The Age’s Craig Mathieson reviewed a new ABC series, in which Fry talks about homophobia in different countries, giving examples from Uganda and Iran.
Would it surprise you to learn that the ”rabidly homophobic” people we meet in Stephen Fry: Out There (ABC1, 8.32pm) are bafflingly ludicrous zealots? Operating on a frequency that comes through loud and clear for Cory Bernardi, this motley crew of political demagogues and crackpot scientists are hilarious, at least until you realise the damage they do.
Fry, the urbane gay actor, author and host, finds himself in a radio debate on Ugandan radio’s top-rated breakfast show, where his host DJ Fatboy (no, really) has paired him with a homophobic pastor with an unhealthy obsession about anal sex who wields, by way of proof, a local tabloid newspaper with the following headline: Confession: How Bum Shafting Shattered My Whopper.
That newsprint classic rightly leaves Fry laughing, but then he meets Stosh, a Ugandan woman who was raped as a 14-year-old by a family friend to ”cure” her of her homosexuality, although what he did do was infect her with HIV. .. There’s a divide between the laughable words of the homophobic dills that Fry interviews and the monstrous deeds of those who follow them.
Fry also meets Farshad, a 28-year-old Iranian homosexual seeking political asylum in Britain so as not to be sent back to a country where homosexuality is punishable by death.
While watching the programme, I was moved by Fry’s observations that homophobia diminishes our humanity, and how we should be on our guard when someone out there hates us. He then went on to state that if antisemitism leads to Auschwitz, homophobia leads to horrors like Iran hanging gays.
Much as I agree that hateful words often lead to hateful actions, this equally applies to the antisemitism which is nowadays disguised as support for the Palestinian cause, which sees Arabs as the victims of Israeli occupation. This false narrative demonising Israel leads to terrorism, just as surely as Nazi antisemitism led to Auschwitz.
Yet Fry – a Jew – is in the forefront of the Israel-bashing brigade, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, which believes that Israel is guilty of illegal occupation and settlement, that Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza are breeding hatred and resentment, that Jews are abusing Palestinians’ human rights and that the humanitarian values of Judaism have been corrupted by the Israeli state’s human-rights abuses.
Fry (thinly disguised) appears in The Finkler Question, Howard Jacobson’s novel about self-hating Jews, which won the Booker Prize. Edward Alexander reviewed the book:
“….Howard Jacobson’s primary subject is the English version of Jewish hatred of Israel, otherwise known as the antisemitism of Jews in its most recent incarnation. It is a serious subject because Jewish Israel-haters and Jewish anorexics (people who wish to live without a body) play an enormously disproportionate role in the blackening of Israel’s image and the relentless tightening of the international noose around her throat. If they have not set it in motion, they have certainly accelerated a process that may turn out to be the antecedent of a second Holocaust within a single century. Such Jews have already made a large contribution to antisemitic agitprop and the raw violence consequent upon it in England.
At the novel’s center stands a womanizing gentile named Julian Treslove, formerly a programmer for the BBC (the butt of relentless and well-deserved derision throughout the novel). When at school he had befriended a Jew (the first he had ever known) named Samuel Finkler…. Treslove came to think of Finkler as representing Jews in general, and it is this misapprehension that explains the novel’s title: a “Finkler” is for Treslove a Jew, and The Finkler Question really means The Jewish Question… Julian aspires to (yet never does) become a Jew… But he also is puzzled-and one really should sympathize with him and with all the gentiles he represents for their justified befuddlement-by the fact that so many of the Jew-haters he has known are Jews: “I remember what anti-Semites they all were there [at the BBC], especially the Jews.”
Finkler has become rich and famous by publishing a series of self-help books of moral philosophy. .. We enter the story shortly after he has vaulted to still greater fame by concluding his appearance on the popular BBC program Desert Island Discs with the declaration that, “as a Jew,” he was “ashamed,” that is to say, ashamed of Israel. For this gesture he is promptly rewarded with an invitation to join a group of “well-known theatrical and academic Jews” who offer to rename themselves “in honour of his courage in speaking out-Ashamed Jews.” Flattered by the attention of (mostly third-rate) actors-for the professors’ praise he cares as little as for “the prayers he had never said for his grandfather”-he accepts, on the condition (quickly agreed to) that they slightly change their name to ASHamed Jews to show off their contempt for Holocaust memory: “The logic that made it impossible for those who had never been Zionists to call themselves ASHamed Zionists did not extend to Jews who had never been Jews. To be an ASHamed Jew did not require that you had been knowingly Jewish all your life. Indeed, one among them only found out he was Jewish at all in the course of making a television program in which he was confronted on camera with who he really was. In the final frame of the film he was disclosed weeping before a memorial in Auschwitz to dead ancestors who until that moment he had never known he’d had…. Born a Jew on Monday, he had signed up to be an ASHamed Jew by Wednesday and was seen chanting ‘We are all Hezbollah’ outside the Israeli Embassy on the following Saturday.”
… most of Jacobson’s English readers immediately recognized that Finkler’s despicable confession of shame on Desert Island Discs exactly duplicated that of Miriam Margolyes, the pudgy little character actress, and that the tearful comedian who discovered his “Jewishness” while making a TV program was Stephen Fry, a stalwart of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. …
These ashamed Jews are in many respects like the assimilated Jews of old, insisting that Jewish particularism, Jewish peoplehood, a Jewish state constitute the sole obstacles to universal brotherhood and peace. But there is a difference. Whereas the motto of the assimilationists, as far back as the 1880s, was “Be a Jew at home and a man in the street,” the motto of Jews ashamed of Israel is the opposite: “Be a man at home and a Jew in public.” At every opportunity, the Jewish anti-Zionist who can no longer be a Jew at home now introduces his self-righteous and self-loving public display of outrage against Israel with “As a Jew…” But here too Jacobson, except for a hint or two, substitutes believable fiction for incredible reality: the introduction now, more often than not, is: “As the Jewish child [or grandchild] of Holocaust victims, I am ashamed of Israel and hope to see it boycotted, punished by sanctions, and removed from the family of nations.”
In 2012, Daphne Anson wrote of Stephen Fry:
Well, I never!!! This apparent antisemitism on the part of a supposed British “national treasure” escaped my purview until now. Granted, it’s very brief and we don’t see the full context, but it looks decidedly dodgy.
Here’s Anglican-raised halachically Jewish pro-Palestinian campaigner Stephen Fry getting hot under the collar as he loftily tells Ann Widdicombe, the former British Tory Cabinet minister well-known for her Christian beliefs (she’s a notable convert to Catholicism) that a certain
“group of desert tribes have stored up more misery for mankind than any other group of people in the history of the planet, and they’re doing it to this day”.
It’s hard to know what motivates self-hating Jews like Stephen Fry. What is certain though, is that they provide legitimacy to those who seek the destruction of Israel and of Jews everywhere.
How can Stephen Fry not realise that he is supporting those who want to destroy him? Also, that most in the Arab world who he cares so much about are hostile to Jews, even the self-hating variety. And they don’t care much for homosexuals either!
It’s a shame he doesn’t follow this series with one on countries in the Middle East where homosexuality is not illegal. But it would be very short, as there’s only one such country – ISRAEL!