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New York - Remarks By Chasidic Singer Mordechai Ben David On Obama Stir Discussion

Published on: January 5, 2017 11:07 AM
Last updated on: January 5, 2017 11:43 AM
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New York - Two days after a news story bashed a popular Chasidic singer for reportedly using a racial slur to describe President Barack Obama, controversy continues to rage about whether the statement in question was actually derogatory.

The incident in question took place on December 29th, when singer Mordechai Werdyger, known more commonly to his fans as Mordechai Ben David, appeared in a Chanukah concert at Jerusalem’s Pais Arena.  As Werdyger sang the final bars of his well known song Shir Hashalom which expresses a longing for peace, he used a dramatic pause in the music to express his thoughts on the latest United Nations resolution to condemn Israel, which was backed by President Obama.

“Do you know when there will be peace?” asked Werdyger.  “In a few more weeks, when there will be a new president in the United States and the ‘kushi’ will go home.”

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Werdyger’s comments were greeted by thunderous applause from the crowd, which numbered in the thousands.

A news story that appeared on JTA on January 3rd categorized Werdgyer’s use of the word “kushi” as a racial slur, prompting several other news outlets to run similar articles.

The premise of the JTA article, that the word “kushi” is a racial slur, is not necessarily accurate and may be viewed very differently in Israel and in America.

Addressing the topic on his blog, Israel’s chief archivist, Yaacov Lozowick, explained the biblically the word “kushi” appears to describe people with black skin and it first appears as the name of the eldest son of Cham, the son of Noach, and later in a discussion about Tzipora, the wife of Moshe, who is described as a “Kushis.” 

According to Lozowick, the word “kushi” had no negative connotations at all as late as the 1970s but as American culture began shifting towards political correctness, some in Israel followed suit, while many others did not.  The result is a climate where some might view the word as an ethnic slur while others might see it as nothing more than a simple description.

In its own discussion of whether the word “kushi” is considered derogatory in Israel, the Forward concludes that although usage of the word “does not necessarily stamp one as a bigot, it is increasingly frowned upon in educated circles.”

VIN News reached out to Werdyger who declined to comment on his statement.

Correction notice: In a previous version on this article VIN news reported that a high UN diplomat slammed Ben David, after future research VIN news was not able to verify if the Twitter account linked to Keith Michael Harper the United States ambassador to the United Nations is genuine.



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Read Comments (35)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 05, 2017 at 11:21 AM alterknaker Says:

Yes it was foolish of MBD, no matter what the REAL translation of KUSHI is, when a Yid in Israel wants to curse a Black skinned person he doesn't think twice & shouts KUSHI, so can anyone translate this in real words?

2

 Jan 05, 2017 at 11:29 AM Ina Says:

"Im Hashem lo yishmor ir....." There will not be peace in Israel until Moshiach comes. How can there be? This is an unfortunate statement. Please let's not continue to discuss it here because it will only bring us bad press!

3

 Jan 05, 2017 at 11:51 AM Maven Says:

Its an old silly argument. When we refer to blacks as Schvartza in no way it means as derogatory. But in a political correct world we Jews especial must be extremely careful.

Having said, MBD if he is sincere and Ehrlich he should publicly in a serious way apologize to president Obama and to the American people. Otherwise he is putting Jews especial frum Jews in America in a very uncomfortable position.

Mordechai, dont let yourself get carried away by Zionistic nationalism and dont get swayed by right wing Boro Park Zionists not to apologize.

4

 Jan 05, 2017 at 11:52 AM The_Truth Says:

Kushi is the hebrew equivalent of Ni**er. It used to be acceptable to say, but is no longer. They are only slamming him because of racial slur though. If he would have said "...when the African American goes home" that would have been ok!
The right to free speech & political correctness gone mad!

5

 Jan 05, 2017 at 12:07 PM dovid Says:

Nothing doing here. Lets move on.
i must admit though that I was going to slam VIN for being like their secular mainstream counterparts in jumping to sensationalize and attack without paying any attention to detail but I see they haveat least been fairly balanced in their headline so, good on you for that and now lets get onto more important things, reporting and EMPAHSIZING (it'd be nice to see as many comments on a positive frum story as there are on the negatie ones) positive stories and positive things!
KEIN YIRBU!

6

 Jan 05, 2017 at 12:07 PM Anonymous Says:

His idiocy is Israeli chutzpa. Israel lives off the six millions Jews by getting for free and subsidized German made Delphin submarines. Maybe Israel should show issues of Stuermer magazine with caricatures of Yidden and of course SS denigrated Yidden then this idiot would have kept his mouth shut. Obama authorized the biggest military assistance program subsidized by goyishe American tax payers

7

 Jan 05, 2017 at 12:14 PM Anonymous Says:

He shouldn't have said it, and he must apologize - not a way to behave!

MBD is a public figure performing a concert, he has different rules than the average joe - in the comfort of your own home and around your circle of friends you can say what you think (whether or not it's PC), however there are ramifications for those who lead a public life especially at a crowded venue.

NOT OK!!

8

 Jan 05, 2017 at 12:04 PM dooalldel Says:

Reply to #1  
alterknaker Says:

Yes it was foolish of MBD, no matter what the REAL translation of KUSHI is, when a Yid in Israel wants to curse a Black skinned person he doesn't think twice & shouts KUSHI, so can anyone translate this in real words?

Kushi means African,
If not for political correctness it shouldn't be a problem

9

 Jan 05, 2017 at 12:27 PM kehati Says:

It's really very simple - If you were in Israel and met a chayal of Ethiopian extraction, would you dare to use to his face the K word, N word or S Word??Nothing more to say - I rest my case

10

 Jan 05, 2017 at 12:42 PM Esther Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

His idiocy is Israeli chutzpa. Israel lives off the six millions Jews by getting for free and subsidized German made Delphin submarines. Maybe Israel should show issues of Stuermer magazine with caricatures of Yidden and of course SS denigrated Yidden then this idiot would have kept his mouth shut. Obama authorized the biggest military assistance program subsidized by goyishe American tax payers

Characterizing Israel as living off the 6 million is vulgar beyond words and sounds like something a white supremacist would say.

11

 Jan 05, 2017 at 12:51 PM qazxc Says:

He should be as ashamed of himself.

12

 Jan 05, 2017 at 12:54 PM Secular Says:

הֲיַהֲפֹךְ כּוּשִׁי עוֹרוֹ, וְנָמֵר חֲבַרְבֻּרֹתָיו; גַּם-אַתֶּם תּוּכְלוּ לְהֵיטִיב, לִמֻּדֵי הָרֵעַ.

וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ--מַה-נַּעֲשָׂה יְקָר וּגְדוּלָּה לְמָרְדֳּכַי, עַל-זֶה; וַיֹּאמְרוּ נַעֲרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ, מְשָׁרְתָיו, לֹא-נַעֲשָׂה עִמּוֹ, דָּבָר

13

 Jan 05, 2017 at 01:05 PM Anonymous Says:

MBD is an incredible man, performer, baal chessed, baal tzedakah and AMERICAN, who is not familiar with Israel's politically correct Hebrew term or language. GET OVER IT, people!
I would hope that yidden have better things to do than to dissect MBD's word usage. how about praising him for always performing in Israel, even during the times when most of us were too scared to go there?
and stop sticking up for obama, who just threw us all under the UN bus. I am sure he wasn't calling us ' the people of Israel' when he turned his farshtinkiner back us, eh??

14

 Jan 05, 2017 at 01:26 PM Bip_Gerkin Says:

I don't recall Obama ever calling anyone a kike.

15

 Jan 05, 2017 at 01:29 PM Maven Says:

Reply to #13  
Anonymous Says:

MBD is an incredible man, performer, baal chessed, baal tzedakah and AMERICAN, who is not familiar with Israel's politically correct Hebrew term or language. GET OVER IT, people!
I would hope that yidden have better things to do than to dissect MBD's word usage. how about praising him for always performing in Israel, even during the times when most of us were too scared to go there?
and stop sticking up for obama, who just threw us all under the UN bus. I am sure he wasn't calling us ' the people of Israel' when he turned his farshtinkiner back us, eh??

