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Video: Young Cosmopolitan Israelis Share Their Shocking Racist Views

Resentment of Arabs, minorities and designated foreign enemies ranging from Iranians to Barack Obama is now mainstream in Israeli society.
 
 
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On May 27, journalist Jesse Rosenfeld and I set out on the streets of Tel Aviv to probe the political opinions of young local residents. We started the day filming at Tel Aviv University, where a group of Jewish and Palestinian Israeli students gathered to protest a proposed law that would criminalize public observance of the Nakba, or the mass expulsion and killing of Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1948. There, we interviewed Palestinian Israeli students about the rising climate of repression, then spoke to another group of students who gathered nearby to heckle their Arab classmates and demand their deportation. A few hundred meters away, two genial business students expressed support for the so-called Nakba law, remarking to us, "If you want to keep democracy, you can't let people protest against the independence of the country."

That evening, Jesse and I took our camera to central Tel Aviv, where thousands were taking part in the annual all-night festival known as White Night. Some revelers took an intermission from the partying to express to us their hatred for the Iranian people. And a group of teenagers launched into a virtually unprompted diatribe against Barack Obama, referring to him as a Nazi, a Muslim, and a "Cushi," which is Hebrew slang for "nigger." When questioned about the source of his opinions, one teenager proudly declared himself a "gezan," or a racist.

See "Feeling The Hate In Tel Aviv":



This video, entitled "Feeling the Hate in Tel Aviv," is the sequel to a piece the Israeli blogger Joseph Dana and I released in June called "Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem." That video, which featured a cast of mostly American Jews in Jerusalem leveling racist vitriol at Obama, stirred immediate controversy, prompting some blogs to remove it on the grounds that it was not "newsworthy." As the "not newsworthy" video began climbing towards 400,000 hits on YouTube, and before YouTube and Vimeo banned it without explanation and without offering me any legal recourse, the Israeli media weighed in.

The video YouTube and Vimeo banned:


Benjamin Hartman, a young correspondent for Ha'aretz who had moved to Israel from his hometown of Austin, Texas, wrote that my video was "circling the internet at a critical velocity on a mission to humiliate the Jewish people." Hartmann concluded that I was "speaking to the wrong crowd at the wrong time of night," a meme that would comprise the key talking point for bloggers and organized Jewish groups (including the Israeli chapter of Democrats Abroad) seeking to discredit and ultimately suppress the video.

Hartmann then offered me advice on where to find the right crowd, and at which time of night they might be on their best behavior. "I hope Blumenthal films his next segment in Tel Aviv, though the results would probably be far less salacious," Hartman wrote. "On a balcony in Florentin, he would ask the drum circle what they think of Obama and through the purple haze would hear only praise for the president, before being forced to listen to a 30-minute account of a recent trip to Nepal."

Unbeknownst to Hartman, who only attempted to interview me days after publishing his review, and then published a piece questioning whether I had been "fueling anti-Semitism," I had already filmed my next segment in Tel Aviv. (And I had already spent an evening, sans camera, with an Israeli hippy on a balcony in Florentin, though he told me through the purple haze that the Palestinian people do not exist and should be immediately transferred to Jordan). Now that I have released my footage from Tel Aviv, I wonder what Hartman and other, even more insecure critics of my first "Feeling the Hate" video will do to ensure that the sequel does not "humiliate the Jewish people." Will they rely on the same old hasbara?

 
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