CAMERA issued the following press advisory on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2021:
For Immediate Release: Media Watchdog Calls on NBCUniversal to Address Antisemitic Falsehoods on Saturday Night Live and MSNBC
Boston, MA — The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) is calling on officials at NBCUniversal to apologize for the broadcast of an antisemitic segment on the February 20, 2021 episode of NBC comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) and to retract the defamatory falsehood that Israel is “burning down Palestinian villages” broadcast earlier this month on MSNBC.
A February 21 letter from CAMERA’s Israel Director Tamar Sternthal to NBC executives deplored the antisemitic “joke” told by star Michael Che during SNL’s Weekend Update. Che “joked” that “Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half of their population. And I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”
— Tamar Sternthal (@TamarSternthal) February 21, 2021
The letter urges “NBC and SNL to apologize for the blatant antisemitic smear, and to make clear that Israel is providing equal access to the coronavirus vaccine for its entire population, Jews and non-Jews alike. We also continue to call on MSNBC to forthrightly correct the Israel is ‘burning down Palestinian villages’ falsehoods.”
“Accusing Israel of withholding the vaccine from its non-Jewish citizens is a modern-day iteration of the ancient blood libel,” Sternthal wrote. “Israel has made the vaccination equally available to all of its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike. It has also made it equally available to Arab residents of Jerusalem, many of whom don’t hold Israeli citizenship, but receive all Israeli health benefits.”
The “joke” comes soon after U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) was allowed on MSNBC to falsely declare without challenge that Israel was “burning down Palestinian villages” during an interview conducted by host Mehdi Hassan. MSNBC has yet to correct the record.
“Che’s pernicious new libel is yet another stain on NBC Universal,” Sternthal wrote.
Sternthal sent the letter to SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, Marian Porges, NBC’s senior vice president of news standards, Rashida Jones, president of MSNBC News and Frances Berwick, chairman of NBC’s Entertainment Networks.
“Che’s unfunny and ugly joke points to a serious problem with standards at NBC,” said CAMERA’s Executive Director Andrea Levin. “These bigoted statements are unworthy of a major American media company; we hope there will be swift action to retract and apologize for these episodes and measures will be taken to prevent any future such commentary.”
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