Apologize, SNL! ‘Anti-Semitic’ joke accusing Israel of only vaccinating Jews is not ok

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Saturday Night Live’s Michael Che made a joke on the show’s “Weekend Update” segment that is being hotly decried and labeled an antisemitic trope for taking aim at Israel and its rollout of the COVID vaccine.

Many were outraged and less than amused: “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half,” Che quipped.

The biased attempt at humor caught fire on social media. The American Jewish Committee (AJC) started a petition demanding that NBC “retract its outrageous claim and apologize immediately.” CEO David Harris tweeted: “This 8-second segment by Michael Che on ‘Saturday Night Live’ is totally outrageous. He accuses Israel of vaccinating only Jews. Not true. Every Israeli—Jew, Muslim, Christian, etc.— is eligible for the COVID jab. He should apologize ASAP for spreading an antisemitic lie.”

The AJC stated that the jest was “categorically false” and a “dangerous, modern twist on a classic antisemitic trope that has inspired the mass murder of countless Jews throughout the centuries.” The petition also stated: “Words have consequences, and Jews are at risk when a major American TV company joins with 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.”

(Video Credit: Saturday Night Live/YouTube)

AJC Managing Director of Global Comms Avi Mayer tweeted: “It’s all fun and games until you start promoting antisemitic myths, @NBCSNL. Every Israeli citizen—Jewish and Arab, Muslim, Christian, of any or no faith—is eligible to be vaccinated; 2/3 of Israel’s Arab citizens over 60 already have been. Apologize.”

Pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs also launched a campaign demanding an apology from both SNL and NBC, the show’s host network.

“I’m a big fan of humor but, perpetuating antisemitism is just not funny,” Israel’s envoy to Washington Gilad Erdan said on Twitter. “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 it. Apologize!”

Ellie Cohanim, who served as US deputy special envoy to combat anti-Semitism in the Trump administration, 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.”

Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind tweeted that the incident was “unsurprising coming from SNL as they have a long record of antisemitism.” He also slammed NBC and whoever wrote Che’s material: “But Michael Che or whoever wrote that ‘joke’ is obviously also ignorant of fact that Israel has Arab citizens who’ve received the vaccine according to the same qualifications as Jews!”

One Twitter commenter stated: “43% of Israel’s Arab citizens have been vaccinated – and that already large # would be even higher if the kind of hateful propaganda spread by Michael Che weren’t around.”

“I was utterly appalled last night by Michael Che’s anti-Semitic dig. He’s offended the trans community in the recent past as well. There’s a difference between sharp comedy and what he’s doing. Time for some sensitivity training,” tweeted one commenter.

Arsen Ostrovsky, a human rights lawyer, and political analyst, was blunt: “Last night’s @nbcsnl segment by #MichaelChe was not funny. It only perpetrated age old Antisemitic stereotypes & blood libel. Was also an outright lie. I hope #SNL take action now, starting with immediate, unreserved apology & program of education for Che & the writers involved.”

Many on Twitter were furious. “Michael Che being blatantly antisemitic on snl???? HOW IS THIS OK? demanded one person.

“Really @snl? That Israel joke from Michael Che is NOT ok,” another commenter stated.


Others defended Che, and some outrageously blasted Israel by stating that the comedian was telling the truth.

Israel has inoculated more people against COVID-19 than any other nation according to an Oxford University-run tracking site. And Reuters is reporting that the Palestinian Authority health ministry has announced that 100,000 Palestinian workers will be vaccinated by Israel.

The Conference of Presidents released a statement slamming Che’s joke.

This isn’t the first time that Michael Che has landed in hot water over his jokes. He was recently nailed for making offensive remarks concerning the transgender community on Jan. 30 when joking about President Biden ending Trump’s ban on transgenders in the military.

“President Biden signed an executive order repealing Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military,” Che said. “It’s good news, except Biden is calling the policy: ‘don’t ask, don’t tuck,’ which is not good news.”

Che is an all-purpose offender. On this week’s show, he went after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and NASA’s Mars rover landing.


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