Dutch TV denies spoof of Israeli Eurovision song was anti-Semitic

Cnaan Liphshiz

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The Dutch broadcaster that aired a spoof of Israel’s Eurovision song said the parody was not anti-Semitic, but declined to answer questions about the content that prompted the allegations.

In a statement to JTA Tuesday, the BNNVARA state-funded broadcaster defended its spoof Sunday of “Toy” by Netta Barzilai by saying it is “not an indictment against the Jewish community.”

The song featured a singer impersonating Barzilai and other singers who performed the winning song on May 19 at the annual song competition in Portugal. Cast members of a satirical show starring comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries sang about Israelis “hunting Palestinians,” keeping the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem empty and inviting revelers to party there.

It was a lyric about money that led critics to charge anti-Semitism. The parodists sing, “If your party’s crashed, make sure you cash on embassies, with your ka-ching, ka-ching and your ping-a-ping, with your dollars and cents and your funds, with your ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.”

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The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, a watchdog on anti-Semitism, suggested the parody dealt in anti-Semitic cliches about Jews and money.

In an unusual move, Israel’s embassy also joined the criticism, penning a letter to BNNVARA Tuesday by Ambassador Aviv Shir-On.

The parody had “anti-Semitic overtones,” he wrote, citing the money references. “Not only is this unacceptable, it is also dangerous,” he added, referencing the increase in violent anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, often in connection to Israel.

Gideon Lustig, the embassy’s deputy chief of mission, wrote on Twitter: “There are so many things I want to say about #SanneWallisdeVries show, but I’ll only put this here: 2018; Antisemitic-flavored parody on prime-time public broadcasted TV, actually meant to make people laugh: Netherlands, you’ve got a problem. A real one.”

Lustig also noted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which includes examples of discriminatory anti-Israel vitriol.

BNNVARA spokesperson Thijs Verheij declined to explain the creators’ references to money.

In the Sanne Wallis de Vries show, “events of the past week are discussed in a satirical way. Last week, the winning song festival song of Israel coincidentally coincided with the flaring conflict in the Gaza Strip. The parody questions the policy of Israel,” he wrote.