Simon Cowell‘s entertainment company is investigating allegations that a judge on Arabs Got Talent listed Hitler’s oratory prowess among the traits that would create the perfect man, writes Justin Cohen.
Lebanese singer Najwa Karam, who is one of the world’s top Arab performers as well as being the main judge on the Britain’s Got Talent sister programme, is said to have made the shocking remarks during an appearance on pop show Talk of the Town last year. Asked in Arabic for the characteristics she would pick if she had the opportunity to take six traits from different men and combine them to make the “ideal man”, she first lists Hitler for his “persuasive” speeches.
Actor Richard Gere for his charm and Shakespeare for his romanticism were also among those to make her list, while Einstein is included for intelligence.
Henry Grunwald, chair of the National Holocaust Centre in Nottingham and former vice-chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, described the comments as “utterly bizarre”, adding: “She deserves to be excoriated for using Hitler as a rolemodel, even part of a rolemodel, of anything. It shows a complete insensitivity towards all those, not just Jews, who died or suffered as a result of Hitler’s evil activities.”
Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer added: “It is staggering that anyone should consider a mass murderer as an ideal orator, persuading people that the mass murder of six million Jews is acceptable is not a talent to be emulated. It is perhaps indicative of the entrenched and casual anti-Semitism that passes for celebrity comment in this part of the world.”
“If she believes Hitler has talents to be copied she is wholly unsuited to be a judge.”
The interview was brought to the attention of Syco – whose TV arm created the Got Talent format which is licensed internationally by Fremantle Media – by this newspaper. Jewish News now understands that Syco is looking into the matter. The current series has finished and decisions have yet to be taken on a judging panel for the next.
Karam, who has sold 50 million records, was L’Oreal’s Arab ambassador but a spokesperson for the company confirmed the collaboration ended in 2012. They wouldn’t comment however on whether this was linked to the controversial interview.
Jonathan Sacerdoti, a commentator on the Middle East, said: “It is not uncommon for Hitler to be lionised even in mainstream Arab circles. In fact Mein Kampf is an immensely popular book in some Arab countries.”