By Morton A. Klein and Elizabeth Berney, Esq.
(AUGUST 29, 2023 / JNS) “Sex and the City” (SATC) fans appropriately expressed outrage after SATC’s reboot “And Just Like That” (AJLT) made an offensive joke about the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance Day. They further charged that the show was permeated with overdone “woke-ism.”
But other deeply disturbing things about AJLT received little to no notice. First, AJLT repeatedly promoted the dangerous George Soros-funded Israel-bashing propaganda organization Human Rights Watch (HRW). This became even worse in the just-aired AJLT Season 2, which also displays giant HRW signs in numerous scenes.
The show also included a joke portraying Israel’s Mossad as random assassins; propagated the false “Muslim ban” myth; disparaged Jews’ physical appearance and behavior; and mocked concerns about kosher food. It thus compounded the negative, antisemitic portrayals of Jews and Israel in the series “Suits,” “Quantico” and too many other shows.
This is extremely harmful to Jews in an era of skyrocketing antisemitism, which is often manifested as Israel-hatred.
Elevating anti-Israel HRW
AJLT has obsessively promoted HRW. This is particularly disturbing given HRW’s unabashed hatred of Israel. Besides Soros, whose foundations gave a $100 million 10-year challenge grant to HRW, the group has also received donations from notorious anti-Israel groups like the Ford Foundation, Oxfam and the Rockefeller Bros. Foundation, which specifically contributed to HRW’s “Israel/Palestine program.” HRW has also used its anti-Israel defamation campaigns to raise funds from prominent Saudis.
HRW uses its massive funding and power to repeatedly defame Israel. An HRW website search reveals 2,185 HRW articles, so-called reports, op-eds and so on that libel Israel, including lengthy reports falsely accusing Israel of “apartheid” and “crimes against humanity,” and promoting antisemitic anti-Israel boycotts and lawfare.
Because of this extreme, unrelenting Israel-hatred, HRW’s founder and former chair Robert Bernstein disassociated himself from his own organization. Bernstein wrote that HRW has turned into a group that is “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state. … Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.”
Yet in AJLT Season 1, Episode 10, lead character Miranda Hobbes (played by left-wing politician Cynthia Nixon) is chided for giving up what is lauded as a valuable, “highly competitive” and “impossible to get” internship with Human Rights Watch. When Miranda informs her human-rights law professor, Nya Wallace, of her plans to follow her nonbinary lover to California, the professor laments the decision:
Professor Nya: What about that internship at Human Rights Watch?
Miranda: I, I, I guess I’m gonna have to pull out, you know … for now.
Professor Nya: Are you sure about that? It’s a really competitive internship. I wrote you a glowing recommendation.
Miranda: I know, and I’m so grateful, and it is taking every ounce of strength to not change my mind.
Later in the same episode, lead character Carrie Bradshaw also chides Miranda for giving up the the internship.
The real HRW tweeted in response, “Btw, all of our internships are remote-friendly—you can have love AND an internship!” How heartwarming to know that you can simultaneously work for blood-libeler HRW and have a confused, doomed affair.
Notably, AJLT’s elevation of HRW occurred just two days after a similar anti-Israel so-called “human rights” group, Amnesty International, issued a report promoting a “right” to murder Jews and destroy Israel. The Amnesty report was based, in significant part, on HRW’s own false anti-Israel reports.
Incidentally, HRW internships do not appear to be as “coveted” as portrayed by AJLT. Glassdoor.com has 23 complaints from HRW interns about HRW’s lack of pay, travel stipends and subsidies, plus complaints about a lack of substantive work.
AJLT’s Season 2, Episodes 8 through 11 went even further in fawning over HRW, including claiming that working for it is “doing good in the world.” The following dialogue occurs when Miranda is about to begin the HRW internship that she previously declined:
Carrie: Hey, are you excited about tomorrow?
Miranda: I’d better be. After I begged the Human Rights Watch people to please, please, please let me intern!
Carrie: Aw, I think the resume helped.
Miranda: It was mostly the begging. At one point, I told them that turning down the internship last year was the single biggest mistake I ever made. … So, I’ll be bottom man on the totem pole, but I’m just happy I’ll be someplace helping to do some good in the world. I mean, it is why I left the law firm.
The following episodes show Miranda working for HRW and meeting with considerable success. In almost all these scenes, the backdrop consists of giant Human Rights Watch logos, covering the wall of Miranda’s private office and displayed in the office common areas. Everyone wears large HRW badges around their necks. The giant HRW sign even appears in the “previous on” segment at the beginning of episode 10, just in case anyone missed it the numerous times it filled the screen in the previous two episodes.
Talk about product placement on steroids!
AJLT needs to take steps to undo this harm. Would any television show ever elevate an organization that defames blacks, gays, Asians, Muslims or any other minority group? Of course not. It is only Jews and Israel that can be maligned with seeming impunity. Moreover, AJLT could easily have chosen or invented a decent human-rights group, instead of elevating blood-libeler HRW.
Showrunner Michael Patrick King, Jewish actress and executive co-producer Sarah Jessica Parker and AJLT’s other top brass should now do whatever possible to rectify this situation, including apologies and corrective scenes in AJLT’s next season.
For example, AJLT could show Miranda resigning from HRW in disgust after realizing that it has weaponized the mantra of “human rights” in order to incessantly demonize Israel with antisemitic falsehoods. Perhaps Jewish lead characters Harry and Charlotte Goldenblatt (played by Kristin Davis and Jewish actor Evan Handler) could confront Miranda about working for such a despicable organization.
Unfortunately, there are other issues that need to be addressed as well.
Portraying the Mossad as assassins
Season one, episode seven of AJLT contains a tasteless anti-Israel joke that portrays Israel’s national intelligence service, the Mossad, as assassins who senselessly “off” people.
At a fundraiser, Carrie Bradshaw spots a man named Peter with whom Carrie recently had an embarrassing blind date. When Peter leaves the room, Carrie turns to her friend Anthony:
Carrie: You know what? Can you follow him out? And then come back and tell me when you’re sure he’s out of the building and gone?
Anthony: You want me to off him, too? What am I, Mossad?
Why didn’t AJLT choose a group that really “offs” innocent people, like the Mafia, Hamas or the Palestinian Authority?
Promoting the “Muslim ban” myth
In AJLT Season 1, Episode 1, Miranda tells her human-rights professor: “I, I quit … I, uh … I left corporate law, recently, after almost 30 years because I couldn’t be part of the problem anymore. I was at home watching CNN when the Muslim ban was initiated, and I saw all those attorneys out at the airport offering assistance, and I just … The next thing I knew, I was in a cab goin’ to JFK to do something, anything, because, you know … my wearing a pink pussy hat just wasn’t cutting it.”
In reality, there was no “Muslim ban.” It is a propaganda term used by opponents of the travel ban that former President Donald Trump initiated to protect U.S. security.
The travel ban restricted travel from only a small number of terrorism-infested countries—five Muslim-majority countries and three non-Muslim countries—where the U.S. lacked the information needed to properly vet entrants to the United States.
The Pew Research Center calculated that Muslim-majority countries affected by the initial travel ban contained only 12% of the world’s Muslim population. This percentage later dropped even further. The five Muslim-majority countries affected by the third version of the travel ban contained only 8% of the world’s Muslim population.
The affected countries were all places in which terrorism forced the U.S. embassy to close, leaving the United States without any on-the-ground presence. Numerous Obama administration officials and others testified that ISIS and other terror groups were attempting to infiltrate the U.S. and the lack of on-the-ground presence made vetting impossible.
Disparaging Jews’ physical appearance and behavior
SATC portrayed the Jewish character Harry Goldenblatt as so physically unattractive that, during the early part of his relationship with the gorgeous character Charlotte York, Charlotte is repulsed and embarrassed to be seen in public with Harry.
