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Journalist David Sheen delivers blistering indictment on Israel’s racist war on African migrants

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For the past three weeks, journalist David Sheen has brought the reality of Israel’s war on African migrants into classrooms and lecture halls on North American college campuses.  The leading writer on the virulent racism engulfing African asylum seekers within Israel did the same on Tuesday night, delivering a blistering indictment of Israeli state racism to dozens of people at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.

Sheen’s videos and reports have become the go-to source for those looking to understand how a state founded to protect refugees has become a state systematically targeting refugees for indefinite imprisonment and deportation. A Canadian citizen who first moved to Israel in 1999, Sheen gradually turned away from Zionism as a result of the state’s policies of occupation and aggression, as Max Blumenthal documented in his book Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel.

The details Sheen presents on his tour are downright chilling and devastating.  And as he notes, the climate for African asylum seekers has only gotten worse in recent months, with the passage of new laws authorizing indefinite imprisonment in a prison until they can be returned home.  The Israeli public strongly supports the detainment and deportation of Africans.

Journalist David Sheen speaking at the CUNY Graduate Center. (Photo: Alex Kane)

Journalist David Sheen speaking at the CUNY Graduate Center. (Photo: Alex Kane)

The 50,000-plus African refugees now in Israel are facing a full-frontal assault on their rights to asylum and obtain access to essential services.  Sheen pointed out how, in the summer of 2012, Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center limited visits and admission to Africans out of concern they would spread disease.  Doctors told Yediot Aharonot that the policies constituted “patient care apartheid,” and the hospital eased up on the restrictions following the outcry. The journalist also noted that in the winter of 2010, the mayor of Bnei Brak used the pretext of building code violations to chase African refugees out of the city–in the dead of winter.  At the root of these policies is the driving ethos in Israel of maintaining Jewish supremacy in the face of so-called demographic threats, whether they be Palestinian or African.

The refugees first trekked from countries like Sudan and Eritrea and congregated in Egypt.  They were escaping from ethnic cleansing and dictatorship, but were confronted with racism and repression in Egypt. The harsh climate for African refugees culminated in a December 30, 2005 Egyptian police massacre of Sudanese refugees, which convinced many that it was time to move on to Israel.  But while no Israeli forces are shooting Africans, that’s the best that can be said about their welcome in the country.

The Israeli political establishment has decried the presence of African asylum seekers, many of whom have been unceremoniously dumped in low-income areas like South Tel Aviv, where the already disenfranchised Mizrahi population looks at the refugees with disdain.  The anti-African racism is thoroughly mainstream in the country, as the appointment of Eli Yishai as interior minister in 2009 showed.  Yishai used his perch as the man formulating policy on asylum seekers to call for deporting them all. But, mindful of how bad it would look to expel people en masse and the fact it’s illegal under international law to deport them to places they would be persecuted in, Israel has tried to make their lives insufferable so they would “self deport,” as Sheen said.  Israel has deported some people back to South Sudan, where civil war recently broke out. But deportations to Israeli-allied Eritrea, where many come from, are out of the question under international law.

Aside from official racism from the state–which also includes state-funded rabbis calling on landlords to not rent to Africans–the Israeli street has gotten in on the action.  The most stunning mob action to grip Tel Aviv in years occurred in May 2012.  After an anti-African rally featured Israeli politicians like Likud Member of Knesset Miri Regev calling Africans a “cancer,” mob violence broke out.  Israelis took to the streets, smashing the windows of cars driven by Africans and physically attacking some refugees.

Recent and unprecedented protests by African refugees (which Allison Deger reported on here) have featured people calling for asylum from Israel.  But the state has turned a deaf ear to those calls.  In total, Israel has granted asylum to less than 1 percent of those applying for refugee status–an extremely low rate in a region that has taken in millions of Syrian refugees.

“Israel actually leads the world in refugee rejection,” said Sheen.  “The government says that none of these people are refugees. I guess all the refugees arrived in the U.S. and Canada and everywhere else, and all the liars came to Israel. According to the government, they’re all cheats, they’re only in Israel to make money.”

In 2012, Israel passed an amendment to the Anti-Infiltration Law, first initiated to deter expelled Palestinians from coming back to their homes and lands after the 1948 Nakba. The amendment targeted African asylum seekers, authorizing the state to detain them for three years. “This old law used to criminalize and dispossess Palestinians is resuscitated decades later to criminalize and demonize Africans,” said Sheen.

When the High Court struck the law down late last year, the Knesset passed a new law that allowed indefinite imprisonment and the detainment of any person caught trying to cross into Israel for a year. A fence Israel built on the border with Egypt has helped staunch the flow of African migrants escaping repression in their home countries.

So now, there are hundreds of African refugees being held in the Holot detention facility, where they have to check-in three times a day and sleep there at night.

Meanwhile, Israel has secretly flown refugees to Uganda in recent weeks.

Sheen sees little hope for Africans residing in Israel.  “No matter how much they protested and how long they went on strike for, it didn’t matter, because the Israeli government said, ‘we don’t care. We’re still going to keep on rounding you up and making your lives miserable until you leave’.”

