his six person comedy troupe to the Holy Land on May 31, for a “culture swapping week-long comedy tour,” co-sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But his troupe’s stint on the wrong side of town gave—if only for a night—a voiceless and embittered Palestinian people the rare opportunity to (however indirectly) heckle its own government. Which is kind of cool, no matter what side you’re on. And where blowing off steam is concerned, it’s decidedly preferable to detonating yourself at a coffee shop.

Of course, McGill University professor and Zionist firebrand Gil Troy would argue otherwise: “Once again,” he wrote in an especially fiery Jerusalem Post column about the heckling,  “Israeli democratic openness defeated Palistinian totalitarianism.” That’s right, Totalitarian Heckling.

In the end, there’s only one thing to take away from this; a universal principle maybe–one that transcends social, religious, and cultural bounds.

Government and comedy don’t mix.

Except, of course, here:




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Israel, Palestine: No laughing matter

  1. “And where blowing off steam is concerned, it’s decidedly preferable to detonating yourself at a coffee shop.”

    Or taking out your AK-47 and spraying lead on Palestinian kids. Despite increasing Settler violence and overall Palestinian casualty rates of 100 : 1 compared to israelis, the either uninformed or disingenuous Emma Teitel goes with the cliché of suicide bombers. Then plugs Sacha Baron Cohen’s contemporary blackface film, which is more Muslim stereotyping.

    Shame on Teitel and shame on McLean’s.


    • spraying lead on Palestinian kids”???

      What are you talking about. You can’t just make things up and invent an equivalent or justification for suicide bombing. You may call a suicide bomber a “cliche”, however Israel still considers them terrorists.

      And you may not like the 100:1 ratio, but really, who are you to put a price on an innocent Israelis life? If you truly cared for the Palestinians, then advise them not to murder the 1 Israeli, and they can save themselves the 100. And maybe even get themselves a state!

  2. Oh and Maclean’s, is “East Jerusalem is technically a part of Israel” your magazine’s editorial position? Interesting.

    • Position? It is part of Israel. East Jerusalem does not exist in some alternate universe.

      If you can find a map, any map, that shows a country named “Palestine” – please show the class.

      • You’re correct, the country Palestine doesn’t exist. So which part of the solution is unclear to you? You smugly hide behind ‘legality’, when most people are still stuck on the fundamental difference between right and wrong. You’re making it way too complicated. This is kindergarten stuff, really. Start with ‘don’t take stuff that does not belong to you’ and then imagine some armed thugs came to your door saying “Hi, our god and the UN said all that was yours is now ours so get out or we’ll toss your carcasses onto a heap like we left at Deir Yassin.” So how would that sit with you?

        I think I see it clearly now: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” I’m just sayin’…

        • “Our G-d and the UN”? How about a history book (or even a historical wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Jerusalem )?

          And why do Muslims care so much about Jerusalem anyways – could it be because their 1500 year old religion really can lay sole claim to a city that has been important to Jews for around 3000 years?
          By the way – she’s not ‘hiding’ behind legality, she is *stating* it. Just as legally certain parts of Poland are now certain parts of Belarus, and certain parts of other European countries in the past are now certain parts of other European countries. Am I ‘hiding’ behind legality in stating such things? No. That’s ridiculous. Territories change hands – and sometimes they change hands back.
          I think your understanding of the “fundamental difference between right and wrong” should be given a bit more attention – some people are stuck on it for a reason, and that’s because the world is not always quite so black and white as we think.

          • Wikipedia, the source for hasbara dweebs. Don’t like history, so change it. Look up the Lavon Affair, then shill for that, you sycophantic dickhead.

            The next thing you’ll tell me is “the Arabs started the war, they lost, tough luck”. Save your lies for those who are impressed by your ability to recite them.

            From “Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews – Volume 3”, by Alan Hart, a British journalist with 40 years of experience covering the Middle East:

            “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on 14 May would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”
            – Israeli Chief of Staff Rabin, Le Monde, 28 February 1968

            “The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail and exaggerated a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territory.”
            – Mordecai Bentov, a wartime member of the Israeli government, the Israeli newspaper Al-Hamishmar, 14 April 1971

            “We were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the Six-Days war, and we had never thought of such a possibility.”
            – General Haim Bar-Lev, Rabin’s predecessor as Israeli chief of staff, quoted in Ma’ariv, 4 April 1972

            “There was never any danger of annihilation. This hypothesis has never been considered in any serious meeting.”
            – General Ezer Weizman, war-time Israeli Chief of Operations. Also quoted in Ma’ariv, 4 April 1972

            “In June 1967 we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
            – Menachim Begin’s address to the National Defense College, 8 August 1982

            _______________________

            Congratulations, Grubfoot, you’ve taken sides with the most vile bunch of racist assholes in modern history, bar none:

            Come on Palestinians, we want you to talk without preconditions or unilateral actions, subject to the precondition we get to unilaterally keep building and legalizing settlements wherever we want, as negotiations proceed.

            Embrace REALITY:

            EVERYBODY knows Likud policy has ALWAYS maintained the existence of an ‘Arab’ state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (i.e. ALL of the West Bank) is absolutely unacceptable. Watch and listen to MK Danny Danon publicly advocate ethnic cleansing and reveal Likud’s true position — this guy is speaker in the Knesset and World Likud leader, (Likud being Netanyahu’s party): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPVTC9frqMA

  3. ‘Technically a part of Israel’? Technically and factually it is illegally occupied by the Israeli military, and it is illegally subject to colonization by Jews by sheer force of arms. But hey, the spoiled brat of the ME can do whatever it wants and Uncle Sam will just keep vetoing UNSC resolutions that try to apply the law to poor, defenseless little Israel.

  4. “East Jerusalem is technically a part of Israel, but the majority of its residents identify as Palestinians.” What?

    Now that’s funny, But don’t quite your day job yet because Journalism is a tough racket.

  5. would we (American’s) have reacted any differently to someone making fun of 9/11 in such a way? I doubt it. Incorrporating cultures that have been at war for over a century shouldn’t be handle through comedy because comedians are like reporters, they rarely have a moral conscious.

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