There’s a German word to describe that feeling you get when watching Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” video segments: schadenfreude. If you’re unfamiliar with Avenue Q’s hit song, it means pleasure derived from someone else’s pain.
While Kimmel’s series is mostly designed to distract viewers from the world’s chaos, a new video made by Hallel Silverman — that’s Sarah Silverman‘s niece — and her pal, Tali Wiesenthal, was created in a similar vein, albeit with a different goal: to draw attention to the scourge of anti-Semitism.
On Monday, the pair released a two-minute video featuring some Jews celebrities — Chelsea Handler! Josh Malina! — and activists reading aloud (and laughing at) anti-Semitic tweets.
Some of our favorite celebs read & laugh at some of our not so favorite antisemitic tweets #MeanTweetsIsrael@RealSarahIdan @JoshMalina @ilzoabi48 @chelseahandler @SarahKSilverman @WestsideGravy @AlizaRSilverman
— Hallel Silverman (@JustHallel) May 4, 2020
“‘Why is Hollywood so far up Israel’s ass? I am discussed [sic],’” comedian Chelsea Handler reads, adding a wink.
Interspersed between the readings of tweets is a very fitting rendition of Jewish mathematician-turned-songwriter Tom Lehrer’s iconic verse from his song, “National Brotherhood Week:”
Oh the protestants hate the Catholics;
And the catholics hate the Protestants
And the Hindus hate the Muslims
And everybody hates the Jews…
“I’m not an anti-Semite, I’m anti-Termite,” Sarah Silverman reads, visibly appalled by the audacity!
The video’s creators, Silverman and Wiesenthal, believe that the format shows how celebrities and activists can use satire to shine a light on anti-Semitism. “How do Jews deal with things?” the younger Silverman told The Media Line. “Through humor.” Clearly, comedy runs in her genes.
The goal of “Mean Tweets: Israel Edition” was also to raise awareness on rising Covid-19-related anti-Semitic sentiments. “‘These dirty ass penguin Jews probably started this coronavirus,’” reads Israeli Arab LGBTQ activist Muhammaed Zoabi, adding, “No.. it’s not the Jews.”
The two-minute video features five Jews — comedians Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman, actress Aliza Silverman, actor Joshua Malina, and rapper Westside Gravy — and two Muslims — Israeli Arab LGBTQ activist Muhammad Zoabi and former Miss Iraq Sarai Sarah Idan.
“‘My goldfish died, fuck Israel,” Westside Gravy reads in the video. Then, he jokes: “They found out about Mr. Goldfish. Abort. Abort.”
For her part, participant Idan says she gladly puts her all into projects she believes can make humanity better. Was she afraid of backlash? Not so much. “I did get a few good interactions with some Arabs, but I believe the point is, show them what Israel is dealing with,” she said. “Whether they like it or not, it’s a good reminder.”
“Our video shows the celebrities’ reactions to these kinds of tweets, which demonstrates that anyone can be impacted by them,” Wiesenthal said. “The message is that anti-Semitism is alive and well and definitely prevalent on Twitter.”
Will the video stop anti-Semitism? Absolutely not. But Silverman is hopeful a silver lining can be seen by all: “I’m not going to change anyone’s mind with this, but I hope to open their minds a bit.”
At the very least, we can laugh the pain away.