Head of GOP in Israel calls Sarah Silverman ‘self-hating Jew’ for decade-old joke
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Head of GOP in Israel calls Sarah Silverman ‘self-hating Jew’ for decade-old joke

Sarah Silverman speaking during the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The leader of Israel’s main Republican group called Sarah Silverman a “self-hating Jew” and said she “needs a muzzle.”

Marc Zell made the comments Saturday night on behalf of the Republicans Overseas Israel Facebook page, which he manages as the group’s co-chairman. The post links to a blog post about a decade-old video clip of the Jewish comedian performing her standup show “Jesus is Magic.”

The Feb. 2 blog post by far-right documentary filmmaker Pat Dollard is titled “Jew Sarah Silverman: “I Hope The Jews Did Kill Christ” and features Silverman delivering a version of that line from her early 2000s comedy routine. Silverman’s audiences at the time understood the remark to be sarcastic.

Zell, an attorney who lives in the West Bank settlement Tekoa, said Silverman’s comments “damage” the Jewish community and insult Christians. He said it falls within the mission of Republican Overseas Israel to “call down” public figures like Silverman.

“Republicans Overseas Israel exists in order to not only represent the Republican Party here in Israel but also to represent the Jewish community in Israel to the Republican Party and the millions of Americans who support the Republican Party and our president,” he told JTA Sunday. “I think it’s appropriate to say something about a public figure as widely known as this woman, who during the campaign also had some ‘precious’ views to express about our candidate and our president. People like her need to be called down when they step over the line.”

Silverman — who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. in the Democratic primary and then Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election campaign — has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. Last March, during the Republican primaries, she appeared on “Conan” dressed as Adolf Hitler and complained of her character being “unfavorably” compared to Trump.

Republican Overseas Israel held a get-out-the-vote campaign in Israel for Trump during the general election, and Trump and Vice President Mike Pence recorded video messages for an event the group held in Jerusalem in October. Zell claimed a record number of Americans in Israel cast absentee ballots, though that was widely disputed.

One of Trump’s most prominent boosters in Israel during the campaign, Zell continues to combatively advocate for and defend the president, along with Israel and the settlements. On the Republicans Overseas Israel Facebook page Thursday, he also deemed the Israeli-American teenager from Asheklon who was arrested last week on suspicion of calling in more than 100 bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the United States “The Ultimate Self-Hating Jew.”

Four women had commented Sunday on Zell’s Facebook post about Silverman, all agreeing with its sentiment. One invited Silverman to visit the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip, saying “Your friends are there, you’ll feel really comfortable and soon the rainy season is over so you won’t drown in your bed.” Others called her a “Trash box” and a “pig.”

Zell responded in a comment Sunday: “Better not to even pass her stuff around. I’m hitting delete.” But the post remained up.

Jerusalem-based journalist Noga Tarnopolsky in a tweet called on the Republican Party and the Republican Jewish Coalition to “do something” about Zell, saying of Zell’s Silverman tweet: “This is in your name.”  She also tweeted to the Anti-Defamation League, saying “Hi & : An online troll is confusing a prominent Jewish woman with a dog. Do something.”