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Halle Berry and the Jewish joke

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, upon seeing a distorted photo image in which her nose appeared large, once made a joke about how she now resembled her Jewish cousin.

Although the footage was cut from Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, the “incident” was leaked to the media and all manner of shoe sizes has broken out.

The pictures and an article that appeared in the Telegraph (UK) may be seen here and Google’s reference to 91 related articles here.

In order to put this article in context, I place on record that I am an Orthodox Jew without even a semblance of self-hatred. That said, this garbage about a wonderful, talented and funky lady is not only a storm in a teacup, it’s an insult — to Halle and to Jewish people.

Do people imagine that any use of the “J” word in a joke is tantamount to a mini-pogrom?

What did she say? That having a large nose makes her look Jewish? That’s the basis for hundreds of articles? That’s now the rationale for concluding that Halle is anti-Semitic?

Get a life!

Michael Seizman writing for the Huffington Post sums it up for me.

The only real issue here is why it has become an issue. Yes, I am steeped in Jewish history, the suffering and all that has gone before; this “issue” does not contribute anything other than making people feel uncomfortable about a non-starter.

This must be placed in context. When Zionism is regarded as racism, I take issue. It disregards many fundamental questions and moves directly to the “R” word.

Just as I take issue with those who consider every critic of Israeli policies as an anti-Semite. This is not only unhelpful, but also alienates many of Israel’s true friends.

Opposing the policies of the Israeli government is not anti-Semitic — hatred of Jews is, and the one does not per se follow the other.

What too many people do is to take any criticism at face value and convert that into a charge of anti-Semitism. Again this is very unhelpful.

People must put opinions in context and where the criticism is constructive, treat it as such. Where it is merely abuse, deal with it as such.

A cursory read of Abraham Foxman’s article in the Jerusalem Post demonstrates not only the variety of opinions on the subject, but also that anti-Semitism can and does occur in Israel itself. Pay careful attention to the comments.

Here, unlike Halle, you are dealing with real issues. Move past the crap and focus on the reality of, for example, neo-Nazis in Israel.

Another example is the issue of the “Jewish lobby” in the United States as raised by professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their article “The Israel lobby”.

Accusations of anti-Semitism against these two gentlemen, with which I happen to concur, abound. The fact that they attribute the efforts of Jews working towards safeguarding Israel as some form of cabal and distinguishable from, say, Italians or Germans doing the same for Italy or Germany is anti-Semitic.

The fact that this Israel lobby does not exist in the single format they would have people believe, or work in concert to achieve the egregious goals they attribute to it, makes them anti-Semitic.

This does not mean the entire work must be disregarded, nor that any scholars that identify with portions of it be regarded as raging anti-Semites. Where the shoe fits it must be worn; where it is thrown to occasion damage, it must be returned to the manufacturer for a full refund and damages.

Just as important as identifying real anti-Semitism is the task of negating garbage like this crap about Halle Berry.

Only through constructive criticism can we examine our mistakes and move forward. If we jump on our true friends every time they open their mouths, we won’t have any.

And as Jews we, of all people, should be the first to express outrage at racism, homophobia and any other form of bigotry. Deal with real issues that affect us. To turn a blind eye to these issues while dedicating our time to Halle’s “Jewish cousin” or hundreds of articles about nonsense retards our response to real instances of anti-Semitism.

And that’s no joke.


  • Mike Trapido is a criminal attorney and publicist having also worked as an editor and journalist. He was born in Johannesburg and attended HA Jack and Highlands North High Schools. He married Robyn in 1984 (Mrs Traps, aka "the government") and has three sons (who all look suspiciously like her ex-boss). He was a counsellor on the JCCI for a year around 1992. His passions include Derby County, Blue Bulls, Orlando Pirates, Proteas and Springboks. He takes Valium in order to cope with Bafana Bafana's results. Practice Michael Trapido Attorney (civil and criminal) 011 022 7332 Facebook


  1. Anne Anne 26 October 2007

    So if I write an article about Black skin – it’s a racial slur?

    As we say down South, Eish!

    What a stupid storm in a teacup. She didn’t say, “Hey I look some geeky kike jewellery mongerer”.

    That would have been a slur, insulting, racist, offensive, Anti-Semite. But “Hey I look Jewish?”

    On a hot dy in Durban I look Coloured, but that isn’t implying anything about Coloureds, is it?

    If anything it’s a great place to start a chat about how physical characteristics and racial identity aren’t mutually exclusive, or inclusive for that matter.

    But this ridiculous reaction, I don’t know what’s driving this.

  2. Christopher-John Bompas Christopher-John Bompas 26 October 2007

    What happended to Halle Barry is just one of the vicious cycle of media greed. Not only was it offence to the Jewish people but also offence to the thinking man’s intelligence. It really kills my enthuasism as a journalism student.

    Let us not decieve ourselves into thinking that this has much to do with the Jewish people at all. As far as I understand, its driven by celebrity media, which by its very nature is droven by the slightest hint of contraversy (real or imagined).

    It speaks “oodles” about the integrity of media around the world, especially in the United States of America. I wish media would actually engage itself meaningful issues as opposed to the kind of cheap and easy stories that simply satisfy the public unquenchable desire for celebrity contraversy. I pity media agencies defeat their own power to change the world, as potential catalysts for change, by simply turning a blind eye to what really matters in society.


  3. Na'eem Jeenah Na'eem Jeenah 26 October 2007

    Michael. Good one. Question, though. How do you regard the Mearsheimer and Walt paper to be anti-semitic? You say its because “they attribute the efforts of Jews working towards safeguarding Israel as some form of cabal and distinguishable from, say, Italians or Germans doing the same for Italy or Germany”.

    I dont get the logic here. If someone in SA, for example, were to write a research paper on how the business lobby, say, is some form of a cabal influencing government, can we justifiably say that theres something wrong with the paper or the authors because they dont focus also on how labour lobbies government also in a form of a cabal? Maybe someone else should write about the Italian or German lobbies (if such exist) in the US and how they operate. Researching only the Israeli lobby does even, necessarily, make the researchers anti-Israeli, let alone anti-Semitic.

    You also give as a reason for regarding them as anti-semitic: “The fact that this Israel lobby does not exist in the single format they would have people believe, or work in concert to achieve the egregious goals they attribute to it, makes them anti-Semitic.” How, pray tell? You might accuse them of bad research or arriving at weak conclusions or being bad analysts, if you wish. But.. anti-semitic?? How so?

  4. traps traps 26 October 2007

    Na’eem thank you for your comments.

    I believe Mearsheimer and Walt need a seperate post to deal with the issues you’re raising here.

    I specifically included grounds in the article so as not to appear vague, I will deal with your questions in a seperate article in the next couple of weeks.

    If I don’t send me a reminder. (I will)

  5. krockin krockin 12 November 2007

    i dont think anyone likes to be stereotyped. I think thats why jewish ppl got mad. Why dont we go to a hillary rally and say some blond jokes to her. Don’t you think she would be insulted? Thats how i see it.

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