Comedian Martin Short, who served as emcee, skewered Israeli and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to Reform Judaism in Britain.
Martin Short speaking ahead of the Genesis Prize Foundation’s award ceremony in Jerusalem, June 20, 2019. Photo: Screenshot.
Comedic actor Martin Short praised Israel for its beauty at a gala in Jerusalem on Thursday during his first-ever visit to the Jewish state.
Short, 69, was the emcee at the event where Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots, was awarded the Genesis Prize, which honors “individuals for their accomplishments and commitment to Jewish values, inspiring Jews to connect to their heritage and to Israel,” according to the Genesis Prize Foundation.
Before the start of the award ceremony, Short talked about his time in Israel so far, saying, “[It’s] unbelievably beautiful. Really, just everything. You can’t even imagine it unless you’re here. I’ve only spent time in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv or any other city, but just absolutely spectacular. I mean, you spent your whole life hearing the word Jerusalem and now you’re here.”
The Canadian-American actor also talked about antisemitism, which Kraft announced in his acceptance speech that he would combat with the establishment of a foundation dedicated to tackling Jew-hatred and efforts to delegitimize Israel.
Short said antisemitism should not be joked about. He added, “I think that tragically antisemitism is not on the decline, especially in Europe it’s on the rise and so this must be continuously fought. You know, I’m friends with Steven Spielberg and I went to an early screening of ‘Schindler’s List’ and I said: ‘Steven, why do you feel it’s necessary to make this film right now?’ And he said: ‘Because antisemitism is on the rise in Europe like it never was before.'”
Watch the interview with Short below:
Martin Short. Max and Gianna Glassman, left, and Martin Short. JNF Negev dinner breaks fundraising record · Sheri Shefa, Staff Reporter.
(JTA) — Comedian Martin Short, who will emcee the June event awarding Robert Kraft the Genesis Prize, recorded a video urging invitees to RSVP for the ceremony.
The brief promotional video arrived Thursday, reminding recipients that registration for the June 20 ceremony closes on May 15.
“I’ve never been to Israel, I’m not Jewish and I’m not a New England Patriots fan. So who better to have as your MC on the night when you honor Robert Kraft?” says Short, who co-starred in “Three Amigos” and was a cast member on “Saturday Night Live.”
Kraft, the 77-year-old Patriots owner and Jewish philanthropist, was charged with soliciting prostitution in February during a sting operation at a spa in Jupiter, Florida, not long after it was announced that he had been awarded the Genesis Prize, which goes to individuals for their “accomplishments and commitment to Jewish values.”
The foundation that awards the prize called the charges against Kraft “unfortunate,” but said he remained a “highly deserving” laureate for his Jewish philanthropy. The $1 million monetary award that comes with the prize will go to initiatives combating anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice as well as attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel, the foundation said.
Kraft pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution, but issued an apology saying he had disappointed his family, friends, co-workers and Patriots fans.
The latest twist in the story involves a tape that allegedly shows him engaging in a sexual act at the spa. Prosecutors intended to release the tape to the public, but a judge on Wednesday issued a protective order against that until at least April 29. That’s the day a ruling will be issued in regard to two women charged with running and benefiting from the prostitution network that was the target of the sting.
Last year’s winner of the Genesis Prize, Natalie Portman, also caused controversy by refusing to attend the prize ceremony in Jerusalem in protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who awards the prize.
Comedic Star Emcees Genesis Prize to Robert Kraft
In Israel to emcee the bestowal of the $1 million Genesis Prize on businessman-philanthropist Robert Kraft, actor, writer, comedian Martin Short spoke with The Media Line about his art, comedy and the rise of anti-Semitism.
Kraft becomes the sixth Genesis Prize Laureate, the fourth to receive the honor in Jerusalem as did last year’s recipient Michael Douglas, Michael Bloomberg and Itzhak Perlman. The prize, dubbed “the Jewish Nobel”, is presented to “a role model for young Jews through his/her commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish People and to the State of Israel,” according to the Foundation.
The Prize operates as a partnership between the private Genesis Prize Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office of the State of Israel, and the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).
Martin Short has thrilled audiences for nearly fifty-years on stage, screen and just about everything else. A Tony Award winner for Neil Simon’s Little Me; one of three notable ‘amigos,’ and progenitor of such greats as Ed Grimley and Jiminy Glick, Short is visiting Israel for the first time. He sat down with The Media Line’s Felice Friedson after rehearsal…
The Media Line: Martin Short, thank you so much for joining The Media Line today; it’s great to have you here with me.
When word got out that you were coming to Israel to emcee Robert Kraft receiving the Genesis Prize, rumors spread that Tom Brady is retiring and you would be at quarterback for the Patriots this fall. True?
Martin Short: It’s true. It’s absolutely true. They just said it’s time to get rid of that old hack, so they’re getting rid of Tom Brady.
TML: I guess everyone is going to know what the headline is in the morning.
Martin Short: Fine, good news.
TML: It’s your first trip to Israel. With all due respect to the Genesis Foundation and Mr. Kraft, why now? Why make your first trip at this time?
Martin Short: Because I was asked to present this award and I’d never been to Israel, so it seemed like doubly exciting experience.
TML: And so far?
Martin Short: Unbelievably beautiful! Really, just everything. You can’t even imagine it unless you’re here. I’ve only spent time in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv or any other city, but just absolutely spectacular. I mean, you spent your whole life hearing the word Jerusalem and now you’re here.
TML: One aspect of this year’s Genesis Prize is standing up to anti-Semitism, to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions –BDS Movement), and hate speech. What’s the takeaway that Martin Short wants to leave concerning this prize?
Martin Short: I would like to make it a great evening for everyone who has generously volunteered, emotionally and financially for this organization. It’s a remarkable organization and I think that tragically anti-Semitism is not on the decline, especially in Europe it’s on the rise and so this must be continuously fought. You know, I’m friends with Steven Spielberg and I went to an early screening of Schindler’s List and I said: “Steven, why do you feel it’s necessary to make this film right now?” And he said: “Because anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe like it never was before.”
TML: How do you take tough subjects like anti-Semitism and add humor?
Martin Short: I don’t think you do. You don’t. You section out the evening and when the evening gets sincere about things that are not to be joked about, then you do it sincerely.
TML: Did you always want to be a funny man?
Martin Short: No, I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to be Frank Sinatra, but I ended up in comedy. Once you’re in comedy, you can’t do both. You know what I mean? It’s like when you go to the monkey cage at the zoo, you don’t want them to be reflective. You want them to flip around, like monkeys.
TML: Middle East is often called a “tough neighborhood.” In a Vanity Fair article awhile back, Larry David called Martin Short “the funniest guy” he knows. Nora Ephron was recalled as saying “Martin Short is simply the best person. Period.” And Lorne Michaels called you “well-adjusted and nice.” Will they be cloning you anytime soon?
Martin Short: I hope so, for America and for the world.
TML: Your characters are comic masterpieces and you’re nearly 50 years in business. Huge numbers of fans have isolated one or another, perhaps sharing your alter egos. I realize the “Genesis” of your character, (with apologies to the Genesis Foundation), is highly personal but what would you like residents of this very complicated, contentious region to take away from your work?
Martin Short: Oh, I don’t care. It’s up to them. You know, comedy is very subjective. Doesn’t make anyone wrong. Some people love the Three Stooges, some people hate the Three Stooges. Some people love Charlie Chaplin, some people find him boring. No one’s wrong. It’s just their taste. So, if people like [MS character] Frank, some people don’t like Frank, some people might like some other character, Jiminy Glick. I don’t know, it’s up to them.
TML: Well, Martin, I should mention that when I told my husband that I was going to interview ‘The Three Amigos guy,’ he said, “Wow…Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman.”
Martin Short: Yeah, that’s the new Three Amigos.
TML: In America, we’ve had a big problem in terms of issues like fake news. So again, how do use comedy in terms of some of those issues?
Martin Short: Well, in America, the comedy kind of comes from the White House at this point. The fake news term is a made-up term. Fake news is a term that the president of the United States uses when there is an article that he doesn’t like. He’ll deny something that they just hit the button and there it is on tape saying the same thing. So, this term has never existed until the fake president. Listen, I don’t know about your country but can you imagine not knowing whether the leader of your country, what he’s saying is truthful or not. Look, all politicians exaggerate, bend the truth, but to do that with the truth is very unique.
TML: Who’s funnier: Donald Trump or Justin Trudeau?
Martin Short: Oh, Donald Trump. Justin Trudeau is a rock star.
TML: How do you think your characters would fare in the Middle East, if they were real?
Martin Short: Oh, I don’t think they’d do well. Well, I don’t know. You know the Middle East better than I. I don’t know how they’d do.
TML: Well, do you think that Israeli women would swipe at Ed Grimley?
Martin Short: If they were desperate. If they were very desperate and extremely lonely.
TML: What would you tell a young person striving to be a comedian today?
Martin Short: The one thing I’ve learned is to not take it personally, to take show business like a business and not like be defeated when you don’t get something. But that’s easy to say at my age. I think that anyone that wants to be an actor or a comedian or anything, just keep doing it. You do get better the more you do anything, it’s not just show business, it’s something else. I’d like to think that I’m a better actor at the age of 69 than I was at the age of 29. That’s just because I keep doing it. So, just keep doing it.
TML: Martin, thank you.
"If I lose you, I'll call you right back," Martin Short says, explaining that he's driving and has to put me on speakerphone so his hands can.
JERUSALEM (JTA) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced the establishment of a foundation dedicated to combating anti-Semitism as he accepted the Genesis Prize award in Jerusalem on Thursday.
In addition to the $1 million he received along with the prize, Kraft is putting $20 million of his own money toward the project, to be called the Foundation for Social Media Messaging Against Anti-Semitism. It is also receiving funding through two $5 million gifts, one of which was pledged by Roman Abramovich, owner of the Chelsea soccer team.
“The new foundation I am announcing tonight is a platform to galvanize the global fight against anti-Semitism, uniting all people of good conscience around this goal,” Kraft said. “My vision is to work to end the violence against Jewish communities, to counter the normalization of anti-Semitic narratives that question Israel’s right to exist disguised as part of legitimate debate on campuses and in the media.”
Kraft, 78, said his goal is to raise $50 million for the foundation, which will target those aged 18 to 35. That group of young people, he said, are the “most impacted by what they see on social media.”
“In combating the scourge of anti-Semitism, my solemn ambition is to counter all forms of intolerance in the spirit of the ancient Jewish value of tikkun olam – to heal and repair the world,” he said.
Some 600 people, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and 15 past and present Patriots players and their spouses, attended the ceremony at the Jerusalem Theater.
Comedian Martin Short, who served as emcee, skewered Israeli and American politicians as well as last year’s winner, Natalie Portman, who declined to attend the award ceremony. The Israel-born actress said she did not want to appear to endorse Netanyahu, whose policies she disagrees with.
“At least this year’s honoree showed up,” Short said at the beginning of the program. He peered around the packed theater and asked, “If all the rich and powerful Jews are here, who is controlling the media?”
Kraft was expected to be a safer choice as the recipient of what has been called the Jewish Nobel. In February, however, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist was accused of soliciting a prostitute at a massage parlor in Florida. He is fighting the charges, and the Genesis board decided to stand behind him, although one advisory member resigned over the scandal.
Short didn’t mention the case, which is ongoing.
When the prize was announced in January, Kraft said he would donate the $1 million prize “to initiatives combating anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice, as well as attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel.” He was chosen as the recipient two months after the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue building in Pittsburgh by an anti-Semitic gunman that left 11 worshippers dead.
The parents and sisters of two of the victims, brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, visited Israel this week as guests of the Genesis Prize Foundation and attended the ceremony, where they were recognized.
“I am delighted to welcome Robert Kraft to the august family of Genesis Prize laureates,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony. “This prestigious award honors Robert’s generous lifelong philanthropy, his commitment to the Jewish people and his love for Israel. It also recognizes his principled stand against anti-Semitism and efforts by our enemies to undermine the State of Israel through BDS and other similar campaigns. Israel does not have a more loyal friend than Robert Kraft.”
The annual award, according to its website, “celebrates Jewish talent and achievement by honoring individuals for their professional accomplishments, commitment to Jewish values, and contribution to improving the world.” Previous winners include artist Anish Kapoor, violinist Itzhak Perlman, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor-director Michael Douglas. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award last year.
The evening included dance and musical performances and films highlighting Jews in sports, the work of the Genesis Prize Foundation, and Kraft’s life as businessman and team owner. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to Reform Judaism in Britain, addressed anti-Semitism in her country, calling Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn “deceitful” and “directly responsible” for the party’s “institutional anti-Semitism.”
Kraft has visited Israel over 100 times since his honeymoon in 1963 with his late wife, Myra, who was remembered several times during the evening. He said he has been on 27 missions to Israel in recent years with Jews and non-Jews, and “loves seeing people’s reactions when they see Israel for the first time.”
Over decades, the Kraft family has given more than half a billion dollars to causes including health care, education, the Jewish community, Christian organizations and local needs.
With a net worth of $6.6 billion, Kraft is the 79th richest American, according to Forbes. Kraft, who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Brookline, Massachusetts, is the chairman and CEO of Kraft Group, a holding company with assets in sports, manufacturing and real estate development.
The award, started in 2013, is financed through a permanent endowment of $100 million established by the Genesis Prize Foundation, which is headquartered in New York and Tel Aviv.
"If I lose you, I'll call you right back," Martin Short says, explaining that he's driving and has to put me on speakerphone so his hands can.