Dave Chappelle's SNL Monologue Elicits Backlash from Anti-Defamation League National Director

Dave Chappelle's 15-minute opening monologue on Saturday Night Live this weekend is being criticized for perpetuating antisemitism, including by the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Jewish civil rights organization, shared his thoughts via Twitter on Sunday about the monologue, during which Chappelle spoke about Kanye West's antisemitic comments.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 10: Dave Chappelle looks on during UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 10: Dave Chappelle looks on during UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Stacy Revere/Getty

"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. "Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?"

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Others joined in to express concern and share their analysis of Chappelle's monologue. Influencer Rabbi Josh Yuter wrote that "the key point" of the monologue was that "there are double standards regarding who can say what about whom."

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Nonprofit outlet The Forward has since pointed out more criticism — The Jerusalem Post called it "engaging in antisemitic tropes," while Adam Feldman of Time Out New York said the opener "probably did more to normalize anti-Semitism than anything Kanye said."

Eric Deggans, NPR TV critic, said via a tweet sharing his review of the show that he was "severely disappointed" with the monologue.

"What I do know, is that one of comedy's boldest and most incisive voices had a chance to lend insight to the long struggle Black America has had with antisemitism. But instead, his monologue seemed filled with justification and minimization — failing to mention, for instance, allegations that Ye has expressed admiration for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler," he wrote in part.

Chappelle, 49, opened his routine by unfolding a paper note and declaring, "I denounce antisemitism in all its forms. And I stand with my friends in the Jewish community. And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time." After that, he said he would contact West, 45, during times of controversy, though this time he opted not to. Last month, West shared in now-deleted social media posts that he wanted to go "death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE," before going on a string of podcast and television appearances where he continued to share antisemitic rhetoric.

In his monologue, Chappelle said that there are "two words in the English language that you should never say together in sequence: 'The' and 'Jews.'"

"I've been to Hollywood and — no one get mad at me — I'm just telling you what I saw," he said. "It's a lot of Jews. Like a lot. But that doesn't mean anything! You know what I mean? Because there are a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri, it doesn't mean we run the place."

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Dave Chapelle
Dave Chapelle

Mathieu Bitton/Netflix Dave Chappelle

Chappelle also said that a "delusion that Jews run show business" is "not a crazy thing to think," but "it's a crazy thing to say out loud."

"It shouldn't be this scary to talk about anything," Chappelle said. "It's making my job incredibly difficult. And to be honest with you, I'm sick of talking to a crowd like this. I love you to death and I thank you for your support. And I hope they don't take anything away from me… whoever they are."

Elsewhere, the Chappelle Show star said that West had "broken the show business rules."

"You know, the rules of perception," he added. "If they're Black, then it's a gang. If they're Italian, it's a mob. If they're Jewish, it's a coincidence and you should never speak about it."

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Chappelle was previously been criticized for his 2021 Netflix special, The Closer, in which he made several jokes that targeted the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender people. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and advocacy groups spoke out in response, as hundreds of Netflix employees walked out of work in protest following its release.