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Roseanne Barr, queen of Israel

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American fallen-from-grace celebrity Roseanne Barr is going to Israel. And not just on any trip. She has been invited by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to speak against the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel – she is due to speak on the 30th of January. The invitation is reportedly an initiative not of a government right-winger, but of none other than a leftist, Zionist Union member – Knesset Deputy Speaker Yehiel (‘Hilik’) Bar. 

And her Sherpa? The ridiculous celebrity “Rabbi of America” – Shmuley Boteach. Boteach, popular from his books about “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Lust”, has been serving as a channel for those who have fallen out of grace, for example Samantha Power, who needed to improve her standing with the Israel-apologetic Jewish community in order to become US Ambassador to UN. But Roseanne Barr hasn’t really fallen from grace with the Jewish community – she’s fallen from grace from the US in general. In May, her planned revival of Roseanne, which had returned to TV after 20 years, was cancelled by ABC after Barr fired off a racist tweet referring to former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett as looking like the offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.” Jarrett, an African-American, was born in Iran to American parents. Barr apologized, but blamed it on the fact that the tweet was made at 2 AM under the influence of Ambien. The Ambien maker hurried to comment that “Racism is not a side effect of our drug”. Although Barr said she would go off Twitter, she didn’t, and tweeted that the storm of critique she was experiencing amounted to “lynch a Jew”.

Shmuley Boteach and Roseanne Barr on stage together in July 2018, at Stand Up NY. Screenshot.

Of course Barr has been talking trash about Palestinians for years without regret and with little consequence, but that last tweet seemed to hit a raw nerve in the US. Barr goes on and on. Last week, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, she claimed that the whole incident largely had to do with Anti-Semitism… Yes, Barr was supposedly a victim here, and she tried to explain the tweet as actually being a commentary about Iran, which was misunderstood…

Inviting Barr to speak to the dispersed Knesset surely marks a nadir in the Israeli fight against BDS. If they have to have someone like Barr speak, they’re surely running out of options. As Ariel Gold writes in comment on my Facebook post about this:

“It’s fabulous she is going. She should forever be the face of the anti-boycott movement”.  

Barr appears to have a very erratic personality, and extremely bad taste. Before her conversion to right-wing Zionism around 2013, she had an anti-Zionist period, calling Israel a “Nazi state”. But that anti-Zionism had an anti-Semitic component. In 2009, Barr volunteered for a photo shoot/article for Heeb Magazine titled “That Oven Feelin’”, which featured her dressed as Adolf Hitler, baking and eating “burned Jew cookies”. Then in 2011 she defended that photo shoot, saying on ABC Nightline: ”No it was not Jews it was Palestinians!”

Then in 2014, like a female Sheldon Adelson, Barr wrote that “If israel doesn’t nuke iran, then nothing makes sense anymore”. In a similar vein she has incited against BDS. When the UC Davis student government voted to endorse BDS, she posted “I hope all the jews leave UC Davis & it then it gets nuked.” After deleting that tweet, she followed with, “Nuke all UC Davis Jew-Haters.”

That’s Roseanne Barr. She’s like a Donald Trump on steroids, and the Israelis want her to talk against BDS in the Knesset. Even the left-wingers want her!

Yes, she’s saying all the things Israelis want to hear about Israel and BDS – that BDS is an “insidious and anti-Semitic” movement, that “Israeli innovation is ascendant and changing the world in areas of medicine, technology, media and the arts”, that “Israel is an oasis of openness, freedom, democracy and tolerance amidst a desert of brutality from an age gone by”, and she wants to “shout this from the heights of the Galilee to the halls of the Knesset in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city – and from the cafes and art galleries of Tel-Aviv to the beaches of Eilat”. 

I get that. But Barr is not exactly an intellectual capacity when it comes to Israel or BDS. Her value is a populistic celebrity value, and that value is really questionable. It’s not a prestigious card for Israel to hold. Is Barr going to teach the Knesset about BDS? Since 2015, there’s a whole ministry dedicated to fighting BDS as a “strategic threat”, with a task force that operates through ‘black ops’.

“We want most of the ministry’s work to be classified,” said the director general of the BDS task-force, Sima Vaknin-Gil. So why bring Roseanne Barr, of all people, to speak in the Knesset?? Barr is a loudmouth, she says outrageous things, she’s anything but discrete.

