I’m not going to get bent out of shape about this incident, or call for heads to roll at NBC, but I can say that if this kind of stereotyping—and erroneous stereotyping—occurred with Muslims, blacks, or Hispanics, fulsome apologies would be tendered and heads would roll. It’s apparently okay for Jews, though.
I’m not going to defend the silly religious beliefs of the Orthodox, or their extreme form of Haredi Judaism, for those tenets are just as mythological and unfounded as the beliefs of any other faith. But you’d think that the writers of television shows depicting religions would at least get the beliefs right. In this case it’s a Hasidic Jew and his father (Hasids are a subset of Haredi Jews).
The clip is from the NBC show Nurses, which I haven’t seen, and it involves an Orthodox boy whose leg has been hurt and who needs a bone graft to fully heal. If you’re a Hasid, as Allison Josephs is in her article below (from an Orthodox site called “Jew in the City”), you’ll cast a kitten:
"in a time of extreme (& some say hyper-) sensitivity toward non-majority ethnic groups, there is one minority ethnicity NBC feels no need to treat with anything close to similar sensitivity." @PamelaParesky https://t.co/R3BTI3jKRG
— The Dread Pirate Jussim (@PsychRabble) February 24, 2021
Okay, what’s the problem? Allison explains it in the video and the article below that. I’ll show an excerpt (there are multiple gaffes):
But if you weren’t offended yet, buckle up, because then the show really gets nasty. Israel is told by the doctor that he’ll need a bone graft to fully heal. Israel doesn’t understand what this means, so the doctor explains that he’ll have to have part of a dead person’s bone surgically inserted into his leg.
Cue the horror! Israel and his father are distraught at the notion that he’ll have a dead person’s body part in his body and that it will be a “goyim”[Sic] part to boot! But even worse than that – it could be an “Arab” body part or an “lady” body part. Or as the nurse reminds them, “an Arab lady” body part. (See this disturbing clip in my video explanation below.)
Despite my invitation to Hollywood producers to consult us when they do their “token Hasidic Jew” episode, Hollywood insists on remaining ignorant and promoting lies about the Orthodox community. Let’s unpack how badly they did with this aforementioned scene:
- There is no prohibition on getting a dead body part surgically inserted into one’s body. In fact, Jewish law says we should use the best medicine of our times to recover from our illnesses.
- There is no prohibition to get a non-Jewish body part inserted, nor is there a prohibition if the part belongs to a woman or an Arab.
Now, are there Orthodox Jews who look down on non-Jews and Arabs? You betcha. And are there Orthodox Jews who are misogynists? Unfortunately, yes for that one too. But the idea that such a surgery would be problematic in general or problematic because of where the bone came from not only is categorically false according to Jewish law, it is a vicious lie that endangers men who walk around with curled side locks and black hats.
Read the article below, because there are a lot of other gaffes in this very short clip and in the show as a whole. Don’t they even know that “goyim” is plural of “goy” and if you want an adjective for a gentile body part, it’s “goyische”. All I can say is “Oy, gewalt!”
I wanted to see if NBC actually did apologize—I didn’t expect it—so I Googled “NBC apology for Nurses clip”. I found an article that says that NBC has actually withdrawn the episode, apparently the season finale, from its platform:
After facing backlash from the social media users and Jewish organizations, NBC pulled the season finale from its digital platforms, according to a report by Deadline.
The scrutiny over the resurfaced Nurses clip comes after NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) also facing backlash for an anti-Semitic joke about Israel and coronavirus vaccines.
Guess which site that is? Breitbart! (No, I don’t read it; it came up on Google!). And nearly every other site that you get when you Google “NBC apology for Nurses clip” is conservative site like Fox News, Mediaite, or The Daily Mail. I tried the Washington Post, Huffpost (including their anti-Semitism section) and the New York Times specifically, and—no dice.
Is there a reason that the liberal media would ignore a distortion of Judaism this grotesque, but would feature it prominently if it involved the same finagling with African-Americans or Muslims? (“What, doctor: you want to put a PIG HEART VALVE in my son? No way!! Best leave him in the hands of Allah.”) Of course there is, and you know the answer.
Had I seen the show (I wouldn’t have) and had I known the grotesque distortions of belief involved (I didn’t), I would have kvetched a bit here, but my activism about mocking or distorting religion stops there. I’ll just point out the potential hypocrisy involved in this fracas being something that the right-wing but not left-wing media would highlight. It reminds me of an old joke, one that you won’t have heard:
A guy walks into a bar and notices a man talking to the bartender down at the other end. The guy does a doubletake because the man talking to the bartender really resembles Hitler.
So the guy goes up to the man and says “Excuse me, but did anybody ever tell you that you look like Hitler?”
The man says “Oh, but I am Hitler. I have been reincarnated and I am back on Earth to kill 10 million Jews and 33 geese!”
“Oh, my God! That’s terrible! But why 33 geese?”
Hitler then turns to the bartender and says “See? I told you that nobody cares about the Jews.”
Oh, and let me note this at the end. Though some Haredi sects are opposed to organ donation after death, the Haredim are known for their willingness to be live donors, giving kidneys to other people, and not just other Jews. In fact, it’s more of a mitzvah if you don’t know who the recipient is. In Israel, the Haredim donate to everyone, including Israeli Arabs. For verification, see Wikipedia, which has a reference to the U.S. data:
Haredi Jews have a high rate of live organ donations. In 2014, 17% of all live kidney donations to strangers in the United States were donated by Haredi Jews, even though they are only 0.2% of the US population. Other studies of other live organ donations in the US and Israel show similarly high donation rates for a variety of organs.