Comedian Frankie Boyle has described Israel as an “aggressive, terrorist” and “apartheid” state during an attack on the BBC’s decision to apologise for a joke he made about Jews.
The Scottish comedian, who has appeared on Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You, made the comments in an open letter responding to the BBC Trust editorial standards committee’s apology earlier this week.
Mr Boyle made the original remarks on Radio 4’s Political Animal in June 2008 and said: “I’m quite interested in the Middle East, I’m actually studying that Israeli army martial arts. And I know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back.
“I’ve got an analogy which explains the whole thing quite well: if you imagine that Palestine is a cake – well, that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.”
After a series of complaints, the BBC apologised for “any offence” it may have caused listeners and admitted it breached editorial guidelines.
Responding to the decision, Mr Boyle criticised the BBC and said: “The Trust’s ruling is essentially a note from their line managers. It says that if you imagine that a state busily going about the destruction of an entire people is fair game, you are mistaken. Israel is out of bounds.
“The BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal in 2009 to help residents of Gaza rebuild their homes. It’s tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying.
“The situation in Palestine seems to be, in essence, apartheid. I grew up with the anti-apartheid thing being a huge focus of debate. It really seemed to matter to everybody that other human beings were being treated in that way. We didn’t just talk about it, we did things, I remember boycotts and marches and demos all being held because we couldn’t bear that people were being treated like that.”
He also described a film he had seen about life in Palestine where a doctor accused the audience of doing nothing to help.
“I cried at that and promised myself that I would do something,” he said. “Other than write a few stupid jokes, I have not done anything. Neither have you.”