Israeli Builder’s Racist Ad Stirs Internet Storm

Construction company, which builds for the nationalist religious community, uploads video caricaturing Jews from Muslim lands. 'I feel like punching someone,' says prominent activist in response.

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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Screenshot from ad shows an uncomfortable ashkenazi man embraced by two colorfully dressed mizrahi men.
Screenshot from ad shows an uncomfortable Ashkenazi man embraced by two colorfully dressed Mizrahi men.Credit: Ad campaign
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

The Bemuna construction company, which specializes in projects for the national religious Jewish community in Israel, uploaded a video for a new project that stirred up an Internet storm due to its offensive content regarding Mizrahi Jews.

The ad opens depicting a light-skinned family singing Hanukkah songs as they light the candles. A knock on the door disrupts the family idyll. The neighbors, wearing colorful hats, walk in and take over the candle-lighting ceremony, while revealing the name of one of the families: Abergil.

Making the family look even more ridiculous, the Mizrahi neighbors fail to pronounce in proper Hebrew the word Hanukkiah, referring to the holiday candelabra, then roast marshmallows over the lit candles.

The ad voiceover states, “Do you also want to live in a house of your own? Do you want neighbors to your own liking? Come to the Karmei Gat project.”

Following a wave of criticism that flooded the Internet, the company pulled the ad. Still, social activists with quick fingers copied it. One of them, Ophir Toubul, a co-founder of the Café Gibraltar website, wrote on his Facebook page: “I can’t believe what I saw now. I can’t believe that I will raise children in this crappy place. I can’t believe it. I feel like punching someone. I feel like turning into the stereotype this lousy ad is trying to make of me. I’ve had it. It’s time to w-a-k-e u-p.”

Users of the “Mizrahim tweet” Facebook page also uploaded the ad and called it Israeli anti-Semitism circa 2015. Social activist Nili Aharon, who promotes social equality in poorer communities, wrote: “As a Bukharan and Mizrahi woman from the periphery, I am sickened and shocked by this video clip, which portrays members of my ethnicity as barbarians who have no culture or tradition. One of the richest and most glorious ethnic groups in Jewish culture is the Bukharan community, but I am sadly not surprised.”

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