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February 22, 2021 6:17 pm

Israeli Health Minister Rebukes NBC Over ‘Dangerous and False’ Vaccine Segment on ‘SNL’

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Saturday Night Live cast member Michael Che in a sketch accused of being antisemitic, Feb. 20, 2021. Photo: Twitter.

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein joined those condemning NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” for cast member Michael Che’s comments suggesting that Israel had only vaccinated the “Jewish half” of its population against COVID-19, as the network has remained silent.

“I inform you that anti-Semitism is not funny. It is dangerous and false,” wrote Edelstein on Twitter Monday, in Hebrew.

“In Israel, we have vaccinated more Arabs than most countries in the world. Satire is meant to be entertaining, not shocking. Your ‘joke’ is an antisemitic lie that can have dangerous consequences in a country where two and a half years ago 11 Jewish worshipers were murdered, just because they were Jews,” he continued.

NBC declined to comment when reached by The Algemeiner Monday.

Edelstein, a former Speaker of the Knesset, has helped lead Israel’s vaccine campaign, which has inoculated the highest proportion of its population of any country.

His remarks joined those from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and other Jewish groups criticizing the Saturday segment, who said that it recalls age-old antisemitic conspiracies blaming Jews for plague and disease.

The American Jewish Committee circulated a petition on Sunday, calling for NBC to apologize and retract the comments.

“Saturday Night Live’s ‘Weekend Update’ is known for sharp criticism and public takedowns, but Saturday’s deeply offensive joke about Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination process not only missed the mark, but crossed the line — basing the premise of the joke on factual inaccuracies and playing into an antisemitic trope in the process,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, to The Algemeiner.

“Unfortunately, ADL has tracked multiple ‘Weekend Update’ jokes this season that inappropriately use Jews as the punchline. I know they can do better. In that spirit, I reached out to Lorne Michaels over the weekend urging Saturday Night Live to take action both to repair the damage that’s been done and ensure that this does not happen again,” he said.

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