'Who Knows if Abraham Wasn’t Black': Israeli Artists Slam Asylum Seeker Deportations in New Song

Israeli artist Ehud Banai re-recorded his 1987 song “Dirty Work” in a new version to protest Israel's plan to deport African asylum seekers

A screengrab of the song "Dirty Work" released by Ehud Banai and other Israeli artists.
Youtube/Ehud Banai

Israeli artist Ehud Banai’s 1987 song “Dirty Work” (“Avoda Shehora,” literally “Black Work”), has been rerecorded in a new version to protest Israel's plan to deport African asylum seekers. Along with Banai, the song's performers include Berry Sakharof, Karolina, Kiflom Yikalo, Awat Gidai, Yuval Banai, Dana Adini, Natchi Natch and Rona Kenan. On Tuesday, the accompanying video was released, directed by Yonatan Gurfinkel. Karolina added text to the original song, which was translated into Tigrinya, an Eritrean language.

Ehud Banai's song "Black Labor," with accompanying artists and asylum seekers themselves, in protest

The first stanza of the song says, “Our dark-skinned brothers who came from Ethiopia brought with them a wonderful and ancient tradition. The lost sons, after the hardships of the road, slowly discover the faraway land they dreamed of for years, and now it’s the reality when they tell them to immerse, to wash away their innocence. And I saw a light in their eyes, and who knows if [the patriarch] Abraham wasn’t black?”