Jewish groups slam Holocaust joke show

Most Jews are in US "so you cannot send them by train to Germany" to die, says Belgian comedian.

Jewish groups have condemned a Belgian public broadcaster for airing a show in which a stand-up comedian jokes about the Holocaust and the persecution of Jews. The protest marked the third time in two months the VRT broadcaster was accused of gross insensitivity toward Jews. On Oct. 27, protests forced it to scrap a TV show about Adolf Hitler's supposed favorite dish - alpine trout in butter sauce - as part of a series about famous people's favorite foods. In the 2008 review show "Het Besluit" - which aired Dec. 21 and is available on the VRT web site - comedian Philippe Geubels accused Belgians Jews of overreacting to the food show. "What are they going to do if there is a big gas leak in Antwerp?" asked Geubels referring to the Belgian port city, which has a large Jewish community. "Take the city to court for provocation? Preemptively file charges against anyone who dares joke about that?" Geubels also said the Holocaust cannot happen again because "Jews are much smarter now." "They have spread across the world. Try rounding them up! Most are in America so you cannot send them by train to Germany" to die in gas chambers. "What a comedian does is up to him, but the VRT decides to include it in the show. At that point, the question can be asked, is this the task of a public broadcaster?" asked Michael Freilich, the head of the Jewish group Joods Actueel. The VRT also came under criticism for a recent ad about a travel show focusing on Berlin. It showed a drawing of Hitler as a male stripper giving the Nazi salute in front of a swastika flag, the banner of Nazi Germany. That incident triggered a protest by the German embassy, which called it "totally tasteless." The CCOJB, a Jewish umbrella organization, said the VRT's "multiplication of anti-Semitic provocations disguised as humor" dishonored its role as a public broadcaster. It said it planned legal steps against the VRT and asked the government of Dutch-speaking Belgium, which is responsible for the VRT, to act against those responsible for the broadcast. Repeated phone calls and two messages left with the VRT were not immediately answered.