He also delivered a harsh assessment of how American Jewish groups have reacted to the issue.

“In all of 2013, from January-December, the [Anti-Defamation League] did not have one word to say about Israel’s war on African refugees,” said Sheen.  He noted that the ADL was founded 100 years ago after the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish man accused of raping a white Christian woman.  Similar anti-miscegenation tropes are frequently invoked to target Africans.

“It wasn’t just the ADL, it wasn’t just Abe Foxman…it was every single Jewish American mainstream group across the board,” said Sheen.  “None of them had anything to say in criticism, in critique of the Israeli government, as it moved to kick out all African asylum seekers. And it’s so ironic because here in the United States, these mainstream Jewish groups, there’s wall-to-wall support for immigration reform.”

Update: A reader has pointed me to a letter sent last year authored by a coalition of Jewish groups–most notably the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, the most mainstream of the signatories–that mildly criticizes Israel’s polices on asylum seekers. But it also echoes Israeli government rhetoric that asylum seekers pose “a mounting social and demographic challenge easy to underestimate.”

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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55 Responses

  1. annie
    March 14, 2014, 10:35 am

    Israel has granted asylum to less than 1 percent of those applying for refugee status–an extremely low rate in a region that has taken in millions of Syrian refugees.

    i was looking for the video the other day of max asking people at some convention how many people israel had granted asylum to. does anyone have that link? and does anyone have a link to an official gov doc to verify this percentage?

    and thanks alex, great article. btw, i have been sending lots of sheen links to some students who are studying this topic. i’ll send this one off right now.

  2. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    March 14, 2014, 10:56 am

    972 Mag has an article up about the refugee issue where the author states that most of the people in Israel illegally are from Eastern Europe and not Africa. In fact Lieberman was the one who pushed through legislation that made it easy for Russian and Ukrainian tourists to come to Israel. If they decide to stay they find support in the Russian community which aids them in subverting the law. Very interesting that no one in the government is screaming and yelling about all the illegal Europeans running about.

    • bilal a
      bilal a
      March 14, 2014, 12:29 pm

      since when is russia and ukraine in europe?

      • justicewillprevail
        March 14, 2014, 5:56 pm

        Oh, about a thousand years. West of the Urals is generally considered in Europe. You don’t have to be a member of the EU.

  3. bilal a
    bilal a
    March 14, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Note Sheen uses the code word ‘Immigration Reform ‘ for increasing the US low skill population by perhaps 30 million, severely harming the chances of wage increases for African Americans, but he does note the #Jewishprivilege of ethnic nationalism, which extends to regulation of offensive mocking and humor, if only it targets Jews::

    NYTimes suggests mocking of Judaism should be met with incarceration.
    “Not only has he escaped conviction in many of the cases brought against him or, at worst, had to pay fines” , less worse than paying fines is prison.

    No word yet from Rubin on incarcerating Mel Brooks and Sara Silverman for mocking Christian suffering.

    eg Mel Brooks – Last Supper – History of the world Part 1

    NYT By ALISS J. RUBIN MARCH 10, 2014
    Related Coverage French Comic’s ‘Anti-System’ Salute Is Frequently Used to Mock Jewish Suffering

    • Yserbius
      March 14, 2014, 2:34 pm

      What about Mel Brooks and Sarah Silverman for mocking Judaism? eg – Moses – History of the World Part 1. eg Give the Jew Girl Toys eg every Jewish comedian (and many non Jewish comedians like Jason Bateman) ever.

  4. Yserbius
    March 14, 2014, 12:57 pm

    There is no Hebrew equivalent to the word “nigger”. The word that the people are using that the video translates to such, is “Kushi” which means “African”. It’s not an offensive word, but in can be used in a derogatory manner (much like “Jew”).

    The Tel Aviv anti-African rally was 1000 people, not a mass protest as the author and Mr. Sheen are making it out to be. And it was a protest against the lack of police interest in the massive crime ridden slum that a neighborhood has become when it filled up with Sudanese asylum seekers.

    It kind of puts Sheens bias in a bit of context and casts some doubt on the accuracy of the rest of the article and video.

    • annie
      March 14, 2014, 1:53 pm

      a protest against the lack of police interest

      that’s funny, it doesn’t seem like they are protesting the police.

      • Yserbius
        March 14, 2014, 2:26 pm

        Have you ever been to Israel or the Occupied Palestinian territories? Do you speak Hebrew or Arabic? Have you had extended contact with regular ordinary run-of-the-mill human beings that actually live there?

        I just ask because 99.9% of your opinions seem to be rehashed from blog posts and developed by Internet commentary instead of first person perspective.

        The people were upset because of the rise in crime in certain Tel Aviv neighborhoods that the police weren’t interested in. So they took matters into their own hands and yes, it turned racist and ugly fast. They are human beings, just like the rest of us.

      • justicewillprevail
        March 14, 2014, 5:58 pm

        And your evidence is?

      • puppies
        March 18, 2014, 12:42 am

        Yserpus – “They are human beings, just like the rest of us.”
        That they still belong to the genus Homo sapiens is unfortunately obvious (although “sapiens” is quite a stretch.) But to pretend that they are humans like at least the “rest of us” where I and my friends belong is fighting words.

      • annie
        March 18, 2014, 1:03 am

        Have you ever been to Israel or the Occupied Palestinian territories? Do you speak Hebrew or Arabic? Have you had extended contact with regular ordinary run-of-the-mill human beings that actually live there?

        yes i have been to both tho i speak neither language. yes i have had extended contact with regular ordinary run-of-the-mill human beings that actually live there. quite a few actually. i really like many of them too.

        I just ask because 99.9% of your opinions seem to be rehashed from blog posts

        then you shouldn’t have a problem linking to the blog post my 1:53 pm comment was a ‘rehash’ of. is bloviation your specialty or do you just dabble in it when you’re at a loss for words?

        and while you’re at it, please link to the blog post this comment is a ‘rehash’ of.

      • puppies
        March 18, 2014, 1:20 am

        @Yserbis – “Do you speak Hebrew..?” Nonsense. I mean, reading Arabic is of course a useful thing, but considering that all the real makers and shakers are pure US, most of them living in the States, one does expect them to write better English than Hebrew.

      • annie
        March 18, 2014, 1:21 am

        Have you ever been to Israel or the Occupied Palestinian territories?

        that reminds me, when i was visiting jerusalem in ’09, i was staying in apartment of a man who worked with african immigrants. he worked inside a prison. it was the first time i had ever heard of immigrants living inside prisons in israel. in retrospect i wish i had written down our conversation. asked him why they were living in the prison and he said that’s where the government allowed them to live. something about how some might be able to leave during the day to work, which was really a relief for them, however many people took advantage of them and didn’t pay them, so that their ‘payment’ was, essentially, being able to be ‘free’ to not be in prison for the day. i think, tho i am not sure, it was at the russian compound.

        it did seem rather radical to me, but that was his job. and he was a ‘regular person’. a very compassionate regular person. i met a lot of regular people there. but they are not in control of government policy, obviously.

        there are quite a few (many) very good people there, i have no doubt about that. however they are in the minority.

    • ofern
      March 14, 2014, 2:47 pm

      Yeah right, and MK Miri Regev, who refers to African migrants as ‘cancer’, is from a tiny opposition party (by the name of ‘Likkud’).

      • Yserbius
        March 14, 2014, 2:53 pm

        Just saying, there’s a lot that I know about that’s left out of the video (or lied about entirely). Makes me wonder how much of the video and article is similarly biased due to things that I don’t know about.

      • Justpassingby
        March 14, 2014, 4:19 pm


        No you are not “just saying” you defend the racism against the africans.
        Shame on you!

      • annie
        March 18, 2014, 1:29 am

        yserbius and nurit are more concerned here with defending israel and the israeli public, hence, their priority is metaphorically thrusting a dagger thru sheen. tsk tsk..

        and we’re on the chopping block too. (99.9% of my opinions are..bla bla bla and mondoweiss is bla bla zinger bla, point score! hasbara 101)

    • Justpassingby
      March 14, 2014, 4:17 pm

      So Yserbius is..
      1. Denying racist term “kushi”
      2. Denying racism is alive in Israel

      3. Admitting the protesters are right (“massive crime”)
      4. Accusation of bias

      It seems that Yserbius may be in the video.

    • March 16, 2014, 8:40 am

      It’s not an offensive word, but in can be used in a derogatory manner (much like “Jew”).

      Always the victim.

      Israeli mobs attacking African refugees and this is the Zionist response.

      What a sick culture.

      • Nurit Baytch
        Nurit Baytch
        March 17, 2014, 3:40 pm

        That the cause of the African asylum seekers is just does not give David Sheen license to mistranslate Hebrew and make false statements. In this case, I’d say “Negro” is a better translation, but one could plausibly argue that’s a judgment call. However, in his talk, Sheen blatantly mistranslated a Hebrew document (even people who cannot read Hebrew will be able to verify this!), which calls into question Sheen’s integrity and intentions. I explain that here (search for the word “rodef”):

      • annie
        March 17, 2014, 7:03 pm

        you already linked to yourself making these allegations in that same article of yours, in this very thread

        don’t be surprised if it doesn’t pass moderation if you try it again.

        and here’s your big catch:

        As you can see, the word רודף (rodef) does not appear anywhere in the edict. That is, Sheen stood before an image of the edict and explicitly misrepresented its contents.

        The edict prohibits renting to Africans, not coming to the aid of Africans, and does not designate anyone as a “rodef,” as Sheen claimed. When a reporter for a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) website spoke to a haredi rabbi about the edict, the rabbi did say that a landlord who rents to African migrants is a rodef, but it is unlikely the rabbi literally meant that such landlords should be killed

        frankly, i fail to see the distinction. you thinking it is “unlikely the rabbi literally meant”… “should be killed” when he used the word rodef, after you yourself describe the term as meaning:

        rodef, meaning they are deserving of death and can be killed with impunity under Jewish law.

        ?? and for this you claim sheen is making false statements? why should anyone take you seriously?

        the audience for whom the comment was intended (i.e. haredim) would likely not interpret the rabbi’s statement as an actual call for murder.

        you do realize when discussing life or death “would likely not interpret” is not very reassuring, especially when it only takes one nut job to interpret this term literally.

        falsely claiming that a similar edict led to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

        oh really.

        The “ceremony” which resembles voodoo practice more than any Jewish ritual, involves ten men calling upon the “angels of destruction” to kill a man who has desecrated sacred Jewish values. Over the years it was used (or claimed to have been used after various figures met untimely deaths) against politicians and journalists who angered the ultra-Orthodox, and architects and archaeologists who were accused of having disturbed ancient graves. In the 1990s, it became the preserve of the most extreme fringe of the settler camp when the kabbalist texts were uttered against Yitzhak Rabin, for the sin of signing the Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Some believers were quick to connect this with Rabin’s assassination a month later, while others accused those who participated in the curse of contributing to the incitement that drove Yigal Amir.

        so how is that not a similar edict? i hope you realize that debunking your ‘theories’ took me about 5 minutes,and i’m not even a specialist on these jewish edicts. you wrote a hit piece on sheen and we all know why because it’s right in your title. you don’t like how poorly this reflects on israel. bummer.

      • Nurit Baytch
        Nurit Baytch
        March 17, 2014, 10:39 pm

        Annie, you have misunderstood what I wrote. Did you watch Sheen’s presentation here?
        Go to 32:16. Watch as Sheen stands in front of an image of the edict and says the following: “So also in the days that followed, you have leading rabbis from B’nei Brak issuing another religious edict, and this one defines any Israelis who come to the aid of Africans as “rodef.” A “rodef,” according to Jewish theology, is the designation they gave to Yitzhak Rabin, if you remember, the Israeli Prime Minister who is assassinated in the weeks and months leading up to his assassination, right wing rabbis issued this edict, which classified him as a “rodef,” meaning that he is an evil man, and he is a pursuer, and therefore, any Jew may murder him and be free of the consequences. There would be no repercussions if anyone out there who tries to kill this man. In fact, that’s exactly what happened to Yitzhak Rabin. On the basis of this religious edict, an Orthodox Jewish man went out and assassinated the prime minister. So now you have the same designation being given by these Israeli rabbis, again, paid for by my tax money, the same designation given to any Israelis who come to the aid of Africans.”

        The edict says nothing of the sort. Sheen explicitly misrepresented the contents of the edict, and you need not be a Hebrew reader to see that the word רודף appears nowhere in the edict. That’s really the end of the story. In order to present the entire context (something Sheen rarely did), I just added the info about the verbal remark by the rabbi, which is not an edict. And both his rodef comment and the edict weren’t about coming to the aid of Africans, as Sheen claimed, but rather renting to Africans.

        Whether or not you believe my statements on how haredim would interpret this verbal remark (fyi, I actually asked haredim how they would interpret such a comment), it is indisputable that Sheen explicitly misrepresented the edict. Why would he stand in front of an image of the edict and lie?

        The fact that Sheen explicitly misrepresented source material is a journalistic lapse, but the broader and more important issue is that this calls into question Sheen’s integrity and intentions. Sheen’s false statements about the edict are merely the most blatant misrepresentation from his presentation; I documented numerous other misleading and false statements, including Sheen’s assertion that American Jewish organizations are silently supporting Israel’s “war” on Africans. And this particular Mondoweiss post repeats a related but incorrect claim that [mainstream] American Jewish organizations did not criticize Israel’s treatment of African asylum seekers [in 2013]:

      • annie
        March 17, 2014, 11:27 pm

        so tell me nurit, what kind of actions befall people responsible for the resulting “spiritual disasters” that allegedly occur from not following these edicts?

        do they get their wrists slapped?

        maybe some people interpret “responsible for spiritual disaster (of the jewish people?)” as the same thing as this ‘rodef’.

        and what did you think of that headline in the video (31:37) of sheen you linked to, about 52% of israelis who agreed african migrants are ‘a cancer’?

        do you think that information ‘demonizes’ (your word) israel? you don’t seem very concerned with the goings on, just shooting the messenger.

        this calls into question Sheen’s integrity and intentions.

        only if one accepts your previous statements, that sheen ‘explicitly’ misrepresented the edict. i’m not impressed with your use of the word “fact”.

        i’m also not impressed that “the verbal remark by the rabbi” that you “just added” saying that “a landlord who rents to African migrants is a rodef”, is “not an edict.”

        in fact, i am not impressed with rodef’s at all, edicts or non edicts.

        the sad circumstance is that there’s not much prosecution for violence by jews against non jews in israel. we’ve documented this time and again here on this site. that’s what demonizes israel, the violence and lack of justice. you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands than david sheen. i appreciate that this is what you’ve chosen to spent time focussing on, but i’m just not impressed.

      • Nurit Baytch
        Nurit Baytch
        March 18, 2014, 12:36 am

        Annie, I imagine that the haredi rabbis believe that similar “spiritual disasters” will befall Jews failing to heed the edict as will befall those who fail to observe Shabbat.

