Sharpton confronts Israelis on visit

Published Sept. 18, 1991|Updated Oct. 14, 2005

Black activist Rev. Al Sharpton, answering fellow airline passengers who told him to go to hell as he arrived Tuesday to serve court papers on an orthodox Jew, said he was in hell already because he had landed in Israel. Sharpton made the four-hour visit to Israel to serve the court papers on a Hasidic Jewish driver who ran over and killed a 7-year-old black boy in New York, triggering race riots.

Some Jewish passengers on Sharpton's El Al flight from New York recognized him and yelled as he left the plane: "Go back to where you came from" and "Go to hell."

"I am in hell already; I am in Israel," Sharpton replied.

In a statement released Tuesday in New York, Sharpton said he was "treated hostilely at the Ben Gurion airport and we endured that to make a moral point."

Sharpton and lawyer Alton Maddox wanted to serve papers on Yosef Lifsh, 22, in a $100-million civil lawsuit filed in New York. They arrived in Israel hours before the onset of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) when the country closes down for 24 hours beginning at sunset.

They left after visiting the U.S. Embassy and apparently left the papers there. The papers had to be served by Tuesday and they wanted to leave before the airport closed.