Related episodes focused on Harry’s hairy back, Harry sloppily eating and then spitting out a bagel into his hand and Harry leaving skid marks on the sofa from sitting on it naked. Even after Charlotte falls in love with Harry’s humor, warmth, compassion (and sexual ability), and converts to Judaism so he will marry her, Charlotte yells at Harry: “Do you know how lucky you are to have me? Do you know how we look? Do you know what people out there think when they see us together? Do you?”
Harry leaves after that outburst, and Charlotte is then set up with two other Jewish men, described as “a meeskite and a faigela”—Yiddish terms for an ugly man and a gay man. Charlotte then attends a Jewish synagogue singles event populated with unattractive singles and only one good-looking Jewish man. The good-looking man leaves the event after Charlotte rejects him, and the other women then lament that “all that’s left is the fatties and the baldies.”
The other significant Jewish character, Carrie’s gay friend Stanford Blatch, is short, bald and portrayed as unattractive.
By contrast, virtually every non-Jewish SATC event attendee and date is good-looking—often extraordinarily so. Years ago, I saw SATC taping an outdoor scene in New York City’s Bryant Park. Even the extras were remarkably attractive.
AJLT continues SATC’s habit of disparaging Jewish character Harry Goldenblatt’s looks. In AJLT’s season one, episode one, Harry asks, “What? Bike helmet not a good look on a 58-year-old Jew?”
Harry’s physical abilities are also disparaged in stereotypical fashion. After Charlotte knocks Harry over during a tennis game, Harry says: “I’m OK, I’m OK. Just an old Jewish guy tryin’ to play sports.”
AJLT Season 1, Episode 8 then exposes Harry’s sexual organ—the first such scene in the entire SATC-AJLT series. Showrunner Michael Patrick King announced that it was a prosthetic penis and reminded viewers of Harry’s physical repulsiveness, explaining: “Harry would have—I decided and people agreed with me—he would have a substantial penis because one of the things that Charlotte says about Harry in ‘Sex and the City’ is [their] great sex life: That she’s repulsed by it, but she wants him.”
In addition, AJLT Season 2, Episode 9 manages to disparage kosher food and Jews’ physical appearance in one fell swoop. Early in the episode, Harry Goldenblatt tells his wife: “I’m in a crisis. I was just informed that the caterer that I hired for my ‘Meet Herbert Wexley’ political event is suspected of using real pork in Szechwan dumplings. This from Sid Hoffman’s wife Sis, whose only proof is, they’re just too delicious to be kosher.”
Later in the episode, Sis and Sid (a.k.a. Sy Hoffman) attend the Goldenblatts’ event. Sis Hoffman is unattractive, frumpy, with badly dyed orange hair and numerous gray roots sticking out, and unfashionably dressed in contrast to a roomful of fashion plates.
Sis tells her balding husband while grimacing and pointing to her mouth: “Sy, this dumpling” and spits out the dumpling into a cup. After Sid/Sy protests, Sis insists: “No, that’s just too good.” A bit later, Sis whispers to Miranda, “If you keep kosher, I’d steer clear of the dumplings.”
To be fair, there is one quick snippet of dialogue in AJLT season two, episode five that offers a bit of pro-Israel relief. The following exchange helps convince character Harry Goldenblatt to allow his child “Rock” (birth name “Rose,” gender pronoun “they”) to model in a “family progressive” Ralph Lauren Polo ad:
Charlotte: They’ve [Rock/Rose has] come up with a great idea of how they will use the money they will make.
Rock: Plant trees in Israel!
Harry (looking defeated): Uy.
What is going on at AJLT? Why are they repeatedly portraying Jews in a manner that would engender outrage if it were directed at any other ethnic group?
AJLT needs to plant a lot more trees in Israel to reverse the harm it is doing.
This op-ed was originally published in JNS and can be viewed here.