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White Night in Tel Aviv: 'Jewish girls don't go with blacks'

Although organized anti-African protests and attacks seem to have become less frequent in south Tel Aviv, a group of friends encounters a new type of organized racism during the city’s “White Night” celebrations.

By Leah McDonnell and Rebecca de Vries

Illustrative photo: Israeli man confronts an African asylum seeker after an anti-African rally in south Tel Aviv, December 31, 2012 (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Racial tension in south Tel Aviv is not a new phenomenon, generally taking the form of xenophobic marches, protests and anti-refugee demonstrations. Although the number of protests and participants seems to have diminished, there is a new, developing trend. As of late, there appears to be an increase of smaller, more individualistic attacks against refugees in the south of the city.

As the research I have been working on focuses on the issues of crime in south Tel Aviv, I believe it is safe to say that these incidents are increasing in frequency. Researching this topic has brought me in contact with many people who have suffered from racist attacks (both verbal and physical), but on the evening of June 27th, I became part of my own research.

A group of friends – six of us in total, one happened to be African – went out to partake in the “White Night” festivities taking place throughout the city. The start to the evening was wonderful, with hundreds of people walking around, live music and lots of cheer – people all around were laughing and enjoying themselves. After a few hours, we began to walk back through the busy streets and decided to head south on one of Tel Aviv’s major thoroughfares, Alenby. It was then that our night took a very dark turn.

As we made our way back to south Tel Aviv, two young men wearing matching black security uniforms and yarmulkes approached us. They first asked, “Is the kushi with you?” (Kushi is a derogative Hebrew term for black person.)

A conversation between my friend and the aggressors went as follows:

“He is my boyfriend, leave us alone,” my friend said.

“In that case we have a few questions for you.”

“I am not interested in your questions.”

“Why? Are you an idiot? We are from the security!”

At this point they started screaming at us, demanding to know if we are Jewish, then if we spoke Hebrew. My African friend tried to say, “what happened”, in honest and utter confusion at the events taking place. One of the young men answered by putting his finger to my friend’s face and angrily told him, “you don’t talk.” The other man started to scream, “What happened? What happened,” as if he had been personally offended. He then threateningly brandish a can of pepper spray and yelled, “Jewish girls do not go with Blacks!”

We tried to separate these aggressors from our friend, putting our bodies in between them, yelling, “No, stop, go away!”

The men kept tugging at our friend, trying to push him and us out of their way. We tried to walk away to evade them but they followed us down the street. One of the men tried to punch our friend, but was held back by his accomplice; we can only assume that because we were in front of a store, they did not want to attract any further attention.

They continued following us for a while trying to grab our friend and pushing us out of the way. Three of my friends managed to distract the men, blocking them from our African friend.

We managed to get away but concerned, I ran back to meet my friends who had stayed to distract our attackers. The men had vanished, but my friends told me they had become quite aggressive, pushing and yelling. They had only left when passersby had noticed their alarm and offered to call the police.

Afterwards, we all gathered at a bar to sit and calm ourselves after this terrifying event. Sitting next to me with a troubled look on her face, one of my friends said, “This is the same reaction my grandmother faced in Germany when the Nazis would stop Germans from walking with her [on the street] – because she was Jewish.”

Leah McDonnell is a researcher for a Tel Aviv-based NGO that works with refugees.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. The Trespasser

      Once you go black you don’t go back.

      Reply to Comment
      • Y-Man

        That is really funny. Thanks for gracing us with your clever originality.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          It’s not only funny, it is also the reason why some white men have issues with women dating blacks.

          Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            Speaking from experience, huh? I guess it’s reasonable for men with small penises to feel threatened by more ‘adequate’ men.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Speaking from experience, huh? I guess it’s reasonable for men with small penises to feel threatened by more ‘adequate’ men.

            http://www.targetmap.com/viewer.aspx?reportId=3073
            Average penis size among Europeans is 13.5 – 14.9
            Average penis size among Sudanese is 16.1 – 17.9

            Obviously, a median-equipped European would always be inferior compared a median-equipped African.

            Speaking of adequacy, Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Indians) have the smallest, but it does not really prevents them from multiplying at increasing rate.

            P.S. mine is 17.5 cm., but don’t even ask me to prove it – I’m afraid that the image of my penis erected would make you collapse and cry, which would be totally inhumane.

            Reply to Comment
          • JG

            You’re not only an racist prick, you’re also a childish idiot. Go spit your racist nonsense elswhere.

            Reply to Comment
      • Y-Man

        I have to take issue with the use of the word “individualistic” in this article, i.e., “there appears to be an increase of smaller, more individualistic attacks against refugees…” That is definitely not what “individualistic” means. The attacks are by individual perpetrators, as opposed to mob action.

