Avi Mayer
Assistant Executive Director, American Jewish Committee (AJC)
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A dynamic duo of duplicity hits Jerusalem

How a hate site video of the often troubling Jerusalem Day march falsified participants' statements and song

I don’t participate in the annual Jerusalem Day march through the Old City. It’s not an event I feel comfortable attending.

David Sheen, whose tweets about Jews and Judaism frequently resemble those of neo-Nazis and who once produced a video in which Judaism is said to “hate humans,” and Dan Cohen, who engaged in pro-Hamas propaganda from Gaza while in the territory with the terrorist group’s approval, did participate in this year’s Jerusalem Day march – in order to defame its participants.

Together, they’ve produced a video for the hate site Mondoweiss entitled “Worship God by Nakba,” the supposed translation of a Hebrew chant shouted by teens during the march. Sheen and Cohen write that the chant calls for “the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”

Unfortunately for Sheen and Cohen, however, some of their less credulous viewers understand Hebrew.

Screenshot from David Sheen and Dan Cohen's video, "Worship God by Nakba"
Screenshot from David Sheen and Dan Cohen’s video, “Worship God by Nakba”

The teens in the video (10:15) are actually shouting “Worship God with rabak,” (עבדו את השם בראבק) a slang word that roughly means “great enthusiasm.” It is a take on Psalm 100:2, “Worship God with joy; come before Him with exultation,” which the teens are seen singing immediately afterward.

Sheen and Cohen portray this as a “call for ethnic cleansing.” That is, of course, a lie. (The pronunciation of בראבק. ba-rabak, leaves little question as to what they’re saying. בנכבה, be-Nakba, would both sound different and make no sense grammatically.)

In fact, the video is riddled with made-up translations.

At 0:52, for instance, Sheen and Cohen’s captions have a speaker saying he opposes “any autonomy or any rights for Arabs in the land of Israel.” This is a fabrication. He says he opposes “any sort of autonomy for Arabs in the land” (אני בכלל נגד שום אוטונומיה כלשהי לערבים בארץ). He does not say anything about opposing Arab rights.

David Sheen
David Sheen

At 1:32, Sheen and Cohen have a speaker opposed to the march saying he might support it “if they explained themselves more, with hasbara.” This, too, is a fabrication. He says he might support it “if it took place more with dialogue, more with kindness” (אם זה היה יותר בהידברות, יותר בהסברת פנים). Rather than suggesting he’d support the march if the participants engaged in ‘hasbara’ to explain their motives, he’s actually saying the overall tenor of the event is wrong, and that he’d only support it if participants engaged in peaceful dialogue.

I tend to agree. The march sends a message with which I am uncomfortable, and some participants have indeed chanted troubling slogans in the past. I’m much happier to attend events centered on partnership and respectful dialogue among all my city’s residents, both Jewish and Arab.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

But the fact that Sheen and Cohen had to fabricate quotes by participants and then went so far as to use one such falsehood as the title of their video, would seem to suggest that they were disappointed by what they actually experienced at the march. Perhaps it wasn’t as extreme as they’d hoped it would be, so they concocted false quotes to make it look worse (indeed, according to multiple reports, the march was tamer this year than in years past). It also suggests that they assume their viewers are either so naive as to blindly accept their falsified captions as true or so full of hate that they wouldn’t care if they know the translations were false. Most of all, though, it should cause us to doubt the veracity of everything Sheen and Cohen produce, individually or as a dynamic duo of duplicity.

About the Author
Avi Mayer is the Assistant Executive Director and Managing Director of Global Communications at the American Jewish Committee (AJC). He lives in Jerusalem.
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