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After Tracey Ullman Roasts Corbyn in BBC Sketch, Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Abound

The comic lampooned the Labour leader, and Internet trolls soon blamed the Jews

Liel Leibovitz
June 04, 2018
Courtesy BBC
Tracey Ullman as Jeremy CorbynCourtesy BBC
Courtesy BBC
Tracey Ullman as Jeremy CorbynCourtesy BBC

In a sketch aired on her BBC show this Friday, comedian Tracey Ullman, dressed up as Jeremy Corbyn, was standing in line for a cab at Heathrow and chatting to some young admirers when an Orthodox man appears and speaks sternly to the Labour leader about the rampant anti-Semitism in his party.

“I hear you,” says Corbyn. “I am all over it like cream cheese on a bagel. It’s alright to say that, isn’t it?” The Orthodox man, disgusted, takes his leave, and Corbyn turns to his fans and assures them that he’s very serious about combating Jew-hatred. “I want you to know that I am completely on top of all this Jewish stuff,” he says. “I have spoken to every single anti-Semite in the Labour party and I’ve told them, in no uncertain terms, tone it down a bit!”

It’s all downhill from there, with Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and a representative of Hamas popping up to puncture Corbyn’s desperate attempt at dodging his past and appearing respectable. But the sketch’s real punchline, in a sense, landed long after the broadcast had concluded: Dylan Strain, an actor and comedian whose Twitter profile features a photograph of himself with Corbyn, took to the social network to argue not only that the sketch was “propaganda masquerading as satire” but that it was written by a famous Jewish comedian named David Baddiel. Strain later told the Guardian that he was only kidding, but that didn’t stop George Galloway, the vehemently anti-Israel politician, from retweeting Strain’s allegation to his 289,000 followers and starting a conspiracy theory online that the Jews were using the BBC to unfairly target Corbyn.

Baddiel himself seemed indignant about the affair. “It does speak of something unconscious which is their sense that everything must involve elitist conspiracy, that it’s all connected and that anyone who they believe is trying to stop Corbyn getting into power must have links and be working together,” he told the Guardian about his online slanderers. “The idea seems to be that if I have said something to call out anti-Semitism in the Labour party, then if there’s something or someone else doing that then I must be behind it in some way. At a deeper level, that speaks about myths of Jewish conspiracy, of Jewish control of the media etc.”

You can watch the sketch Baddiel didn’t write here:

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.