So Laugh Already! - Taking Jewish Satire Online
If satire is "the use of irony, sarcasm, or ridicule, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc." (thank you Dictionary.com), then what is Jewish satire? As editor in chief of Jewlarious.com, a Jewish humor website providing content in the form of articles, comics, jokes, videos and satire, I should be in a perfect position to judge. But I'm Jewish, so I prefer asking questions than answering them. So... who wants bagels and cream cheese?
These days, people have become so inundated with information that satire has practically developed into a coping mechanism. As outsiders for as long as we've been controlling the world's banks and media (that's satire by the way), Jews have long been in a very good position to offer a fresh perspective, to make people look at things differently. Satirists.
For example, when British Journalist Alan Johnston was released from captivity, having been a hostage in Gaza for many months, the BBC was strangely effusive in its praise of Hamas the terrorist organization that was involved in his release (and capture by the way). So, Jewlarious ran an article under the headline: BBC Praises Hamas; Requests More Kidnappings. When Mel Gibson was trying to convince the world that he was not anti-Semitic ("some of my best friends are hooked nosed money grubbing Jews" - also satire) right around the time of Michael Richard's racist tirade, Jewlarious ran an article titled, "Mel Gibson Demands Kramer Apology." And when scientists discovered an earth like planet named Gliese 581c we ran an article titled, "New Planet Discovered; Residents Rabidly Anti-Semitic." The residents of Gliese 581c alleged that "A cabal of Jewish lenders controls the Milky Way's banking systems."
For us, satire like this isn't just (hopefully) funny, it proves a point: that hatred of Jews, or any other ethnic group for that matter, is completely irrational, that Jews still suffer from anti-Semitism, even if it's from buffoons like Mel Gibson and his ilk, and Jews are increasingly feeling the bias of the international media against the State of Israel in favour of terrorist organizations like Hamas.
Despite such noble goals, running Jewlarious can sometimes be quite challenging. Jewlarious is an arm of a larger Jewish educational website called aish.com. Many of aish.com's readers visit their site in search of spirituality, but with one click of a button they can find themselves on Jewlarious. So we have to be pretty careful about what we say. If an 80 year old lady from Boca Raton is on aish.com trying to find a recipe for potato latkes on Hanukah and then clicks over to Jewlarious, we don't want her reading something that will send her into immediate cardiac arrest (we'll leave that to the oily latkes). But what is perhaps even more difficult is that she may not even understand what we're saying. After all, one of the limits of satire is that if you don't know the background story behind the satirical piece, or you just don't understand the tongue in cheek nature of satire, then you'll probably just be confused. I can't count the amount of comments I get from people who were sad that the Pillsbury Doughboy was burned in a tragic pre-Passover cleaning accident.
So, doing satire from a Jewish perspective does afford us the opportunity to draw on that tradition that we have developed over thousands of years to look at things differently, offer a fresh perspective, and hopefully even provide people with a chuckle (after all, laughter is a mitzvah - a commandment). Producing the web's leading Jewish humor website is tons of fun, rewarding, and at times very challenging, but hey - so is being Jewish.