Twitter is having a field day taking the "Weekend Update" co-host to task for "spreading lies" about who is and isn't getting vaccinated there.
"Saturday Night Live" is in the business of making jokes, and that's a very touchy business to be in these days. Cancel Culture is alive and well and ready to pull the trigger on anybody being offensive to anybody.
Well, "Weekend Update" co-host Michael Che knows a thing or five about cancel culture, as he often skirts the line with some of his material -- and this week is no different. But this time, he got himself trending on Sunday morning for just one joke.
In less than ten seconds, Che caused outrage and consternation and accusations of anti-Semitism for cracking a joke about the vaccination efforts in Israel.
"Isreal is reporting that they've vaccinated half of their population," he said. "I'm going to guess it's the Jewish half."
Accused of spreading lies with his joke, perpetuating ongoing stereotypes about Israel and openly stoking the flames of discord in the region and around the world about the region, there were many calls for Che to apologize immediately.
Statistically, there is no evidence to support Che's joke, though there is a reported disparity in the percentage of Jewish and Arab citizens who have thus far received the vaccine. For more than a month now, media reports have stated that there is an issue of trust among Israeli Arabs and Jerusalem Palestinians.
Back in early January, Reuters reported that Palestinians in annexed East Jerusalem and Arab citizens of Israel are suspicious of their government's vaccine shots. A Christian Science Monitor report around the same time claims 75 percent of Jewish citizens over 60 had been vaccinated, while the figures for Arabs was just 43 percent.
Some of the biggest issues in the Arab minority that the government is dealing with in trying to convince them to get vaccinated are lack of trust in their leadership and online misinformation.
The government reports that after a recent push using different methods to encourage greater Arab involvement, they are seeing a rise on this vaccination numbers, but it is an ongoing effort. Many critics of Che's joke believe that it is a disservice to that effort.
Several of those were quickly correcting and fact-checking the joke, clarifying that Israel is making its vaccine available to all of its citizens. An MSNBC report shares that there is some complexity on overall vaccination availability as Isreal has not been offering it to Palestinians in the West Bank.
As Che's statement was written and presented by a comedian as a joke during a fake news broadcast on a comedy show, it's pretty evident that Che wasn't trying to present his words as a statement of fact. He was, rather, making a joke based on stereotypes and the fraught and divided history of the region.
It's become more an issue of whether such a joke is okay or not now or ever. Humor has been under fire in recent years, with many subjects and comedic approaches no longer considered acceptable. Apparently, Che has hit on another of those areas where there is uncertainty though vehement certainty on both sides of the issue.
While many were quick to tear into the comedian, getting his name trending on Twitter, there were others who came to his support. Below is a cross-section of some of that ongoing debate:
I was utterly appalled last night by Michael Che's anti-Semitic dig. He's offended the trans community in the recent past as well. There's a difference between sharp comedy and what he's doing. Time for some sensitivity training. https://t.co/EciVkf4bOy
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
Anti-Semitic #SNL's Michael Che said, "Israel vaccinated half it's population and I'm gonna guess it's the Jewish half." Um, factcheck: Israel vaccinated 43% of Arab population but has trouble convincing them to be vaccinated. STFU anti-#Israel asshole https://t.co/ouTew0JdaX
OPINION: Legacy Media probably won't give Michael Che and SNL any flack over last night's antisemitic joke. They're too busy cancelling Gina Carano, who isn't actually an antisemite at all.pic.twitter.com/H2bDDn200j
.@SNL Michael Che perpetrated an anti- Semitic anti- Israel trope with his vaccine joke. Just as a fact check - Israel vaccinated 1/2 of its population of Israeli citizens - Arab, Jewish and Christian. Shame on you.
Wow, I’m guessing you suuuuuuck at first dates. Um, Factcheck: Michael Che isn’t a journalist, and #WeekendUpdate isn’t the news. But you’re welcome to get offended at comedians if you think it’ll get you retweets.