Photo Credit: Screenshot
“SNL Weekend Update” anchor Michael Che

(Reposted from the author’s blog}

I do not believe that Saturday Night Live’s Michael Che is an antisemite. Nor do I believe that SNL’s producers and writers are antisemites. And yet there has been a major uproar over a line uttered by Che in what I would call a feeble attempt at humor. Which has greatly backfired. It happened in a segment called ‘Weekend Update’ – a parody of TV news broadcasts. in that segment, Che said the following:

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

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Is the widespread outrage exaggerated? Perhaps. But at the same time the joke did imply that Israel (i.e. the Jews) care only about themselves and could not care less about their Arab population. Which further implies that Jews racist and feeds into the false narrative that Israel is an Apartheid state.

The tragedy here is not so much that this implication is false. Which of course it is. It is that it comes so naturally to to the liberal mind. It is as though there is some truth to that. That is what makes a joke funny. There has to be an element of truth in any joke if people are going to laugh at it. Otherwise it would make no sense. Without the element of truth there would be no humor at all. It would be like saying that American has vaccinated half of its population. I’m going to guess that it was only people that wear wrist watches. Nothing funny there. Wouldn’t generate a snicker.

As i said, I do not think Michael Che is an antisemite. He is a victim. A victim of a the ‘Blame Israel first’ culture that the left loves to immerse itself in. It isn’t only SNL or Che that sees Israel that way. So too does the mainstream media and virtually the entire entertainment industry.

To wit: CBS News broadcast this very story a few days ago. Praising the Jewish State’s achievement in handling the pandemic. As Che said, half the country has been vaccinated. First country to do that. But the reporter could not resist saying that Palestinians were not included in that half. Throwing cold water on that major achievement. It would be one thing if it was true. But according to one report in the Times of Israel:

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.

What might be true is that when Israel received its first shipment of vaccine, they proceeded to vaccinate their citizens in a very efficient manner. The Palestinian Authority (PA) did not want Israel’s help claiming that they were competent enough to procure the vaccine themselves. Israel was quite willing to let them do that since Palestinians decided decades ago (at Oslo) that  they would be responsible for their own health needs.

When that didn’t happen Palestinians accused Israel of excluding them. Israel has since been aggressively vaccinating Palestinians. Why wouldn’t they? In order to achieve herd immunity they need as many people being vaccinated as possible! COVID does not recognize ethnicity or religion.

The mainstream media has ignored all of that. They only prefer reporting negative news about Israel. Or if there is positive news, they make sure to qualify it with accusations of nefarious intentions with respect to the Palestinians.

This is the culture in which Michael Che lives. He sees the world the way the left does. If SNL is anything it is political and about as left wing as any entertainment program can be. That joke felt pretty natural to Che. Not all that big a deal. After all ‘everyone knows that Palestinians are mistreated by Israel – who occupies their territory with a heavy hand’. Che thought it was an easy laugh.

The sad irony is when it comes to issues of racism there is a lot more sensitivity to jokes like that. SNL would consider it an outrage if there were to be a joke implying fault to Black Lives Matter leaders about the rioting and violence that took place during some of their protests last summer. There is no possible way Che would make a joke about that – ridiculing BLM violence as normative. Not gonna happen.

This is the world in which we live. It is dominated by the culture of the left that includes the media and entertainment industry. If someone is immersed in that culture the way Che is, it would be rare for them to not see the world the same way. (Although there are occasionally people that do think for themselves and ignore the leftist narrative.)

Does SNL owe Israel and the Jewish community an apology? It would be nice if they recognized their error. But I wouldn’t count on it. Nor does it bother me that all much since I have come to expect no less from.  But who knows. maybe this time they will. We shall see.

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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.