Netflix under fire for portraying Jewish criminal with horns

“Madoff is a bonafide villain, but it is NOT ok to put horns on a Jew. Jews as horned devils is a pre-medieval trope.”

By World Israel News Israel

Netflix has come under fire for an image of its new documentary on Bernie Madoff that portrays the late Wall Street fraudster with horns and pointed ears, an antisemitic trope with origins that date at least to the Middle Ages.

The streaming giant advertised its new show, titled “Bernie Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street,” with a picture of the horned Ponzi swindler against a red background representing hell – pointing to a centuries-old notion of Jews as the devil, or Satanic beings.

Allison Josephs, the founder and CEO of Jewish advocacy group Jew in the City, denounced Netflix in a tweet, writing, “Madoff is a bonafide villain, but it is NOT ok to put horns on a Jew. Jews as horned devils is pre-medieval trope.”

Josephs noted that her group, which tackles the perception of Orthodox Jews and Orthodox Judaism, recently held an “encouraging” meeting with Netflix executives to discuss the company’s portrayal of Orthodox Jews.

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Netflix has been criticized for its obsession with shows that portray Orthodox Jews in a negative light, including its hit reality series “My Unorthodox Life” and a 2017 documentary called “One of Us” that follows the lives of ex-hasidic Jews.

The Washington Post also came under attack this week for publishing an article about a measles outbreak within a vaccine-hesitant Somali community in Columbus, Ohio, with a lead picture of hasidic Jews in Brooklyn from 2019.

The newspaper received a barrage of complaints and in response, took the lead photo down and replaced it with a stock image of a child receiving a vaccine, but left two other photos of hasidic Jews within the article itself.

Twitter users noted that the article mentioned many demographics that are vaccine-hesitant but chose to publish photos of Jewish people only.

The newspaper did not issue an apology,

Josephs wrote her own on Twitter, posting satirically, “We regret that photos of Jews in NY from 2019 were used in a story about an outbreak in a Somali community in Ohio in 2022. We understand that using Jewish imagery in disease stories, when there is no connection, harkens back to medieval blood libels, which blamed Jews for spreading diseases. In an age of rising antisemitism, our organization is committed to doing the work to ensure that our entire team is aware of antisemitic tropes and is careful to not contribute any more vitriol to a historically and continuously marginalized group. We are investigating who was responsible for making those decisions for this story.”