Critics slam SNL 'Weekend Update' joke as anti-Semitic

The head of the Anti-Defamation League is among the critics blasting a joke on last weekend's "Saturday Night Live" as anti-Semitic. 

The joke about Israel's vaccination program aired during the program's "Weekend Update" segment and was made by anchor and chief SNL writer Michael Che, according to The Washington Post.

“Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half of their population,” Che said, “and I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League's CEO, in a statement said the joke was "deeply offensive" and played into anti-Semitic tropes.

“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,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

An editorial in the Jerusalem Post, which was published on Monday, also called out Che for the joke but also urged some circumspection.

“Do the Jewish people or Israel gain anything from insinuating antisemitism was at play here?” the outlet wrote. “If everything is antisemitic, [then] nothing is, so the appellation must be used sparingly.”

Israel has had wide attention for its successful vaccination program. Approximately 70 percent of Israeli citizens over the age of 16 have been vaccinated, according to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein

While Che's joke came under some criticism, others argued it was a valid critique of Israel's government, which has faced international criticism concerning how much access Israel's government has given Palestinians to the vaccine.

Human rights groups have argued in the past that Israel is obligated morally and legally to give access to nearly 5 million Palestinians who live in territories it controls, the Post reported.

Russia's Sputnik vaccine was delivered to the Gaza Strip last week and sparked accusations of the Israeli government attempting to block it from reaching Palestinian people citing political reasons.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel has given a limited number of vaccines to the Palestinian Authority, which governs the Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank. Vaccines are also being donated by Israel to other countries, including Honduras.