When I learned the Simpsons, America’s famous cartoon family, were going to Israel (S21E16), I thought: Oy vey!
The episode predictably glosses over the real Israel. All is well in cartoon Israel. The Muslims in Jerusalem are voiceless, sour-faced caricatures that prostrate themselves in the street (perhaps the Israeli security forces had sealed off the entrance to the Noble Sanctuary, home of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque). There is of course no mention of that dirty, little word: Palestine. No, Israel is the Holy Land, Jerusalem is “the happiest place on earth.”
But the writers of the episode seemed intent on doing more than just ignoring the reality of the 5 million Palestinians in Israel-Palestine: they thought it would be funny to diss them too.
The Simpsons’ Israeli tour guide takes the family straight to the Dome of the Rock, as though that was no big deal, and stupidly tells Marge: “OK, this shrine contains the rock on which Abraham was going to sacrifice his son. And Muslims believe something, too. To find out, hire a Muslim tour guide—that’s a barrel of laughs.”
But the real insult comes earlier on as the Simpsons land in Israel, and Krusty the Clown heads to the Gaza Strip Club. Get it? Gaza Strip. Gaza Strip Club. It’s comedic retardation, and it’s unbelievably insulting to the 1.5 million Palestinians forced to live there under an Israeli blockade. The Gaza Strip was intentionally de-developed after Israel withdrew its colonial-military infrastructure, and much of the strip was devastated by Israel’s offensive there over a year ago. To compare the Gaza Strip to something that is consider haram, meaning against God, in Islam, is an outrage. Could you imagine Krusty the Clown going to the Darfur Whore House, or the Haiti Bordello? No, people would be livid. But the Palestinians have been so thoroughly dehumanized in America that this tasteless joke raised no eyebrows.
Oh, I forgot to mention the special guest appearance. That was Sacha Baron Cohen playing the Israeli tour guide. (The same guy that did this.)