Pete Davidson’s SNL Cold Open Was a Powerful Tribute to Israeli and Palestinian Children

The Jewish comedian did what no one expected: spoke eloquently about the crisis in the Middle East.

Last weekend, when I remembered that Pete Davidson would be hosting “Saturday Night Live,” I thought to myself, “Oh God, is Pete Davidson going to speak about what’s happening in Israel and Gaza?”

Sure enough, dear reader, he did. But he also did something totally unexpected: Jewish comedian Pete Davidson actually spoke about the unfolding tragedy and crisis in the Middle East with eloquence, empathy and personal understanding.

“This week, we saw the horrible images and stories from Israel and Gaza,” he began, before drawing on is own experience as the child of a victim of 9/11.

“When I was 7 years old my dad was killed in a terrorist attack, so I know something about what that’s like. I saw so many terrible pictures this week of children suffering, Israeli children and Palestinian children. And it took me back to a really horrible, horrible place. No one in this world deserves to suffer like that, especially not kids.”

Pete, who was raised Catholic but recently discovered that his father was Jewish and now identifies as an “Irish Jew,” then told an anecdote about how comedy was the first thing that brought him peace and normalcy after the death of his dad.

“Sometimes comedy is really the only way forward through tragedy,” Davidson said. “My heart is with everyone whose lives have been destroyed this week. But tonight, I’m going to do what I’ve always done in the face of tragedy, and that’s try to be funny.

“Remember, I said ‘Try.’”

You can watch the full cold open here:

A lot of Jewish celebrities have already spoken about the horrors of the Israel-Hamas war. But Pete’s message is the one that struck me the most. On national TV, to millions of viewers, Pete reminded us that what’s happening isn’t just some political thought experiment. Millions of Israelis and Palestinians are suffering right now, including children. Every single one of their lives is valuable, and each of them are worthy of peace, empathy and the freedom to live without fear.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but: Thanks, Pete.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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