The Habonim Dror School of Racist Comedy
In their attempts to groom and radicalize Jewish children and young people, into ideological partisans of the ideology of Zionism, the Zionist movement seems to have fostered an identifiable strand of racist comedy. Zionist youth groups such as Habonim Dror are key to this according to the testimony of former members.
The Zionist movement makes a very significant investment in the indoctrination of Jewish children and young people. In the UK, the largest group fundraising for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA).
It invests in a wide range of organizations for young people, all dedicated to fostering the racist ideology of Zionism. But it also schools and coaches young Jews in wider racist ideas and ideologies. How does this work out when they grow up?
Haberdashers’ Aske’s School
Take the example of a school in North London, the Haberdashers’ Aske’s School – now known more simply as Haberdashers’ after dropping the name ‘Aske’s’. This was because the Merchant, Robert Aske, was an investor in the Royal African Company which had a monopoly on the British slave trade. As with most areas of public life in the UK children who attend private schools are significantly over-represented in elite professions including in the entertainment industry. As it happens, significant numbers of nationally and internationally known entertainers attended the school including :
- Matt Lucas and Ashley Blaker who were behind the popular comedy show Little Britain.
- Robert Popper, who among his other activities was Commissioning editor at Channel Four where he commissioned Bo’Selecta and produced two series of the comedy Peep Show.
- David Baddiel, the stand-up comedian, and co-host of Fantasy Football League.
- Perhaps best known is Sacha Baron-Cohen who made his name presenting himself as a young Muslim (Ali G), pretending to be black, and then played a series of other Muslim comedy characters including Borat in the internationally known film of the same name.
Pattern of behavior: Racist comedy
Work produced by all five has been criticized or removed from streaming services for racism.
- Little Britain (produced by Blaker and staring Lucas) was widely criticized in March this year as ‘racist’ when some old shows were made available for streaming again; After George Floyd was murdered by US police, the shows were pulled from Netflix, the BBC’s iPlayer and BritBox. A BBC spokesperson claimed that “times have changed” since the sketch comedy program first aired in the mid-2000s. Lucas and his co-star David Walliams, publically apologized for the racism in their show.
- Shows that Popper has been associated with have been accused of racism or have had material removed because of such concerns. Bo’Selecta was accused of emboldening “casual racism” and Peep Show had a “blackface” scene removed on Netflix in 2020. Popper has also tweeted in support of false allegations of anti-Semitism made against the left.
- David Baddiel famously blacked up and taunted the black football player Jason Lee in a series of prime-time comedy shows over months. His incitements resulted in “tens of thousands abusing Lee in stadiums up and down the county.”
- Professor Sarita Malik described the campaign against Lee as “racial taunting”. Lee later said that Baddiel had never properly or directly apologized for the damage he did. “I never received an apology from Baddiel and Skinner. It wasn’t like I was looking for one,” said Lee “but I’ve never met them in person. If I met them in person, it’s a conversation we would have. I’ve never been mentally weak or physically weak, so would you stand in front of me and mock me? I think you wouldn’t.” Baddiel has also been a key participant in the anti-Semitism smears against the left over the past five years, including publishing a book titled Jews Don’t Count;
- Baron Cohen has been widely criticized for decades for the racism in his portrayal of Muslim characters such as Ali G and Borat.
However, many of those involved in the British comedy world (such as Baddiel, his brother Ivor, Popper, Baron-Cohen, the producer of Whose Line is it Anyway/Mock the Week, Dan Patterson, and his colleague in both shows, Mark Leveson) also credit a little known Zionist youth group - Habonim Dror - as playing a role in their success. The Jewish Chronicle reported that Lucas was a Habonim alumnus. He subsequently clarified the was a member of RSY-Netzer, which was, however, also signed up to the racist ideology of Zionism, through formal membership of the Zionist Federation and thus the World Zionist Organisation.
