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Tags: stereotypes | racial | ethnic | jokes

Truth or Consequences for NBC's 'Nurses,' 'SNL' Slurs



Abraham Cooper By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein Wednesday, 03 March 2021 09:09 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

What could be worse than broadcasting racial or ethnic jokes that reinforce stereotypes? Making allegations on a major entertainment platform that are complete fabrications.

NBC has a new Canadian-produced drama, "Nurses."

In its latest episode we meet an ultra-Orthodox Jewish teen — named (you guessed it) Israel, who often ditches school to play basketball, is hit by a car and lands up in the hospital.

His only hope of ever walking again is to receive a cadaveric transplant of bone. His father opposes it, saying it could come from (heaven forfend!) a non-Jew — even an Arab, or a woman!

The point: those funny-looking ultra-Jews are perfectly comfortable endangering the well-being of their loved ones as they stew in their hatred of gentiles and women.

This is a grotesque, horrible fabrication.

Orthodox Jews find nothing whatsoever objectionable in giving or receiving tissue donations. To the contrary, they are taught to regard both as a mitzvah, a divine commandment.

Jewish law makes the protection of life so important, that it denies a patient the option of foregoing treatment that medical personnel deem effective — except in the case of terminal patients who want to avoid painful procedures.

Halacha, Jewish law, leaves nothing to the whims or fears of the faithful — when medical experts disagree, Jews are bound to follow the opinion of the majority of experts.

Rather than pit prayer against medicine, as the program portrayed, Jews are taught to trust and pursue both concurrently.

They are taught — without equivocation — that human life pushes aside every commandment, other the three cardinal transgressions of murder, rejecting the One G-d, and sexual immorality.

Overriding other laws in order to pursue even a remote chance of saving or extending life is not a begrudging dispensation. It is considered to be meritorious, and should be pursued by the most righteous in the community.

Organ transplants are commonplace in Israel, including between Arabs and Jews — in both directions. The "Nurses" manipulative narrative is not only a blatant lie, it presents the very opposite of what Jews believe and practice.

This ''drama'' comes at a time when religious Jews have been targeted for violent attacks on the streets of New York. The FBI's latest available statistics (2019) confirms over 60% of all religious-based hate crimes in the U.S. targeted Jewish Americans who number less than 2% of our nation's population.

Even COVID-19 hasn't curbed arson attacks against shuttered synagogues from Oregon to Delaware. Add the 24/7 anti-Semitic harangues infecting social media, ''Nurses'" awful episode might cost someone's life or limb.

Earlier, ''Saturday Night Live's'' Michael Che, portraying a news anchor,  reported on Israel's great COVID vaccination success, in which (at the time) 50% of the population had received at least one dose.

''I bet it was the Jewish half,'' quipped Che, channeling the medieval accusations that Jews (who succumbed in smaller numbers than the general population) were responsible for spreading the Black Death.

This, too, was an incendiary lie. More than 70% of Israel's Arabs over the age of 60 have been jabbed by Israel's health services.

It is greater Arab reluctance to be vaccinated that accounts for the difference, not lack of availability. It is,  by the way, ahead of the percentage of Americans who have received a vaccine.

Che's one-liner didn't happen in a vacuum.

More than 100 years before the internet, Winston Churchill said that ''a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.''

But, in the era of social media, the big lie can span the globe immediately and continuously.

So, the Palestinians never tire of reminding the world that the Oslo Accords gave them alone — not Israelis — control all aspects of their lives, from education to healthcare.

However, when the corrupt Palestinian Authority (PA) failed to deliver vaccines for its population (''we ordered it from the Russians,'') they defaulted to a time-tested, fail-safe excuse — blame Israel!

Enter Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wielding the cudgel of righteous indignation:

''As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for the health of all the people under its control. It is outrageous that [Benjamin] Netanyahu would use spare vaccines to reward his foreign allies while so many Palestinians in the occupied territories are still waiting.''

First the PA declares it has sole responsibility to deal with the pandemic, then we don't; they know critics, including Bernie Sanders — none of whom volunteered to send a single dose to Gaza — declare Israel is the "Occupying Power." Heads they win, tails you lose!

Then an American cultural icon, Saturday Night Live signals what's hip, what's in, what's cutting edge:

And the Emmy for launching a new blood libel goes to ...

In 2021, the Jewish people, it seems, need not apply for dispensation from the woke culture: No, it is us who are a real-time live target.

NBC did the right thing in pulling the "Nurses" episode from future digital release.

It should apologize for the SNL slander as well.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is prepared to help writers to differentiate between acceptable satire and promulgating hate.

We're not the thought police and we stand for a counsel — not cancel — culture.

Ethical choices do not begin or end at a writers' conference. It's up to each individual. Here's an old school piece of advice from the19th century Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, who began a major movement of ethical focus.

On his short list of desired character traits that people should work on teaching themselves? Learning to honor the other: ''Be vigilant in protecting the honor of all people — especially those with whom you disagree.''

And you don't need to be a Talmudic scholar to know the other prerequisite: Be a Truth Teller.

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is the Wiesenthal Center Director of Interfaith Affairs.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Associate Dean, Director Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization. Abraham Cooper has been a longtime activist for Jewish and human rights causes. His extensive involvement in Soviet Jewry included visiting refuseniks, helping to open Moscow's first Jewish Cultural Center, and lecturing at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Sakharov Foundation. In 1977, he came to L.A. to help Rabbi Marvin Hier found the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and for three decades Rabbi Cooper has overseen the Wiesenthal Center's international social action agenda including worldwide antisemitism and extremist groups, Nazi crimes, Interfaith Relations, the struggle to thwart the anti-Israel Divestment campaign, and worldwide promotion of tolerance education. Widely recognized as an international authority on issues related to digital hate and the Internet, Rabbi Cooper was listed in 2017 by Newsweek among the top most influential Rabbis in the United States. Read Abraham Cooper's Reports — More Here.

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What could be worse than broadcasting racial or ethnic jokes that reinforce stereotypes? Making allegations on a major entertainment platform that are complete fabrications. NBC has a new Canadian-produced drama, "Nurses."
stereotypes, racial, ethnic, jokes
Wednesday, 03 March 2021 09:09 AM
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