Roseanne: Antisemitism played a part in my firing by ABC
Roseanne Barr told The Jerusalem Post this week that she was fired by ABC from the reboot of her sitcom due in part to antisemitism.
“I feel that what happened to me, a large part of it is antisemitism,” the Jewish actress told the Post on Thursday, in a phone interview from her home in Hawaii. “I think it played a part. The fact that I was never allowed to explain what I meant, and what I meant was a commentary on Iran. So they purposely mischaracterized what I said and wouldn’t let me explain. And in haste they did something unprecedented that they’ve never done to any other artist. And at the base of that I think it’s because I am the most vocal person about Israel and BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions].”
Barr was fired by ABC in May less than a day after she sent a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser in the Obama administration, writing: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” Within hours, ABC said it was canceling Roseanne, which was rebooted earlier that year to massive ratings. At the time, the network said Barr’s tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.” The following month, the network decided to bring back the show but without Barr, and title it The Conners.
In the interview this week, Barr said the executives at ABC treated her unfairly because she is Jewish and supports Israel.
“What I said was mischaracterized purposely and repeatedly so they didn’t even know what I meant, but they wanted to shape it and they did. They said it was something racial when it was actually something political,” she said. “And I have never in my life done anything racist and I think my career proves that. And they did it so quickly – to fire and label and slander my name. I think it had a lot to do with identifying with Israel.”
In just two weeks, Barr will be arriving in Israel, accompanied by her friend and mentor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. She is slated to speak at the Knesset on January 31, as well as hold other public events
around the country.
Throughout the turmoil of the past year, Boteach has supported and defended Barr against the media onslaught.
“She wrote one tweet, she apologized for it, she cried, she asked Valerie Jarrett publicly for forgiveness, she humbled herself,” Boteach said, adding that her treatment was harsh and hasty compared to many in Hollywood who have been accused of much worse in the past two years.
Barr said she will be further discussing her firing from the show in her Knesset speech, as well as her ties to Israel, her experiences with antisemitism and her opposition to BDS.
“I want Israelis to know what it’s like to be an American Jew, so I’ll be speaking about that,” she said. “You guys don’t go through the antisemitism that we go through in America.”
Barr, who said she experienced a lot of antisemitism growing up in Utah in the 1950s, told the Post that she turned to Judaism in particular over the past year.
“It is something that I always turn to, and it strengthened my resolve to become more public about it,” she said. “I decided that this was the time to stand up to be counted.” She said she studies Torah regularly with Boteach and even teaches the Book of Esther to other people online.
Boteach said Barr’s trip is slated to include meetings with Deputy Knesset Speaker Hilik Bar, Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, among others. Barr, who was last in Israel in 2016, said she is looking forward to visiting friends, places and “eating Israeli food.”
Speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference last April, the actress said she was considering one day moving to Israel and running for prime minister. In September, she said she would move to Israel when The Conners premiered the following month. While that didn’t happen, Barr still isn’t ruling anything out.
“I’m going to be investigating staying there for a long period of time,” she said. “But you know, things just got postponed for family matters and stuff like that.”
In 2012, Barr ran for president of the United States and received 0.05% of the vote nationwide. But she still thinks about running from time to time.
“I like politics, I’m very interested in it. I’d have to be real serious to [run for prime minister],” she said, “and so far I’m better running for queen – of Israel or the world,” she joked.
Still, she said, she wants people to listen to her ideas for change.
“I’m thinking about it, I am thinking about it,” she said. “But the reason I would run is I have very common-sense solutions to problems. And I’m more interested [in] people hearing my solutions to things than running for anything. And they’re all Torahbased solutions.” •