Donald Sterling: Blacks “Treated Like Dogs” in Israel
In a newly-released audiotape of Donald Sterling’s racist commentary, the disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner attempts to justify his bigotry by claiming black Jews in Israel are “treated like dogs.”
Deadspin published an extended version of a secretly-recorded conversation between Sterling and V. Stiviano, in which he attempts to teach his mistress about the ways of a world in which color lines play a prominent role and in which people’s racial associations have consequences.
The conversation went as follows:
Sterling: “It’s the world. You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.”
Stiviano: “So you have to treat them like that too?”
Sterling: “The white Jews– there’s white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?”
Stiviano: “And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?”
Sterling: “A hundred percent.”
Stiviano: “And is that right?”
Sterling: “It isn’t a question– we don’t evaluate what’s right or wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.”
Later, Stiviano compares Sterling’s racist views to those of Adolf Hitler:
Stiviano: “It’s like saying, ‘Let’s just persecute and kill all of the Jews.'”
Sterling: “Oh, it’s the same thing, right?”
Stiviano: “Isn’t it wrong? Wasn’t it wrong then? With the Holocaust? And you’re Jewish, you understand discrimination.”
Sterling: You’re a mental case. You’re really a mental case. The Holocaust, we’re comparing with–“
Stiviano: “Racism! Discrimination!”
Sterling: “There’s no racism here.”
It is not known if Sterling, who is Jewish, has ever been to Israel.
Eliyahu Fink, writing in the Jewish Daily Forward, reluctantly agreed with Sterling’s assertion.
“My initial reaction [to Sterling’s comments] was outrage and disgust,” wrote Fink. “How dare this despicable human being lie about his fellow Jews and Israeli culture to hoodwink his girlfriend into believing that it is acceptable to mistreat black people? I was outraged.”
“Then I realized that, while Sterling’s choice of words was inelegant and imprecise, he wasn’t lying,” Fink continued. “Too often, white Jews do treat black Jews poorly.”
The United States State Department also acknowledges Israeli bigotry against Ethiopian Jews, who Washington says “face persistent societal discrimination.”
Under the Jewish state’s Law of Return, Ethiopian Jews, who have roots dating back to ancient times, are permitted to emigrate to Israel with full citizenship rights. There are an estimated 120,000 Ethiopian Jews living in Israel today.
One of the more shocking revelations regarding Israel’s treatment of black Jews was that the Israeli government had been injecting unwitting Ethiopian Jewish women who immigrate to Israel with a potentially dangerous birth control drug in a bid to keep their numbers down.
Last December, a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute found that more than half of Israelis believe that undocumented African immigrants are “a cancer in the body of Israel” and that one in three Israelis believe the use of violence against non-Jewish African immigrants is acceptable.
“Racism is a word that I have feared using until now, because I did not believe that it could exist in Israel,” Avi Maspin of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews (IAEJ) told Israel’s Ynet News. “But the time has come to call a spade a spade. Israeli society is profoundly infected by racism.”
Still, there was no shortage of Ethiopian Jews yearning for a better life who were willing to risk widespread overt racism to leave their homeland behind and emigrate to Israel. Last year, the last remaining Ethiopian Jews eligible for Israeli citizenship left Addis Ababa for Tel Aviv.