Roseanne Barr Calls BDS a 'Nazi Boycott' on Tour of Jerusalem's Old City

Controversial American comedian tours Old City with Culture Minister Miri Regev, visiting compound owned by right-wing NGO

American comedian Roseanne Barr laughs as she meets Israel's Culture Minister Miri Regev, in Jerusalem's Old City, January 27, 2019.
Ammar Awad/Reuters

Actress and comedian Roseanne Barr compared the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to Nazi boycotts against Jews as she  toured Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday. 

In the course of the tour, Barr and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev visited Wittenberg House, a building in the Muslim Quarter in which Ariel Sharon, who later became Israel’s prime minister, purchased an apartment in 1987. It is now owned by right-wing nongovernmental organization Ateret Cohanim, which promotes Jewish settlement in Arab areas of the Old City.

Barr had asked to visit the building, where the American writer Mark Twain had stayed in 1867 on a visit to the Holy Land, as recounted in his book “The Innocents Abroad.”

Visibly emotional about being in Jerusalem, Barr spoke about her connection to the Torah, to God and to the Jewish faith. She described Jerusalem as the center of history and a city of brotherhood and said she was privileged to be visiting with people with a burning desire to fight for justice and peace.

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American comedian Roseanne Barr looks up as she stands next to the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, January 27, 2019.
Ammar Awad/Reuters

Barr was accompanied on her trip, which she said was aimed at helping combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who is known for his links to American celebrities. He is the founder of the World Values Network, which funded her trip.

After Barr spoke, Regev presented her with a picture of Jerusalem. Their next stop, Regev said, would be a visit to the Western Wall to pray, and after that, Regev quipped, she was sure that whatever Barr wished for would come true.

Barr’s Jerusalem itinerary also included Yad Vashem and the Mount Herzl national cemetery. During the course of the week, her plans are expected to include visits to Tel Aviv, Haifa and the Golan Heights. On Friday, Barr visited the West Bank settlement of Peduel, where she was welcomed by children with flowers.

Barr has had a complex relationship with Israel. In 2009, she called Israel a Nazi state and appeared on the cover of a Jewish magazine dressed in a Hitler costume and eating burnt gingerbread cookies just removed from an oven. About the ensuing controversy, she said that it was time for “moving off this Holocaust. There’s been about fifty of them since then.”

But in recent years, she has been supportive of Israel and has called Palestinians and their supporters Nazis. She also criticized New Zealand singer Lorde’s decision to cancel her appearance in Israel, following pressure from the BDS movement.

Barr made headlines last year when the revival of her hit TV show, “Roseanne,” was canceled after she made a racist remark on Twitter. She subsequently apologized, but the ABC television network refused to reinstate the show.