Media Contacts: Kaley Block, Kaley.block.788@my.csun.edu, or Carmen Ramos Chandler, carmen.chandler@csun.edu, (818) 677-2130

Israeli-American journalist Asaf Elia-Shalev will discuss his most recent publication, “Israel’s Black Panthers: The Radicals who Punctured a Nation’s Founding Myth” on Tuesday, April 9, at California State University, Northridge.

The event will take place from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the University Library’s Jack & Florence Ferman Presentation Room. Light refreshments will be provided.

A shoulders up portrait of Journalist Asaf Elia-Shalev looking into the distance. Elia-Shalev is wearing an autumn orange sweater.
Photo of Journalist Asaf Elia-Shalev. Image provided by José Luis Benavides.

Elia-Shalev works for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a non-profit newsroom that has covered issues of Jewish concern around the world for more than a hundred years. Elia-Shalev’s reporting focuses on matters of importance related to the Jewish community worldwide. His interest in the Israeli Black Panthers began as a college student exploring his Mizrahi Jewish roots and learning about the legacy of the original Black Panther Party from Oakland, Calif.

His book tells the story of Moroccan Israeli Jews who challenged their country’s political status quo and rebelled against the ethnic hierarchy of Israeli life in the 1970s. Inspired by the American group of the same name, the Black Panthers mounted protests and a yearslong political campaign for the rights of Mizrahim, or Jews of Middle Eastern ancestry.


“There are many messages. I think one of the most important ones is just bringing attention to a chapter of history that is often obscured,” said José Luis Benavides, professor of journalism and director of the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center.

“This story investigates many of the misunderstandings that people have about Israel and the foundation of Israel,” he continued. “The assumption is that that country was created only for the Jewish people from Europe – they call Ashkenazi – but Mizrahim or Mizrahi Jewish from the Middle East and North Africa were also encouraged to migrate to Israel, although they were discriminated against.”

Cover of Asaf Elia-Shalev's new book. There is a black printed panther on the top half of the cover. The bottom half of the cover has the title in big orange text: "Israel's Black Panthers," with the subtitle in smaller black text reading: "The Radicals who Punctured a Nation's Founding Myth"
Cover of Asaf Elia-Shalev’s new book. Image provided by José Luis Benavides.

Elia-Shalev’s book draws on archival documents and interviews with elderly activists to capture the movement’s history and reveal little-known stories from within the group. Elia-Shalev explores the parallels between the Israeli and American Black Panthers, offering a unique perspective on the global struggle against racism and oppression.

“In many ways the story that Asaf’s telling really is breaking – as the subtitle of the book says – the myth of the establishment of Israel,” said Benavides. “The topic is about the creation of the State of Israel and the treatment of a population that has been disenfranchised. In addition, this story offers people the opportunity to learn about the global impact of the American Black Panthers.”
Both of Elia-Shalev’s parents are CSUN alumni and the topic intersects with the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center’s Black Power project. Event sponsors include: the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center, the University Library, the College of Humanities and Departments of History, Jewish Studies and Journalism.

Requests for accommodation services must be made at least five business days in advance. Please email library.event@csun.edu to do so. To RSVP for the event visit, https://library.csun.edu/events/israels-black-panthers.

Author

Media Contact: kaley.block.788@my.csun.edu or Carmen Ramos Chandler carmen.chandler@csun.edu (818) 677-2130

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