A photographer has sparked heated debate over racism in Israel after posting photos of two black men allegedly being humiliated for selfies.
In a Facebook post Jonathan Small, an American photographer living in Tel Aviv, described how he witnessed a man grabbing a black beachgoer's hair while taking a photo.
The black men were trying to clean themselves with beach showers when, Small claims, "a group of large men" started harassing them.
"They shoved them, pulled their hair, and made them take humiliating selfies," his Facebook post reads. "A few passersby stopped and looked somewhat disturbed but there was no real public outcry as the abuse continued. I will admit, I was not as brave as I would have liked to have been. Homeless or housed, black or white, born in Israel or abroad, no one deserves this humiliating treatment."
“It was like he was saying to this person, ‘You’re inferior to me, entertain me,’” Small told FRANCE24 Observers.
The photographer explained while he couldn't hear their conversation, he felt "something wasn't right."
The man in the red T-shirt suddenly grabbed a fistful of hair of one of the black men and took a selfie. The entire situation, Small stated, was "friendly and violent at the same time" and no one, including the photographer, intervened.
Small added although the two black men looked intimidated, they smiled, even laughed while posing for the photos.
The Facebook post has been shared over 5,500 times as of May 07, on the social media website.
It's not clear if the two black men in the photos, were migrants or if the person taking the selfie was an Israeli citizen or a tourist. Small clarified to France 24 he didn't know the identities of the men.
"What I saw could have happened anywhere and I’ve no idea if the white man in the red T-shirt is Israeli, Jewish or even a tourist," he said. "And it doesn’t matter, anyway: My goal was to show a situation that isn’t normal, wherever it is, and to say to those who witness something similar to do something so that we stop seeing this sort of thing."
Yet, the alleged incident, which occurred in late April, has prompted criticism over Israel's treatment of African migrants.
For nearly six years, from 2006-2012, thousands of asylum seekers from mostly war-torn African countries, mainly Eritrea and Sudan, arrived to Israel. The large influx was soon perceived as a threat to the Jewish state's identity and the government started mulling measures to resolve the problem.
Last year, the Israeli government gave two choices to the migrants: go back home, accept deportation to a third country or go to jail. The anti-refugee stance prompted widespread criticism, especially considering the fact that Israel came into being to house refugees. On April 26, however, Israel abandoned the mass expulsion program "after failing to find a willing country to take in the migrants."
For now, migrants can live in Israel and renew their residency permits every 60 days.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters