Israeli “satire” show Latma TV represents Africans as dancing, banana-eating baboons



Ali Abunimah

Latma TV – a tax-exempt project of the US-based Center for Security Policy – has become notorious for its racist videos, including one which spread a libel that Muslim men were responsible for a “rape epidemic” in Norway.

The main character of the Latma TV cartoons is a baboon called “Professor Na’or Lobongelo” who is described as a “lecturer in political science at the University of Tel-Zanav, a small corner of light and intelligence in the jungle that surrounds us.”

He gives lectures to other dancing, screaming apes. In the episode above, he describes himself and his audience as “enlightened baboons” as he caricatures the position of Israeli liberals who oppose the deportation of non-Jewish children, born to migrants, many from Africa.

  • “Na’or” means “enlightened” – the professor is a caricature of the “left-wing” intellectual despised by the Israeli far-right.
  • “Tel-Zanav” – literally “Hill of Tails” is a play on Tel Aviv. It is a reference both to animals, and perhaps to being wagged.

An African character as an ape

While the “Lobongelo” character mocks Israeli leftists, he is also clearly an African as indicated by his name. This is a direct reference to a 1935 Hebrew-language children’s book by Nachum Gutman called “In the land of Lobongelo, King of the Zulus.”

Dena Shunra observes that, “The book is a colonial-style adventure which was hugely popular in Israel and was read by pretty much every child growing up in Israel from 1935 to at least the mid-seventies, as there were not very many children books available in Hebrew at the time. It’s a cultural trope that everyone who grew up Israeli will be familiar with.”

According to the Hebrew Wikipedia entry, Gutman, who was born in what is now Moldova and emigrated to Palestine as a child, traveled to South Africa in 1935 to draw the portrait of Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts. Smuts, the racist colonialist ruler of South Africa was an ardent admirer of Zionism. After the 1994 fall of South Africa’s apartheid regime, Smuts’ name was removed from Johannesburg airport, which was renamed for anti-apartheid leader Oliver Tambo. Yet many places in Israel – streets, parks and a kibbutz – still bear names in honor of Smuts.

Children’s books that denigrate people of other cultures have by no means only been a feature of Israel or Hebrew literature, but in many countries such literature has been repudiated as outdated and offensive. Latma seems perfectly content to carry on the tradition adapting it to new racist needs.

“In the jungle”: Fuelling hatred against Africans

The use of an “African” character by Latma is no mere coincidence. Recall that the “Lobongelo” cartoon speaks about Tel Aviv (“Tel Zanav”) being “a corner of light and intelligence in the jungle that surrounds us.”

This is a reference to Ehud Barak’s description of Israel as “a villa in the jungle” – surrounded by hostile savages.

But by likening Africans to baboons, it also recalls the claims by some Israeli members of parliament that Tel Aviv is turning into “an African city” due to the influx of migrants and refugees from Africa.

The Lobongelo cartoons are particularly disturbing amid increasingly racist Israeli laws targeting Africans and shocking hate rallies such as one recently caught on video.

Latma in blackface

The racist “Lobongelo” cartoons are bad enough (in another episode he begins his lecture by saying “As I sat down for my morning bananas…”), Latma does not shy away from using actual blackface, as in this video where Shlomo Blass blacks up to depict an African sneaking across the border.

All these videos, including the cartoons, are made by an Israeli company – owned by Blass – called Rogatka, which also produces anti-Palestinian propaganda for settlers.

Blass, as Phan Nguyen has shown, also blacked-up in another video where he played a grotesque caricature of an African chief called “Kazabubu” claiming to be Jewish so he and his tribe could come to Israel.

Mocking and persecuting black people in Israel while using them in the US to promote Israel

What makes this raw racism all the more sickening is that it is flourishing in Israel as AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, is recruiting black students on US college campuses to front for Israeli apartheid.

With thanks to Dena Shunra for assistance with translation and contributing analysis.

  1. #1 by Ingrid B on January 28, 2012 - 6:02 pm

    “he played a grotesque caricature of an African chief called “Kazabubu” claiming to be Jewish so he and his tribe could come to Israel.” : no sane person would want to go there..

  2. #3 by Flipper on January 29, 2012 - 12:03 am

    What’s with people and their hypocritical poor-me-justification-syndrome?

    People act infinitely far worse than animals do, yet we have no excuses for it, as would an animal. The most majestic animal, would be a mountain gorilla, and to be insulted by it, would be to deny that a chimpanzee isn’t a cannibal that looks like George.

    Get over it, and don’t teach your children the lie of being offended like a whining *e. Rather, throw the jewish mentality down the well, which is a false pretense to get what they want, not at all dissimilar to the justice system itself. They’ll even pretend to be the friends of the oppressed, to maintain their lie. It’s an inferiority complex, used to extort money, and taught to successive generations of whining, lying parasites, who should wonder why they’re being called names, and laugh it off, should there be no good reason.

    I didn’t watch the cartoon.

  3. #4 by Ingrid B on January 29, 2012 - 3:40 am

    @Flipper, the cartoon can only be understood by parasites..

  4. #5 by Lindsey on January 29, 2012 - 7:08 am

    Ingrid, you said what I wanted to say in other-words.

    These shows, especially the one with that bitch and the puppet-monkey mocking Christ, are meant ONLY for jews/israHellis to see, and that is when the REAL face of the demons walking-on-two-legs is known to the rest of the world who sees the video(s) or read the article(s).

    LINDSEY

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