‘SNL’ under fire for ‘anti-Semitic’ joke about Israeli COVID vaccine rollout

February 21, 2021 | 2:55pm | Updated

By Jesse O’Neill

“Saturday Night Live” and star Michael Che are under fire from critics for a joke they claim was anti-Semitic.

“Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half,” the Weekend Update correspondent cracked Sunday morning.

The vast majority of Israel’s population — 74 percent — is Jewish, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.

Vaccination rates of Israeli Arabs are much lower than Jews in the country, partially due to distrust of the government in the Arab community, according to a January article in The Christian Science Monitor.

By Sunday afternoon, the topic was trending, with many accusing Che and NBC of bias, and others coming to his defense.

“Unsurprising coming from SNL as they have a long record of antisemitism,” posted former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

“But Michael Che or whoever wrote that ‘joke’ is obviously also ignorant of fact that Israel has Arab citizens who’ve received the vaccine according to the same qualifications as Jews!,” the Brooklyn Democrat said.

Another critic tweeted: “43% of Israel’s Arab citizens have been vaccinated – and that already large # would be even higher if the kind of hateful propaganda spread by Michael Che weren’t around.”

Others defended the fake news bit, claiming that Che was making a statement about Israel not extending the program to the West Bank and Gaza. It is vaccinating Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem.

Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of racism in connection with the vaccine roll-out.

“Leave Michael Che alone. Israel is not vaccinating the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem & Gaza–all of which is ultimately under Israeli control. As a Jewish woman of conscience, I find this medical apartheid appalling,” one woman tweeted.

Meanwhile, a week after “SNL” ignored Gov. Cuomo’s COVID-19 nursing home death scandal, the variety show took the gloves off, casting Pete Davidson as the scandal embroiled Democrat to kick off Saturday night’s episode.