        Regarding the poll of Israelis in May 2012, it is very disturbing (for various reasons, I suspect that if the poll were duplicated today, the results would be better). Racism is clearly a problem in Israeli society (though I do not think this is unique to Israel). However, I think the Israeli govt is making some effort to promote tolerance of minorities (though more certainly needs to be done), and Israelis themselves recognize they have a problem:
        The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have one.

        Facts presented in context do not demonize. In fact, one of those American Jewish organizations that Sheen claimed is silently supporting Israel’s “war” on Africans mentioned the poll too:
        Of course, they present a balanced discussion of the matter at hand, unlike Sheen.

        You claim that I “don’t seem very concerned with the goings on, just shooting the messenger.” Actually, I offered concrete advice on how to help the plight of African migrants in Israel – donate to the NGOs that are aiding them (e.g. they have successfully convinced judges to revoke summonses to Holot detention center). In contrast, I fail to see how Sheen’s tour of the US and Canada will improve their plight.

        That’s fine if you regard what I’ve written as a “hit piece.” However, if I’ve written anything inaccurate or misleading, I will fix it. I stand by my assertion that Sheen stood in front of an image of an edict and lied about its contents. It’s actually irrelevant what one rabbi said because that wasn’t the edict to which Sheen was referring (i.e. the one on the screen before him), and what the rabbi said wasn’t an edict either (not to mention his remark was about renting to Africans, not coming to their aid, as Sheen claimed).

        I regard Sheen’s presentation as a “hit piece,” not just on Israelis but on Jews and Judaism itself. And I documented misleading and/or false statements Sheen made about Israelis, Jews, and Judaism to prove my contention.

      • annie
        March 18, 2014, 12:49 am

        Facts presented in context do not demonize.

        oh really. you don’t think the facts of the holocaust presented in context demonize nazis?

        you don’t think the facts of vietnam presented in context demonize america?

        you don’t think the facts of jim crow presented in context demonize..anyone?

        what about SA apartheid? doesn’t sound heinous to you?

        or is it just ‘facts in context’ about israel that don’t demonize.

      • Nurit Baytch
        Nurit Baytch
        March 18, 2014, 1:26 am


        When I said “demonize,” I meant the usage here:
        “In colloquial usage, the term demonization is used metaphorically to refer to propaganda or moral panic directed against any individual or group.”

        An accurate, historical discussion of the wrongs committed by Nazi Germany would not be demonization by this definition. That is, I regard Sheen’s presentation as propaganda, much as Sheen regarded the ECI’s use of videos of anti-Semitic OWS protesters as propaganda:
        I must say, I find this piece rather ironic…

        In any case, I want to clarify that I support calling attention to racism in Israel and Israel’s asylum policies, as several American Jewish organizations have done:

        However, I oppose disseminating misleading and false propaganda about Israel, Jews, and Judaism.

      • annie
        March 18, 2014, 1:46 am

        this is too classic nurit. you do know ‘demonize’ is a massively repetitive word used by hasbrats. and lookie from your link..

        See also[edit]

        Idealization and devaluation
        Religious paranoia

        what a coincidence, another term invented by hasbrats!

        wiki is not a reliable source for truthieness when it applies to israel (google zionist/yeshiva classes in wiki editing seminars).

        let me make one thing clear to you. wrt: “demonization is used metaphorically to refer to propaganda” claiming someone is demonizing israel IS propaganda. if you want to say sheen is propagandizing just say it, but don’t use lingo that implies ” evil, lying demons” okay? btw, i don’t accuse people of demonizing or being ‘evil’ because i don’t stoop to, or resort to using biblical terminology to get my point across. i believe this kind of language IS propaganda. and sending me over to wiki to find it blathered about like ” moral panic directed against any individual or group.” pleeease. get grip.

        try websters: a : an evil spirit
        b : a source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin

        israel is a source and agent of harm, distress, and ruin. hence, it ‘demonizes’ itself, far more than anything me or sheen or mondoweiss has ever said or done. david sheen shines light on the truth of what is occurring in israel. israel is the cause of its own isolation, which will turn on itself if it doesn’t reverse course. and it’s only getting worse as time goes on.

        you have much bigger fish to fry than david sheen and you’re wasting your time here. go fix israel. and for heaven’s sake, end the occupation!

      • Nurit Baytch
        Nurit Baytch
        March 18, 2014, 2:07 am

        The wiki link for “demonization” is not about Israel.

        To be honest, I am rather open to changing the title of my site. I had originally entitled it “David Sheen’s Anti-Israel Propaganda Tour of the US and Canada,” but then I thought that would deter my intended audience from actually reading it, so I changed it to “David Sheen’s Tour of the US and Canada.” However, a third party recommended the new title, so I thought, “why not?” I had not intended all the implications that you detail. And since Mondoweiss readers like you are my intended audience, it’s clear I need to change the title. I would’ve entitled it “A Critique of David Sheen’s Tour of the US and Canada” (i.e. analogous to the title of my other “hit piece”), but that doesn’t sound right “grammatically.” hmm.

