Richard Belzer Slammed by ADL for Satirical Nazi Salute on Monte Carlo Red Carpet
The Anti-Defamation League accused the Jewish actor-comedian of “inappropriate and offensive” behavior.
Richard Belzer plays a detective on TV, but the actor-comedian found himself in a defensive position in Monte Carlo this week after the Anti-Defamation League attacked him for a satirical Nazi salute on the Monte Carlo Television Festival’s red carpet.
Belzer is in Monaco promoting Law & Order: SVU alongside producer Dick Wolf and fellow castmembers Danny Pino, Kelli Giddish and Diane Neal.
Belzer claims his gesture was meant as a joke and to pay homage to Charlie Chaplin’s Adolf Hitler spoof The Great Dictator, not to the dictator himself.
After a reporter asked the 67-year-old actor about Chaplin’s film, Belzer put two fingers on his upper lip as if to mimic Hitler’s mustache and made the salute.
ADL director Abe Foxman told TMZ that Belzer’s “imitation of Hitler” was “inappropriate and offensive” and "not the least bit funny.” He added: “Someone who is Jewish should know better and not disregard Jewish pain and tragedy just for the sake of a joke."
Belzer defended his actions, saying: "I'm a Jewish comedian, and there's this new thing out, it's called satire, irony and historical reference. To say that a Jew can't do that gesture as [an] homage to Chaplin’s masterpiece The Great Dictator is like Muslim extremists killing a cartoonist for disparaging Mohammed in his art."
A rep for Belzer told The Hollywood Reporter: “TMZ created this story by taking the photo out of context and seeking out the Anti Defamation League. It’s their job to take these things seriously.” He added “Richard is a comedian, and he was responding to a question and making a joke.”
French press, however, did enjoy Belzer’s humor throughout his stay at the festival. Telerama reported that the comedian declared his affection for Once Upon a Time’s Lana Parilla and then imitated a less controversial figure, namely Bob Dylan, with his rendition of “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Festival official could not be reached for comment.
The 52nd Monte Carlo TV Festival wraps Thursday night.