How do you say “Jim Crow” in Hebrew?

Sometimes, truth can be clarified through metaphor.

In 1963, four young black man were assaulted by a mob of white men in St. Augustine, Florida. They were brutally beaten, and sent to the hospital with “abrasions, concussions and broken teeth.” The event was reported by US law enforcement agencies as “a fight between Negroes and [Ku Klux] Klansmen.”

In 2012, three young Palestinian men were assaulted by a mob of Israeli Jewish men in the middle of downtown Jerusalem. They were beaten, one of them until he lost consciousness, twitching on the ground. Israel’s leading Newspaper, Maariv, reported on the event as follows:

“צעיר ערבי נפצע קשה בקטטה עם יהודים בי-ם”

“An Arab youth was badly hurt in a fight with Jews in Jerusalem.” 

Sometimes, truth can be clarified through metaphor.

Jews took pride in their active role in the Civil Rights movement, and in their opposition to the culturally accepted -and even praised- violence that plagued the United States. On average, Jews had been demonized, marginalized and oppressed enough to understand that those black kids were not hurt “in a fight.” That the KKK members were not “bad eggs” but rather good citizens who “might have taken it a bit too far.” That the government would make no serious effort to punish the KKK for their actions. That the only way things would change was if citizens, among them members of the privileged and not-directly-affected class, forced change.

When does a human face cease to look human? When do screams cease to sound like screams? When does blood cease to seem like blood?

It is by sheer luck that this boy was not killed. After he had lost consciousness, the Jewish youth continued to kick him in the head, chanting “Death to Arabs. Death to Arabs.” They did not mean it metaphorically.

When will we acknowledge that racism is racism, oppression is oppression, and a lynch is never a “fight?” 

When will we recognize that Jim Crow has Hebraicized his name?

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