Israel lodges complaint over Dutch parody of Netta Barzilai

'We can live with criticism, but we do not cross the lines. You did.'

May 22, 2018 16:51
2 minute read.
Israel lodges complaint over Dutch parody of Netta Barzilai

Israel's Netta reacts as she wins the Grand Final of Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena hall in Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/PEDRO NUNES)


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The Israel Embassy in the Netherlands has written an official letter of complaint to a Dutch TV station after it aired a parody of Israel’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.

Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands Aviv Shir-On wrote that freedom of speech and satire are important, but the sketch “went too far.”

The satirical show, which aired on Sunday night, featured the singer performing her song “Toy,” but with lyrics that some have called antisemitic.

“Look how beautiful, I’m throwing bombs, Israel again wins, 70 years already the party’s on,” the lyrics said, as a Barzilai impersonator sang in front of footage of violence in Gaza and IDF patrols. “No way, no Palestinians coming in... I hunt Palestinians through the curtains,” the impersonator sang.

Many of the complaints centered around the song’s references to Jews and money.

“If your party’s crashed, make sure you cash on embassies,” the Barzilai impersonator sang, “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.”

The sketch appeared on comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries’s show, hosted on BNNVARA, a Dutch public broadcasting network.

Shir-On’s letter, which was sent to BNNVARA as well as to the Dutch Foreign Ministry and the local Jewish community, said the clip was more than just in bad taste.

“We don’t rejoice when Palestinians are killed. When people lose their lives, and it doesn’t matter on which side, we don’t laugh. You shouldn’t either!” he wrote.

“Showing sad and depressing videos in the background of the Israeli Eurovision winning song, was not only bad taste it was wrong and disgraceful,” Shir-On added. “We can live with criticism, we do it ourselves often and intense, but we do not cross the lines. You did.”

The ambassador said the clip was not only biased against Israel, “it included, unfortunately, also some antisemitic hints, like mocking kosher food or referring to money in the old anti-Jewish way. It is not only unacceptable, it is dangerous.”

Responding to the letter, BNNVARA said the show discusses current events “in a satirical manner, and last week the winning song of Israel coincidentally coincided with the flaring conflict in the Gaza Strip.” The station rejected any claims that the sketch was antisemitic, saying “the parody questions Israel’s policy and is emphatically not an indictment against the Jewish community.”

Earlier, Culture Minister Miri Regev also criticized the satirical TV show.

“We’re not anybody’s ‘Toy,’” she wrote in a statement. “Even false propaganda and incitement will not defeat us. They only increase the size of our Netta’s achievement!” CIDI, the Netherlands-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, called the sketch antisemitic.

“Hi @SanneWallis, we heard your parody of the Eurovision Song of Israel,” CIDI tweeted earlier this week, with an image of the song lyrics fully annotated. “Full of ‘hilarious’ jokes about Jews and money and stuff. LOL!”

JTA contributed to this report.

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