PRESS STATEMENT

22 March 2018

The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation, BDS South Africa, condemns the racism by Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef who during his recent weekly sermon compared African people to monkeys.

In footage aired by the Israeli media house, Ynet news, Yosef (who is one of two Israeli state-elected rabbis) can be seen referring to black people by the word “kushi,” which in modern Hebrew has derogatory connotations, and comparing Africans to “monkeys.” Click here.

This is not the first time that Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yosef has used his position to justify and legitimize discrimination. In a sermon delivered in May 2017, he suggested that secular woman behave like animals because of the way they dress. In March 2016 Yosef declared that non-Jews should not live in Israel.

The Israeli Rabbi’s views are vile but, sadly, also a reflection of Israel’s ongoing and wide-spread racism against Africans as well as the indigenous Palestinian people.

————— * —————

Israeli racism against African people is on the rise and is a view not only of the broader Israeli public, but also of the Israeli government and its officials. Currently Israel is expelling thousands of Africans, giving them an ultimatum: leave by 1 April 2018 or risk indefinite imprisonment. Israel has also offered one hundred thousand rands in bonuses to civilians who aide in hunting and forcibly deporting African asylum seekers. Click here.

Israel has portrayed non-Jewish Africans as a threat to Israel’s Jewish character calling them “infiltrators” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly calling for their expulsion and saying that Africans “threaten the social fabric of society.” Israel’s Minister of Interior, Eli Yishai, has said that African immigrants “think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.” The Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, has compared Africans to “a cancer”. In 2013 Israel admitted to have forcibly sterilised African women without their consent. Click here.

Israeli racism against africans was the focus of this year’s #IsraeliApartheidWeek campaign. Although #IsraeliApartheidWeek activities took place primarily between the 12th and 18th of March there are still certain events taking place in various cities and towns. Click here for the ongoing #IsraeliApartheidWeek schedule: