Last week, former “Dr. Who” star David Tennant joked that Israel ignores their Arab population, specifically when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.
While appearing as a guest on the popular British satirical panel show, “Have I Got News For You,” Tennant said, “According to the current roadmap, Britons will only be able to travel to countries with ‘a similarly high level of vaccination rate.’”
“Which, according to this chart means we can only go to Israel,” the actor continued, referencing a graphic which ranked countries by vaccination rate. The only country listed about the UK (which has a vaccination rate of 46.5% with 37 million people fully vaccinated) is Israel (which has a vaccination rate of 61% with 10.1 million people fully vaccinated).
“As you can see, Israel is top with 61%, which is pretty much everyone there if you ignore the Arab population, which they do,” Tennant said. “So they’re done.”
Tennant’s comments were immediately condemned by critics. Executive director of StandWithUs Israel, Michael Dickson, tweeted that the claim that “Israel ‘ignores the Arab population’ on vaccines is not funny and not true. Israel’s healthcare system is equal to all and an exemplar of coexistence. This is just an antisemitic ‘blood libel’ being played for laughs.”
.@bbc @haveigotnews “joke” saying Israel 'ignores the Arab population' on vaccines is not funny and not true. Israel’s healthcare system is equal to all and an exemplar of coexistence. This is just an antisemitic “blood libel” being played for laughs. https://t.co/hmRxPCTw0d
— Michael Dickson (@michaeldickson) April 15, 2021
According to Jewish News, a spokesperson from the Israeli Embassy in London said, “Israel offered vaccines to all of its citizens above the age of 16, regardless of their religion, ethnicity or social status. Arab citizens in Israel have been offered vaccines and special campaigns in Arabic have targeted these communities in order to prevent misinformation and address any concerns that they may have in order to increase uptake.”
This joke by Tennant is similar to that of Saturday Night Live’s Michael Che, with the comedian commenting in February, “Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half of their population, and I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”
It's all fun and games until you start promoting antisemitic myths, @NBCSNL.
Every Israeli citizen—Jewish and Arab, Muslim, Christian, of any or no faith—is eligible to be vaccinated; 2/3 of Israel's Arab citizens over 60 already have been.
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) February 21, 2021
According to Fox News, “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.’”
“The organization called the 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,’” Fox added.
“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,” the petition continued.
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