Saturday Night Live/YouTube

Michael Che sparks debate with Israel vaccination joke on ‘SNL’

Some are accusing Che of anti-Semitism. Others are defending the joke as being anti-apartheid.

Feb 21, 2021, 3:32 pm

Internet Culture


Rachel Kiley

Michael Che is facing backlash on Twitter after making a joke on Saturday Night Live that some feel was anti-Semitic.

Featured Video Hide

Che has often pushed boundaries and sometimes even crossed the line into offending people during SNL’s Weekend Update, which presents the news in a humorous and often scathing way. During the most recent episode, a crack he made about Israel’s vaccination process for the coronavirus just didn’t sit well with some folks.

Advertisement Hide

“Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population,” he said. “I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”

It didn’t take long for people on Twitter to lambast Che for allegedly perpetuating anti-Semitism by suggesting Israel is prioritizing Jews rather than all people under its care.

“[The joke] was blatantly Antisemitic, just perpetuating racist stereotypes & spreading COVID misinformation,” claimed human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky.

Advertisement Hide

Avi Mayer agreed and pointed out previous times in history that Jewish people being blamed for things led to violent discrimination.

“This isn’t funny at all; it’s dangerous,” he wrote.

Advertisement Hide
Advertisement Hide

However, Israel has already come under fire for not vaccinating Palestinians in territories under its control, and there has been debate as to whether the country is obligated to help these people or not.

As such, others defended Che’s remarks, claiming that the joke wasn’t anti-Semitic at all, but was rather pointing out the latest in a series of human rights issues.

“Devastated to have to defend Michael Che but there’s nothing antisemitic about acknowledging apartheid,” tweeted writer Ashley Feinberg.

Advertisement Hide

“The threat isn’t that a punchline isn’t factual: it’s that Israel’s systemic racism is now so well known that it’s a trope,” added @leibowitzadak.

Advertisement Hide

This isn’t the first time Che has stimulated conversation about a serious topic thanks to a joke made on Weekend Update, and it certainly won’t be the last. And for now, he has not commented on the controversy this one has drudged up.

Advertisement Hide

Today’s top stories

‘We are not a match’: Internet loves Bumble match who turned Capitol rioter over to feds
The origin of ‘You need to leave’ on TikTok and the importance of context
‘I’ll call you out any day’: TikToker star confronts ‘creepy’ man taking photos of her at airport
Sign up to receive the Daily Dot’s Internet Insider newsletter for urgent news from the frontline of online.

Share this article
*First Published: Feb 21, 2021, 3:32 pm