Michael Che, co-host of “Weekend Update”, is just the latest person to take a look at Israel’s immunization priorities, but his comment sparked a complaint from the Anti-Defamation League.
“Israel reports that it has vaccinated half of its population,” Che said on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend. “And I’m going to guess it’s half Jewish.”
The statement “crossed the finish line,” tweeted ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt:
Greenblatt did not explain what the factual inaccuracies were.
The Genesis 123 Foundation, a US-based Christian organization, also took issue with Che’s joke.
“No, Mr. Che and ‘SNL’, anti-Semitism is never funny,” the organization said in a press release. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Genesis 123 Foundation is circulating a petition demanding an apology from “SNL” and NBC.
Once vaccines were available, Israel quickly became a world leader with its massive vaccination effort. Yet it is increasingly criticized for its low vaccination rates of Palestinians. Almost all Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank are said to still be waiting for their first dose.
Critics say that as an occupying power, Israel is bound by international law to give the Palestinians what it provides for its own citizens. Israeli officials say the Palestinians took responsibility for their own health services when they signed the Oslo Accords in the 1990s. (Israel, meanwhile, is funding vaccines in Syria as part of a prisoner exchange, The New York Times reported.)
The Palestinian Authority launched a vaccination program earlier this month for frontline medical staff using the 5,000 doses Israel had provided. Israel also agreed last week to inoculate some 100,000 Palestinians who regularly travel to Israel for work, the Washington Post reported.
In contrast, Israel administered at least one dose of the vaccine to nearly half of its population of 9.3 million, including the 450,000 Israelis living in the occupied West Bank, which is also home to nearly 3 million Palestinians. Two million more Palestinians live in Gaza.
Doctor Matthias Kennes, who is part of the Doctors Without Borders COVID-19 response team in Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said he wanted vaccinations to be more equitable.
“Israel is an occupying power and has millions of vaccines. Palestine is the occupied territory and has barely a few thousand vaccines. As a doctor, I don’t care who fixes this. As a doctor, I deeply care that the most vulnerable come first, ”Kennes said.
Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Kaila agreed.
“For me, health should be beyond politics,” she told the Washington Post. “We and the Israelis, the Lebanese, the Syrians, the Egyptians, we are all in the same region. We must achieve collective immunity together. “
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