Footage has emerged of a popular Jewish singer using a racial slur against President Barack Obama at a concert in Jerusalem.
Mordechai Ben David, a 65-year-old Brooklynite from the Hasidic sect of Judaism, was performing a song about peace on December 29 when he launched an attack on the outgoing U.S. leader, calling him a “kushi”—a derogatory Hebrew term for a black person.
“Do you know when there will be peace? In a few weeks, when there will be a new president in the United States and the kushi goes home,” he said in Hebrew, according to a translation by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, to rapturous applause from the crowd.
In ancient Hebrew, “kushi” referred to Ethiopians and also black Africans, particularly those of Ethiopian origin. In modern Hebrew, however, it has been used as a pejorative term for black people and Africans.
Government and Jerusalem officials attended the event, including Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who claimed that President-elect Trump will be a better friend to Israel than Obama. Barkat also said he was confident that Trump will implement his election campaign promise to move Israel’s U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I don’t just expect, I know that he will do it,” Barkat told the crowd to applause. “He will move the embassy to Jerusalem. And in so doing he will show the way for many nations in the world for cooperation with Israel, the Jewish state.”
Ben David’s invective came several days after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the outgoing American president. After the U.S. abstained on a vote by the U.N. Security Council on December 23, which declared illegal all Israeli settlements constructed since 1967 on occupied Palestinian land, Netanyahu accused the Obama administration of working behind Israel’s back to pass the resolution.
The Israeli furore over the resolution mounted after a speech made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a week later criticizing Israel’s settlement policy. Relations between the two countries are now widely considered to have plunged to one of their lowest points since the creation of Israel in 1948, despite Washington signing a record military aid package in September last year.
Israeli officials have welcomed President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming leadership and his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Trump has also appointed a far-right, pro-settler ambassador to Israel in David Friedman, who believes in the annexation of the West Bank, a territory Palestinians have earmarked for any future state.