A Dutch parody of Israeli Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai has caused a diplomatic stir after Israel’s Embassy in the Netherlands lodged a formal complaint to the Dutch TV channel that broadcast the video.
The sketch, which was aired on Sunday night, appeared on a satirical show by popular Dutch comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries, featuring a singer who has replicated Barzilai’s kimono and distinctive hairstyle and replaced the words of her Eurovision winning song “Toy” with new lyrics criticising Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.
Israel’s ambassador to The Hague also sent a letter of protest to the Foreign Ministry and Central Jewish Board, the umbrella group for Holland’s Jewish community.
“Freedom of speech, freedom of the press and satire, are important elements of a democratic and pluralistic society, as exists in the Netherlands and Israel,” said the letter. “We cherish and respect these principles, yet in that show you went too far.”
Israelis “don’t rejoice when Palestinians are killed,” the letter explained, adding that the impression of Barzilai and the overall performance were good, “but all the rest was very problematic”.
The song quickly went viral and made the rounds on social media.
Dutch comedian @SanneWallis blasts Israel in her pilot episode with spoof of Eurovision winner ‘Toy’
”Look how beautifully I launch missiles’ pic.twitter.com/kO86EvuPLH
— Achmat X (@AchmatX) May 22, 2018
Israel launches official complaint after Dutch TV re-dubs Israeli Eurovision “winner” boasting of Israel’s mass murder https://t.co/VtGbRVqThD
— Sarah Wilkinson (@swilkinsonbc) May 22, 2018
To whom do Palestinians get to complain about their relatives killed by the Zionist occupiers?
— Carl Nyberg (@CarlNyberg312) May 23, 2018
The chorus of Barzilai’s song was changed from “I’m not your toy” to “Look how beautifully I launch missiles.”
Touching on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish state, the song continues:
“We’re throwing a party, are you coming?
Later, at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,
which will be empty soon anyway.”
The singer then adds: “The Palestinians aren’t invited to her party.”
The performance takes place in front of a screen where footage from the Palestinian protests on the Gaza border last week is displayed, including scenes of smoke and protesters being lifted on stretchers after having been shot by Israeli snipers.
— Peter Feld 🔥 (@peterfeld) May 22, 2018
The spoof has triggered a controversy online. Some Twitter users praised the song for “telling the truth”.
Well done to Dutch TV I say!!!
— Greg’s World (@therobinhood2) May 22, 2018
| The song is harmless, telling the TRUTH about Israeli, compared to Ill Treatment & murder of Land owner Paalestinians by IDF
— arhaj1 (@arhaj1) May 23, 2018
Brilliant parody by female Dutch comedian of #Eurovision2018 #Israeli hasbara song, revealing the ugly truth https://t.co/FTloUo990T
(no not by a US spineless ‘comedian’ who visits IOF & practices target shooting) #Gaza #Palestine #SanneWallisDeShow https://t.co/xFiOrcTtF6
— Anand (@Anandstweets) May 22, 2018
The Israeli embassy has filed an official complaint with the Dutch foreign minister. 🤔 Freedom of speech and expression? Democracy?
— Ilse van Cooten (@MozaicDunes) May 23, 2018
Others, however, accused the comedian of being “anti-Israel” and “anti-Semitic.”
I haven’t heard about you until today. Your version of Toy is a disgrace. Antisemitic and full of hate. I wish you will lose all you fans and that you won’t be able to make a living out of this business.Shame shame shame. Israel forever!!!🇮🇱
— navit babai(nevnev) (@navitbabai) May 21, 2018
No surprise to see Dutch public television do an anti-semitic parody of our Netta. Nazi collaborators don’t change. Pretty sure I saw the descendants of Riphagen in the clip. Absolutely certain I didn’t see the descendants of Anne Frank. Enjoy your Euro Caliphate.
— ((((………)))) (@JudenFist) May 22, 2018
Freedom of speech is one of the most important freedoms that needs to be protected, but @SanneWallis just took that freedom and twisted it to the point of sheer disgust.
Seeing it was your first show, I hope the network you’re on won’t allow you a second.
— Shay Rosemberg, Esq. (@RosenbergShay) May 22, 2018
We are disgusted with the airing of an anti-Semitic parody video of Israeli singer Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision-winning song “Toy” on Dutch public broadcasting association @BNNVARA. Degrading and anti-Semitic videos about Israel and Jews have no place on television, or anywhere.
— B’nai B’rith Int’l (@BnaiBrith) May 22, 2018
Others responded, defending the song against claims of anti-Semitism.
As disgusted as you were at the sight of Gaza concentration camp prisoner having their legs shot off? Yeah, didnt think so. The @IDFSpokesperson cries out in pain as he shoots you in the back. pic.twitter.com/sdbLbrEjx0
— Rico Avocado👑🇲🇽🇵🇸🇸🇾👑 (@AvoToast108) May 22, 2018
Are you as disgusted when you see what’s happening to Gaza and Weatbank on daily basis? Just asking since you brought it up.
— 🇺🇸iSig🌹Freud🇺🇸 (@iSigFreud) May 23, 2018
Criticising a violent apartheids-regime is not antisemitic. Pls dont use the ‘antisemite!’ card it does’nt work anymore.
Stop Israeli violence!
— TR (@utwitt2me) May 22, 2018
Not anti-Semitic to protest the murder of innocent Palestinians last time I checked.
— Usman Ahmed (@ahmed321_u) May 23, 2018
The Israeli Government lables all critic, parodies, articles or comic strips as antisemitic. Sadly many jewish communities leaderships dance to the Israeli Government’s tune. Crying wolf, wolf and wolf can be risky when the real wolf comes. https://t.co/rqNYFHjRXr
— Dror Feiler (@DrorFeiler) May 22, 2018
How is it antisemitic? Because it shows most moral army in the world executing unarmed protesters?
— حق العودة Ziomythologist (@Aer_O_Head) May 22, 2018
You mean that freedom of speech ends where criticism on Israel starts? I don’t think so! pic.twitter.com/rXuAVGJTOe
— Deugmens Wil 🇪🇺 #FBPE (@whaas3) May 22, 2018
In response, the TV station denied accusations of anti-Semitism, saying: “The parody questions Israel’s policy and is emphatically not an indictment against the Jewish community.”