Jewish Comedians Clash Over Obama

by Erica Morris - Friday 10th October 2008


Forget Obama versus McCain or Biden versus Palin. The latest political clash in the race for the White House erupted last week with two prominent Jewish comedians as its protagonists.

Jackie Mason condemned fellow comic Sarah Silverman as a "sick yenta" as he hit back at a video from the latter supporting Democratic nominee Barack Obama. In a promotional video sponsored by the Jewish Democratic Council, Silverman urged young Jewish voters to convince their grandparents to vote for the Illinois senator.

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The video uses humour and strong language to appeal to the younger generation, calling on them to take "the great schlep" down to Florida - a key swing state with a large population of older Jews. In 2008, If Obama isn't elected, she insists, she's "going to blame the Jews".

"Jews are the most liberal, scrappy, civil rightsey people there are, yes that's true, but you're forgetting a whole large group of Jews that aren't that way and they go by several aliases - Nana, Poppa, Zaide, Bubbe, plain old Grandma and Grandpa. These are the people who vote in Florida and the Florida vote can make or break an election."

A survey last month from the American Jewish Committee suggests that if polls were held now, 57 percent of Jewish voters would back Obama compared to 30 percent for his Republican rival John McCain in a straight race between the pair. But Silverman's message comes amid some continued scepticism over Obama's approach to Israel and with figures suggesting he will fall some way short of the 76-80 percent of the Jewish vote won by Democratic candidates in the last four presidential elections.

In response, the Republican Jewish Coalition released its own video featuring Mason in which he refers to Silverman as a "sick yenta" who is trying to convince Jewish voters that they are bigots if they don't vote for Obama. He goes on to tell voters not to choose a candidate based on celebrity endorsement, although Mason does use his message to claim that Obama has "done nothing for Israel".

He says: "I know she means well but she's confined by the thinking of all the actors in America. Tell us one good reason to vote for him. You notice she didn't tell us a reason. The fact that [Obama] accomplished nothing is why you're not voting for him. McCain accomplished a lot."

Adding fuel to the fire, a video released by the Jewish Council for Education and Research has caused waves after certain IDF officials claimed to have been misled concerning the content of the video. The clips show various officials praising Obama's policies toward Israel.

Major General Uzi Dayan said his words were taken out of context and that he would not presume to tell the American people how to vote. Others, including General Giora Inbar, said they were comfortable with the way their views were expressed.

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