Ibrahim, a refugee from Sudan, holds a document given to him by the UN in Egypt, as he takes part in a protest held by refugees and activists outside the UN offices in Tel Aviv, June 10, 2012 (Photo credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Ibrahim, a refugee from Sudan, holds a document given to him by the UN in Egypt, as he takes part in a protest held by refugees and activists outside the UN offices in Tel Aviv, June 10, 2012 (Photo credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

I have long been accustomed to widespread resistance to my efforts to document the hostile treatment non-Jewish African people receive in Israel.

I have filmed Israelis yelling racist abuses at Africans on many occasions, and am often disparaged in grotesque terms by the Israelis who notice me filming these incidents. Several times, when the angry mob has caught me filming their actions, they have turned and physically attacked me.

Luckily, until now, I have been able to escape these confrontations and avoid serious injury.

Unfortunately, once physical intimidation pushes anti-racist activists and journalists like myself out of the area, hooligans proceed to physically assault any Africans they come across, knowing they will face no repercussions.

To date, I have published over a hundred reports about anti-African racism in Israel. Some of these stories have been widely circulated, including a 10-minute video released last month that has been seen by more than three quarters of a million people.

But, it would seem that the mainstream American media is consciously refraining from reporting on the story.

Max Blumenthal, with whom I produced the 10-minute video, has spoken publicly about how The New York Times originally solicited the video from us, and then refused to run it once they saw how badly non-Jewish Africans are treated in Israel

Online, I have also received a great deal of negative feedback from people who are upset by my reports. They are disturbed not by the raw racism I document, but rather by the fact that negative aspects of Israeli society are being publicized.

They would prefer that Israel’s dark side be hidden. This, they claim, is because they love Israel. To me, they point and say, he hates Israel and all Jews.

But, I believe anyone that truly loves the place that they live must expose injustices so they can be corrected and the country made a better place.

I believe anyone who tries to cover up or minimize these injustices does not really care for the place they live or the people they are surrounded by, and are content to condemn them to continued abuse.

In late July 2013, I produced the first English-language report about Israel’s new chief rabbi David Lau who disparaged black people the day after he was elected to office by calling them the Hebrew equivalent of the N-word.

For creating this report, I was attacked on Twitter by Yaacov Lozowick, chief archivist of the Israel National Archives, as an “ignoramus” with “malice” against Israel.

His was a mild insult as far as online commentary goes. It is instructive, however, that someone in his position would attempt to discredit my reporting on high-level Israeli racism.

Over and over again, online commentators have taken issue with my writing, saying that I should not be reporting on racism in Israel, but should be focused instead on racism in Syria or other Arab or Muslim countries.

Of course, I support any journalist who is working in this or any other country to expose racism.

But, the suggestion that even though I live in Israel, I should not be reporting on what I see and hear with my own eyes and ears, and instead discussing what occurs in other countries I have never been to and where I do not even speak the local language, is truly ludicrous.

Of course, these are not legitimate criticisms of my journalism, but rather efforts to silence the messenger because the message is disturbing.

A few weeks ago I launched an online campaign to raise funds for a full-length book I am writing about the treatment of Africans in Israel. Again, a well-known person on Twitter came after me.

Amir Mizroch, the managing editor of the English-language version of Israel HaYom, the Israeli newspaper with the largest circulation, said if I write a book about racism against Africans in Israel, without also writing about racism against Africans in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries, then I am myself, in fact, racist against Israelis.

Although I am accustomed to hearing these weak complaints from novice hasbarists, or propagandists for Israeli policy, I was still surprised to see the editor of a newspaper publicly make this puerile argument.

When I mocked his logic, asking him if it was necessary, for me to also be locked up and tortured in an underground jail – sadly, the fate of many African refugees before they arrive in Israel – Mizroch tweeted: “now THAT I’d pay to see ;).”

Unfortunately, this comment is very much in line with the current level of discourse in Israel on issues of race and religion.

As I have documented again and again in video after video, when any Israeli dares to defend asylum-seeking Africans from racist demonstrators, they are themselves set upon by crowds who hurl every insult imaginable, and call for them to be raped in every orifice – preferably by an African, or an Arab.

Passersby allow this abuse to take place. This behavior is so acceptable that it has even happened in the presence of a Knesset member, who failed to bat an eyelash at the incitement to sexual violence.

I remain committed to writing my book on the treatment of African people in Israel. No insults, threats, or attacks can dissuade me from doing so.

As the discrimination experienced by African refugees begins to seep into public consciousness beyond Israel, efforts to stifle this story will only backfire, and draw attention to the widespread grass-roots and state-sponsored racism that many Israelis want to cover up because they don’t mind if it continues to exist.

 

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