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WATCH: Racist protest in Tel Aviv targets refugees and migrants

Racism in Israel is nothing new. There is racism against Palestinians, against Arabs, against non-Jews. There is racism between Jews from Europe and Jews from Arab countries. In our racism, we are no different from many other Western countries. However, the past year in Israel has seen an a significant increase in the number of racially motivated attacks on foreign workers and Palestinians by gangs of Jewish nationalists who seek to ‘cleanse Israel of non Jewish and dangerous elements.’ The problem is reaching endemic/epidemic proportions as lawmakers have largely remained silent and the crimes continue unabated.

David Sheen, an Israeli journalist with Haaretz, has been quietly documenting the rise of racism in Tel Aviv. His latest video (below) is a look into the ugly work of nationalism which is the foundation of the current spike in racist attacks. In the video, Sheen attends a rally of Jewish nationalists who seek to expel foreign infiltrators ‘that are taking over the southern part of Tel Aviv.’ The interviews that he conducts on the street show a disturbed society in crisis.

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    1. Ray

      You’re racists yourselves to identify people by colour. Many Israelis as you know very well have dark hair and eyes dark skin some have light skin. Some have long limbs, some short, some thin or fat. Some born this or that way.

      What is this racist categorisation of ‘white’? Ever been to Netanya? I can’t abide your 20th century out of date attitudes.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Tahel Ilan

      IDENTIFYING ppl by color does not constitute racism you idiot.
      DISCRIMINATING ppl because of color is racism.
      and to think some ppl think they’re smart. #smh

      Reply to Comment
    3. @Ray : Can you explain Benzion Netanyahu’s remarks to Max Hastings when he said the IDF should put “white officers in charge of North African Jews”? These remarks backed by his son Binyamin.

      Is that an out of date 20th century attitude or an admision that Israel’s leadership suffers from institutionalised racism?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      Israeli society is a sick society. It is made up of an impossible mix of cultures that have little in common with one another and are largely separated from one another, both physically and culturally. The main culprit in this situation is, as usual, the Israeli governments going back to Ben Gurion’s time. They brought tens of thousands of people from all over the world, bussed them to the farthest reaches of the country, dumped them there in makeshift camps and left them to fend for themselves. The results are plainly evident today. You have towns like Sderot, which was a makeshift camp for Morrocan immigrants and is today one of the poorest towns in Israel. Even without the Qassams, it is a depressing place to live in, and it is but one of many such towns in Israel. Neve Shaana fits the bill as well. It is one of the worst slums in Israel, and by the looks of things keeps getting worse all the time. The poor people who live there are a rainbow of misery, and misery loves company. That’s why these instances of ugly racism seem to pop up in these kind of places. This racism is a blight on Israel, but no less a blight is the reason why these people lash out at their less fortunate neighbors in this manner: It is because Israeli society is sick. And government policy is the reason.

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    5. directrob

      “we are no different from many other Western countries”
      If you mean that the people in Israel are just human beings no better or worse than other human beings you are correct. The main difference is that Western European citizens can go to the European Court of Human Rights which enforces equality for the law for all.

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    6. Yishai

      As a resident of Jerusalem for the past year, I’m frankly surprised at the reactions here. I see Israel as a remarkable place _because_ of the degree to which so many different cultures get along day to day. I live in Katamon. The beyt knesset across the street is Morrocan but on Shabbat has a Morrocan, an Israeli-da’ati (for lack of a better description), and an American minyan. The makolet across the street is run by a family of Morrocans, the apartment building next to mine houses the Erloi Rav (leader of a group of Hungarian Haredim). In my building are a Mizrahi family upstairs, and a British oleh next door. My son goes to a Mamlachti-da’ati school, and his classmates come from Ethiopian, Italian, American, South African, French, Swedish, Russian olim and second, third and fourth generation sabras. This is not to say that there aren’t problems. Katamon used to be an Arab Christian neighborhood, and I doubt a single Arab Christian family still resides here. There problems here, problems in Sderot, problems in Tel Aviv, problems in Tsefat, clearly, and it should neither be denied or ignored. But all in all, I’m amazed at how well things DO function here considering the vastly different the places are from which we all come.

