Comedian Roseanne Barr, who made headlines recently by calling Hillary Clinton a “Jew hater,” told about 100 people at a talk at Congregation Emanu-El that her outspokenness could be attributed to her Jewish socialist background.
The 63-year-old Barr — who also said in recent Twitter messages that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Clinton, is a “filthy Nazi whore” — was the first speaker in a series of lectures sponsored by the San Francisco synagogue’s Israel Action Committee.
The Aug. 30 talk was billed as a lecture on “how to fight BDS,” but ended up focusing little on the logistics of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Instead, most of the time was spent discussing Barr’s childhood as a Jewish girl in Salt Lake City, her spiritual connection to Judaism and her experiences as an outspoken comedian.
“I came from a family of people critical of those in power, with a deep desire for justice and peace,” Barr said. “That is Judaism, for me.”
Barr unsuccessfully sought the Green Party presidential nomination in 2012, an event portrayed in her latest movie, “Roseanne for President!” — which the movie review website rogerebert.com called a “ragtag though fairly amusing documentary.”
She jokingly urged audience members at Emanu-El to write in her name on their 2016 presidential ballots, though she acknowledged “running a country is too much work. I’d rather just have the opinions.” She added, “Plus, the whole system is crooked from the ground up.”
When questioned about how she reconciles support for the State of Israel with her strong anti-colonial sentiments, she responded that it wasn’t a matter in need of reconciliation.
“The Jews are the original inhabitants of the land. I’m anti-Arab imperialism. The way I see it, it is the Arabs that are the colonists,” she said. “I used to be very critical of Israel, very lefty, but then I realized that the left isn’t just there to criticize — they want to delegitimize. And I disagree with that. I wish that Jews would stop duping themselves.”
Barr said her turning point came two years ago when a few of her activist friends invited her to join them on a flotilla to bring supplies to Gaza. During the process, she said, she saw that the ship was stocked with concrete — an illegal item to bring into the territory.
“That’s when I realized that the whole thing was for propaganda, not to actually bring aid into the area,” Barr said. “I also realized that there are things you aren’t allowed to say, and they are mostly about Jewish history. So now when I speak, they call me a racist and a Zionist.”
Alongside her politics, she also discussed her religious beliefs — particularly about the spiritual aspects of Judaism. Barr described her deep relationship with Kabbalah and meditation.
“I want to inform Jews about the importance of meditation, how valuable it is to find a quiet place in the mind,” she said. “We tend to be a people barraged by neurotic thoughts — and I really feel that if we could learn to practice meditation, to learn how to exist in our minds and feel safe and held and loved, it would make a huge difference.”