British Actor Stephen Fry Praises ‘Brilliant’ Essay Calling Israel an Embarrassment to Jews
by Shiryn Ghermezian
Jewish British actor and comedian Stephen Fry shared on Thursday what he described as a “brilliant” essay that bashed Israel and described the country as an embarrassment to Jews.
“It’s hard for me to think of the State of Israel as anything but a shanda fir di goyim … a Jew that embarrassed the Jews, and thus justified Gentile persecution and hate,” wrote 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning author Benjamin Moser in an essay published on his Substack newsletter on Tuesday, titled “A trip to Hebron.”
Fry posted on Twitter on Thursday a link to the essay and wrote, “This is quite brilliant, as Benjamin Moser so often is. Aside from being a wonderful piece of writing in itself, it has clarified so much for me.”
Moser, who is Jewish, started his essay by recalling a trip to Israel five years ago for the Palestine Festival of Literature and his visit to Hebron. The Houston-born author said that when his parents were growing up, “Jim Crow was the law of the land in our state,” referring to the laws that enforced racial segregation in the late 19th and early 20th
“Yet Hebron felt worse to me than anything I’d read about Jim Crow. Worse than apartheid — a word that is now, finally, being applied to Palestine,” he added. “The restrictions on Palestinian life — starting with the simple ability to walk down the street — are so suffocating that you can’t quite believe you’re not in some grotesque movie. The Palestinians have no citizenship, and nowhere to go: if they leave the Occupied Territories, they become stateless refugees. And if they stay — well, their lives are restricted in ways that are very hard to imagine. Imagine the COVID lockdowns, but for your entire life, generation after generation, and with no vaccine on its way.”
Moser went on to accuse Israel of refusing to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the Palestinians “under their control.” He also said the Israeli government and settlers are “continually expanding, continually creating more and more restrictions” for Palestinians, and that “the ethnic cleansing and racial supremacy are marching forward day by day … until you see it, it’s hard to explain how cruel it is, how perverse, how criminal.”
He then slammed US support for Israel and claimed that Americans feel a “deep shame” about the actions of the Israeli government. “How can you not? We pay for this,” he wrote. “Both [US] parties agree with almost lockstep unanimity that we ought to support Israel diplomatically, militarily, and economically, to the point where Israelis have a much higher standard of living than many Americans.”
He also addressed technology in Israel, suggesting that “the Israeli occupation is a dystopian nightmare equipped with iPhones and Google and bar codes and scanners. It’s the most modern technology placed at the service of one of the world’s most archaic racial ethnocracies.”
Moser concluded his essay by endorsing the “oft-smeared” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. He said similar tactics had been effective “in forcing the apartheid regime to stand down” in South Africa, and the same approach should be taken to push for change in Israel.
“Recognize that there is an occupier and an occupied, and that [our] moral duty is to the poor, the powerless, the underdog,” he wrote.
Earlier this year, Fry publicly denounced antisemitism against Jews around the world, and in 2019 was among 100 celebrities who signed a statement supporting the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Israel, after BDS activists called on contestants to pull out of the competition. Also in 2019, he defended British television star Rachel Riley after she received backlash for criticizing the UK’s Labour party for fostering antisemitism within the party.