“The sad fact is that there is now a precedent, that satirical writers are being killed for the views and their cartoons. It’s out there,” said Muli Segev, the executive producer of “Eretz Nehederet,” a beloved satirical comedy show similar to “Saturday Night Live.” “After the first [extremist attack] there will be another one because the precedent is already there. In that case, it will be in our minds from now on.”
“Eretz Nehederet,” which airs on Israel’s Channel 2 and is a product of Israeli media powerhouse Keshet, has a take-no-prisoners attitude to its skewering. From Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Holocaust itself, its writers have long shown that they are unafraid to mock anyone and anything. But while many people in Israel have been angered by “Eretz Nehederet,” they are very rarely shocked – because, Segev says, Israel is a Jewish country. And self-mockery is what Jews do best.
“Israel is much more heterogeneous than France,” he says. “We are much more tolerant to satire, and even when it’s brutal or cynical, we can take it, because it’s part of Jewish culture. We talk about our society, our leaders, and very often the religious extremists and the settlers here don’t like it. They have sued us a couple of times for slander. But we have always won.”
Charlie Hebdo was known for its fearless mockery of many topics, but in particular fundamentalist Islam. But while Israelis know that the Muslim countries that surround them are growing more extremist, Segev says that his program has very rarely dealt with the topic, because they prefer to look inward and laugh at themselves.
“We don’t attack Palestinian society, because it’s not our business,” he says. “We have to criticize our own leaders and our own beliefs, and let the Arabs deal with their own problems.”
The Israeli media, which had been focused round-the-clock in recent days on an unprecedented snowstorm sweeping the region, appeared sad but not shocked by the tragic news. The Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth split its Thursday front page between an image of the attack and a snapshot of Jerusalem blanketed in white, and also carried many of the stirring cartoons drawn as part of the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign that followed the attack. The right-wing Israel Hayom paper also split its front page between Paris coverage and the winter storm, and focused its main story on the phenomenon of home-grown Islamic terror in Europe. Francophile columnist Boaz Bismuth, in an accompanying lead editorial, referred to the attack as the “9/11 of France.”
Haaretz, the nation’s more left-leaning daily, noted in its front page that despite the attack driving home the real threat of fundamentalism Islam in Europe, it won’t change anything for Israel’s hopes of gaining more support from the European Union.