I think Frankie Boyle is perhaps Britain’s most talented comedian. I’ve seen him live and he was outrageous, hilarious and sharp all night. I gave him the benefit of the doubt when he made jokes about Israel, because he also managed to be offensive on other topics, including Islamic terrorism, so I assumed he had no agenda other than to universally shock.
However, after the BBC Trust recently apologised about two of Boyle’s Israel jokes he has lashed out with a ludicrous open letter:
‘I think the problem here is that the show’s producers will have thought that Israel, an aggressive, terrorist state with a nuclear arsenal was an appropriate target for satire.’
Aggressive? Terrorist? He shows no evidence for these outrageous descriptions. Like many of Israel’s critics he believes that if he throws around enough inflammatory adjectives that nobody will notice he has no evidence.
His next thoughts are – pardon the pun – a complete joke.
‘The Trust’s ruling is essentially a note from their line managers. It says that if you imagine that a state busily going about the destruction of an entire people is fair game, you are mistaken. Israel is out of bounds.’
So let’s get this straight. Israel is, according to Boyle, intent on the destruction of an entire people. But he has also told us it is an aggressive, nuclear-armed terrorist state. So why hasn’t it managed to destroy that entire people?
Why, in fact, has the opposite happened with, for instance, life expectancy increasing in the West Bank since the Israeli ‘occupation’ began? Why does Israel – at huge risk to its doctors – treat sick Gazans in Israeli hospitals? The destruction of an entire people? Don’t be so ridiculous.
Then we begin to see his true colours.
‘The BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal in 2009 to help residents of Gaza rebuild their homes. It’s tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying.’
Ah, the old ‘lobby’ chestnut.
‘The situation in Palestine seems to be, in essence, apartheid. I grew up with the anti apartheid thing being a huge focus of debate.’
‘Seems to be’ indeed. Again, there is no evidence backing up his claim about the apartheid ‘thing’ applying to Israel. He then turns to a film he once watched including a scene in a Palestinian hospital involving a ‘UN dignitary of some kind’ which made him cry. It’s all very vague and he doesn’t seem to have quite understood what he saw or what factors contributed to the situation portrayed in the scene.
The lazy, ill-informed approach Boyle has taken to forming his views on the Middle East is clear throughout his open letter. So I hold my hands up: I was wrong to assume Boyle had no agenda with his Israel jokes.