Yo-Semite Sam: Trump’s mistake draws attention to cartoon character’s Jewish identity

“It being a strange world, Yosemite Sam is actually Jewish,” said Yoni Appelbaum, a senior editor at The Atlantic.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

President Donald Trump’s recent mispronunciation of Yosemite as “Yo Semite” has raised public awareness of Yosemite Sam’s little-known Jewish heritage.

The verbal slip, which brought smiles to the faces of many, was made during a reference to Yosemite National Park at the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act on August 4.

Yoni Appelbaum, a senior editor at The Atlantic, tweeted that Trump’s mispronunciation was “Me, greeting a crowded room at my synagogue.”

He later tweeted, “It being a strange world, Yosemite Sam is actually Jewish.”

Yosemite Sam’s full name was revealed to be Samuel Rosenbaum in a 2013 episode of The Looney Tunes Show.

The character was designed by Jewish cartoonist Isadore “Friz” Freleng and first appeared in the Warner Bros. cartoon “Hare Trigger” in 1945.

Freleng chose Mel Blanc, a Jewish voice actor, for the role.

In 1992, the Associated Press asked Freleng if the rumors were true that he had designed the character after himself.

“I have the same temperament,” Freleng told the reporter. “I’m small, and I used to have a red mustache.”

Freleng’s daughter, Hope Freleng Shaw, recently told MEL Magazine, “Everybody else thought that Yosemite Sam was absolutely my father.”

“He had red hair when he was a kid. And he was very tiny — only 5-foot-4,” she said.

President Trump’s slip has even caused some to wonder whether Yosemite Sam was purposely given a name with the word “Semite” hidden in it.

Freleng was known to occasionally hide Jewish puns in his work, such as the 1954 cartoon, “Muzzle Tough,” a reference to the Hebrew phrase, “mazel tov.”

Still, many have a hard time accepting that a character who has described himself as “the roughest, toughest, he-man-stuffest hombre who’s ever crossed the Rio Grande” could be Jewish.

Though not 100 percent conclusive, in 2016, the website Jew or Not Jew reluctantly declared, “Yes, Yosemite Sam, the red-mustached, screaming, gun-toting, bipolar, rabbit-hating maniac is a Jew.”

He may even be religious.

Yosemite Sam frequently encouraged Bugs Bunny to “say your prayers, varmint.”