Former Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) on Saturday night led a crowd of demonstrators outside the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center where the Saturday Night Live show was being broadcast, protesting Comedian Michael Che’s joke a week ago on the Weekend Update segment, which went: “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”
Last week, Hikind tweeted: “Please join me in sending @nbcsnl a simple message: anti-Semitism is NEVER Funny! DATE: This Sat. night, Feb 27 @ 9 PM EST LOCATION: NBC-SNL HQ “30 ROCK” 49 W. 49 St., NY, NY. No one needs to get canceled but lots of people need to get educated about Jew-hate.”
Please join me in sending @nbcsnl a simple message: Antisemitism is NEVER Funny!
DATE: This Sat. night, Feb 27 @ 9PM EST
LOCATION: NBC-SNL HQ “30 ROCK” 49 W. 49 St., NY, NY
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) February 24, 2021
We could debate whether or not anti-Semitism is funny – it has certainly occupied a major wall in the library of Jewish humor over the centuries, but one couldn’t ignore the size of the enraged crowd Hikind was able to gather on a cold winter night in midtown Manhattan.
The protest was co-sponsored by Hikind’s Americans Against Anti-Semitism, End Jew-Hatred, Liberate Art, and Yad Yamin New York.
Brooke Goldstein, executive director of The Lawfare Project and a partner in End Jew-Hatred, told Fox News: “Michael Che is a bigot, plain and simple. Not only was his ‘joke’ the laziest form of comedy, it perpetuated a vile lie that stands to exacerbate already rising anti-Semitism in the United States. NBC must make it clear that Jew-hatred has no place on its network and hold Che and the SNL writers responsible for spreading hate.”
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the US and the UN, tweeted: “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!”
Hikind told The Post: “It’s amazing that they have not apologized yet. They did something so egregious, so horrible, I’m personally sick and tired of a major network like NBC indulging in spreading hate. That’s basically what they did.”
Incidentally, while the debate over whether or not anti-Semitism is funny may linger on and on, no one would dispute the fact that SNL has not been funny in at least 30 years and has been pandering to the lowest common denominator of American teens and young adults. The only portion of the show that normally yielded some funny comments used to be Weekend Update, but, alas, nowadays that part, too, is just not funny. Any given late-night show on the major networks offers more funny jokes every weeknight than SNL ekes out once a week.
The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement that Che’s joke “not only missed the mark but crossed the line — basing the premise of the joke on factual inaccuracies and playing into an anti-Semitic trope in the process.”
But in this reporter’s humble opinion, the problem with SNL’s material is not so much that it’s anti-Semitic, but that it has long since been desensitized to offensive jokes. The show is equally as crass regarding Black, Hispanic, and Asian sensibilities, in a milieu of a shock-tolerant bon ton.
Racial shock humor may be funny when it is used by individual comics like Sara Silverman (I love you more than bears love honey / I love you more than Jews love money / I love you more than Asians are good at math) – but when an establishment entertainment juggernaut like SNL resorts to a steady diet of it, the result is embarrassing.