Some were skeptical when they heard that Israel’s most popular comedy program, Eretz Nehederet (Wonderful Country), would be broadcasting a new show on Keshet 12 on Wednesday night, but not only did the show pull it off, a clip from it has gone viral, proving that people can find ways to laugh even in the face of great tragedy.
This skit was in English and featured Eretz Nehederet regulars Liat Harlev as a BBC anchor and Yuval Semmo as a BBC reporter breaking the news of the bombing of the hospital in Gaza that the BBC blamed Israel for, taking Hamas’s attribution at face value immediately.
The BBC has since issued a somewhat garbled apology for this report. In its statement, the BBC said it was “wrong to speculate” about the cause of the blast, which the Israeli and US governments now say was caused by a rocket misfired by an Islamic terror group inside Gaza, and the speculation “shouldn’t have happened and we need to make sure that we’re doubling down on… [keeping] our language absolutely accurate.”
In the sketch, Harlev, expertly mimicking the expression and intonation of a BBC broadcaster, announces the attack and calls, “More, more” when the number of casualties appears in chyron, saying, “Good,” when the number jumps from 500 to 750.
Semmo, playing reporter Harry Whiteguilt, says he is reporting from the “illegal colony of Tel Aviv” and praises Hamas as “the most credible not terrorist organization in the world,” a dig at the fact that the BBC refuses to call Hamas a terrorist organization, even following the release of harrowing footage from the massacre. As he speaks, a chyron appears with the words, “We love Hamas.”
Whiteguilt says that he has obtained video footage of the bombing, which shows a paper airplane dropping blue stars of David, then cuts to the nuclear explosion from the movie, Oppenheimer, with a clip of Cillian Murphy in the title role.
“Always Israel’s fault”
Whiteguilt then says he has new information and plays an audio recording of the terrorists admitting they fired the rocket in Arabic-accented Hebrew, with one of the terrorists saying that it’s no problem because maybe there were some gay people there. Harlev responds, “Well, I guess we’ll never know what happened,” even as one of the terrorists on the audio says, “No, no, we did it,” and Whiteguilt concludes, “But it’s still Israel’s fault.”
The clip was reposted all over the Internet many times, with some social-media users unearthing a similar clip from Eretz Nehederet in 2009, and others posting a picture of a lion and the BBC logo, saying the BBC had found Israel responsible for the death of Mufasa, a character in The Lion King.
Eretz Nehederet’s showrunner, Muli Segev, spoke about the sketch to Variety, and credited Itay Reicher and Dor Muskal for writing it. Segev said that the comedy show, often called Israel’s Saturday Night Live, had never missed a broadcast, even during the COVID crisis, but he admitted that putting together this show was much more of a challenge than making comedy during the pandemic.
“Everyone is still in mourning, each and every one of us has lost someone, or knows someone who has. It has been the most horrific event in this nation’s history and we have been through a lot along the years as you know. But still, people need some kind of relief,” he said. “. . . . It’s the old Jewish secret: laughing in the face of death.”