The writer and star of the hit Netflix series about legendary Israeli espionage agent Eli Cohen will receive a prestigious award from a leading Jewish civil rights organization later this month.
British-Jewish actor Sacha Baron Cohen — star of comedy smashes “Borat,” “The Dictator” and more recently, “The Spy,” in which he plays late Israeli hero Eli Cohen, who served as a Mossad agent in Syria during the early 1960s before he was caught and executed — will receive the International Leadership Award from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) at its annual “Never Again is Now” summit in New York on Nov. 21.
In a statement, ADL said that the award was given “to those exceptional individuals whose vision, imagination and creativity have left an indelible mark upon the global community.”
The organization said that in his career, Baron Cohen had “used humor and satire to expose people’s inherent biases by depicting racists anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, Islamophobes and others as deeply flawed, ordinary people whose prejudices are, ultimately, laughable. As a celebrity and public figure, he’s not shied away from taking on tough subjects off-screen, having recently spoken out about the failure of social media companies to adequately address the rampant racism, anti-Semitism and hate on their platforms.”
The ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, added that “Sacha’s fictional satirical characters have made us laugh at the kinds of hatred and prejudice that under normal circumstances would be no laughing matter.”
Continued Greenblatt: “There’s many ways to combat prejudice, and anti-bias education, exposure and awareness are important tools. But there are other, more unorthodox ways to fight hate. Sacha’s hilarious characters fall into that latter category. They push envelopes. They cross boundaries. They evoke stereotypes and tropes, but for comedic effect. In the end they help to expose how common prejudices are in our society and our world.”