Simon Cowell’s Syco Investigating Lebanese ‘Arabs Got Talent’ Judge Who Admires Hitler’s ‘Persuasive’ Speeches
by Joshua Levitt
The Lebanese host of ‘Arabs Got Talent,’ an international franchise of Simon Cowell’s Syco television empire, is in hot water with the UK parent company for saying how much she admired the public speaking abilities of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, in an interview on Lebanese MTV, the UK’s Jewish News reported on Thursday.
Lebanese singer Najwa Karam, who has sold 50 million records and was the Arab face of the L’Oreal cosmetics line until last year, when asked on the Arabic-language interview program ‘Talk of the Town,’ in an episode aired on June 28, 2012, if she could choose attributes from six famous men to create the “ideal man” the first idea to pop into Karam’s head was Hitler’s “persuasive” speaking ability.
The “utterly bizarre” choice, in the words of Henry Grunwald, chair of the National Holocaust Centre, in Nottingham, UK, and former vice-chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, cited by the Jewish News, was followed an even more unlikely list, including actor Richard Gere, for his “charm,” playwright William Shakespeare for his “romanticism,” and even a Jew, physicist Albert Einstein, for his “intelligence.”
The Jewish News brought the issue to Syco, whose TV arm created the ‘Got Talent’ format which is licensed internationally by Fremantle Media, and is investigating the matter. Recording of the current series is complete and no decision has been taken yet on a judging panel for next year, the newspaper said.
The Jewish News also contacted L’Oreal to find out if Karam’s contract was ended because of her televised remarks, but a spokesman from the cosmetics company declined to comment.
Simon Cowell, who recently rediscovered his Jewish roots, through his father’s side, which had been kept secret from the family, is expecting a child with Jewish girlfriend Lauren Silverman. Their baby, who will be raised Jewish, is due to be born in February. In October, Cowell reportedly pledged £150,000 ($243,000) to the American Friends of the Israel Defense Forces at Haim Saban’s Los Angeles fundraiser, where musician Lionel Richie performed for 1,200 guests, who contributed some $20 million for the organization, the UK’s Jewish Chronicle reported.
As for the Karam scandal, the Jewish News was unable to contact the music mogul directly, but found many voices in the UK who were disgusted with her comments about Hitler.
The National Holocaust Centre’s Grunwald told the Jewish News: “She deserves to be excoriated for using Hitler as a role model, even part of a role model, of anything. It shows a complete insensitivity towards all those, not just Jews, who died or suffered as a result of Hitler’s evil activities.”
Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer told the newspaper: “It is staggering that anyone should consider a mass murderer as an ideal orator, persuading people that the mass murder of six million Jews is acceptable is not a talent to be emulated. It is perhaps indicative of the entrenched and casual anti-Semitism that passes for celebrity comment in this part of the world.”
“If she believes Hitler has talents to be copied she is wholly unsuited to be a judge,” Freer said.
Jonathan Sacerdoti, a commentator on the Middle East, told the Jewish News: “It is not uncommon for Hitler to be lionized even in mainstream Arab circles. In fact Mein Kampf is an immensely popular book in some Arab countries.”
“Lebanese singer Najwa Karam’s remarks about Hitler’s oratory skills are chilling. At best, this is abysmal ignorance. At worst, it is insensitivity bordering on Holocaust trivialization,” Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League told The Algemeiner.