The media myth of ‘racist’ Israel

Does racism against Blacks exist in Israel?

That depends who you ask.

Ten years ago, Yityish “Titi” Aynaw was walking around barefoot in Ethiopia. She then made aliyah and today, the 21-year-old has served as an IDF officer, and was recently crowned Miss Israel.

This week, Titi will be having dinner alongside Barack Obama, sharing their common African heritage, and their common rise to success.

Yet the mainstream media would have you believe that Israel is a racist society that discriminates on the basis of skin color. Consider:

During the first months of his presidency, Obama enjoyed a 60 percent favorable rating among Israelis. Then, after harshly criticizing Israeli construction in Jerusalem, Obama’s popularity in Israel plummeted. The reason? According to Ethan Bronner of the New York Times, it had nothing to do with politics. Appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball (March 8, 2010), Bronner explained that Obama’s low popularity among Israelis was due to “racism.”

For viewers who may have missed it, host Chris Matthews helpfully added: “Because they see it as a Black man.”

What a horrific distortion of the truth. Obviously, Obama was just as “Black” during his period of huge popularity in Israel; the drop in support was purely a political, not racial, issue.

This “Israel is racist” fantasy was echoed by New York Times’ columnist Roger Cohen (March 15, 2010), who wrote that an Israeli cartoon which depicted “Obama cooking Netanyahu in a pot” was not a symbol of an Israeli politician in hot water, but rather the image of “a black man cooking a white man over an open fire.”

Genuine policy differences may exist, but why does the media interject racist hatred where none exists?

Granted, Ethiopian-Israelis experience some challenges in the form of social inequities, stereotypes, and integrating into Israeli society. But racism? Would “racist Israel” have airlifted tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews – marking the only time in history that blacks have been systematically moved from one country to another in freedom rather than in chains?

This week, when the first black Miss Israel dines with the first black U.S. President, the “let’s bash Israel” media will have a bit harder time concocting the imagery of Israelis as “racist.” But that won’t necessarily stop them from trying.

About the Author
Shraga Simmons is a foremost expert on media bias relating to the Mideast conflict. He holds a degree in journalism from the University of Texas and served as the founding editor of His frontline experiences are chronicled in the acclaimed book, “David & Goliath: The Explosive Inside Story of Media Bias in the Mideast Conflict” (2012).