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    7. directrob

      Interesting post, but could you share your world with the Muslim Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank and give them equal rights?

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    8. Danny

      Yishai – the harmony you describe in your post does exist in Israel in certain places, usually of a certain socio-economic standings. For example, I have no doubt residents of Ra’anana get along very well amongst one another, with little or no friction despite cultural differences. However, in places like Neve Shaanan, Lod, Acre, Arad, Sderot and other poor and underdeveloped towns, friction between people is a direct result of the criminal neglect that successive governments have been guilty of going back to Ben Gurion. In these places, society has, to a certain extent, broken down due to criminal levels of unemployment and lack of educational and cultural infrastructures. One of the reasons for this neglect, is of course the occupation, which draws state funds away from these places straight to the settlements.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Carnas

      “However, the past year in Israel has seen an a significant increase in the number of racially motivated attacks on foreign workers and Palestinians by gangs of Jewish nationalists who seek to ‘cleanse Israel of non Jewish and dangerous elements.’ The problem is reaching endemic proportions as lawmakers have largely remained silent and the crimes continue unabated.”

      How does a link to Israelis’ reactions to the events in Egypt relate to supposed xenophobic gangs? Or a link to a story about Ehud Barak’s wife being indicted for employing a foreign worker without a contract or health insurance relate to crimes against foreigners? If anything, this story shows that the state has standard for how foreign workers should be treated.

      There are no “hallmarks of Germany” or “jackbooted thugs” in this video. It’s a bunch of residents from the poorest neighborhoods of Tel Aviv voicing their socio-economic hardships and incorrectly blaming them on foreigners. The foreigners themselves are free to argue against them, and an Israeli also tries to convince them of their misguided blame.

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    10. Yishai

      Dircectrob: Yes. Next question? (I think my post implied as much when I noted disapprovingly that Katamon, once a thriving Arab neighborhood, is now devoid of any Arab community.)

      Danny: You’re absolutely right. Although I’m not a sociologist, I would wager that in most cases (within Israel and outside of it) socioeconomic factors weigh heavily on harmony between different groups. My point was that although there are many problems in Israel, just like almost any other place I can think of with a significant number of different groups and different economic and social circumstances, Israel in my (admittedly limited, although still valid) experience has higher level of social harmony than one might expect given the very different circumstances and backgrounds of its citizens.

      That does not mean that the problems that do exist should be ignored or swept under the rug, obviously.

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    11. max

      @Prestwick, you quoted an extremely ugly statement. I searched it. Couldn’t find anything like that. You must share your source for daring to write something like that.

      @Danny, you’re funny 🙂 Taking one of Israel’s finest achievements, a work in progress, and focusing on the missing parts… Would you be able to show us a country that has done better in similar circumstances? I don’t think so.
      Yes, Israel has racist voices and they may be on the rise. Look around you: is this not the case in Europe? In America? Let alone Israel’s immediate neighbors. Our world is grappling with this part of “globalization”.
      The ridiculous exaggerations can only have one effect: help those who prefer to completely ignore the problem by referring to such absurd statements

      Reply to Comment
    12. Tahel Ilan

      @yishai- thats real wonderful harmony when poor people in katamon join forces because that’s their only chance to survive. I don’t see that harmony in Beit Hakerem, Naot, Ein Kerem, or any other neighborhood for that matter whose inhabitants make more than minimum wage.

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    13. piet

      This reminds me of the civil, “decent” racists, like the “Pro”-Movement here in Germany. You can not eat as much as you want to puke.Not long ago they visit Israel with other european rightwing activists to declare partnership in the fight against Islam . Poor world. No racism anywhere.

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    14. max

      @Tahel Ilan – what in fact is the point here? Israel isn’t an egalitarian, social society like some – very few – others. Why is it because of racism? Is it worse than most other countries in the world?
      These claims seem much more like you have a hammer and to you everything looks like a nail

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    15. directrob

      It was an honest question. Too many Israeli do not accept to live in an Israeli state with a very large minority or even a majority of Palestinians with equal rights. The more who think like you the better.

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    16. max

      #directrob, I think that the majority of Jews in Israel think that Israel was created as a Jewish state and needs to continue and keep its Jewish majority; with such a majority, they can keep both the Jewish and democratic principles of the state.
      This, I think, is the essence behind many who advocate the 2-states solution, and who think that Palestinians, who refuse to accept the Jewish character of Israel and drop the right-of-return demand, aren’t honest when they push for a 2-state solution.

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    17. Ben Gurion

      Danny –
      Everything you wrote about Israeli being a country of mass immigration could be said about the US and every other immigrant country in the world. The US encouraged mass immigration in order to supply cheap labor for the rich industrialists.

      BTW-Jewish Israelis have a much greater sense of national identity and social cohesion than any of the Arab countries do. If it didn’t it couldn’t have survived the constant pressure it has been under due to Arab hostility.

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    18. Tahel Ilan

      @Max- the point is that Israel is a society with many different levels of racism. They stem from pretty much everything that can possibly be used to declare someone ‘different’.
      I don’t agree with Yishai’s observation of ‘social harmony’ because as someone that grew up in Jerusalem, I never saw any of it anywhere.
      Even in the army- the final ‘melting pot’- social harmony was nowhere to be found.
      Maybe Israel isn’t the only racist country in the world, but as a voting citizen I have a hammer and I am not afraid to use it.

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    19. Danny

      Ben Gurion – I’ve lived in many places around the world, including Israel, and I’ve never felt hated or despised anywhere EXCEPT in Israel. Jews today are hated most in their own country by other Jews. It seems ludicrous, but that was my feeling. The ultra orthodox hate the secular Jews, the mizrachim hate the ashkenazim, the right wing despises the left, the periphery hates the Tel Avivians, etc. All drivers seem to hate one another, honking and flashing their lights at other cars. Not to mention Jewish hatred for non Jews (especially Arabs). It’s an epidemic, and I literally felt I had to leave Israel in order to feel normal again. I live in the U.S. and I’ve never felt any animosity from others. People just get along, somehow. I guess they enjoy being normal.

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    20. Ben Israel

      I wrote the “Ben Gurion” comment writing Ben Gurion by mistake.

      I think you see what you want to see in a country. A lot of people come to Israel with expectations that can’t be fulfilled and so they then end up magnify normal problems in their mind.
      I lived in the US before making aliyah and I found the US to be a much less caring society. That is the society that teaches children “not to talk to strangers” which educates children to think that all the other people in the world are their potential enemies. What kind of a lesson is that? (Children should be taught to talk to strangers but NOT to go with them).
      In the past, Israel claimed to be a socialist state and socialism is a sure recipe for setting people at one another’s throats, in addition to corruption and economic stagnation. That no doubt caused a lot of tension in society, but fortunately, much of that is in the past and this has led to relaxation of much of the tension, particularly between the Ashkenazim, Sefardim and Russian immigrants. Young people from all parts of society have a much better chance of getting ahead today than in the past. Intermarriage between groups is so common no one even notices it anymore.
      I DO NOT SEE GROUPS OF JEWS HATING ONE ANOTHER. I see the media ATTEMPT to amplify tensions in order to get public attention. Some politicians do this as well, although that seems to be in decline as well.

      Regarding driving habits…it is true that Israelis were pretty bad in the past, but that has improved immensely due to improved drivers training and road infrastructure.

      The one conflict that everyone loves to talk about is the supposed “religious-secular” conflict. Yes, there is a minority of religious extremists. There are also anti-religious extremists, but the one politician who recently tried to make hay out of that, Tommy Lapid and his SHINUI party, originally went up to 15 seats in Knesset but then the party collapsed and disappeared completely. Most non-religious Israelis realize that it is not that important an issue. There are complaints about lack of Haredi participation in the work force and army service, but that is not strictly a “religious-secular” issue since many religious people agree with these complaints.

