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Jay Leno Is the New Israel

Bill Maher delivers mortal offense by comparing comic to Jewish state

by
Liel Leibovitz
March 12, 2014
Comedian Jay Leno speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, DC, on May 1, 2009.(Olivier Douliery /ABACAUSA.COM)

Comedian Jay Leno speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington, DC, on May 1, 2009.(Olivier Douliery /ABACAUSA.COM)

BDS, I can take. Anti-Semitic assholes rocking a Nazi salute? I’ll happily fight that. But to have my country compared to Jay Leno is the kind of insult from which I don’t know if my national pride would ever be able to recover.

Inducted into the TV Hall of Fame last night, Leno was introduced by Bill Maher, who seemed to have the perfect analogy in mind with which to capture the essential loathsomeness of Leno.

“Jay reminds me a little of Israel,” Maher said. “He isn’t perfect but he’s held to standard I don’t think anybody in the world is expected to live up to but him.” He may as well have said that Leno steals jokes like Israel steals land.

So sure, the whole thing was in jest, but, still, I object. There’s a limit to how much derision one people can take. So stage your Israel Apartheid Weeks and hold your secret hateful conferences, but if you have to compare Israel to someone, the least you could do is Jimmy Kimmel.

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.