Jackie Mason, a Great Talent Who Struggled with “Cancel Culture” before It Had a Name—and Recovered

July 27 2021

Born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin to immigrant parents, Yacov Moshe Maza was descended from four generations of rabbis, and, along with his brothers, attended a distinguished yeshiva and received rabbinic ordination. But he had second thoughts about following in his ancestors’ footsteps and—taking the name Jackie Mason—launched a career as a stand-up comedian in the borscht-belt tradition. Mason died on Saturday at the age of ninety-three. As Thane Rosenbaum observes:

[T]here were Jewish standup comedians before Mason, but compared to Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle, Rodney Dangerfield, and Don Rickles, Jackie Mason was absolutely and avowedly, “too Jewish.” And his mostly mixed audiences absolutely loved him for it. (Mason’s act sold out London’s West End nightly with a show titled Fearless.) . . . It’s difficult to overstate how influential Mason was to American and Jewish culture. For Middle America, watching The Ed Sullivan Show or The Tonight Show in 1964, Jackie Mason was like Fiddler on the Roof (which opened on Broadway that year) on steroids.

Mason was a Sullivan show mainstay until he wasn’t, having once jabbed his finger in a way that Sullivan interpreted as being flipped. It ruined Mason’s career. Exiled from wholesome commercial TV, he was suddenly unkosher. For nearly two decades he disappeared from American households, consigned to the condominium circuit of Collins Avenue in South Florida.

But Mason eventually staged a comeback, only to have it happen again. He was, as Tevi Troy observes in his observations of Mason’s interactions with, and jibes at, various presidents, the embodiment of “a certain type of New Yorker, one who makes fun of everyone—his own group perhaps most of all.” Eventually, Mason found himself in hot water again, this time over racial insensitivity, and experienced what Rosenbaum calls “a foreshadowing” of cancel culture. John Podhoretz notes an irony:

If you think of hot comedians, you might think of Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle or Bill Burr—incendiary stand-ups who cross political and ideological boundaries as they deliver preacher-like sermons on the worst of the cardinal sins: the sin of humorlessness.

This Jew from Sheboygan always spoke from the perspective of an outside observer, an undisguisable member of a minority group who saw the ludicrousness both in the majority and the way his own community responded to the majority.

In this respect, as in many others, [the African American comedians] Chappelle and Rock are his true descendants, his honorary grandchildren.

Read more at New York Post

More about: American Jewry, Cancel culture, Comedy

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada