Photos of two migrants being publicly harassed and humiliated by white tourists have sparked outrage since they began circulating online late last month.
According to FRANCE24 Observers, the incident unfolded in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 24, the snapshots from which were shared on social media just two days later. One photo shows a barechested Black man being manhandled by a white man who happily grins as he grabs a fistful of the Black man’s hair.
Still cheesing, the white man takes a selfie of them both while the Black man grimaces in pain.
Photographer Jonathan Small, who took photos of the disturbing encounter, described the incident as an act of “deliberate humiliation and psychological violence” against the Black migrants.
“It was like he was saying to this person, ‘You’re inferior to me, entertain me,’ ” Small told FRANCE24 Observers.
In a Facebook post, Small recalled the moment he stumbled upon the shocking scene. It was during his nightly walk on the beach with a friend that he noticed two men using the beach showers to wash themselves. That’s when he said a group of large men went over and started harassing the men in the showers.
On my nightly walk with Franklin, I passed two men using the beach showers to clean themselves. They were minding their…
“…They shoved them, pulled their hair, and made them take humiliating selfies,” Small wrote. “A few passersby stopped and looked somewhat disturbed but there was no real public outcry as the abuse continued.”
“If homeless or housed, Black or white, born in Israel or abroad — no one deserves this humiliating treatment,” he added before kicking himself for not mustering the courage to step in and help the men. “Enough of this shit.”
Small detailed more of the incident in an interview with FRANCE24, saying he felt the need to pull out his camera and document the incident because “just by looking at how the black men were behaving … I knew that something was not right.” He described the white man’s demeanor as friendly and violent at the same time, noting that the migrants even cracked a smile at some points.
“There were other witnesses,” he said. “The whole thing only lasted a few minutes. No one, including me, did anything, other than take photos. I did not even go to speak to the Black men, because they didn’t seem entirely sound.”
The photos sparked outrage after Small shared them online. Much of the anger comes amid Israeli government efforts to deport thousands of African migrants who fled their homes in search of asylum.
Regardless of the context of these pictures, no human being should be treated in such a humiliating and degrading manner. I can’t help but to see here a white man seeking to dominate and be entertained by a black man. This is WRONG! https://t.co/jEDzxL3Gm3
— Hajer Naili (@H_NAILI) May 2, 2018
Two black migrants vilified on the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel.
— Edward Obi-Akpere 🇳🇬 (@Obiakpere) May 3, 2018
DON’T VACATION, VISIT ISRAEL
Are black/white people safe in #Israel?
This is the #True face of the illegal bastard state #ApartheidIsrael. They want to pick who stays/leaves based on creed, ethnicity & colour, NOT the #Law…https://t.co/U0GMR9exZN
— smspop (@smspop1) May 2, 2018
Amid the backlash, Small complained that his photos were being used to paint a false story of what actually happened. He said a lot of people have conflated what took place on the beach that day with the fact that the white men were likely Jewish.
“There are even photomontages where they’ve put my photos alongside pictures of concentration camps,” he told the news site.
“What I saw could’ve happened anywhere and I’ve no idea if the white man in the red T-shirt is Israeli, Jewish or even a tourist,” Small added. “…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.