        Reply to Comment
      • Bobbala

        I thought you were talking about Detroit, or Birmingham, or Oakland, or Baltimore, or Haiti, or Liberia, or Rhodesia, or Congo, or …. They never come back.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Lauren

      As a concerned citizen, this report is very disturbing and I question if it is possible to report this bullying and to whom? Even if it’s an isolated incident, and it’s difficult to know if it was, it’s frightening let along unacceptable.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Danny

      My advice to you: Carry a can of mace spray or, better yet, an electric shocker device. Next time a couple of goons with kippahs on their heads approach and harass you and your friends, let ‘em have it!

      Reply to Comment
      • Mikey

        What is the toughs are not wearing kippahs, then what do you do.

        Reply to Comment
    4. rsgengland

      If a situation like this had happened in Nazi Germany, there would have been no article, there would have been no persons to write the article.
      They would have all been arrested and beaten up, killed or sent to a concentration camp.
      Continuously bringing up the charge of similarities with Nazism is cheap, anti-Semitic propaganda.
      The notoriety of the Nazis stems from their attempts to eradicate and destroy the Jews and Gypsies by industrial genocide.
      The Soviets and “socialist dictatorships” all over the world performed acts far worse than those that occur in Israel; yet the “progressive liberal left” continuously compares Israel to the Nazis.
      Why are the actions of the Syrian regime, Iran, Russia etc never compared to the Nazis.
      I wonder why.
      Antisemitism perhaps.
      Questions?Questions?Questions?????

      Reply to Comment
      • Maxim

        Very much true. In this particular case it probably is not anti-Semitic, but just cheap and silly. I wonder why these people decided to escape instead of confronting them, demanding to give their names, to show their papers, to call the police? The answer is – the author is a stranger here and she’s got an image of Israel which has nothing to do with reality. A club owner who did not let an Ethiopian Jew to his club was sued and paid a lot of money to the victim of the racist abuse, but how the author should know it?
        Just another hysterical article of 972.

        Reply to Comment
      • Oh, those countries do get compared to the Nazis, especially Iran. Presumably you voiced your objections when Netanyahu did it, or are Holocaust references acceptable when they suit your politics?

        These women were obviously (and naturally) intimidated by their experience, and your response is basically, “It’s not that bad because they didn’t kill you.” Then you decide that they must have some sinister anti-Semitic motive for feeling as they did (although frankly I have trouble imagining any Jew with a familial Holocaust history not having memories of that when men harass and attack them in the public street for being with someone of the wrong race). If this had been a piece by Jews being attacked by Arabs for dating an Arab woman, I have a strong suspicion that all of a sudden references to family experiences in the Third Reich would be A-OK with you.

        The one thing you do not do in your comment is address the fact that a woman was targeted for dating an African by men who attempted to assault her boyfriend – and this is hardly the first vigilante attempt against ‘mixed’ couples that we’ve seen here. I can only conclude that you don’t consider such things worthy of comment, which says a lot more about your own unfortunate prejudices than it does about other people’s.

        Reply to Comment
        • rsgengland

          My comment/post referred specifically to the inclusion of the Nazi issue, and why it was brought up in the article.
          In the World at large, the constant comparison between the Israelis and the Nazis is becoming an accepted fact.
          Far worse regimes never have this label attached.

          Reply to Comment
      • Hannah Wiseman

        The issue is not comparing it exactly to pre-WWII but to the general environment at that time. This has to be stopped now before something more horrible happens. Well, then the question becomes, “how do you stop people from hating Blacks?” when it’s like second nature to much of the rest of the world? Solution? Good people need to speak up and help make that change.

        Reply to Comment
    5. David

      As a regular reader of 972 I often read the comments of Trespasser with some detached disgust. His comments here, however, go beyond the bounds of legitimate comment. His commentary is unabashedly racist and undeserving of publication. Intellectual disagreement is warranted; unfiltered racism should be banished.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Charles-Jerusalem

      To the author of the article,
      Reading you, it seems that you never experienced racism generated from ignorance and fear.
      The story you told could have happenned everywhere in the world.
      It is not specific and it is not rare.
      It has nothing to do with Nazism. It is pure racism.
      I also experienced it myself as a white boy in Africa and a French boy in Scandinavia and as a jewish boy in France, name it.
      One should not under-estimate the power of destruction of ignorance, this is for sure.
      But what do you propose in your specific case?
      Nothing!
      I would be happy to receive your feedback.

      Reply to Comment
    7. The Trespasser

      By the way, the alleged assailants apparently had forgotten about black Jews – Ethiopians and converts.

      Strange really.

      Maybe it is because the story happened not as it has been told?

      Reply to Comment
      • JG

        >Maybe it is because the story happened not as it has been told?

        You’re such an idiot. Go spit your racist nonsense elswhere.

        Reply to Comment
    8. 2face

      Ethiopians should act than complaining. We Nigerian dont take anything for granted. They think Isreal is there home. Dont smile where you are not needed. Go after there best girl and marry them than all this yarns. There boys are just a joke. Hit them bad and do all kind of violence act there. Poor Ethiopians|

      Reply to Comment
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