Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I was floored. Here it was Sunday night, I had just put the garbage out for collection Monday a.m. and I kicked back to watch cable television for a few laughs before bed.

Showtime is a major cable network in the US and was premiering a new show titled “The Green Room,” hosted by a comedian named Paul Provenza. The show was actually in a talk format with five comedians in a semicircle who discussed their careers and how their acts were received not only in America but in the UK.

Stand-up comedians can sometimes be vulgar to break up an audience and supply some laughs, and compared to what I’ve heard on cable television and in live comedy clubs the show was fairly mild.

That was, until the very end.

One of the guest comedians was Larry Miller. Oh, you’ve seen him before in comedy films produced in the US. He usually plays the harried campus administrator or foil for
the hero who is trying to get the girl. Oh, one other thing: he’s Jewish.

As the show ran out of time and came to an end, Larry Miller made a quip to his fellow comedians and the millions of people worldwide who watch Showtime. He said, “Let’s
go out for a drink. We can have one called a Leon Klinghoffer—it’s two shots and a

Most of the audience on screen didn’t laugh, not because the joke wasn’t funny (it wasn’t), but because most of them had no idea who Leon Klinghoffer was.

Leon Klinghoffer was an elderly Jewish man who was in a wheelchair on the Achille Lauro cruise ship when it was hijacked by members of George Habash’s PFLP under orders of Yasser Arafat. The terror attack had been partly arranged back then by Machmud Abbas, the current head of the PLO-terror-state-in-the-making. Abbas was caught fleeing Egypt by the US Navy but released by the Italian government after US forces forced his plane to land on Italian soil.

Arafat personally gave the order to the hijackers to shoot Klinghoffer in his wheelchair
and dump him overboard. Two US state department employees were also murdered in the Sudan under Arafat’s direct orders that same day as part of the PLO “operation.” The US
state department actually recorded Arafat giving the order by radio.

Klinghoffer’s wife, who was on the ship with her husband and who watched the grisly execution, died shortly after her husband’s death due to the stress of what she witnessed.

Most young people, even American Jews born after 1980, have no idea who Leon Klinghoffer was. So why on earth would a comedian like Miller even use such a joke?
Had he made a joke about lynching a black man in the Jim Crow south of the US the joke
would surely have been edited out during the final cut of the show taping. But apparently executives at Showtime saw nothing wrong with a joke about murdering an elderly Jew in a wheelchair and dumping him at sea because he was a Jew. The joke could have been edited out of the final taping but was left in.

In all likelihood the executives at Showtime themselves had no idea who Leon Klinghoffer was or what happened to him. But what is disturbing is after I wrote to
Robert Greenblatt (yes, a Jew yet) who is in charge of programming for the cable network giant about the event, I received absolutely no response.

Anti-Semitism is back even in America to such a degree that killing Jews has become
something to joke about. I’m no prude and I believe in freedom of speech, but can any
one of us believe had a similar joke even been made about Muslims that it would be played on air? This is the face of growing anti-Semitism in America.

If you agree with this, write Robert Greenblatt and see if you get a response. That such a joke would be made during the Gaza Flotilla yet is something every Jew, Israeli or in the Diaspora, should really think about: Robert.greenblatt@showtime.net.

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