Opinion |

Mazal Tov, Larry David, for Spoon-feeding the Neo-Nazis

When David thought up his damaging SNL line about Hollywood predators being Jewish, he must have forgotten the times we’re now living in

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Larry David speaks in the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" panel at the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Beverly Hills, California.
Larry David speaks in the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" panel at the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Beverly Hills, California.Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

With anti-Semites it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if your jokes are purposefully pushing the envelope, if you’re being ‘brave’, different, or smart.

All they care about is to have more "evidence" at their disposal. More lies to propagate, and with which to incite.

I know this, because I’ve experienced it.

A few years ago, I wrote an article I titled "Jews DO Control The Media." It was my attempt to ‘reframe’ conspiracist thought: Perhaps the Jews in Hollywood and the media could be committed to a ‘positive’ conspiracy - for morality and truth.  

The anti-Semites didn’t care about the nuances, only that a Jew wrote a headline that they could gobble up like greedy birds around breadcrumbs. One of us had finally let the cat out of the bag.

To this day, my name floats around the neo-Nazi internet, together with that of "Manny Friedman", the pseudonym the outlet gave me after I begged them to take the piece down, and they refused. Changing the author’s name added more fuel to the fire: What had "they" done to the real writer? Had he been taken out?

That’s the way anti-Semitism online works.

We all know an empowered neo-Nazi movement has real world effects, from Charlottesville and the tragic death of Heather Heyes, to the increase in anti-Semitic acts since Trump was elected.

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' face off with and anti-fascist counter-protesters at Lee Park during the 'Unite the Right' rally Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, VirginiaCredit: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/AFP

But comedians like Larry David are stuck in the 1990s and 2000s, when it was daring and provocative to joke about the Holocaust and undermining anti-Semitic theories as jokes. When we thought we had moved past the philosophy of hate that had killed over six million Jews and which had encouraged even “free” nations like the United States to reject the refugees who came seeking safety from the barbarism.

Larry David feels safe. He is a rich, successful Jew who has no reason to think that there could be any real fallout from pointing out that some of the perpetrators of abuse in Hollywood happen to be Jewish. He is in many ways the epitome of the Jewish-American dream, the realization that we could fully assimilate into a society without any negative repercussions. Why on earth shouldn’t he feel safe?

The answer lies online. People like David Duke who use every word uttered by a Jew as "proof" of their point. The angry loners who use it as fuel for their anger, those who’ve hidden up til now in the dark. 

Larry David’s monologue echoed a recent Tablet magazine article about Weinstein having a specific Jewish perversion that contributed to his "style" of abuse - but with a megaphone that amplifies his words exponentially. That article’s author apologized only for not "[not] taking the time to think and feel things completely through before opining." 

He did not apologize for the anti-Semitism he’d facilitated, how far his piece had gone online , and its contribution to the flames of hate.

Surely, we cannot allow the fear of Nazis stop us from discussing the urgent matters in our communities, or to stop us from pushing the limits of where humor can take us.

Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.Credit: Hbo / REX / Shutterstock

But we must also not allow ourselves to be blind to the effects of our words. To understanding that they can and should only be used when the price of silence is higher than the price of speaking. As Jews, at this time, we can no longer pretend that our words have no effect.

And that was the sad reality of Larry David’s humor: it accomplished nothing. Not shock, awe, humor. All it did was spoon-feed the Nazis.

To this day, I am pained by my unintentional contribution to the world of vicious anti-Semites. I hope that Larry David, and those who defended his humor, will wake up to that too.

Elad Nehorai is the founder and editor-in-chief of Hevria, a publication for creative Jews, and the blogger behind Pop Chassid. Twitter: @PopChassid and   @TorahTrumpsHate