Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister of Health, has criticised Saturday Night Live, a popular American comedy show, over a joke related to COVID-19 vaccination, The Times of Israel reports.
According to the media outlet, the remark that caught the minister’s eye was made by Weekend Update co-host Michael Che, who quipped "to a chuckling audience” last Saturday: "Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m gonna guess it’s the Jewish half".
In response, Edelstein tweeted that "Anti-Semitism is not funny, it is dangerous, and also a lie," adding that "in Israel, all residents regardless of religion and ethnicity have equal access to vaccines, and Israeli-Arabs enjoy one of the highest vaccination rates in the world."
Satire is supposed to be funny, not offensive and your "joke" is nothing more than an Anti-Semitic lie, which can have dangerous consequences in a country where only two and a half years ago 11 Jewish worshipers were murdered, just because they were Jews.— Yuli Edelstein 🇮🇱 יולי אדלשטיין (@YuliEdelstein) February 22, 2021
"Satire is supposed to be funny, not offensive and your 'joke' is nothing more than an Anti-Semitic lie, which can have dangerous consequences in a country where only two and a half years ago 11 Jewish worshippers were murdered, just because they were Jews", the minister wrote in a follow-up tweet, reportedly referring to the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.
The Anti-Defamation League also insisted that the joke in question "not only missed the mark, but crossed the line — basing the premise of the joke factual inaccuracies and playing into an antisemitic trope in the process."
And the American Jewish Committee launched a petition calling the show’s broadcaster NBC to "retract and apologise".
Last night, SNL falsely accused Israel of vaccinating only its Jewish citizens.@NBCSNL's "joke" is a modern twist on a classic antisemitic trope that has inspired the mass murder of Jews.— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) February 21, 2021
Sign AJC's petition urging @NBC to retract and apologize.https://t.co/FwzhhdtOlv
While over 4.4 million Israelis have already received their first COVID-19 vaccine jab and three million got their second, Israel maintains that it is "not responsible for inoculating the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza", the media outlet notes.
Israel has also reportedly "temporarily delayed" the transfer of "Russian-donated" COVID-19 vaccines to Gaza which is "under an Israeli blockade meant to prevent the flow of weapons" to Hamas.