      • Nurit Baytch
        Nurit Baytch
        March 18, 2014, 2:18 am

        Annie, I now see you edited your comment and added more material. The American Heritage Dictionary lists as the 3rd meaning of demonize:
        “3. To represent as evil or diabolic: wartime propaganda that demonizes the enemy.”

        I think that’s an accurate description of Sheen’s presentation, though again, I’m happy to change the title since it seems to be vexing you, and I’m not wedded to the title.

        However, I disagree that “david sheen shine light on the truth of what is occurring in israel,” since Sheen made several false and misleading statements in his talk. I linked to the overviews of this issue by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Jewish Federations of North America because I think they accurately shine light on the matter.

        I do agree with this sentiment to some extent: “israel is the cause of its own isolation,” particularly wrt its settlement policy in the West Bank. However, I also think anti-Semitism contributes to Israel’s isolation.

      • annie
        March 18, 2014, 2:30 am

        if your intent is to claim sheen is a propagandist you should use that word. but frankly nurit, you’re climbing an uphill battle. because for every infraction you think you’ve found, the facts, laws, and videos speak for themselves and sheen’s exposure of these facts are not going away.

        i had no idea this was your ‘site’ i thought it was one blog post. your time would be better spent trying to fix the problem on the ground. if you care about these immigrants, sheen is your ally. you should work together instead of tearing him down. i have never read anything he has written against ‘jews’. i think you’re too sensitive. you’ve got much bigger fish to fry.

        The American Heritage Dictionary lists as the 3rd meaning of demonize:
        “3. To represent as evil or diabolic: wartime propaganda that demonizes the enemy.”

        more accurately, it reads like this:

        “3. To represent as evil or diabolic: wartime propaganda that demonizes the enemy.

        (italics are the example) and what does it mean to demonize the enemy nurit?:

        to represent as evil or diabolic .. wartime propaganda that represents the enemy as….

        1. To turn into or as if into a demon.
        2. To possess by or as if by a demon.

        same thing.

        I also think anti-Semitism contributes to Israel’s isolation.

        yeah, like millions of people have no rights and live under military rule for 3 going on 4 generations and anti semitism is israel’s problem? anti semitism adds to israel isolation just like anti semitism adds to the oppression of jews here in america. iow, not much. it happens but it’s not the over riding issue. israel wasn’t even on my radar 20 years ago. it’s the exposure of truth thats taking israel down. it’s ugly stuff like dead children that happens with regularity.

        why are you wasting your time fighting david sheen? frankly, it’s mindboggling.

      • annie
        March 18, 2014, 3:07 am

        However, I think the Israeli govt is making some effort to promote tolerance of minorities

        yes, i heard recently they were de-arabizing palestinian christians. now that’s a relief/not.

        it’s so sad, the idea of ‘tolerating’ minorities. each of these people are individuals worthy of …people like (worth much more than their weight in gold, and the sky the moon and stars to their loved ones.)

      • benedict
        March 18, 2014, 9:51 am


        I am chareidi so I think that I can comment with some authority about the relevant issue.

        There nothing unique about the halachic concept of “rodef”. In fact, it exists in all law systems I know about. What it basically means is that one is allowed to prevent greivieous damage to an intended victim by harming the intended attacker, if needed even by killing him. The classical cases in which rodef law applies and those quoted by Talmud is the case of an intended murderer or rapist pursuing his victim. One is allowed to save the victim by harming the attacker. However even in these extreme cases killing the attacker is forbidden if lesser injury will suffice.

        In a manner of generalization the law of rodef is used to describe any case in which an individual is actively harming/endangering other people.

        As was pointed out, nowhere does the document make use of the concept of rodef in connection to African apt. seekers. In fact, reading the document I see that it explicitly states that any action done must confirm to halachic and legal law. I don’t see how Mr. sheen sees this as a general call for violence against Africans.

  5. kalithea
    March 14, 2014, 1:40 pm

    In total, Israel has granted asylum to less than 1 percent of those applying for refugee status–an extremely low rate in a region that has taken in millions of Syrian refugees.

    Gee! How magnanimous of the Jewish state and then, Zionists continuously b*tch about their neighbors!

    And it’s so ironic because here in the United States, these mainstream Jewish groups, there’s wall-to-wall support for immigration reform.

    Yesss, isn’t it funny how liberal Zionists cover their hypocritical tracks?

    Unwittingly and ironically, these African refugees are exposing Liberal Zionist hypocrisy and the major flaws and depth of racism inherent in Zionism to the world.

    Ahh, the demographic threat and democracy, two constant thorns in the side of Zionism! They can be counted on to eventually bring down the house of cards that this obvious supremacist creation really is.

