SNL Slammed for Dave Chappelle’s Anti-Semitic Monologue; Comedian Mocks “Jewish Influence”
By: Fern Sidman
The head of the Anti-Defamation League on Sunday blasted comedian Dave Chappelle for an extended monologue he did on this past week’s Saturday Night Live program about the Kanye West & Kyrie Irving scandals and alleged Jewish influence in Hollywood and elsewhere.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt criticized the NBC program, accusing the late night staple of “popularizing anti-Semitism.”
“We shouldn’t expect @DaveChappelle to serve as society’s moral compass, but disturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalize but popularize #antisemitism,” he wrote on Twitter. “Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?”
After opening with a statement that he read in which he condemned anti-Semitism and said he stood with the Jewish community, Chappelle then mocked the handling of anti-Semitism in the entertainment industry, saying it’s “not a crazy thing to think” Jews control Hollywood and implied that Jews blamed Black Americans for their trauma, as was reported by the Times of Israel.
The ADL’s director of community engagement, Carly Pildis, said Chappelle “wants to joke about anti-Semitism but he isn’t living with the consequences,” according to the TOI report.
“Chappelle could have made a really powerful moment standing up against hate while making us laugh. He has the talent to make that choice. Instead, he chose to make Jews and the hatred we face the punchline,” she said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center also weighed in on the Chappelle monologue. “Dave Chappelle had the power to put anti-Semites in their place, and that’s how his SNL monologue began. By the end, he mainlined some of the worst core resurgent antisemitic tropes,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s director of global social action. “NBC Universal should never have allowed their platform to be used to push anti-Semitic hate.”
The Jerusalem Post tweeted: “The American comedian Dave Chappelle said during his SNL monologue that he ‘denounces antisemitism in all its forms’… before promptly engaging in antisemitic tropes,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Time Out New York theater editor and critic Adam Feldman tweeted: “That Dave Chappelle SNL monologue probably did more to normalize anti-Semitism than anything Kanye said. Everyone knows Kanye is nuts. Chappelle posits himself as a teller of difficult truths. It’s worse.”
Rudy Rochman, a Jewish-Israeli right activist tweeted: “Dave Chappelle’s SNL skit was a meticulous & calculated move to desensitize the population from anti-Semitism, getting society to laugh at Jewish traumas/struggles, and normalizing historic tropes by manipulating the average person’s pain and redirecting their reactions onto Jews.”
In a November 14th article entitled, “Dave Chappelle and Normalizing Black Anti-Semitism”, columnist Jonathan S. Tobin wrote: “The controversy about what guest host comedian Dave Chappelle said about recent anti-Semitic controversies involving African-Americans during the course of his opening monologue on the latest edition of the show is significant.
Chappelle’s willingness to rationalize, if not excuse, some of what Kanye West and Kyrie Irving have done—even if he was also making fun of them and their critics—sheds light on something quite important: that black anti-Semitism isn’t treated seriously. This is aside from the fact (the enthusiastic reaction from the SNL in-studio audience notwithstanding) that his jokes about it weren’t very funny.”
Dave Chappelle is no stranger to dabbling in anti-Semitic “humor”. In an October 13th article on Chappelle that appeared on the Mosaic Magazine web site said, “This past week, two American comedians managed to spark controversies regarding anti-Semitism. The first came from Dave Chappelle, whose most recent stand-up routine included two jokes that played on ugly Jewish stereotypes, and an even uglier view of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”
The Times of Israel reported that there has been a lackluster response to Chappelle’s now infamous monologue from Jewish leaders when compared to the opprobrium generated by West’s incessant anti-Semitism and Irving’s promotion of an anti-Semitic film, which he initially refused to apologize for. Chappelle’s comments were seen as less egregious, as West directly threatened Jews and Irving publicized a film trafficking in anti-Jewish conspiracies and Holocaust denial, the TOI reported.
The Hollywood Reporter article indicated that Chappelle’s 15-minute monologue garnered up to 3.2 million views in less than 24 hours on YouTube — more than any other SNL video since last May. It included comments such as Chappelle saying Ye broke “the show business … rules of perception: If they’re Black, then it’s a gang. If they’re Italian, it’s a mob. But if they’re Jewish, it’s a coincidence and you should never speak about it,” as was reported by THR.
He added: “I’ve been to Hollywood … this is just what I saw: It’s a lot of Jews. Like, a lot. But that doesn’t mean anything! … There’s a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri. Doesn’t mean they run the place.” The comedian said he understood how somebody could “adopt the delusion” that Jewish people “run show business. It’s not a crazy thing to think. But it’s a crazy thing to say out loud in a climate like this,” he said as was reported by THR.
The Times of Israel also reported that Chappelle alluded to a similar controversy surrounding Irving, star of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, who was suspended for tweeting about the film that promotes a series of anti-Semitic canards.
“Kanye got in so much trouble that Kyrie got in trouble,” Chappelle said. “This is where I draw the line. I know the Jewish people have been through terrible things all over the world, but you can’t blame that on Black Americans.” The line was met with silence until a single audience member was heard to hoot approval. “Thanks, the one person that said ‘woo.’”