How Much do you Love Israel?

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Ben Cohen
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If it had been aired, the Saturday Night Live parody of the confirmation hearings of Senator Chuck Hagel would have marked a serious turning point in American media culture. Even though the skit didn't air officially, it does show that comedians are now willing to confront the extraordinary bias towards Israel in mainstream culture - a once taboo subject that could have resulted in being blacklisted.

The parody portrays Republicans as going ridiculously over-the-top in harassing Hagel for not going far enough in expressing unyielding love for Israel. Sen. Tim Scott claims that as an African-American Republican from South Carolina, he has deep emotional ties to the country, saying that "Israel has the nicest people, the tallest mountains and the best hip-hop." At one point in the sketch, John McCain challenges Chuck Hagel to agree to fellate a donkey on the orders of Benjamin Netanyahu for the security of Israel.

It's funny stuff, and painfully accurate. Chuck Hagel, a conservative Republican in virtually every way imaginable, has essentially been devoured by his own party (amazingly being subjected to a filibuster in order to obstruct his pathway to Secretary of Defense) on the basis that he is insufficiently pro Israel. The charges are, by any reasonable standard, pathetic. Hagel has criticized Israel in the past and asserted that American foreign policy should be dictated by America and not the Jewish state - an apparently controversial stance that means he cannot be trusted to helm America's defense department.

Attacking this bizarre status quo has been completely off limits until very recently, and the unofficial release of the SNL skit shows that a deeper rebellion within mainstream America is simmering beneath the surface.