Barr has no education value for the Knesset members. She says she’s coming to Israel to further her “own knowledge of Jewish and Israeli history”. That’s fine, but what will she teach the Knesset? This is obviously not about learning. It’s about a mutual confirmation of self-righteousness in the fight against BDS. Roseanne Barr will bathe in the political aura of the Israeli Knesset, and the Knesset will bathe in the questionable celebrity aura of Barr.

It is only logical that Barr’s tour is organized by the populist rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s World Values Network. They fit hand in glove, promoting those values of (Jewish-Zionist) “democracy and tolerance” as opposed to (Palestinian) “brutality from an age gone by”. Boteach has popularised orthodox Judaism by making it ‘sexy’, as it were. For example, in his “Kosher Lust”, he says it is “Jewish law” that a woman orgasm before the man. That sounds really appealing and feminist and all, until you realise that it’s based on a Talmudic superstitious discussion about improving the chances of getting a boy… Likewise, Boteach’s supposedly liberal approach to Judaism is countered by an unhinged Zionism, as with his attack against pop-star Lorde who cancelled her concert in Israel this year (he called her a bigot and an anti-Semite in a full-page ad in Washington Post); or as when he teamed up with Elie Wiesel to publish a blood-libel against Palestinians for supposedly “sacrificing children” in 2014, when it was Israel that was massacring children, more than 500 in Operation Protective Edge.

That’s the “dynamic duo” – Barr and Boteach. What a team.

Barr has said in the past that she considers moving to Israel. She ran for US presidency in 2012 and got 0.05% of the nationwide vote. Now she’s hinting to the Jerusalem Post that she may have political ambitions where Israel is concerned:

I like politics, I’m very interested  in it. I’d have to be real serious [to run for Prime Minister], and so far I’m better running for queen – of Israel or the world.

And listen to this, she’s very reasonable:

The reason I would run is I have very common-sense solutions to problems, and I’m more interested in people hearing my solutions to things than running for anything.

Finally, playing the Boteach-Torah card, she says:

They’re all Torah-based solutions.

You know what, I think Roseanne Barr should really go all the way – move to Israel, run for Prime Minister (there’s still time), and make Israel a full-fledged Torah-state. I’m sure she’ll find support there, and become queen of Israel, anointed by the Rabbi of America. And if you can become queen of Israel, that’s a bit like being queen of the world anyway, because it’s such a light unto the nations.


Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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17 Responses

  1. eljay on January 17, 2019, 11:02 am

    … That’s the “dynamic duo” – Barr and Boteach. …

    Barr and Boteach are more like “Dumb and Dumber”…only considerably more immoral and far less amusing.

  2. Keith on January 17, 2019, 3:43 pm

    JONATHAN OFIR- “It is only logical that Barr’s tour is organized by the populist rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s World Values Network.”

    Perhaps Boteach can introduce Barr to his buddy, genocidaire Paul Kagame. Maybe Kagame can offer a few tips on how to deal with all of the anti-Semites who annoy the rich and famous Barr. Ah, the burden of gilded victimhood.

  3. echinococcus on January 17, 2019, 3:46 pm


    “So why bring Roseanne Barr, of all people, to speak in the Knesset?? ”

    Don’t ever warn your enemy when he is shooting himself in the foot. On the contrary, find a way to make him do just that. That Kenesseth thing more than deserves Barr.

    • Mooser on January 17, 2019, 4:59 pm

      Why bring Roseanne Barr and Boteach to speak in the Knesset?
      Because they’re bound to raise the percentages!

      • Eva Smagacz on January 18, 2019, 9:36 am

        Why bring Roseanne Barr and Boteach to speak in the Knesset?
        Because they’re bound to raise the percentages!”

        Yes, Mooser, spot on!!
        The [ IQ ] percentages will raise in both Knesset and USA – what’s not to like?

    • RoHa on January 17, 2019, 7:39 pm

      “That Kenesseth thing more than deserves Barr.”

      It’s that bad? Perhaps. But is there no room for mercy?

  4. Kay24 on January 17, 2019, 5:53 pm

    She would fit in there beautifully, among racists, supremacists, and people who think an occupation and stealing lands is their entitlement. She is in “great” company.

  5. JLewisDickerson on January 17, 2019, 6:20 pm

    If Sarah Sanders ever resigns, Roseanne Barr would be perfect as Trump’s press secretary. That would truly be a match made in heaven!