    • rightcoaster
      March 16, 2014, 9:57 pm

      Kalithea, I’m sure you are not so stupid as you seem. So I attach this from Wikipedia (source of all knowledge),, on this topic:
      “…Many of the undocumented workers say they seek an asylum status under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of the United Nations, but only a fraction of all the undocumented workers is actually eligible for this status (see Sudanese refugees in Israel). However, many of them, mostly citizens of Eritrea and Sudan, cannot be forcibly deported from Israel. The Eritrea citizens (who, since 2009, form the majority of the undocumented workers in Israel) cannot be deported due to the opinion of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that Eritrea has a difficult internal situation and a forced recruitment and therefore the Eritrean immigrants are defined as a “temporary humanitarian protection group”. Despite the fact that a similar opinion does not exist in relation to citizens of Sudan, Israel does not deport them back to Egypt due to a real fear for their fate.[11] Although the immigrants entered Israel from Egypt, Israel cannot deport them back to Egypt because the Egyptians refuse to give an undertaking not to deport the immigrants to their countries of origin. Accordingly, the Israeli authorities grant a temporary residence permit to the undocumented workers, which needs to be renewed every three months. Various authorities in Israel estimate that between 80–90 percent of the undocumented workers live primarily in two centers: Tel Aviv (more than 60 percent of the Illegal immigrants)…. .[12]

      There are mixed feelings in Israel about the issue of illegal immigration from Africa and illegal immigrants in general. President Shimon Peres has issued a condemnation of the violent words and actions against the African migrant workers, calling on Israelis to refrain from racism and incitement, saying: “Hatred of foreigners contradicts the fundamental principles of Judaism. I am well aware of the difficulties faced by the residents of south Tel Aviv [and other similar areas], but violence is not the solution.”[13] …”

      Also note that “…Today Israel is home to the largest Beta Israel community in the world with about 121,000 citizens of Ethiopian descent in 2009, …”

      So, it’s not racism. This is not to say that there is not discrimination, but all new groups are subject to that everywhere, cf. “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish” in England. But your nonsense is pure drivel, Israel-hatred that is endemic among the pseudo-thinkers here at MondoWeiss.

  6. Krauss
    March 14, 2014, 3:12 pm

    And it’s so ironic because here in the United States, these mainstream Jewish groups, there’s wall-to-wall support for immigration reform.

    It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.

    A lot of these chieftains pretend to be liberal but in actuality they are ethnic nationalists.

    And if you’re a minority in America, it is in your racial self-interest to align your lot with the left. And these people, since they are not genuine liberals, let go of all the pretexts as soon as the country changes from America to Israel where they’d be in the demographic majority. And thus, consistent with their ethno-nationalism, their atittude on immigration changes radically.

    It’s no different than a Gentile right-wing Christians in Israel. He or she would align him/herself with the left, it is in his/her racial/religious self-interest, but in a country where they’re in the majority, the loyalty would rapidly change to the right-wing.

    The left is still not good at this discussion. A lot of non-white Christian fellow-travellers make do with the left not because they share the ideology at a core level, but because it helps them from a racial/religious standpoint. Zionism is weeding these people out of the left – such as Eric Alterman – and the people who remain are the true universalists.

    • kalithea
      March 15, 2014, 2:09 pm

      It’s no different than a Gentile right-wing Christians in Israel. He or she would align him/herself with the left, it is in his/her racial/religious self-interest, but in a country where they’re in the majority, the loyalty would rapidly change to the right-wing.

      Yes but we’re not discussing the implausible here and we’re not discussing “loyalty” or changing political leanings: we’re discussing individuals who pretend to be liberal supporting and enabling a country that furthers blatant racism and racist acts because, naturally for them, they put that racist pariah first over the country they’re choosing to live in and benefit from and above their own moral itegrity which obviously they completely lack.

    • puppies
      March 18, 2014, 12:50 am

      Krauss – What “left”? What “true universalists”? Let’s not be ridiculous. Or let’s have some documentation.

  7. Clif Brown
    Clif Brown
    March 14, 2014, 3:46 pm

    Those who are pledged to never forget, have forgotten.

    absolute power regarding the powerless always plays out the same way. There are no special people. Experience in one position is no proof against the eagerness to take the other.

    • kalithea
      March 15, 2014, 2:18 pm

      Those who are pledged to never forget, have forgotten.

      And in doing so, they dishonor the memory of those they have in fact really forgetten by committing hateful racist acts similar in many ways to those acts committed against the ones who really suffered them in the past and not these frauds stealing land from the oppressed who exploit “to never forget” so the world can pity them instead of the real victims of their hate.

  8. peter hindrup
    peter hindrup
    March 14, 2014, 8:43 pm

    It seems that Israel and Australia have something in common. All refugees are economic refugees, and they are only coming to either country because it is such a wonderful country!

    Both countries work on the principle of making conditions so unlivable for the refugees that they will move elsewhere …. anywhere, but ‘here’. The ‘we stole this country and we will be damned if we intend sharing it with any others —- and that includes those whose country it is!’

    “Let us approach them [the Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories] and say that we have no solution, that they shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wants to can leave — and we will see where this process leads. In five years we may have 200,000 less people – and that is a matter of enormous importance.” Moshe Dayan September 1967

    Nothing has changed.

