Israeli officials have demanded an apology from the NBC television network after a Saturday Night Live comedian joked Israel has only been vaccinating half its population, the Jewish half — a lie made all the more absurd in light of Israel’s heavy — and successful — campaign to persuade its Arab population to get the vaccine.
“Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m gonna guess it’s the Jewish half,” quipped Weekend Update co-host Michael Che to laughter.
— (((David Lange))) (@Israellycool) February 21, 2021
Some 4.3 million Israelis, which is close to 50 percent of the population, have received the first vaccine dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 2.9 million received both.
Among those, more than two thirds are Arab citizens over the age of 60. Around three million Israelis, including minors and those who have recovered from COVID-19, are not currently eligible for the vaccine.
Vaccinations have been offered to all Israeli citizens: Jews and Arabs as well as Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. The country has also offered non-citizen residents to be vaccinated.
The Palestinian Authority on Friday also said it had closed a deal with Israeli Health Ministry to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel in addition to several thousand vaccines it had already given to the PA to inoculate medical workers.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, said such jokes perpetuate anti-Semitic tropes and demanded SNL issue an apology.
“Your ‘joke’ is ignorant – the fact is that the success of our vaccination drive is exactly because every citizen of Israel – Jewish, Muslim, Christian-is entitled to it. Apologize!” he said on his Twitter account.
The American Jewish Committee also launched a petition censuring NBC, saying: “Saturday Night Live’s ‘joke’ isn’t just untrue — it’s dangerous, a modern twist on a classic anti-Semitic trope that has inspired the mass murder of countless Jews throughout the centuries.”
“In the Middle Ages, thousands of Jews were burnt at the stake after being blamed for the Black Death and accused of protecting only themselves. In the 20th century, the Nazis accused Jews of spreading disease and seized on that falsehood to justify imprisoning Jews in ghettos and carrying out the mass murder of European Jewry,” the AJC added.
We find the use of age-old antisemitic tropes on last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live to be deeply troubling. It is particularly painful for this to occur at a time when antisemitic incidents, some resulting in death and injury, are at record highs. https://t.co/J4MxqYLNv2
— William Daroff (@Daroff) February 21, 2021
“Words have consequences, and Jews are at risk when a major American TV company joins those who claim Israel is favoring only a portion of its citizens in its admirable efforts, praised by Dr. Anthony Fauci and others, to vaccinate all of its residents.”
Israel’s Consul General in New York Israel Nitzan mentioned SNL in a tweet, writing, “Spreading anti-Semitic lies & misinformation is already a problem. Fanning the flames just to get a laugh is not only wrong, it’s irresponsible. Israel has made the vaccine available for its entire population equitably, regardless of gender, race or religion.”
Ellie Cohanim, the Trump administration’s deputy anti-Semitism czar, tweeted, “Under the Oslo Accords the Palestinian Authority is responsible for all health & social welfare needs. Contact SNL & NBC and demand they apologize for their modern day blood libel against Jews.”
Che has been accused of spreading anti-Semitic tropes in the past. During an item about Go Daddy shutting down a “Miss Hitler Beauty Pageant” last May, the SNL actor ended by remarking that the winner of the pageant was “Miss Israel.”
Remember this from Michael Che? Seems to be a pattern. https://t.co/LYDxvyXTui
— Lahav Harkov, Space Laser Controller (@LahavHarkov) February 21, 2021