CBS studios in Los Angeles (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)

I appreciate that NCIS is a work of fiction, but surely there’s no room for discredited cliches and anti-Semitic tropes in any context, even fictitious television dramas. 

By Henry Roth, Special to United with Israel

I used to be a big fan of the CBS drama ‘NCIS’ but that changed when their producers decided that the most villainous and hostile enemy of America was … wait for it … Israel.

This anti-Israel animus began in the very first season with the murder of NCIS agent Kate Todd by Ari (“a renegade Mossad double-agent” as described by the writers).  A few seasons later, the NCIS team and several Mossad agents clashed when they were jointly tasked with protecting the Head of Mossad during his visit to Washington. In fact, when one of the Mossad agents said Shalom to Jethro Gibbs, Jethro responded that “… there’s not a lot of peace when you’re around”

A couple of seasons later, the deputy director of Mossad was responsible for the murders of NCIS Director Vance’s wife and the head of Mossad.

One of NCIS’s principle writers, Jesse Stern, was asked why Mossad seemed to play an out-sized role in many NCIS story arcs and his response was : “I love our Israelis when they’re right and I love them when they’re wrong…”.  I’d sure like to know exactly when he portrayed Mossad as being right about something.  Truthfully, Stern is typical of progressives – sadly, many of them Jews – who have no problem echoing the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments of their entertainment world colleagues and associates.

I appreciate that NCIS is a work of fiction, but surely there’s no room for discredited cliches and anti-Semitic tropes in any context, even fictitious television dramas.  If there were a history of Israel or Mossad acting against America’s interests, then perhaps the story lines would be bearable, if not plausible.  However, the American experience with terrorism is not exactly rife with cases of Israeli perpetrators.

In fact, Israel and Mossad have played a pivotal role in curbing terrorism both in Israel and America.  The scripts of NCIS do not have to perfectly reflect reality but do they really need to distort history and vilify Jews and a true friend of America?

As memories of NCIS’s bad-mouthing of Jews started to fade, along comes another CBS drama “The Equalizer” to pick up NCIS’s anti-Semitic cudgel.  In a recent episode, terrorists were attempting to secure a list of CIA operatives, and sure enough, the leader of the gang, Yossi Abraham, turns out to be an ex-Mossad agent.  And just in case the connection between Mossad and the Jewish state was not apparent to viewers, the camera provided a momentary glimpse of the Star of David being worn by Abraham.

There was no reason for ‘The Equalizer” to identify the nationality of this criminal/terrorist, but the fact that they went to such lengths to make it clear that the evil-doer was an Israeli and Jew was both gratuitous and slanderous.

In an era of rising (and increasingly more violent) anti-Semitism, it is more important than ever that we clearly identify the causes of and contributors to this new environment of Jew-hatred.  NCIS and The Equalizer are watched by millions of people and every one of those viewers has been told that Jews and Israel are ‘the enemy’.

Yes, it’s just TV and yes, it’s not only Jews and Israel that have been the ‘bad guys’ on individual episodes, but the widespread and profound anti-Semitism now confronting us is the product of a myriad of inputs and it is impossible to measure the exact impact of the individual events or statements that contribute to this environment.  Suffice it to say that NCIS’s and The Equalizer’s negative portrayals of Jews and Israel aren’t helpful.

The fact that there has been virtually no harsh blow-back for CBS’s negative depictions of Israelis and Jews is a sad commentary on just how mainstream anti-Semitism has become and how too many Jews have decided that silence is the best way to deal with the constant drip-drip of anti-Semitic provocations.

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