Toronto-born Haifa-based investigative journalist David Sheen has reported from Israel*Palestine for dozens of local, regional and international outlets since 2010, and at colleges across the US and around the world, and in parliaments across Europe. Sheen’s reporting has been recognized by journalist unions and human rights groups at home and abroad, including the Rory Peck Trust and the Front Line Defenders.
Using open source intelligence and data visualization tools taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Sheen creates charts, maps and other infographics that decode Israeli politics and render them comprehensible to locals and non-Hebrew speakers alike. Using a framework he first observed in Knesset voting patterns, and then fleshed out into a four-side schema, Sheen has correctly predicted the results of the last five parliamentary elections in Israel.
Sheen is an expert on the Israeli far-right, and in particular the Kahane movement that in late 2022 became the second-largest faction in the Netanyahu government, making them the kingmakers of Israel politics. In recent years Sheen has published tens of thousands of words of investigative reporting on the Kahane movement in Israel and the US, and given dozens of lectures on these topics to audiences in college, in law enforcement and in government.
Sheen worked as a reporter and editor for the English Edition of the Israeli daily broadsheet Haaretz in 2010 and 2011, and authored a report on racism to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2012. For the last decade, Sheen has been a freelance member of the Union of Journalists in Israel, publishing reportage, analysis and op-eds in a wide variety of local, regional and international publications.
After Netanyahu gave the order to ramp up the expulsion of this community of 40,000 at 40 times the previous pace, this issue started to get some traction internationally. But for years, the mainstream media avoided it altogether; Throughout the 2010s, Sheen was one of the only journalists reporting on this community and the treatment they receive inside Israel and outside its borders. Sheen exposed in a series of shocking articles that a decade ago, criminal gangs realized that they could kidnap refugees in broad daylight off the streets of Tel Aviv and traffick them back to Africa, where they were then tortured for ransom money – and Israeli authorities would do nothing to stop them.
While Jewish citizens of Ethiopian origin have received slightly more press coverage internationally, that coverage is often filtered through what community activists call the state's "savior narrative" which inverts history on its head. Sheen has produced some of the most in-depth English-language reportage on the community’s protests against state racism in recent years. Chief among these was Sheen's long read for Ventures Africa, Operation African Wild Ass, which revealed that for decades, successive Israeli governments purposely prevented the entry of Ethiopian Jews – actual black people – even while it permitted entry to Ethiopian donkeys – non-human animals.
A third African community in Israel is the African Hebrew Israelites, African Americans who immigrated to the country in the 1970s and 80s. Sheen investigated the death of a daughter of the community, Toveet Radcliffe, the first African-American to die while serving in the Israeli army. His published reports proved that her death was not a suicide – as the army had claimed in its official report – but rather, a murder, executed by a fellow soldier, and covered up by army brass. In 2017, on the basis of evidence uncovered by Sheen, the Israeli army ordered a reexamination of the Radcliffe case – the first time that this occurred in over three decades. The latest on the case.
Sheen's deep-dive investigations, published in The Intercept, The Link, Middle East Research and Information Project and Mint Press News, revealed that two American-born followers of arch-racist Rabbi Meir Kahane believed by the FBI to have murdered Palestinian-American activist Alex Odeh outside Los Angeles in 1985 continue to live openly in West Bank settlements, and have produced proteges that are now the Members of Knesset, dragging Israel further than ever to the far-right. Citing Sheen's reporting, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dick Durbin demanded an update on the FBI's investigation into the Odeh murder from bureau Director Chris Wray.
Sheen's YouTube channel contains hundreds of videos he has produced, including dozens of films of himself speaking to the media and to audiences around the world. Drawing on skills he honed for his TEDx Talk in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sheen has authored over a dozen multimedia lectures based on his reporting on racial conflict and religious extremism in Israel. Among the venues he has spoken at have been dozen of universities and eight parliaments – those of England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, the European Union and Israel itself. Upcoming lectures by David Sheen.
Unsurprisingly, Sheen’s independent reporting has triggered pushback; patriots and partisans have challenged his professional integrity. In response, journalists and journalist unions from around the world have issued statements of solidarity with Sheen. These include former and present compatriots (from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate), press unions around the world (from England to India and Bosnia to Bangladesh), and global groups (such as the International Federation of Journalists and the International Press Institute).
In 2017, Sheen was named a Human Rights Defender by the Ireland-based Front Line Defenders. At the organization’s 2017 Platform in Dublin, Sheen spoke about the media landscape in Israel*Palestine, and called for the creation of Jewish-Arab ethnically-integrated media outlets – where none currently exist. In 2018, Sheen received funding from the New Israel Fund, and in 2019, Sheen received a grant from the Rory Peck Trust, a UK-based fund for freelance journalists.
Sheen's website is www.davidsheen.com and he tweets from @davidsheen.
You can contact him by email at d [at] davidsheen [dot] com.