Israeli officials have demanded an apology from NBC television network after a seemingly anti-Semitic joke was made during an episode of Saturday Night Live, taking aim at Israel's coronavirus vaccination drive.
In the “Weekend Update” segment, comedian Michael Che said that while Israel is boasting about "vaccinating half of their population, I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan said jokes of this nature perpetuate anti-Semitism.
“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.
More than two-thirds of Israel’s Arab citizens over 60 have already been vaccinated.
The American Jewish Committee also launched a petition, saying that SNL’s skit “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.
The group urged the TV network to retract the statement made on SNL and apologize.
“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.”
The pro-Israel StandWithUs advocacy organization also condemned the controversial joke.
This is not the first time the Weekend Update co-host Che was under fire for statements perceived as anti-Semitic.
Last May, during a segment about Go Daddy shutting down a "Miss Hitler Beauty Pageant," the comedian ended the comedy bit with a comment that the winner of the controversial pageant was "Miss Israel."