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May 17, 2020 8:49 pm

British Comedian Prompts Outrage for Mocking Last Name of Parliament Member of Jewish Heritage

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

British comedian Stewart Lee. Photo: Paul Christopher via Wikicommons.

A British comedian and columnist came under fire on Sunday after viciously mocking the last name of a member of parliament of Jewish descent in a column for The Guardian.

Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative MP and veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, was skewered along with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the column written by comedian Stewart Lee.

At one point, Lee wrote, “Many names — Fisher, Cook, Smith — derive from ancient trades. But ‘Tugendhat’ is just different words put together, like Waspcupfinger, or Appendixhospitalwool, or Abortionmaqaquesymptom.”

Sajid Javid, the former Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, called the column racist, and compared it to a caricature of the Secretary of State for the Home Department that also appeared in The Guardian.

“@guardian published a racist cartoon of Priti Patel a couple of months ago, and now this. Asians, Jews….. who’s next?” he tweeted.

Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust and a scholar of antisemitism, wrote, “Even if Stewart Lee doesn’t know this history and doesn’t know Tom Tugendhat’s Jewish ancestry — making fun of people for having foreign-sounding names is playground-level racism. It’s pathetic.”

Stephen Pollard, the editor of The Jewish Chronicle, tweeted, “My father changed his name to Pollard because of people like Stewart Lee. Nothing changes.”

“My dad’s name was Polak and he changed it at college,” Pollard added. “Stewart Lee’s causal [sic] racism show how appropriate that was.”

Karen Pollock, the Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, tweeted, “This makes me so uncomfortable. Many of my family and friends historically had to change their names to avoid being identified as Jewish.”

“This just reads as deliberate mocking of a ‘different’ sounding name, with all the obvious connotations,” she added.

Oliver Cooper, a Conservative councillor for Hampstead, London, called the column “horrific” for “claiming that Jewish names ‘are just different words put together like Waspcupfinger.’ Like something from a darker time and place.”

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