#13,
I have no clue if Obama likes or hates Jews. For sure he doesn't like the Azes Ponim Netanyahu. And Obama didn't throw "us" under the bus. He threw Netanyahu and Israel under the bus.

16

 Jan 05, 2017 at 01:53 PM like it be! Says:

Obama is a kishi. He isn't a shemi.

Political correctness had killed the normality of the world. Enough with people who have thin skin who crawl into the nearest corner whenever they hear a word that they don't like.

You people really really really need to get a life exclamation point

17

 Jan 05, 2017 at 02:27 PM inNY Says:

Reply to #16  
like it be! Says:

Obama is a kishi. He isn't a shemi.

Political correctness had killed the normality of the world. Enough with people who have thin skin who crawl into the nearest corner whenever they hear a word that they don't like.

You people really really really need to get a life exclamation point

How would you feel if Singer Enrique Iglesias gets up on stage in front of Thousands and says the music by that Jew Mordechai Ben David is bad, would you also say political correctness killed normality?

18

 Jan 05, 2017 at 02:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
dooalldel Says:

Kushi means African,
If not for political correctness it shouldn't be a problem

"Shouldnt be a problem" If a Jewish singer would call Trump a "German Nazi" would that be a problem?

19

 Jan 05, 2017 at 02:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
like it be! Says:

Obama is a kishi. He isn't a shemi.

Political correctness had killed the normality of the world. Enough with people who have thin skin who crawl into the nearest corner whenever they hear a word that they don't like.

You people really really really need to get a life exclamation point

"Obama is a kishi" Trump is a "German Nazi" Enough with people who have thin skin who crawl into the nearest corner whenever they hear a word that they don't like. Trump Father is A German. Every single Neo-Nazi voted for Trump (Not every person who voted for Trump is bad)

20

 Jan 05, 2017 at 03:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

His idiocy is Israeli chutzpa. Israel lives off the six millions Jews by getting for free and subsidized German made Delphin submarines. Maybe Israel should show issues of Stuermer magazine with caricatures of Yidden and of course SS denigrated Yidden then this idiot would have kept his mouth shut. Obama authorized the biggest military assistance program subsidized by goyishe American tax payers

You are a leftist TROLL.

21

 Jan 05, 2017 at 03:11 PM Liepa Says:

I'm a huge fan of MBD but this was uncalled for. It's not so much what he said, it's in the context of what he said, it's the implication of what he said that's disturbing.

Yes, Obama has let Israel down, specifically most recently with UN vote abstention however, only recently he committed to give Israel a record 38 BILLION dollars in military aid
.
So, you need to weigh the good with the bad and not just arbitrarily denigrate a sitting president.

22

 Jan 05, 2017 at 03:37 PM Pipk11 Says:

The difference is, Kushi and Shvartze are hebrew and Yiddish words for simply Black. Kike Nigger etc. are inherently slur words.

23

 Jan 05, 2017 at 04:19 PM qazxc Says:

Reply to #19  
Anonymous Says:

"Obama is a kishi" Trump is a "German Nazi" Enough with people who have thin skin who crawl into the nearest corner whenever they hear a word that they don't like. Trump Father is A German. Every single Neo-Nazi voted for Trump (Not every person who voted for Trump is bad)

Not all Trump voters are neonazis but all neonazis voted for Trump.

24

 Jan 05, 2017 at 04:28 PM kehati Says:

Reply to #22  
Pipk11 Says:

The difference is, Kushi and Shvartze are hebrew and Yiddish words for simply Black. Kike Nigger etc. are inherently slur words.

Would you call a chayal who originated in Ethiopia the K or S words? Of course you wouldn't - they're derogatory terms. You know it, I know it and the oilam knows it.

