Saturday, February 27, 2021

Michael Che Joke: Fragility and Reality

If someone protested against or made sarcastic jokes about apartheid in South Africa, housing discrimination in the United States, or racist soccer fans in Italy or Spain, most of us would not immediately say that the person is anti-white/anti-Afrikaner/anti-Italian/anti-Spanish. They very well could be of course but that wouldn't change the fact that there are/were problems in all of those areas which need(ed) to be addressed.
Most people recognize that it's a dishonest tactic to accuse the person drawing attention to bias of being biased himself or herself. Nobody likes to have their particular group or even a representative of their group in the spotlight for something negative. Just human nature. But no group and especially no government or nation is above criticism. Governments and even nations are not synonymous with ethnic, racial, or religious groups. There is a huge difference between criticizing a government for what it does and criticizing a group for who it is.
Unfortunately the state of Israel and its US partisans have expanded and weaponized claims of anti-Semitism to include anyone who criticizes the appalling treatment that Israel doles out to non-Jews in areas under its control, particularly the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. SNL comedian Michael Che recently made a minor joke about this and was accused of being the second coming of Hitler by some Jewish organizations.


The problem with this knee jerk reaction of defending Israel by accusing any and all detractors, no matter how minor, of being anti-Semitic and attempting to harm their careers is that Che's joke, like most good jokes, was based in truth. As even the New York Times had to admit, Israel is not exactly making it a priority to get Covid vaccinations to the millions of non-Jews living in the Occupied Territories. 

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government has pledged to send thousands of spare coronavirus vaccines to foreign allies, reigniting a debate about Israel’s responsibilities to people closer to home: Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. On Tuesday, the governments of the Czech Republic and Honduras confirmed that Israel had promised them each 5,000 vaccine doses manufactured by Moderna. Israel has given at least one shot of the two-dose, Pfizer-manufactured vaccine to just over half its own population of nine million — including to people living in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories — making it the world leader in vaccine rollouts. 

That has left the Israeli government able to bolster its international relationships with its surplus supply of Moderna vaccines. But the move has angered Palestinians because it suggests that Israel’s allies are of greater priority than the Palestinians living under Israeli control in the occupied territories, almost all of whom have yet to receive a vaccine. Israel has pledged at least twice as many doses to faraway countries as it has so far promised to the nearly five million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel is doing exactly what Che accused them of doing but he's an anti-Semite for pointing this out? The bottom line is that actions speak louder than words. Actions certainly speak louder than SNL jokes. Longstanding and ongoing Israeli government actions demonstrate that the well being of Palestinians under occupation isn't important.  Hysterically screaming anti-Semite at anyone who shows concern about Palestinians is not a way to win friends and influence people in my opinion. Of course this response may not be as much about Che as it is about trying to intimidate the next person from saying anything remotely critical about Israel.
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