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(Washington, D.C., February 23, 2021) The Endowment for Middle East Truth condemns NBC News and its affiliated NBC television network (collectively, “NBC”) for what is becoming a pattern of promulgating flagrantly offensive and antisemitic libels that are dangerous to the safety and welfare of American Jews.

On January 27th, the day officially recognized by the United Nations as International Holocaust Remembrance Day and a day during which Jews the world over recalled the Holocaust and the antisemitic events that led to the world’s greatest human atrocity, NBC News published an article singling out one of President Biden’s appointments for being pro-Israel, suggesting that individual is therefore conflicted out of working in the administration due to an “appearance of bias in favor of Israel.” In the same article, it also accused Israel of “aggressively” spying on the U.S. without any evidence to support the outrageous claim. In response to the fierce backlash to the publication of these antisemitic statements, NBC News moved the offensive article to its archives where it remains available to readers.

NBC has now moved its antisemitic libels from print to television. This past weekend, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” aired a skit in which actor Michael Che stated, “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it was the Jewish half.” This “joke” may seem funny to antisemites, but to the Jews on the receiving end of hate that stems from falsehoods about the Jewish homeland, antisemitism is no joking matter.

Antisemitism is easily identified by applying Natan Sharansky’s three D test. NBC delegitimized and demonized Israel by accusing it of rampant spying as well as not vaccinating its Muslim, Arab, and Christian citizens – flat out falsehoods since Israel has in fact vaccinated large portions of its non-Jewish population and has not discriminated against any religious group during its highly successful vaccination campaign. NBC also used double standards, singling out Jews and Zionists for biases while ignoring other possible conflicts of interest among Biden staffers including those with direct connections to Iran for instance.

Furthermore, applying the internationally accepted IHRA definition (adopted by the U.S. State Department), it is clear that NBC used “rhetorical…manifestations of antisemitism…directed toward Jewish…individuals…[and] Jewish community institutions….” IHRA provides that contemporary examples of antisemitism in the media could include “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel…than to the interests of their own nations.” NBC News’ report is clearly within the recognized definitions of antisemitism. NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” skit squarely falls under the IHRA definition as well since it insinuated that Israel “is a racist endeavor” and perpetuated the type of “blood libel” that over the centuries has led to genocides against the Jewish people.

To be clear, NBC News has, to our knowledge, never reported on any other Biden appointee’s philanthropic contributions nor accused them of dual loyalty except for this one Jewish supporter of Israel. Biden appointments come from all walks of life as he has focused his energies on a diverse administration. That other appointees of various religions have not been accused of dual loyalty makes it clear that antisemitism was the motivating force behind this recent report. Similarly, NBC’s SNL has singled out Israel for its false accusations that it is harming the health and welfare of its non-Jewish citizens while ignoring countries that actually do discriminate on the basis of religion including China, Iran, and Russia.

These are classic antisemitic tropes that only serve to further incite the already growing hate and violent attacks directed at Jewish Americans, while bolstering and validating the antisemitic motivations of Jew-haters across the political spectrum. We therefore call on NBC to adhere to its calls to silence incitement to violence and to (a) issue an immediate apology for its propagation of antisemitic narratives, (b) discipline the NBC News article’s writer, Ken Dilanian, SNL producer Lorne Michaels, and SNL actor Michael Che, (c) adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism to ensure that all NBC employees understand what antisemitism is and how dangerous promoting it can be to the safety and well-being of American Jews, and (d) ensure training of all staff members including writers and editors, actors, directors, and producers, in order to prevent such offensive and dangerous lies from being published and aired in the future.

Says EMET Founder and President, Sarah Stern, “I wish to thank Lauri Regan, EMET’s New York Chapter President, for bringing this to our attention. Anti-Semitism is growing throughout the world, as well as within the United States, and this is no laughing matter. We have seen from our history that what begins with words doesn’t end merely with words. Anti-Semitism has become firmly entrenched within the extreme left and the extreme right of each party, and this sort of cheap shot makes it more acceptable within the mainstream. This substandard sort of humor that Michael Che made this past weekend on “Saturday Night Live” is not just a gratuitous swipe at the state of Israel, it is a gratuitous swipe on the truth. Israel has taken special pains to vaccinate its Israeli-Arab population. In an effort to encourage the Israeli-Arab population to take the vaccine, the Israeli Health Ministry translates everything about the vaccine, including flyers and videos, into Arabic. 60 percent of the Israeli-Arab population has already been vaccinated, which is in keeping with the statistics of vaccination of the overall Israeli population. And although the Oslo Accords stipulate that health for the Palestinian population would be taken care of by the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli Health Ministry has already given hundreds of doses of the vaccine to the Palestinian Authority. This sort of classic blood libel against the Jewish state is simply deplorable and inexcusable. We call upon the producers of Saturday Night Live to apologize. Anti-Semitism is simply no laughing matter.”

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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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