An episode of a show called Nurses, produced in Canada, sent shockwaves through the Jewish community after it aired earlier this month on NBC. The scene in question featured an Orthodox man named Israel refusing a bone graft for his shattered leg after his father said in horror that it would require a "goyim leg," possibly from "an Arab, a woman." The scene was immediately condemned by Jewish community organizations in the U.S. and Canada for its ignorant and insensitive portrayal of Orthodox Jews. Following swift action and outreach by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles to NBC, the network immediately removed the episode from their digital platforms and cancelled future airings. We at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center joined CIJA in reaching out to Corus Entertainment to ensure the same action was taken here in Canada.
This debacle comes after a controversial Saturday Night Live skit aired on the same U.S. network last week, during which an SNL cast member implied that Israel is only vaccinating its Jewish citizens, a complete falsehood. Given the remarkable successes of Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination program, available to all citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity, it is beyond disappointing to see Israel being maligned by such misinformation.
We are witnessing a dangerous normalization of falsehoods, stereotypes and conspiracy theories about Jewish people and Israel in mainstream media. As our community remains the most targetted group when it comes to hate crimes, it is imperative that the entertainment industry - which influences the public’s perspective immensely - takes a hard look at the content being broadcast and how it may be contributing to the problem. We can only hope that the work done this past week by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the U.S. and FSWC in Canada serves as a wake-up call to those in the entertainment industry.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Purim Sameach,
NBC Pulls Controversial 'Nurses' Episode From Digital, Future Airings Amid Backlash Over Orthodox Jew Storyline
An episode of the NBC medical drama Nurses has earned condemnation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center over a plot involving an Orthodox Jew who refuses a bone graft from a potentially "Arab" or "woman" donor.
The controversy has led NBC to pull the episode from all digital platforms and future airings.
“The writers of this scene check all the boxes of ignorance and pernicious negative stereotypes right down to the name of the patient, Israel — payouts [sidelocks] and all," a statement reads. “In one scene, NBC has insulted and demonized religious Jews and Judaism."