    • rightcoaster
      March 18, 2014, 9:18 pm

      Ah, context. Omitting the following sentences changes the meaning of Dayan’s words to read in a way much loved by Weissians: ” … For now, it works out. Let’s say the truth. We want peace. If there is no peace, we will maintain military rule and we will have four to five military compounds on the hills, and they will sit ten years under the Israeli military regime.” The words (all of them, not just the partial quote from Chomsky cited and recited ad nauseam by Israel-haters) were evidently spoken just a few months after the 1967 war, and they seem perfectly sensible in context, albeit not perhaps to the naive denizens of WeissWorld.

      Chomsky is the source to which all searches seem to lead for the partial quote, and the original is in Hebrew by Yossi Beilin.

  9. Nurit Baytch
    Nurit Baytch
    March 14, 2014, 11:16 pm

    It is not true that American Jewish groups have been silent on Israel’s treatment of African asylum seekers. Here’s one of several examples:

    I’ve documented other misrepresentations made by David Sheen (including a Hebrew mistranslation) during his talk here:

    • March 16, 2014, 8:44 am

      “The letter, signed by leaders of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the American Jewish Committee, the New Israel Fund and the Reconstructionist movement, also called for improvements to Israel’s asylum approval rate, noting Israel has one of the lowest in the world.”

      Astounding. These American Jewish groups don’t call on Israel to do the right thing because it is the right thing. They instead are worried about Israel’s standing in the world.

      What incredible self obsession. Can’t see anyone outside their own little tribe as human.

  10. Falastin Qalbi
    Falastin Qalbi
    March 15, 2014, 9:02 am

    Great article, but just a quick correction regarding this brief historical background for the ADL:

    “He noted that the ADL was founded 100 years ago after the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish man accused of raping a white Christian woman.”

    Actually, Leo Frank was convicted of murdering a 13-year-old girl who worked in his pencil factory, and sentenced to death for the crime. He was never charged with rape, although allegations were made that he had also sexually assaulted the child.

    Frank’s sentence was subsequently commuted to life in prison by the governor of Georgia, after reviewing the evidence, due to many questions about the investigation and rising concerns over the antisemitism that had surrounded Frank’s arrest, trial and conviction. The commutation of the death sentence is actually what sparked the horrific lynching.

  11. just
    March 15, 2014, 12:12 pm

    First, let me thank David and Max for this, and to MW for getting this video out.

    It’s terribly ironic that the ultra- nationalists and their benefactors call these refugees “infiltrators” It’s also ironic that Israel calls itself a democracy, and that the US trumpets our very special relationship with the pariah state.

    The latest iteration of the KKK, wholly supported by the American taxpayer. The apartheid state (and a bunch of racist maniacs) is on full display for all to watch in horrid fascination.

    • Talkback
      March 15, 2014, 3:46 pm

      “A Jewish state”. The concept is doomed in our times. And the irony of that is that it is basically doomed, because of what Jews experienced when they were a minority in Europe more than half a century ago and what impact this had on universal moral, international and human rights law. It could have worked before WW1, but it doesn’t work after WW2. Farewell.

  12. palijustice
    March 16, 2014, 9:05 am

    But it is working for Israel isn’t it Talkback? they have the state they want—all of Palestine and Jewish supremacy laws that work for them. They take whatever they want, build wherever they want, and have no concern about equal rights or human rights for others. They do this all without consequences, except for the BDS movement.

    It’s also disturbing to see that mainstream Jewish American groups stand up for minority rights across the world, except for Israel, where they are silent about Israel’s treatment on non Jews, whether they’re Palestinian or Africans. Israeli’s want a country for Jews Only, and they are going about achieving this.

    • rightcoaster
      March 18, 2014, 9:21 pm

      But African Jews are OK, so it’s not a racial thing. Sort of like Saudi Arabia, only much less so. Do Saudis want a country for all? Even for all Muslim sectarians? Or is it a strictly limited theocracy?

  13. Naftush
    March 17, 2014, 5:01 am

    Israel is of course not “a state founded to protect refugees.” It was founded to repatriate its exiled national group. A Jew who immigrates to Israel is treated there as a repatriate and not a refugee. As for the African migrants, they indeed found life-saving asylum in Israel; what they are demanding, however, appear to be full-fledged residency rights. If Israel is derelict in withholding them, it is within its rights and belongs to a larger club that’s facing a larger influx.

    • just
      March 17, 2014, 8:14 pm

      So explain why Israel has exiled the indigenous people of Palestine. When is Israel going to allow repatriation of these indigenous people? Can you also explain why Israel begs/bribes Jewish people from all over the world (who are not at any risk for ‘exile’) to come and settle on indigenous peoples’ land? Lastly, why has Israel no concern for people fleeing from horrible situations, and how is keeping them in detention “life-“saving asylum”, and sending them to Uganda in exchange for $ and weaponry not human trafficking?

      thanks in advance.

      • rightcoaster
        March 18, 2014, 9:26 pm

        Just: The indigenous people of Palestine who left (or were forced to leave) were the losers in a war, indeed in a few wars. The war is not yet over. The Jordanians exiled the Jews who lived on the West Bank. There are lots of exiles around the world, more every day. They should get on with their lives where they can.

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