Habonim Dror – “Socialist” Zionist youth group
‘Socialist’ Zionist group Habonim Dror, is one of many Zionist youth groups financially supported by the UJIA. According to the acclaimed film director Mike Leigh, who attended Habonim in his youth: “there were … a lot of speakers from Israel feeding us political propaganda.” “Money raised by Habonim” in the UK reportedly “funded seven kibbutzim”, the Jews-only settlements, central to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
The veteran anti-Zionist campaigner Tony Greenstein has argued that “socialist” Zionists were if anything historically “more racist” than right-wing Zionists. The latter “would employ Palestinians as cheap labor. The Labour Zionists wanted to exclude them entirely”.
Greenstein’s views are well supported even in the Zionist literature. In The Zionist Movement, Israel Cohen, former Secretary of the World Zionist Organization, wrote that part of the reason for the “socialist outlook” among the settlers, was evidently that “private settlers, even against their will, found themselves obliged to take cheap Arab labor”. To ensure the Kibbutzim were Jews only, the “Socialists” adopted the “collectivist” system. Where Arabs were employed, Cohen notes, the director was “compelled to withdraw” and the settlement “was then taken over by the workers”, ensuring the exclusion of the Palestinians. Members of the predecessor group to Habonim Dror were involved with other “Socialist” Zionist groups in seizing Palestinian land in the Naqab in 1946 in a plot they called “11 points in the Negev”. It was dreamed up by the non-Socialist Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund (two of the four key institutions of the Zionist movement). This history is the material genesis of the racism of “Socialist” Zionism which is expressed in the practical politics of Habonim Dror today.
Habonim comedy “talent factory”?
It is reported that Habonim Dror had an “extraordinary track record as a hothouse which produced significant figures in the arts and entertainment industry.” It was reportedly labeled a "comedy talent factory". According to Dan Patterson, the creator of the comedy series Whose Line Is It Anyway?, from 1988: “the inspiration for the show could be traced back to Habonim”. There was, he said, “definitely an atmosphere which was creative and spontaneous… It's one of the biggest gifts I had in my life.”
Habonim “old boys” network
The radicalization evidently accomplished led to lasting bonds into adulthood. Ivor Baddiel, David’s elder brother, remembered: “Early on in my career… I used to turn up at the open commissioning meetings for the Radio 4 comedy show, Week Ending, trying to get one of my jokes included in the script. Dan Patterson was producing … and I remember at the end of the meeting, when he wanted everyone to go, he said 'betorim'. It was the word for 'dismissed' we used at the end of the parade at Habonim. I think I was the only one in the room who knew that, and was able to make that connection!" Patterson also connected with another collaborator through Habonim. Mark Leveson, who along with Patterson created Whose Line is it Anyway and Mock the Week, “first became his friend on Israel tour.”
Patterson is married to Laura Marks, senior vice president of the pro-"Israel" Board of Deputies, also a Habonim alumna. They continue the tradition by sending their children to be indoctrinated in the racist ideology of Zionism. Patterson is “obviously delighted… their own three children are experiencing [Habonim] themselves.”
Co-ordinated attack on Muslim representative
These evolving networks are invisible to the eye of the average consumer of the media. One example where it should have been disclosed was in early 2021, when the newly elected secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Zara Mohammed, was set upon by Woman’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett in a set piece widely criticized even by Zionist apologists. Joining her in the attack was Laura Marks who, as well her role at the Board of Deputies, also runs a variety of interfaith ventures dedicated to penetrating the Muslim community to normalize Zionism. Listeners were not to know that both Marks and Barnett were Habonim alumna.
The Habonim school of racist comedy
It has been said that the Haberdashers’ school might be the origin of the creative talents reviewed above and it is often referred to in the media as 'The Elstree School of Comedy'.
But many of those mentioned in this piece went to other schools. The role apparently played by Habonim Dror, is much stronger – even if some were in differing Zionist youth groups. Perhaps, therefore, we should refer to: The Habonim Dror school for racist comedy?