Neil Lazarus
An internationally acclaimed expert in the fields of Middle East politics, public diplomacy and effective communication training.

I’m not worried about racism; I’m white and Ashkenazi

Rather than dismiss the growing bigotry in our society as the voice of the minority, the time has come for greater self-reflection

Why worry about racism in Israel when it doesn’t effect me? Surely, as a public relations expert I can explain it with a sound bite and a smile. Anyway, I’m white and Ashkenazi.

Why worry about the mob of Beitar Jerusalem supporters in the Malcha Mall that nearly lynched arab workers and shouted racist chants? I’m not an arab, and I shop in Talpiot.

Why worry about racist slogans at football games becoming so regular that they are not even noticed? After all, I prefer cricket!

Why worry about racism against Ethiopian Jews — it’s really only a minority, right?

Why worry about riots against immigrants in Israel when most immigrants are illegal?

Why worry when MKs Miri Regev (Likud), Danny Danon (Likud) and Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) incite racism and violence or that in her speech to protesters in South Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, Regev made comments like “the Sudanese are a cancer in our body?” After all, they are right wingers of the lunatic fringe.

Sometimes political spin makes me dizzy. I am worried, very worried. Racism is the true cancer in any society — not immigrants from Sudan. The cancer of racism has begun to spread. Rather than dismiss the growing bigotry in our society as the voice of the minority, the time has come for greater self-reflection.

In 1994, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin denounced another hate crime — the massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs by Baruch Goldstein.

Rabin addressed not just Goldstein and his “legacy” but also the issue of racism as a whole. His speech to those who hate is as relevant today as it was nearly 20 years ago:

You are not part of the community of Israel… You are not part of the national democratic camp which we all belong to in this house, and many of the people despise you. You are not partners in the Zionist enterprise. You are a foreign implant. You are an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out. You placed yourself outside the wall of Jewish law… We say to this horrible man and those like him: you are a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism.”

About the Author
Neil Lazarus is an internationally acclaimed expert in the field of Middle East Politics, Israel Public Diplomacy and Effective Communication Training. He is the the director of He is emerging as one of Israel's leading key note speakers. He regularly podcasts.