NBC has removed the “Nurses” episode “Achilles Heels” from digital platforms and future airings following backlash over a storyline involving a man from the Orthodox Jewish community.
The episode of the Canadian sitcom, which aired Feb. 9, contains a scene in which a young Orthodox Jewish man named Israel is hospitalized for a shattered leg. A doctor informs Israel and his father, who insists that “the Creator” will heal him, that Israel will require a bone graft, meaning part of a cadaver’s leg would be surgically inserted into his leg.
“You want to put a dead leg inside of me?” Israel asks the doctor. “A dead goyim leg — from anyone. An Arab, a woman,” his father replies. Then, a nurse chimes in: “Or God forbid an Arab woman.” Israel ultimately refuses the bone graft, saying that “It’s God who heals what he creates.”
However, in Orthodox Judaism, there are no specific restrictions regarding using a transplant from a cadaver in a medical situation.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization, responded to the episode in a statement Wednesday.
“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 reads. “In one scene, NBC has insulted and demonized religious Jews and Judaism.”
In response to criticism that the move is an overreaction, the Wiesenthal Center says: “Orthodox Jews are targeted for violent hate crimes – in the city of New York, Jews are number one target of hate crimes in US; 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?”
And NBC source said that the network consulted with leading Jewish organizations in pulling the episode from digital platforms. NBC acquired the Canadian drama, from eOne and IFC Films, in November as it sought to fill out its schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic.