Lobby rages over SNL joke about Israel’s vaccine racism

On Sunday I appeared on Katie Halper’s YouTube show to talk about how Israel lobbyists are in an uproar over a joke on Saturday Night Live.

The joke bitingly called attention to how Israel’s apartheid government is denying millions of Palestinians vaccines and adequate access to healthcare amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The Zionist Organization of America demanded that the producer of the NBC comedy show apologize for the joke and fire whoever wrote it.

Former New York state assembly member Dov Hikind, previously a member of the violent extremist group the Jewish Defense League, claimed Saturday Night Live had a “long record of anti-Semitism.”

Avi Mayer, of the Israel lobby group the American Jewish Committee, accused SNL of “promoting anti-Semitic myths” and also demanded an apology.
Mayer, who has a history of whitewashing the most extreme Israeli racism against Palestinians, asserted that “Every Israeli citizen – Jewish and Arab, Muslim, Christian, of any or no faith – is eligible to be vaccinated.”

The AJC is circulating a petition demanding a retraction and an apology.

I told Halper that Mayer was lying by omission.

While it may be true that all Israeli citizens – including the approximately 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel – are eligible for vaccination, what Mayer and other Israel apologists fail to mention is that five million more Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and siege in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not getting vaccinations.

Israel even delayed the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank from shipping vaccines to Gaza for frontline medical workers.

The apartheid becomes even more stark when one considers that Israeli settlers living in Jewish-only colonies on Palestinian land are receiving vaccines, while Palestinians in nearby towns and villages are not.

Israel’s refusal to supply vaccines to Palestinians is a flagrant violation of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention. As the occupying power, it must ensure the health and hygiene of the civilian population it occupies.

Watch the video of our discussion above, which begins with a few minutes of humorous banter.

But if you want to skip ahead to the heart of the discussion about Israeli COVID-19 apartheid, click here.

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It must be emphasized over-and-over … that… Apartheid israeli Regime REFUSES to grant the permit for the vaccines to enter the occupied territories. They're still holding onto them while Palestinians die. #MedicalApartheid #IsraeliApartheid #FreePalestine

The 4th Geneva convention takes precedence over Oslo and the 4th Geneva convention stipulates that the occupying power aka Isntrael has an obligation to provide appropriate healthcare, water, natural resources, food etc to the occupied population, therefore the responsibility lies within Isntrael to provide for Gaza. Would you put the responsibility on the virtually powerless Judenrat to treat the Jewish refugees for typhus, no of course not. The responsibility lied within the now defunct Third Reich. Same principle

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When tyrants come to power, the satirists get arrested. Dictators hate humour. They fear irreverence. Of course, humour is not necessarily honest or in keeping with the facts. There's plenty of racist and sexist humour and the entertainment industry knows how to use humour to maintain the status quo; but in the right hands humour is subversive. A Moliere or a Mark Twain a Joe Orton or an Aristophanes can make life uncomfortable for those who deny what the evidence says in defence of their interests. What's interesting about the lobby's response to this little quip is they home in on its supposed factual accuracy; but the joke isn't trying to be factually accurate but morally so. Do the Israelis favour the Jewish population? Well, don't they call themselves a Jewish State? Does Iran favour its Muslem population? How could anything else be true in an Islamic State? The extreme sensitivity of the lobby to this relatively mild little squib gives the game away. As usual any criticism is interpreted as a re-building of the gas chambers ( which were built for the disabled); as ever, any suggestion that Israel may be other than paradise is responded to as a hatred of Jews. Paranoia is always the attendant of bad behaviour, because those who behave badly and know it are bound to fear the bad feeling their behaviour engenders. Israelis are fully aware of the nastiness of their behaviour and so condemn themselves to ever greater paranoia. It's no future. Especially without a laugh now and again.

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I am so glad that Mr. Michael Che, and SNL, performed that comedy skit. It illustrated just what is truthfully going on in Occupied Palestine (Israel). Everything and anything that is said and done that does not bow and scrape toward fascist Occupied Palestine (Israel) is automatically anti-Semitic. The truth of the matter is, is that calling someone an anti-Semite does not mean a thing and it always has been, and continues to be, a tactic that is used to silence people into distributing the unvarnished truth about what Occupied Palestine (Israel) is all about, i.e. subjugation, racism, fascism, white Jewish supremacism, imperialism. Occupied Palestine (Israel) was, through Zionist ideology, nurtured on hate, intimidation, violence, torture, murder and mass murder, ethnic cleansing, and so forth.
It is the supporters of Occupied Palestine such as Dov Hikind, Avi Mayer, Charles "I'm on a mission from god" Schumer, et al who should be doing the apologizing.
Mr. Che, or anyone affiliated with SNL, have no reason to apologize for what was said--it was the truth, the great equalizer! I sincerely hope that they have the courage not to apologize a la Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson.

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I think where it gets complicated...is that Palestinians don’t call themselves Israeli. Palestine is in Israel. Call yourselves Israeli and then you are entitled to the same rights as an Israeli. Jesus was Israeli and NOT a Jew. If he were Jewish, then he wouldn’t believe in his own Bible. You can be Israeli and NOT Jewish...you can be Palestinian by culture , but still be Israeli. Just like a person can be from New York and still be a US citizen. By history, Israel is a country, NOT a religion.

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"Palestine is in Israel."
Actually, Israel is in Palestine.

"Jesus was Israeli and NOT a Jew"
Jesus WAS a Jew. There were no Israelis- not for another 1,900 years. There were no Christians, either- no gospels, no epistles, no Pauline doctrine. All that came about some time after his death.

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Yah, I caught it and laughed. I had earlier seen that news and wondered, what about the Palestinian population over whom the Israelis are Occupiers? Assumed Israel was doing nothing for them. Thought later (after SNL), if Israel does not have a compassionate concern to help those they hold captive, you'd think they would for self-serving reasons: just because they get vaccinated and those around them don't does not give them protection. It leaves those outside to continue generating mutant variants. Either way, once again Israel shows their true colors.

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.