TORONTO — Global TV says it has pulled an episode of Toronto-set drama “Nurses” from circulation following backlash over a plotline critics deemed anti-Semitic.
The controversy involves a scene where an Orthodox Jewish man refuses a bone graft, concerned it would potentially come from an “Arab” or “woman” donor.
The episode, titled “Achilles Heel” was produced largely by a team of Canadians and first aired on Global in February 2020.
But it caught the attention of several organizations, including an international Jewish human rights group, after its U.S. network premiere on NBC earlier this month.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the scene as having “demonized religious Jews and Judaism.”
“The writers of this scene check all the boxes of ignorance and pernicious negative stereotypes, right down to the name of the patient, Israel,” they added in a statement.
B’nai Brith Canada issued its own statement on the Canadian series, raising concerns over how the storyline “perpetuates false and dangerous anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews – Hasidic and Orthodox Jews in particular – hating women, Arabs or non-Jews in general.”
The organization also added more perspective to the scene depicted in the show:
“In actuality, when a Jew receives a graft or organ donation from the dead, under Jewish law, the fact that the donor may be a non-Jew, a woman, an Arab or even a fellow Jew is irrelevant. According to traditional Jewish law, saving a life takes precedence over all other considerations and religious commandments.”
Sonia Brum, a representative for the show’s Canadian producer eOne, provided a statement on behalf of the company that apologized to the Jewish community and viewers.
“(We) are working to understand what transpired and ensure our research practices are exhaustive moving forward and lead only to well-informed storylines,” it read.
Global’s owner, Corus Entertainment, responded by removing the “Nurses” episode from its digital platforms, saying it will not re-air it on television either.
NBC also pulled the episode from its streaming services.
“Nurses” is a procedural drama that follows a team of medical professionals at a downtown Toronto hospital.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.