A group of Israeli high school boys dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan and others in black face make up to stage a mock lynching for a class party for the Jewish holiday of Purim. Photographs of over a dozen teens from Harel High School in Mevasseret Zion, a cushy suburb west of Jerusalem, first surfaced a few days after the holiday, which functionally serves as Israel’s Halloween. In the photos some of the students are dressed in white robes and armed with a large wooden cross, while three others are in black face make up and afro-style wigs and kneeling as if their arms are shackled. The Israeli media outlet Mizbala screen grabbed the images from Facebook, which was then circulated on social media, creating a firestorm of backlash.
A day later Israel’s Channel 2 news followed up, and the school’s principal said she found nothing inappropriate about the youths’ dressing as white supremacists on the verge of a racially motivated vigilante murder. From the Times of Israel:
‘The costume created an interesting and important discussion,’ Rina Even-Tov said, according to Channel 2 News.
‘This act essentially created a platform for discussion, it is no different from a Nazi costume’ she concluded.
Indeed it seems permissiveness towards the students’ costumes was pervasive at Harel High. On the school’s Flickr page I found more images of the youngsters in their KKK gear, except in these they are posed with the students in black face using faux handcuffs, dragging them from the tail end of a wooden platform that the “klansmen” are carrying overhead. The photograph cuts out what’s above the platform, but from the shoes, pants and top—which are in frame—it looks like they are parading a student costumed as a caged African American.
In another photograph the robed boys are at the center of scores of teenagers in an outdoor class party, then later they were photographed indoors. It seems they wore the offending outfits throughout the day. Other images in the photo set show a different group of students dressed as settlers wearing orange shirts with the Hebrew slogan “Jews do not expel Jews!”