  6. JWalters on January 17, 2019, 8:14 pm

    Maybe they plan to award her the Knesset Prize for atrocious taste.

  7. gamal on January 18, 2019, 12:41 am

    “And her Sherpa? The ridiculous celebrity “Rabbi of America” – Shmuley Boteach. Boteach, popular from his books about “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Lust”, has been serving as a channel for those who have fallen out of grace,”

    oh god Yona Wallach died too early, she could ode these fools sufficiently….look at Israel, look at America look at Europe…decline is ugly like leprosy.

  8. Henry Norr on January 18, 2019, 1:28 am

    Thanks, Jonathan Ofir – I now know way more about Roseanne Barr than I ever wanted to!

    This is a minor point in this context, but I still think it makes no sense to call people like Yehiel Bar a “leftist.” Last time I raised that objection to one of your pieces, you replied that left and right are strictly relative terms, and since the Zionist Union is to the left of Likud and the rest, it’s appropriate to apply the term to them. But to me, in modern political discourse, “left” also has some substantive content – respect for human rights, for example – and the Zionist Union doesn’t come close to that standard. Me, I agree with what Gideon Levy recently wrote about the political maneuvering ahead of Israel’s upcoming election:
    “There is no left, not even half a left. There is only a right, in different forms. What is going on in our political system ahead of the upcoming election can be described like this: Right A versus Right B, a split in Right C, a possible merger in Right D, and a new glimmer of hope in Right E.”

  9. Misterioso on January 18, 2019, 8:51 am

    Re Roseanne:

    “Israeli politics is being dragged into the grubby realm of reality TV”
    By Jonathan Cook, Jan. 13/19, The National

    “As Benjamin Netanyahu demands a televised showdown with his corruption accusers and Roseanne Barr prepares to address the Knesset, the poverty of public discourse has never been more apparent”

    “Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu commandeered the country’s airwaves last week in what many assumed would prove a moment of profound national import. They could not have been more wrong.

    “The context was his decision last month to move forward the general election to April, widely seen as a desperate effort to turn the vote into a referendum on his innocence as long-standing corruption investigations close in.

    “The police have recommended that he be charged over three separate allegations of bribery. By calling the election, Netanyahu has forced the attorney-general, Avichai Mendelblit, onto unfamiliar – and constitutionally tricky – terrain.

    “Mendelblit, an appointee of Netanyahu’s, has indicated that he will make a decision on whether to issue an indictment before the ballot, so that voters have the facts to make an informed choice.

    “But Netanyahu has said he won’t drop out or resign, even if indicted, and there is no decisive precedent to suggest he must.

    “Instead, he would prefer to bully the attorney-general into delaying a decision until after voters have spoken. That was the purpose of his unexpected live national TV address.

    “His supporters have already set the stage, claiming that an indictment mid-campaign would influence the outcome and usurp the will of the people.

    “Either way, Netanyahu hopes to benefit. If an indictment is served before the vote, it will rile up his base and bolster a carefully crafted narrative that he faces a campaign of persecution from state authorities.

    “If Mendelblit delays, Netanyahu will aim to exploit any electoral success to face down prosecutors, accusing them of seeking to reverse his popular mandate.

    “Netanyahu’s strategy was on full show last week when he took to the main TV channels. He used this moment of enforced national attention for nothing more serious than a self-serving gripe.

    “The investigators, led by a far-right police commander he personally approved, had supposedly joined a leftist plot to oust him. The proof was that they had denied him a chance to confront in person his accusers – former aides turned state witness – and challenge their testimony.

    “Claiming that he had been stripped of his legal rights, Netanyahu demanded a showdown be broadcast live – effectively trailblazing a new type of reality TV show for suspects in high-profile criminal cases.

    “Of course, Netanyahu understands only too well that such confrontations with witnesses are decided by the police, not the accused, and used only when evidence needs to be tested.

    “The police believe they already have the evidence required for a conviction, and hope to test it in a court of law, not in the type of TV spectacle in which Netanyahu excels.

    “Netanyahu’s move was intended to reinforce his claim that the ‘system’ – one that has kept him and the ultra-nationalist right in uninterrupted power for a decade – is rigged against him.

    “There was a striking parallel with events last week in the United States, where President Donald Trump similarly addressed the nation to corner his opponents in Congress.

    “In his case, Trump sought to rally his base by fearmongering about a supposed ‘invasion’ of immigrants, suggesting that the Democrats were subverting his efforts to block their entry with an Israeli-style wall.

