Photo: AFP
Donald Sterling. 'The Jewish people produces people like you, and there are many of you'
Photo: AFP
Photo: Atta Awisat
Danny Adeno Abebe
Photo: Atta Awisat

What about Israel's Donald Sterlings?

Op-ed: Former Clippers owner's punishment is impossible in Israel. We are still very far off from enlightened countries which see racists as criminals.

I'm sitting at the Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem. It's Holocaust Remembrance Day and the wreath laying ceremony is about to begin. I browse through Yedioth Ahronoth, and a sensational report catches my eye on page 16 – harsh Nazi-like comments made by a Jewish man towards the black man. That includes me too. I'm not just black, I'm also Jewish.



The man's name is Donald Sterling, the Jewish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers until Tuesday, and even I – who have already seen and heard everything – find it difficult to digest the words coming out of his mouth. His remarks should echo in the ears of every Israeli Jew on the very week we marked Holocaust Remembrance Day. We cannot ignore dreadful statements and keep silent.


This is what Sterling said when his Mexican, half black girlfriend tried to understand what was wrong with her black friends: "There's a culture. It's like talking to an enemy. It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people."


Wow, dear Mr. Sterling. I, who carry both genes, the Jewish gene and the black gene, prefer to live with the black gene if the Jewish gene is shared by people like you. You are not just ignorant, but you live on old stereotypes you find difficult to let go of.


The tragedy is that you're not alone. There are many people like you, both in Israel and in America. The Jewish people, who have experienced racism throughout history, the highlight being the Holocaust in Germany of the 1930s, produces people like you, and there are many of you. That is a failure without a doubt.


If I was outraged by anything, it was the fact that you recruited me to your narrow-minded opinions: It's the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs… There's white Jews and black Jews. We don't evaluate what's right and wrong."


True, you're partially right. The attitude towards me as a black person in Israel is far from perfect. I am still treated like I'm out of place. The road to the long-awaited equality between black and white is still long in Israel too, but I am certainly not a dog. It seems you haven't visited Israel for many years, and that's a good thing.


But the problem is not you, definitely not you. My problem is with people like you, Jews like you, who see the black person as inferior. After all, you learned this somewhere. I supposed you heard it in your traditional Jewish home.


You are not just racist but also ungrateful. The players who made you a fortune are black and your words offended them. You thought you could buy anything with money, both insult black people and own a basketball team whose players are the black people you despise. It's over. The man who decides your fate for better or for worse is a black person – get used to it.


One thing's for sure: More than hurting black people like me, you have hurt your fellow Jews. Your comments will now serve as a propaganda tool for our biggest haters.


There is a God, and he's probably black

Some will ask: How is a Jew like you different from that German of the 1930s? On Tuesday you paid a price for your remarks. This is how a person who offends another person over the color of his skin, his gender or his religion should be treated. Racists must realize that their deeds carry a heavy price.


You won't believe how thrilled I am by this punishment. There is a God, and he's probably black. Up to a few years ago, this expression would have received a weak response. Now, in 2014, when the president is black and color no longer plays a part, racists like you get what they deserve.


A punishment like the one Sterling received is impossible in Israel. We are still very far off from enlightened countries which see racists as criminals. Israel sanctifies racists, lays a red carpet at their feet and forgives their dreadful statements very fast.


The best example is the perverse, racist comments of former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Pini Gershon, who made a distinction between "mocha" and "deep black" basketball players. That didn't stop prime ministers and presidents from embracing him later on.


On the day official Israel or private and public bodies take a firm hand against those who discriminate against people over the color of their skin or gender and offend them, we will be like the entire enlightened world. We are not there yet. We have even found a "clean" world for an act of violence – "price tag" – because we find it difficult to label this action as a Nazi act for all intents and purposes. Here it sounds more pleasant.


Sterling, your comments taught us that the Germans were not the only ones who were Nazis. And one last request: If you come visit us, and I hope you'll never come, I would be glad to see you not as a dog. There has yet to be a person who treated me as a dog. Not even people like you who take pride in their fortune.


פרסום ראשון: 05.01.14, 23:07
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