Why didn’t the New York Times publish the exposé they commissioned of virulent racism against Africans in Israel?

We’ve written plenty on this blog about the worsening levels of violent racism against Africans in Israel. This time last year Olufemi Terry reflected on a comment by the Israeli immigration minister: “This country belongs to us, to the white man.” Last summer Miri Regev, an MP, told a rally “the Sudanese are like a cancer in our body.”

David Sheen and Max Blumenthal’s reporting has been vital in bringing the appalling situation to international attention, which is why it was great news when the New York Times commissioned a film from the pair on this topic for their well-known “Op-Doc” series. The film was made and then canned. For some reason, the New York Times wouldn’t publish it (it eventually wound up on The Nation).

Yesterday on Twitter we asked the curator of the “Op-Doc” series, Jason Spingarn-Koff, for an explanation. If he or Kathleen Lingo, the editor who solicited the video for NYT, ever gets back to us, we’ll publish their response below. When a commissioned piece gets “killed” it’s customary  for contributors to receive an explanation for this, but Max Blumenthal told us Spingarn-Koff refused to explain why he wouldn’t be carrying the exposé.

The film can still be seen, but of course it would have got far more viewers had it been carried on the NYT and the appalling treatment of Africans in Israel would have been far harder for the extreme right-wing Israeli government to brush off. (Incidentally, some of the most shocking scenes in Blumenthal and Sheen’s film had already appeared on AIAC in Talya Swissa’s post on Netanyahu’s re-election and the racist demonstrations that took place in Tel Aviv in December.) The NYT has a decidedly mixed record of reporting on this issue. In a 2011 article, their reporter Ethan Bronner twice used the term “infiltrators” in his own prose, without quotation marks — it’s now the official term used in Israel for African migrants.

Here’s Blumenthal’s explanation of what went down (via ElectronicIntifada):

I was asked to submit something by The New York Times op docs, a new section on the website that published short video documentaries. I am known for short video documentaries about the right wing in the US, and extremism in Israel. They solicited a video from me, and when I didn’t produce it in time, they called me for it, saying they wanted it. So I sent them a video I produced with my colleague, David Sheen, an Israeli journalist who is covering the situation of non-Jewish Africans in Israel more extensively than any journalist in the world.

We put together some shocking footage of pogroms against African communities in Tel Aviv, and interviews with human rights activists. I thought it was a well-done documentary about a situation very few Americans were familiar with. We included analysis. We tailored it to their style, and of course it was rejected without an explanation after being solicited. I sent it to some other major websites and they have not even responded to me, when they had often solicited articles from me in the past.

Here is the video:



Elliot Ross

Elliot Ross is senior editor at Africa is a Country. He tweets at @africasacountry and @futbolsacountry

  1. The extreme right in Israel, but also the Israeli Labour Party, were Apartheid South Africas best friends. Ariel Sharon reportedly visited the South African Wehrmacht during their aggression against the Frontline states in the 1980s to share military advice and insight which he gained during the murderous aggression against Lebanon. The Israeli government delivered the fascist Boers everything: from the infamous R4 rifle which killed many protesters in the townships up to the technology to build nuclear bombs. I can recommend Sasha Polakow-Suranskys book! It’s sad, especially if one knows that the fascists Boers were strictly antisemitic (they also killed, harmed and imprisoned a number of Jewish South African freedom activists like Ruth First, Albie Sachs, Denis Goldberg). Now we can witness exactly the same fascist and reactionary tendencies in some parts of the Israeli society.

    1. America supports Zionism and the racist state of Israel. Zionists control the US senate and bankroll elections. People are quick to rant about the historical colonisation of Africa ago but an entire region was colonised by Europeans less than a hundred years ago. You only have to scratch the surface gently to see that MOSSAD and the Zionists are behind the Arab Spring, particularly the engineered violence in Egypt, Libya and Syria. They have the full backing of the US. pen your eyes people. This is the most racist place on earth!

  2. Racism is still at its peak, or even worse. Blacks are too ignorant or scared to notice and act on it.

  3. WHAT!!! Israel??? En all I hear is pray for Israel because they are a blessed nation and this is what we Africans get in return?are people really still that backward, haven’t they heard about how their ancestors were also slaves en ill treated by pharoh? Why should they do that to us? Haven’t they heard about how Hitler killed en mistreated their fore father’s? Africa is now an easy target to them? God’s love is.. really unexplainable… We shall continue praying for you Israel, the prophesies were right..but God has a reason for everytin

    1. No don’t pray for Israel you stupid. How stupid can African people get? I am from Africa too and I am disgusted by your comment. What every African should do is banish those fake countries created by colonization in Africa (called congo, cameroun ,Nigeria etc,..) and unite as one country ASASP. Only then could black people get respect. Not praying over stupidity and packing your bag and going elsewhere and be treated like garbage every time guns starts to ring. Why do you want to pray for stupid people like that?

  4. The land of Israel belongs to Jacob, not Esau Edom neither African hamites *Joel 3:20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. (Obadiah 1:10)

  5. By the way Africa is a continent, divided up into countries. America is a continent also divided up by colonies, to become the United States. There are seven continents in the world.

  6. There is no such thing as African slaves who were brought on slave ships? All slave documents are stated as they were the Negroes in captivity to be bought and sold. (Deuteronomy 28:32) They are the Israelites, who followed other gods (Deuteronomy 28:68) The God of Abraham (Hamites) the God of Isaac (Ishmaelites) and the God of Jacob (Israelites) These are the dark races, but who are the most high God chosen? He chose Jacob his people? (Psalm 59:13) *Hosea 4:6*

  7. The Israelites (James 1:1) are scattered into the four corners of world for now. (Ezekiel 20:33-42) Christ came out of Jacob, Jacob son Judah his tribe is the so called Negroes. The God of Israel is our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. The Holy Bible is our historical good book, the book of life. *Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. *Revelation 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. *Mark 12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: *Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;

  8. If I may throw the cat amongst the pigeons. It appears that the Jewish nation is simply expected to forget 5000 years of slavery, oppression and genocide. After Hitler’s “final solution” what would any of you have done? Just simply forgive and forget as they have done for 5000 years? After the war they had no option but to re-establish Israel as their safe-haven so as to preserve themselves, their culture and their beliefs as no-one could guarentee them that the “final solution” would never be attempted again. What would you have done? Still today, there are fanatical insane religious freaks that espouse Israel’s (Jewish) total annihilation. What would you do in this situation? They have felt the brunt of racism directed at them for 5000 years, did you expect them not to become racist? Did you expect them not to become self-preserving? It amazes me that the Muslims are allowed to be exclusive and racist and have their Islam countries but the Jewish peoples are denied a Jewish state. Racism is rife in the world and growing, not declining, and simply because different peoples are entering into self-preservation mode. Black on white in Africa, white on black in Europe. Just look at the zenophobia in Africa, is that not racism in a different form and name? Is it not common decency to knock on a persons door and be invited in rather than just entering and plonking yourself on a couch? We all teach our children that we must face our problems as one cannot run away from them yet we accept that in the political arena running away is the right thing to do. Should people not stay home and sort their own problems out rather than taking those problems somewhere else and thereby creating a problem for someone else? I’m an aetheist and I watch this global inter-religious self-preservation war raging on with incredulity. The question I always ask myself is; why would anyone want to go and live in any place that they are not wanted or welcome? Just look at the above comments, they start out racist with Ytzhak using the words Wehrmacht and Boers. What was he trying to achieve other than trying to upset and irritate someone? Exposing racism is a really noble action but it would be better if you exposed ALL racism that is happening around the world. It appears your bloggers only concentrate on Israel, how about an article on Australia’s latest refugee policy, or the Islam countries’ refusal to recognise any other religion or culture, or the racism that is rife in Europe, USA and the South American countries where the indigenous peoples are oppressed, or Botswana where the same is happening, or South Africa where there is still a myriad of racist laws disguised as societal corrective measures. All of the above needs to be exposed. Oppression of any kind and in any form is unacceptable! Food for thought?

    1. Your arugument is bullshit. How can you say that the only option for the Jewish people after WW2 was to colonise another country? Jews were not the only people persucuted during WW2, nor were they the largest group that were killed. If you use that rational you should then give gypsies, gays, black people, Ukrainians etc their own country. What about the Belgian genocide? Over 10 million killed by King Leopold. Why don’t we annex Australia and give the Congolese another country? The argument that Jews deserve a country as if it is some inherent right is arrogant and stupid. There is no country that exists exclusively for one religion or race. Jews could have continued living where they wanted after WW2 without having to colonise another country and subjugate their people through apartheid practices.

      1. Oh dear, profanity, why do people have to use profanity? Firstly, we can debate whether the Jews colonised another country or merely reclaimed their ancient lands. How does one colonise a colonised country? The British? Remember? Secondly, who were the largest group of people killed by the Nazi’s? Thirdly, gypsies, gays and who? Black people? Do you mean various African nations? Are you one of those pathetic racists that call African nations tribes? Gypsies and gays are not nations per se and perhaps the reason for all the civil wars in post-colonial Africa was because different nations were forced to integrate into one country demarcated by the colonialists. The Swazi, Sesotho and Tswana nations never had a civil war perhaps because it was one nation in it’s own country. Ukrainians have eventually got their own country back! Fourthly, Belgian Congo, the genocide was terrible and unacceptable but the different nations are still fighting in that country, why? Fifthly, please explain why you would want to annex Australia and who the “we” are. Sixthly, Congolese? Are you talking about the various nations that live in that colonial demarcated country or do you just see them as black tribes? If so, then yes, give each nation there it’s own country, like it was before the colonialists arrived. Seventhly, you may think I’m arrogant and stupid but I must say that the feeling is mutual and then some. Eighthly, I agree with you, their shouldn’t be any country that exists solely for one religion or race but each NATION has a right to it’s own country and whether they assimmilate others into their country is their choice. Further to this, please explain the exclusive Islamic countries. Lastly, once the USSR came into being there was very little the Jews could do but get out fast and the only place they had to go was Israel, their country 5000 years ago before they were enslaved and persecuted by the Arabian peoples. You seem to forget that the Christian believing nations also had it in for the Jews, especially the Catholics. The Jews, I prefer to use the term Israelites, even had to kick the colonial British out of Israel! Further to this discussion, I would like to ask why you did not answer the questions I posed and would like to refer you to the definition of “devils advocate”.

    2. You would pretty much make sense expect for one very important thing. Westerners have been stealing the wealth of Africa to develop their countries for centuries. First through colonization then through proxy wars manipulated from western countries to steal the diamond from Liberia , the coltan that power every cell phone including your own come from Congo etc,… So if western imperialism can take up the liberty to steal African resources uninvited then Africans people too have the moral right to show up in their countries uninvited to take jobs and welfare. The day western powers will stop stealing the wealth of Africa in the form of diamond, gold , tungsten ,coltan, uranium etc,,that day we African people will stay home and sort our mess to develop a real nation. You got that?

      1. Israel had/has colonies, wow, one learns something new everyday!
        Africa should stop the west from taking it’s riches, that is not an excuse anymore, speak to Julius, it’s called nationalisation.
        The whole of Africa as one nation? Now that is the day that hell will freeze over, the second coming will happen and politicians will become honest.

  9. The powers that be are waking up the twelve tribes of Israel, who were bought & sold to become slaves into the America’s, the caribbean islands and were scattered abroad. These African Hamites and those Ishmaelites Islamic Muslims they provided the manpower for Jacob’s twin brother Esau / Edomites to enslave the children of Jacob (Revelation 13:10) The Israelites home land is Jerusalem, & all the other nations had a hand in our captivity (Jeremiah 51:50) Those fraudalent Jewish folks are the synagogue of satan, who called themselves Jews but do lie (Revelation 2:9 and 3:9) Knowing that God is he, who do you think is him? (Isaiah 43:7-8) The most high God I am that I am: (Revelation 1:18) By the way the word racism was invented by the Germans.

  10. It’s relevant that today, in South Africa, although Jews are 0.2% of the population, they are 26 of that nation’s 100 wealthiest people.

    1. And your point is? Are you perhaps intimating that they obtained this wealth through immoral means? Jews have made a success of their lives wherever they have settled through good old fashioned hard work and dedication and this has resulted in an amazing amount of jealousy and envy towards them. Perhaps you should comment on the reason that the Jews are so widespread, 5000 years of oppression and attrition will do that and will make one determined to succeed.
      By the way, I have 0% Jewish blood in me.

  11. Isn’t it amazing, I’ve asked numerous questions and none have been answered. Obviously now you all have some food for thought, especially the racists above. Vat so, jou sissie!

  12. Leech? I think not, well not those hard working Jews I know, anyway. The opposite would be more true, countries where the Jews are leech off their industriousness, diligence and dedication to providing.They have probably created more employment opportunities than the state itself.
    Somehow in all this hatred I feel, everyone seems to have lost site of the Jews that helped free South Africa, and there were many.

  13. Dabbles you are the worst kind of animal that can possibly exist. You strike me as one who commits foul but cries foul when fouled! You and your kind are the reason that racism and intolerance is on the up throughout the world, you hate racists but are one of the worst kind. You are a hypocritical bigot and an inconsequential non-entity. Please do not procreate as we need to rids the gene pool of genes of your inferior quality. Must say, I would like to meet you face to face, but I doubt that that would ever happen as people like you usually turn out to be yellow-bellied cowards.

  14. I am Jewish. BUT the behaviour that these Israeli people exhibit is exactly how Germany and Hitler acted. It astounds me that they can justify it in any small way. Listen to what they are saying, it’s almost a clone to the time of Hitler.
    “The black-haired Jewish youth lies in wait for hours on end, satanically glaring at and spying on the unsuspicious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood and removing her from the bosom of her own people. The Jew uses every possible means to undermine the racial foundations of a subjugated people.” (Book 1 Chap 11)
    -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

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