April 9, 2024
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SNL Mocks the One Person Defending Jews on Campus

An open letter to SNL’s kibbutz-born executive producer Lorne Michaels.

Dear Lorne,

A long time ago, you began your career as a television writer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, before moving to Los Angeles, and eventually getting a shot at producing “Saturday Night Live” in 1975. It’s important to remember the odds of becoming as powerful and rich as you have is a long shot at best. A man who has garnered over 60 Emmys, produces several television shows and films, and has turned names like Sandler, Ferrell, Rock, Belushi, Chase, Aykroyd, Farley, Radner, Carvey and Murphy into very rich and famous people says something about your power.

But here’s the thing. Spiderman warned us that with great power comes great responsibility.

Now don’t get me wrong. No one loves a hard laugh more than I. In fact, for many years, I was the class clown, making jokes and getting laughs, having spent many hours in the principal’s office or detention. Sometimes I went a bit far but ultimately, I knew where to draw the line. I’m not so sure that you do.

Last week, former “Saturday Night Live” star Cecily Strong backed out of playing Representative Elise Stefanik on the show because she was “uncomfortable” with the heavily criticized sketch. You know, the one where you mocked Stefanik, the one person trying to stop blatant hatred of Jews. You could have mocked and castigated University of Pennsylvania President Liz “It depends on the context” Magill, the clown who couldn’t say that calls for genocide against Jews constitute bullying or harassment. Now that, Lorne, would have been funny. But don’t take my word for it. There were many people who were shocked at your decision.

Journalist Jake Wallis Simons asserted, “Can’t believe SNL decided to mock those demanding tougher action on Jew-hatred on campus rather than those making excuses for calls for genocide.”

Meghan McCain wrote, “There is a 400% increase in antisemitic hate crime since October 7th and SNL thinks it’s hilarious…. This is vile. Vile.” Dr. Sara Yael Hirschhorn wrote, “This is really appalling—NBC, do you think antisemitism is acceptable as the punchline of a joke about American society? This needs to be investigated by the FCC.” Kevin Haggerty wrote in an article, “The disconnect from humor caused by the ‘woke mind virus’ found Saturday Night Live taking heat for a ‘vile’ skit. ‘This is no longer satire. This is propaganda.’”

The ADL has tracked multiple “Weekend Update” jokes this season that inappropriately use Jews as the punchline.

In fact, a few years ago during the coronavirus crisis, host Michael Che “joked” about Israel’s coronavirus vaccine rollout: “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.” In a statement, the ADL told Fox News that Che “not only missed the mark, but crossed the line—basing the premise of the joke on factual inaccuracies and playing into an antisemitic trope in the process..”

Lorne, we all appreciate that ratings are key. But you could have found a dozen things to make fun of, yet instead chose to mock someone who is defending your rights. And Lorne, I think we all know that if the victims of these three morally bankrupt school presidents were not Jewish but Black, that skit never would have aired. Even Al Sharpton, hardly a close friend of Jews, agreed and commented that if this vitriol were directed toward the Black community, buses and protests would immediately line the streets.

The question that begs to be asked is: Why? Why do you continually choose to satirize and mock Jews when you are one yourself? Are you like the overweight guy (think Farley) who denigrates himself before others have the chance to, for self-preservation?

Lorne, the NBC office and the Rockefeller Center walls are not immune to mobs of terrorists like the ones who ran through colleges chanting “Death to Jews.” As history has shown us, Hitler didn’t discriminate between the Jews he gassed.

What’s worse, the humor fell flat and opened the door to more haters of Jews. The only people that should have been mocked were the three wolves in sheep’s clothing. Instead, your writers castigated the one courageous woman—U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik—who chose to stick up for Jews when practically everyone else remained silent. And Lorne, she’s not even Jewish.

Rather than mock her, you should thank her for her courage in fighting injustices.

No one is asking you to give up your $500 million empire. No one is asking you to march in Washington or donate to an Israeli cause. Asking you to stop adding fuel to the fire of antisemitism is not a huge ask.

In many ways, God chose to place you in a powerful position to help. To make a difference. But perhaps without intending to do so, you hurt a lot of people who take these threats and attacks very
seriously. In fact, we have 6 million reasons to take these actions very seriously. You could follow the lead of other powerful individuals, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Schwimmer, Steven Spielberg, Patricia Heaton, Debra Messing, Jamie Lee Curtis, Mayim Bialik, Amy Schumer, Jon Voight, Madonna, Adam Sandler, Michael Rappaport, or the countless others who have chosen to stand up against tyranny and hate. Yet, for some reason, you chose the opposite.

Perhaps the most ironic aspect is that you were born on a kibbutz before your parents emigrated to Toronto.

Imagine if they decided to stay on that kibbutz.

Imagine if your whole family was there on October 7.

Ten to one, I’ll bet you it wouldn’t depend on context…


Avi Ciment lives in Florida and is a longtime columnist for The Jewish Press. He lectures throughout the world and has just finished his second book, “Real Questions Real Answers.” He can be reached at www.AviTalks.com.

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