American stand-up comedian, who is best known for his work on Saturday Night Live (SNL), Michael Che has caused outrage and accusations of anti-Semitism for making a joke about the vaccination efforts of ‘Israel’.
Comedian Michael Che, in his "Saturday Night Live" show, referred to the #IsraeliVaccinationApartheid through mocking the Israeli government's statement that it vaccinated almost half of its population. Che has been criticized as being anti-Semitic! pic.twitter.com/vzUQTIv4wL
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) February 21, 2021
“Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half,” Che said in his SNL show.
Following this joke, Israelis and pro-Israel critics on twitter have been accusing Che of anti-Semitism, claiming he’s spreading lies with his jokes!
Also, there were many calls for Che to apologize immediately.
This 8-second segment by Michael Che on “Saturday Night Live” is totally outrageous.
He accuses Israel of vaccinating only Jews.
Every Israeli—Jew, Muslim, Christian, etc.— is eligible for the COVID jab.
He should apologize ASAP for spreading an antisemitic lie. https://t.co/d2Gf6NUHBF
— David Harris (@DavidHarrisAJC) February 21, 2021
It's all fun and games until you start promoting antisemitic myths, @NBCSNL.
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.
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) February 21, 2021
Jokes are jokes but this one is steeped in anti-Semitic tropes and just not true. Israel is vaccinating all its citizens, regardless of their background. Insinuating otherwise just legitimizes the anti-Semitism we see rising across this city. https://t.co/TQgCVOVHwA
— Linda Lee for NYC (@LindaLeeforNYC) February 21, 2021
— (((David Lange))) (@Israellycool) February 21, 2021
However, some people have defended Che, saying his joke is not anti-Semitic and that this is the fact of the Israeli vaccination.
As a Jew, I have made my final determination…
— Ricky Sanders (@RSandersDFS) February 21, 2021
I can't believe I'm typing these words in this sequence, but: leave Michael Che alone, the joke he made was not antisemitic.
— Judy Berman (@judyberman) February 21, 2021
Leave Michael Che alone. If you're upset about that joke; wait until you learn about discrimination in Israel.
— Disobayish 🥫 (@SemYeto) February 21, 2021
devastated to have to defend michael che but there's nothing antisemitic about acknowledging apartheid https://t.co/Smj5nsDVfP
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) February 21, 2021
Proud today of the Jewish community standing up for Michael Che and with Palestinians.
In the face of our institutions abandoning basic human rights, hand in hand with Republican white nationalists, it is a people powered Jewish history happening before our eyes.
— raf (@rafaelshimunov) February 21, 2021
Does “half the population” include the half in the occupied territories?
Really hope we’re not redefining “antisemitism” to mean “opposing Netanyahu policies”—while Bibi himself cozies up to the Marjorie Taylor Greene party.
There’s nothing antisemitic about Michael Che’s joke. https://t.co/mUDR4Eed70
— Ali A. Rizvi (@aliamjadrizvi) February 21, 2021
Indeed, ‘Israel’ has been criticised for not giving Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip access to the vaccine while it has been praised for its swift vaccine rollout.
‘Israel’ has said that half the population received COVID-19 vaccines.
Today, 32.44% of Israel’s population is fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University while it excluded the nearly 5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under Israeli military occupation.
To date, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, there have been nearly 2172 deaths related to COVID-19 among Palestinians in the OPT since the beginning of the pandemic, 543 of them in the Gaza strip. 86191 Palestinians have been infected with the virus.
Last month, ‘Israel’ agreed to transfer only 5,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Palestinians to immunize just the front-line medical workers.
Last week, ‘Israel’ allowed the Palestinians to send the first shipment of 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines donated by Russia to the besieged Gaza Strip, after it banned the entry of the shipment earlier in the same week.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that 2,000 doses of the Russian ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine were supposed to enter Gaza Strip last week, however, ‘Israel’, allowed the entry of only 1000 doses, which has a population of about 2 million.
A Gaza health ministry official told Reuters news agency that the ministry “will use the doses to vaccinate patients who had organ transplants and those who suffer kidney failure” and that the “medical personnel will not be vaccinated this time as the shipment is not enough.”
Under the fourth Geneva Convention, ‘Israel’, as an occupying power, is obligated to provide Palestinians with the vaccines, as the occupying forces are responsible for providing healthcare to the population of the occupied area.
Most states as well as the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, consider ‘Israel’ to be an occupying power.
The UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and many other human rights organizations have called on ‘Israel’ to help make vaccines available to the Palestinians, saying ‘Israel’ is obligated to do so under international law.
“The Israeli government must stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” said Amnesty International.
“These responsibilities, alongside its obligations under international human rights law, include providing vaccines in a nondiscriminatory manner to Palestinians living under its control, using as a benchmark what it provides for its own citizens. The Palestinian authorities’ own obligations to protect the right to health of Palestinians in areas where they manage affairs do not absolve Israel of its responsibilities,” said HRW.