NBC must apologize for ‘bigoted statements’ about Israel on ‘SNL,’ MSNBC, media watchdog group says

'These bigoted statements are unworthy of a major American media company,' CAMERA’s Andrea Levin said

A media watchdog group has called on officials at NBCUniversal to apologize for a pair of incidents that have been criticized as "anti-Semitic."

CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, called out the network for both a joke made on "Saturday Night Live"  this week as well as a segment on MSNBC earlier this month involving Mehdi Hassan.

Over the weekend, "SNL" cast member Michael Che came under fire for a joke he made during the "Weekend Update" segment. "Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half," Che said on the long-running NBC show.

The statement drew attention on social media causing an uproar with viewers and sparked a petition from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) for NBC "to retract its outrageous claim and apologize immediately." NBC had "no comment" when reached by Fox News regarding the petition.

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CAMERA's Israel Director Tamar Sternthal wrote a letter to NBC executives on Monday asking them to address the "SNL" joke as well as a Feb. 5 "All in With Chris Hayes" segment when fill-in host Hassan failed to challenge a claim made by Rep. Ro Khanna that Israel is "burning down Palestinian villages."

Sternthal asked NBC to apologize for the "blatant antisemitic smear," and continued to call on MSNBC to "forthrightly correct" that Israel is "burning down Palestinian villages’ falsehoods." 

Regarding the "SNL" joke, Sternthal challenged: "Accusing Israel of withholding the vaccine from its non-Jewish citizens is a modern-day iteration of the ancient blood libel. Israel has made the vaccination equally available to all of its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike. It has also made it equally available to Arab residents of Jerusalem, many of whom don’t hold Israeli citizenship, but receive all Israeli health benefits."   

The letter was sent to "SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels, Marian Porges, NBC’s senior vice president of news standards, Rashida Jones, president of MSNBC, and Frances Berwick, chairman of NBC’s Entertainment Networks," Fox News learned.

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"Che’s unfunny and ugly joke points to a serious problem with standards at NBC. These bigoted statements are unworthy of a major American media company; we hope there will be swift action to retract and apologize for these episodes and measures will be taken to prevent any future such commentary," CAMERA’s executive director Andrea Levin said.

NBC Universal, MSNBC and "Saturday Night Live" did not immediately respond to requests for comment about CAMERA’s letter.

Rep. Khanna walked back the comment to the Times of Israel, but MSNBC didn’t issue any type of on-air correction. Hasan tweeted on Feb. 14 that "it's worth clarifying, no, Israel doesn’t burn down Palestinian villages, he misspoke, and he was clearly referring to demolished homes and burned orchards."

In its criticism of the joke made on "Saturday Night Live," the AJC called Che’s joke "categorically false" and a "dangerous, modern twist on a classic antisemitic trope that has inspired the mass murder of countless Jews throughout the centuries."

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The AJC petition continued: "Words have consequences, and Jews are at risk when a major American TV company joins with those who claim Israel is favoring only a portion of its citizens in its admirable efforts, praised by Dr. Anthony Fauci and others, to vaccinate all of its residents."

Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind also chimed in on Twitter saying the joke was "unsurprising coming from SNL as they have a long record of antisemitism."