Moral Low Ground


Video: The Ugly Face of Israeli Racism– Tel Aviv Demonstrators Harass African Migrants

“Racism in Israel is nothing new,” writes Tel Aviv-based writer Joseph Dana. “There is racism against Palestinians, against Arabs, against non-Jews. There is racism between Jews from Europe and Jews from Arab countries.” Dana points to an alarming rise in racially motivated attacks on refugees, migrant workers and Palestinians by right-wing Jewish nationalists “who seek to ‘cleanse Israel of non-Jewish and dangerous elements.'” “The problem is reaching epidemic proportions,” he writes, while “lawmakers have remained silent and the crimes continue unabated.”

The ugly face of Israeli racism was on full display recently at a rally of Jewish nationalists in an area of South Tel Aviv heavily populated by African migrants. Organized by the South Tel Aviv Neighborhoods Action Committee, the demonstrators marched through the area harassing and mocking the foreigners they encountered, often using racist language.

The crowd chanted “down with the African- Filipino occupation!” as they marched. “You’re a drunk! You’re an alcoholic! You’re a rapist! You’re a thief! All of you are thieves!” one woman yelled at an African man.

Any attempts to reason with the rabidly racist mob fell upon deaf ears. “I’m Israeli,” pleaded one multiracial woman. “I was born here. My grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. I’m black, so to the State, I’m not worth as much as you. I’m not worth a thing.”

One African man, surrounded by jeering demonstrators exhorting him to go back to where he came from, mounted a passionate defense of migrant workers. “We do the work that you aren’t willing to do. We do the shit jobs. Don’t we deserve to be shit?”

Israeli journalist David Sheen, who shot the disturbing video, pointed out to one of the organizers of the racist rally that police contend that crime rates among African immigrants are much lower than among native-born Israelis. But the racists were unmoved. Perhaps someone ought to remind these people that their beloved Israel was established by a massive ethnic cleansing campaign that saw 750,000 Palestinians forced from their homeland, never to return. Perhaps someone ought to point out the irony of Jews, victims of  of countless racist expulsions from countless temporary homes, displaying such shocking racism and lack of empathy towards other human beings who now find themselves in need of a place of refuge much as the Jews needed a safe place to go when they established Israel.

Perhaps it wouldn’t matter one bit.

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One Comment

  1. Betty FokkerApril 11, 2011 at 3:22 pmReply

    OMG. How does the irony of Jews demanding an ethnic cleansing escape them? It’s bit like the phenomenon of free people of color in New Orleans who owned slaves, which was common in the years prior to the Civil War. I always wondered why and how they could own another human, having been owned themselves. Apparently, this disassociation between oneself and other victims is distressingly consistent throughout history … and clearly today.

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