      Yes, there is a lot of tension living in Israel, I feel it, but it is not due to internal problems, but rather the constant threat of Arab terrorism and the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict.

      Thus, the bottom line is that I disagree with your characterization of Israeli society and I feel that there are other factors that made you feel the way you do (i.e. Israel wasn’t what you expected). I don’t know who hated you or despised you or why and it surprises that you would be treated that way by anybody.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Mati Milstein

      I don’t quite understand David Sheen’s obsession with skin colour – which starts when he chooses to title his video clip: “White Jewish Israelis march through…”

      Given the heavy emphasis Sheen places on race and skin tone, it’s rather odd that he is unaware of the existence of the Israeli Black Panther movement. Sheen challenges one of his (otherwise extremely entertaining) interviewee’s references to the Black Panthers by insisting that is it a movement of African Americans from Oakland, California, to which this “white Israeli” couldn’t possible have any connection.

      In fact, the Israeli Black Panthers were established in 1971 by Jewish immigrants to Israel from Arab countries including, for example, Reuven Abergel, who remains politically active to this day, as do outgrowths of the movement such as Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow (http://www.ha-keshet.org.il/).

      Historical knowledge and socio-political context are always useful things to keep on hand. And categorizing, classifying and judging people by something as superficial and subjective as skin colour has never really been a wise idea…

      Reply to Comment
    22. Danny

      Ben – you have your point of view, I have mine. One thing I remember quite clearly shortly before moving to the States, is the public support for the operation Cast Lead that seemed to me to be nearly unanimous. People literally gathered on a hillside near Gaza to watch the bombings and cheer the army on, not unlike a sports event. I found that to be utterly disgusting. Another thing which seems disfunctional to me was the treatment and public rebuke of Tali Fahima and Anat Kam. Fahima especially was renounced for allegedly having an intimate relationship with an Arab, as if it is some sort of crime for a Jewish woman to befriend an Arab man. Israeli society is a highly militarized one and this is manifested in people regarding all Palestinians as enemies, even women and children. Israelis are also extremely paranoid and fearful – justifiably so to a certain extent – but to an extreme that seems to me to cloud their judgment. Lastly, I find that racism is to a large degree accepted in Israel while it is not accepted in other countries.

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    23. David

      Perceptual narrowing.
      A demonstration of what seems like maybe 200 hundred people in a deprived neighbourhood, big deal.
      I always smile at the charge of racism, since Israel must be one of the most diverse countries on the planet. So many languages are spoken, so many faces can be seen. So many mixed families.
      Are there problems? Of course, just like anywhere else in the world.
      I mean they are flying in the Ethiopians by the Jumbo Jet load.
      Not withstanding the necessary self criticism, as we have seen in Europe, the initial idea of multiculturalism is over. Mainly thanks to millions of Muslims who consider Western society not worthy of their culture.
      Listening to racists all over the world, one finds the same nonsense being said. And south Tel is nothing new. Maybe the Israeli left can come up with viable new economic policies and other ideas. Instead of filming the ignorants. Now that would be a change.

      @ Danny
      there is so much racism in the USA as well. I just left after a year and a half. If you befriend any Asian Americans and African Americans and Hispanics, and they trust you, they will let you in on what it is like not being White in the USA. What about the quasi slave labour in central Cali agriculture? I mean talk about racism. Here is some good info on race reality on the USA. The USA could literally not exist in its present form with race based cheap illegal labour. Wake UP!
      Keepin’ it real brotha.

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    24. David

      I meant to write :
      ” The USA could literally not exist in its present form with OUT race based cheap illegal labour. ”
      My apologies.

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    25. Shoded Yam

      Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
      [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
      Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
      Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
      Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

      Wow. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. Instead of working to correct an ingrained social policy that has been so detrimental to them, mizrachim just waited 60 years till they had a chance to dump on someone else. So when the illegals are all gone, and the residents of south tel-aviv rub their eyes and have a look around and realize their still living in the same shit-hole they’ve always lived in, still the same truck drivers and falafel makers they’ve always been, who will be the target of their attentions then? The problem is not the illegals.The problem is not the arabs or 60 years of war. The problem is that you persist in touting yourselves as; “The Light Unto Nations” while the litter box is filled with feces and cat piss and know one has thought to clean it and change the litter.

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    26. Ben Israel

      If we define “racism” as people making negative generalizations about groups of people (either defined as such by birth or lifestyle), then this site is certainly guilty of racism….after all we are constantly being told here about how Israelis are racists, or Russian Jews are fascists (one of the founders of this site stated that, and when I pointed out that was a gross generalization, he justified it by saying “it was true), or religious Jews are bigots, or working-class Sefardim are anti-Arab, etc, etc, etc.

      Reply to Comment
    27. David

      Ben Israel
      I agree, reading only 972, the newcomer might be under the impression we are in a war zone and the Palestinians are all from Sesame Street singing the Alphabet song.
      Many posters who are not even living in Israel then perpetuate this skewed image, reinforcing stereotypes :O , if you know what I mean.
      I look forward to the day when the North American olim writing for this site, take the struggle to North America and free the underdogs there. Much to do, much to do. Max Blumenthal is already there, cleaning his video camera lens and waiting for peace so the rest of the possy can join the just fight for the exploited in the US. GOOD LUCK!

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    28. Shoded Yam

      Its not about whether or not all Israelis are racists or hold cultural biases. A majority are and do. Indeed, a practiced classism amongst the Israeli left and the Sheinkin crowd is considered de rigeur. A generalization? I think not. Enough Israelis from almost every racial and cultural demographic are dyed-in-the-wool bigots to make a prima facie case that Israeli shit stinks like anyone elses. The problem is not your racism. The problem is your hypocrisy.

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    29. David

      Shoded Yam

      I feel so much anger in your writing, ts ts.
      Is the self righteousness getting to you?
      Too much pain in the world?

      Here is a classic quote from Mr. Dana : ” The problem is reaching endemic proportions as lawmakers have largely remained silent and the crimes continue unabated. ”

      I love the “endemic”, so dramatic, so powerful. It really energizes the troops for the cause.
      And the link to Ehud’s wife and the illegal house keeper. SHOCKER! I mean, had Haaretz not uncovered this outrage I am sure they would have eaten the Pilipina. Good thing the cops got there first, close call. FREEDOM! You have any more abuse and four letter words you wanna share here, or will I have to wallow in the authors hyperbole ? Do tell!
      BTW, how come we have no story on the 50t of Iranian weapons for Aza? I mean six radar guided anti-ship missiles is worth at least a small piece. No?

      Reply to Comment
    30. Shoded Yam

      I feel so much anger in your writing, ts ts.
      Is the self righteousness getting to you?
      Too much pain in the world?

      While I admit to a somewhat acerbic writing style (Dad was a Norman Mailer fan),I’m not responsible for your perceptions. Rather than being a product of my anger, I think they’re probably a product of yours. But thats niether here nor there. If you’ve actually read any of my comments than it would be understood that I could give a rats ass what you do to each other. You want to piss in each others mouths? Thats your business. I’m simply makiing informed observations. But hey, I’m a mercenary prick. You’re uncomfortable with my reamrks? Convince me otherwise. I’m open to offers? Whadya got? BTW, if you’re gonna do this job Duby, get a personality. You and Max sound alot alike.

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    31. directrob

      Sorry you are in a war zone. It might feel war is far away and life is good but that is because you are at the good side of the balance of power. Rockets and bullets do fly in and out of Gaza. The West Bank and the Golan are occupied.
      As far as racial discrimination is concerned look no further than what happens in Awarta, or the “unrecognized villages” in the Negev. It is not that Israeli are better or worse than Palestinians, it is that people guilty of nothing were and are chased of their land and are herded in Bantu states and are deprived of basic human rights. This Stanford like prison experiment has to end.

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    32. David

      Shoded Yam

      Watersports! I did once see Mailer at Oxford, but I sincerely doubt our Arab neighbours will be able to appreciate the deeper meaning of such sexual activity. I mean people get in trouble for less in Aza. But maybe one of the heroin hookers near Lewinsky Park will oblige, I will ask next time I cycle past there.

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    33. Benyamin Maoz

      We are living in a severe moral crisis. The lot of the African refugees s just one of our terrible problems. We have unfortunately forgotten the first (of the Ten) Commandment, I mean: the fact that once we all were slaves in Egypt; or in other words, tat we were persecuted as Jewish refugees. Now we are the persecutor.
      On the other hand, one should be realistic and keep an open eye for (real, not imaginary) dangers and for our security (including the security of the refugees). It is a terrible dilemma, but.at least, we should always try to be as humanistic as possible.

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    34. max

      Shoded Yam, would it be possible to get from you references to the specific points raised in the discussion, or can you only answer by rhetorical and generalizing statements?

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    35. Shoded Yam

      “… but I sincerely doubt our Arab neighbours will be able to appreciate the deeper meaning of such sexual activity”

      Since they ape the rest of your behaviours, I find it difficult to fathom the possibilty that the cousins would’ve taken a pass on such um..esoterica. In any event your physical proximity should aid in the learning curve. As to the hookers near Lewinsky Park. If you’re anything like you are here, I should think your reputation would’ve preceded you. I’m quite sure between turning tricks and fixing, they’d be more than happy to urinate on you.

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    36. Shoded Yam

      Excuse me maam, I believe you dropped your snood. Oh. It’s you Max. Sorry old buddy. The whole eyeliner-lipstick-drag queen thing threw me. By the way, I like the old “Max” better. You know, the one who does that “babe-in the-woods” shtick, where he doesn’t understand anything and asks everybody else for explanations. What happened to him? 😀

      Reply to Comment
    37. Shoded Yam


      I found it curious that you felt the need to insinuate your alma mater into the discussion. While I’m sure your academic bonafides are impressive, I’m afraid we’re not hiring at the moment ;). However we will keep your resume on file should there be an opening. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. 😀

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    38. David

      Shoded yam
      I will always be more inclined to the ballistic curve of a IDF 155mm shell than that of my urine.
      You need to be careful with the word “ape” in these circles. It could be misunderstood by many here. But judging by the fact that Dana has not deleted your waters sports comment, we seem to be safe.
      I never went to Oxford, never wrote I did, but I do like to expose myself to all sorts.
      BTW boasting of credentials. The author likes to make a point that he has two M.A.s from two universities. As you see, we are in excellent company.

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    39. Shoded Yam

      “…I will always be more inclined to the ballistic curve of a IDF 155mm shell than that of my urine.”

      Hmmm. Yes thank you. Please check the box that says; “Has completed military service”. While I give you high marks for persistence, I do have to reiterate that all positions have been filled. I am willing to foward your file down to HR but I’m afraid thats all we can do at this time. Good luck with your job search. 😀

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    40. hans

      Suppose these people have not learnt a thing from their own history. What ridiculous people.

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    41. Stephen

      As reprehensible as the people on this video are, this doesn’t seem like a very large protest. Bigots exist in every society, and I must ask: how representative are these people of Israeli society as a whole? None of the Israelis I’ve met where anything like these slime.

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    42. gliksman

      The day – which fortunately probably will never come – israel looses it`s external enemies – imaginery or not scapegoats – the jews inside israel will eat up each other..Because the external conflicts of threats of war put people together and shrug for under the carpet the huge cultural, economical, political and religious abyss that exists in the so called israeli society if just the arabs knew that they would stop haressing israelis and watch them destroy themselves..I just feel sorry for palestinians whom will probably perish together with jews..Im not saying that for any bad feelings for jews ..is that i have heard that from israelis themselves when i lived in israel.. Theres no use getting histerical about those facts..but i personally believe is a very very complex problem…and tragic since it shows us that the memory of the holocaust seems to have thought these people nothing, nothing about life.

      Reply to Comment
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