    “But whereas many have described Netanyahu’s latest intervention as ‘Trumpian,’ in truth the Israeli leader is as well-practiced as his American counterpart in the dark arts of media manipulation.

    “Two of the three bribery cases he faces relate directly to allegations that he offered favours – in one case captured on tape – to Israeli media moguls in return for better coverage in their publications.

    “Netanyahu has long demonstrated an obsession with controlling his image, and has proved an arch-manipulator of passions to mobilise support for his hawkish agenda.

    “It was at the last general election, in 2015, that he turned the tables on his right-wing rivals at the last moment. He rallied voters by claiming that Israel’s Palestinian citizens – a fifth of the population – were turning out in ‘droves’ at polling booths. Only a vote for Netanyahu, he suggested, would save the Jewish state.

    “Not only did he imply that voting by Palestinian citizens was illegitimate, he claimed that the Israeli left was ‘bussing’ them to the polls, citing this falsehood as proof of the left’s treachery.

    “Now Netanyahu is again deploying the ‘leftist’ slur, this time to discredit the police and prosecution service.

    “Perhaps not surprisingly, Netanyahu’s Likud party is the only faction opposed to a plan by the Central Elections Committee to bar online propaganda in the campaign’s final two months.

    “Underscoring the way TV has increasingly become a tool in Israel not for clarifying issues but for inflaming emotions, the US TV comedian Roseanne Barr has been invited to address the Israeli parliament at the end of the month.

    “She will use the opportunity to denounce as Jew haters activists in the international boycott movement who stand in solidarity with Palestinians. Only in Israel’s current degraded public discourse would Barr, who has a history of making offensive comments variously about Jews, Muslims and black people, be taken seriously as an arbiter of racism.

    “Analysts widely expect this election campaign to be the dirtiest in Israel’s history. But, although they worry about Netanyahu’s demagoguery, they still overlook its grubbiest aspect.

    “Palestinians under occupation have been effectively disappeared from the campaign. They will have no voice in choosing the Israeli politicians who have determined their fate for the past five decades.

    “In fact, not one of the Israeli Jewish parties is highlighting Palestinian rights or putting the occupation at the centre of its platform. The vast majority of Israeli politicians want to entrench the occupation, not end it.

    “Israeli commentators noted that Mr. Netanyahu had another pressing reason – apart from legal threats – to bring forward the election. He feared that otherwise Trump might unveil his long-promised peace plan.

    “However bad that plan will be for Palestinians, Netanyahu does not want his unwillingness to make concessions exposed.

    “But Netanyahu is far from the gravest threat to Israel’s ‘democracy.’ The most dangerous thing of all is the widespread refusal in Israel to recognise that the Palestinians are human beings too – and that they should be able to determine their own fate, just like Israelis.”

  10. Jonathan Ofir on January 18, 2019, 9:38 am

    Thanks Henry Norr,
    I appreciate that, and agree largely with Levy – yet there is a relativity here. We could also discuss that Levy places Meretz in the ‘real left’. And Meretz explicitly endorses Zionism. It explicitly says that Israel is a “state of the Jewish people”. So we could now discuss, how Zionism is essentially always right-wing in that it essentially advocates ethnic cleansing and Apartheid in one way or another – because you can’t engineer a racial state like that otherwise. But I’m relating to the Israeli relativity, yes. And I think there’s a point here, in this context, to demonstrate that this is not coming from the (relative) right, but from the (relative) left of the political paradigm – or at least not from it’s furthest right, if you will…

  11. Ossinev on January 18, 2019, 10:15 am

    Am looking forward to hopefully being able to see and listen to her “appearance” on the Knesset Zio Show. An unhinged extremely unfunny racist I am sure she will be feeling right at home in her peer group.

    Can`t be long now before Adelson is twisting the posterior poker and obliging Daffy Donald to make his Knesset appearance .His last appearance was aborted apparently due to fears of being heckled by Arab MK`s and the few remaining Jewish MK`s with any residual morality.

    Po -faced Po – brained Pence of course got a rapturous welcome and applause after the Knesset was ethnically cleansed of undesirable Arab aliens:

  12. Hussein Hammami on January 20, 2019, 12:57 am

    Roseanne Barr would be an appropriate choice for President is Israel. A cheap actress and an illegitimate country deserve each other.

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