Retired “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno proved he hasn’t lost his fastball after firing a couple of zingers at President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry during at an awards ceremony Thursday in Israel.
“Obama has declared the month of May Jewish American Heritage Month,” Leno quipped. “He is calling it an opportunity to renew our ‘unbreakable bond with the nation of Israel.’ And he knows it’s unbreakable because he’s been trying to break it for the last five years.”
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the line drew the “biggest laughs and applause” of the evening.
The former late night comedian hosted the event at the Jerusalem Theater, where former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg received the first ever $1 million Genesis Prize for his public service and philanthropy.
When Leno spoke with The Associated Press in early May about hosting the event, he took a sharp jab at Kerry — a trend he continued Thursday.
“I’ve been doing my research,” he told the audience. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, here in Israel, the most popular boy’s name is Noam.”
“The least popular boy’s name? John Kerry,” Leno joked.
Leno said in early May that he didn’t have “any problems” performing in Israel, despite a call by pro-Palestinian activists for entertainers to boycott the Jewish state.
“It’s a great honor,” he said. “It’s a great country. It’s a great people.”
Leno also weighed in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“At some point in your life, you have to sort of take sides,” he said. “I tend to side with the Jewish point of view on many things, especially issues like this one. I realize how important Israel is.”