Saturday Night Live (SNL) has come in for a storm of criticism after airing a joke critical of Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout policy. The show’s anchor Michael Che quipped that “Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half of their population. And I’m going to guess it is the Jewish half.” Despite addressing the topic for fewer than seven seconds before moving on, Che’s words sparked a chorus of denunciations from conservative Jewish groups and supporters of the Middle Eastern nation.
“We find the use of age-old anti-Semitic tropes on last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live to be deeply troubling,” wrote the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who accused the show of “propagating Jew hatred under the guise of comedy.” The American Jewish Committee claimed that Che’s words were “a modern twist on a classic antisemitic trope that has inspired the mass murder of Jews.” Meanwhile New York radio host and pro-Israel activist Dov Hikind claimed that SNL has a “long record of anti-Semitism” and that Israel was vaccinating its Arab citizens at the same rate as its Jewish ones.
Even progressive figures expressed their unease with the joke. “I watched that and cringed. Enough that the Israeli govt does is worthy of legitimate criticism; lying about what they do is just as bad,” reacted Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.