Was ‘Nurses’ Episode 8 anti-Semitic? NBC pulls it from digital platforms amid flak for Orthodox Jewish plot

‘Nurses’, a Canadian drama, was not produced by NBC but rather acquired by the network in November 2020 to fill a hole in a primetime lineup that had been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic

Was ‘Nurses’ Episode 8 anti-Semitic? NBC pulls it from digital platforms amid flak for Orthodox Jewish plot
Natasha Calis as Ashley Collins, Sam Kantor as Israel, Alex Poch-Goldin as Toviyah, Dwight Ireland as D. McGowan in 'Nurses' episode that caused outrage (NBC)
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NBC has reportedly removed the ‘Nurses’ Episode 8 from digital platforms and future airings amid backlash over alleged anti-Semitism. As per reports, the episode ‘Achilles Heel’ came under scrutiny over a storyline involving a man from the Orthodox Jewish community.

The ten-episode Canadian series produced by ICF Films and eOne in association with Corus Entertainment follows five young nurses working on the front lines of a busy downtown hospital. ‘Nurses’ was not produced by NBC but rather acquired by the network in November 2020 to fill a hole in a primetime lineup that had been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Donald MacLean Jr. as Wolf, Tiera Skovbye as Grace, Natasha Calis as Ashley, Jordan Johnson-Hinds as Keon, and Sandy Sidhu as Nazneen in 'Nurses'. (IMDb)

What caused the outrage?

The episode in question, which aired on February 9, reportedly contained a scene in which a young Orthodox Jewish man named Israel was hospitalized for a shattered leg. When a doctor informed Israel and his father that he required a bone graft, Israel said, “You want to put a dead leg inside of me?” 

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In the scene, his father said “A dead goyim leg -- from anyone. An Arab, a woman,” to which a nurse chimed in, “Or God forbid an Arab woman.” Israel ultimately refused the bone graft, saying that “It’s God who heals what he creates.” Goyim is the Yiddish word for non-Jewish persons. 

The American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) head of young leadership Seffi Kogen tweeted a clip of the show and wrote on Twitter: "I think this is the most antisemitic thing I have ever seen in a TV show." Kogen added in the following tweet, “For those of you unfamiliar with Jewish law, which puts precedent on healing and saving lives, there is no prohibition on the kind of bone graft in this clip. The writers made it up, dressed their actors in Jew-face, and put random extremist nonsense in their mouths.”

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Massive backlash

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization, responded to the episode in a statement Wednesday, February 24. “The writers of this scene check all the boxes of ignorance and pernicious negative stereotypes, right down to the name of the patient, Israel -- paiyous and all,” the statement said. “In one scene, NBC has insulted and demonized religious Jews and Judaism.”

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Wiesenthal Center added, “Orthodox Jews are targeted for violent hate crimes -- in the city of New York, Jews are number one target of hate crimes in U.S.; this is no slip of the tongue. It was a vile, cheap attack masquerading as TV drama. What’s NBC going to do about it?”

StopAntisemitism.org a part of a non-profit foundation that, as per its website, “works to hold antisemites accountable and to create consequences for their bigoted actions by exposing the threat that they present to all Americans and showing how their ideologies conflict with American values, morals, and principles” also tweeted about the scene, saying: “Lies and libels lead to VIOLENCE!”

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As per Variety, an NBC source said that the network consulted with leading Jewish organizations in pulling the episode from digital platforms. 

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