LOS ANGELES—In the face of widespread public outcry, Fox TV executives spoke out Monday in defense of last week's airing of When Jews Attack.
The hour-long, Robert Urich-hosted show—which its detractors are decrying as "shock TV at its basest" and "a sickening appeal to voyeuristic, lowest-common denominator tendencies"—features explicit, uncensored video footage of enraged Jews violently striking out at others.
"For the next hour, what you will see you may find disturbing, even shocking," Urich said during the show's introduction. "But remember: The footage you are about to see is real."
Fox owner Rupert Murdoch defended his network's decision to air the controversial show. "This disturbing imagery may be difficult for some to watch," he said. "But we feel that the public has a right to see these attacks. They really do happen."
Among the show's objectionable segments: videotaped footage of a sudden, brutal attack by New Rochelle, NY, dentist Richard Rosenblatt on an unsuspecting dry cleaner. As the tape shows, tension mounted as Rosenblatt, after waiting in line more than 25 minutes to pick up his clothes at Sunrise Cleaners, became involved in a prolonged argument with dry cleaner Arthur Tong over what he described as "too much starch" in his laundry. When Tong denied that the clothes were overstarched, Rosenblatt suddenly leapt over the countertop and, without warning, began maniacally slapping the dry cleaner about the face and chest.
"It was frightening," Tong said, recalling the attack in a taped interview segment on the show. "Of course, I'd seen people being slapped by Jews on television, but you never think it'll happen to you."
Program detractors are also objecting to a segment which aired toward the end of the show, in which Chicago-area shopper Andrea Stein, complaining that "these are not the shoes I ordered," struck Payless Shoes employee Lisette Nolan in the forehead with a pair of tan leather pumps. Stein then pulled Nolan's hair until four other employees were finally able to pull her away.
"Children should not be exposed to such violent footage," said Sharon Blaine, head of the San Francisco-based What About The Children? organization. "In this day and age, we should be above such trash TV."
"I do not want my child to feel that it is acceptable to resort to hitting, kicking and pinching her siblings, like the Jews she sees on television," concerned parent Sandra Hueber said.
While most of the program's critics are condemning its offensive content, others are objecting to the message it may send the nation's Jews.
"I fear that the televised glamorization of such attacks may wind up provoking America's already-volatile Jewish population into committing further acts of battery," said Anthony Rasmussen, director of the American Center For Media Studies.
In reaction to the show, Jewish groups are calling for a boycott of Fox.
"As a Jew, I am deeply offended by this program," said B'nai B'rith International president Milton Feig during a press conference to announce the boycott. "We must send a clear message to Fox that this sort of garbage will not be tolerated." He then flew into a berserk rage, hurling ceramic vases at reporters and swinging a folding chair wildly.
Footage of Feig's attack is scheduled to air April 8, in a second installment of the show.