25

 Jan 05, 2017 at 05:34 PM Emes7 Says:

Get a life. Obama deserves a lot worse than being called Kushi. Please! He hates Israel and Jews. YM"SH

26

 Jan 05, 2017 at 04:50 PM chasid Says:

Of course it is racist. Anytime someone is identified in a mocking way by the color of their skin, it is racist. Had it been Clinton, would he have said "white guy"? Of course not, he would have had to use his name, title or a pejorative. Because Obama is black he can avoid using his name and simply say "kushi". That my friends, is racist. Derogatory comments based purely on the color of their skin.

And, by the way, 'shvartze' is almost always used in a condescending way, thus being racist. I would suggest, that even if you say, "that shvartze was nice", it's racist, because you are implying that most are not.
If you say the word "shvartze", ask yourself, why am I defining that person by his or her skin color?
My rule of thumb is, a person's skin color should not be their identifying attribute. We believe in "chavid odom shenivro b'tzelem", we need to start to live by it.

27

 Jan 05, 2017 at 07:24 PM dooalldel Says:

Reply to #22  
Pipk11 Says:

The difference is, Kushi and Shvartze are hebrew and Yiddish words for simply Black. Kike Nigger etc. are inherently slur words.

Kushi does not translate to Black it translates to African

28

 Jan 05, 2017 at 07:42 PM puppydogs Says:

Reply to #23  
qazxc Says:

Not all Trump voters are neonazis but all neonazis voted for Trump.

Not all black are anti semetic but all black anti-semites voted for Obama

30

 Jan 05, 2017 at 10:02 PM Bip_Gerkin Says:

Reply to #25  
Emes7 Says:

Get a life. Obama deserves a lot worse than being called Kushi. Please! He hates Israel and Jews. YM"SH

So you admit he has some redeeming qualities.

31

 Jan 05, 2017 at 11:23 PM rivka Says:

Reply to #26  
chasid Says:

Of course it is racist. Anytime someone is identified in a mocking way by the color of their skin, it is racist. Had it been Clinton, would he have said "white guy"? Of course not, he would have had to use his name, title or a pejorative. Because Obama is black he can avoid using his name and simply say "kushi". That my friends, is racist. Derogatory comments based purely on the color of their skin.

And, by the way, 'shvartze' is almost always used in a condescending way, thus being racist. I would suggest, that even if you say, "that shvartze was nice", it's racist, because you are implying that most are not.
If you say the word "shvartze", ask yourself, why am I defining that person by his or her skin color?
My rule of thumb is, a person's skin color should not be their identifying attribute. We believe in "chavid odom shenivro b'tzelem", we need to start to live by it.

Excellent point!! All he should have said is "Obama" or "the current president"..NO need at all to refer to the color of his skin - the fact that he did , is all the proof we need that he did mean it in a racist, derogatory way.
And I agree with you - I hate when people use the term "shvartze".

32

 Jan 06, 2017 at 12:09 AM jack-l Says:

Reply to #15  
Maven Says:

#13,
I have no clue if Obama likes or hates Jews. For sure he doesn't like the Azes Ponim Netanyahu. And Obama didn't throw "us" under the bus. He threw Netanyahu and Israel under the bus.

are you really as stupid as you sound

33

 Jan 06, 2017 at 01:59 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

He shouldn't have said it, and he must apologize - not a way to behave!

MBD is a public figure performing a concert, he has different rules than the average joe - in the comfort of your own home and around your circle of friends you can say what you think (whether or not it's PC), however there are ramifications for those who lead a public life especially at a crowded venue.

NOT OK!!

Because he is a popular singer it makes him a public figure? He's a private citizen and as such enjoys freedom of speech. He is an American citizen. Did john Kerry apologize for his anti-Semitic remark? He IS a public figure.

34

 Jan 06, 2017 at 02:40 AM Zug de emes Says:

It's amazing how many snowflakes we have here. GET A LIFE CHILDREN!!!

35

 Jan 06, 2017 at 08:46 AM Ina Says:

Again, is there any reason to espouse these views on a public forum?

36

 Jan 06, 2017 at 12:23 PM qazxc Says:

Probably just the words of another song he plagiarized.

37

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