Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews and their supporters marched Monday in protest of what they claim is humiliating and racist treatment. The march, which set out from the Jerusalem Convention Center and ended in front of the prime minister's office, addressed an incident in which Ethiopian donated blood had been thrown out of a Magen David Adom blood drive.
Many youths, professors, and students came to protest, along with religious leaders. During the rally in front of the prime minister's office, a policeman on horseback hit one protestor in his head.
Pnina Tameno (25), spokesperson for the anti-racism headquarters who is completing a law degree, told Ynet that "the blood drive affair is the straw that broke the community's restraint. We're patient people by choice, but that doesn't mean we're weak."
"Since we immigrated to Israel, ther has been no progress. Tell me if it's reasonable that we're Jews just like any other Jews, but we have a special Ethiopian rabbi and there are two more rabbis that are for the whole country," added.
Tameno saw with her own eyes the young man injured by the policeman's club: "We're against violence and we said so to the protestors, but for no reason, a policeman came along on horseback and hit one of the protestors with his club, cutting his head open."
"The protestor was simply holding a sign. After the man fell down, the horse trampled him. What's even worse is that, despite the fact that so many policemen came to the rally, there wasn't even one ambulance and we had to wait ten minutes for one to arrive."
"Somehow, we were portrayed as violent, although they were the ones who facilitated the violence."
Protestor injured (Photo: Dudi Vaknin)
Rabbi Michael Maharet, who was at the rally, condemned the police violence: "We came in order to express our opinion and the police attacked us. It was an order from above. The nation beats us in all sorts of ways and, today, it was physical. This cannot be."
Ashar Aisa (23), a psychology student enumerated a long list of government shortcomings, stating that the ministries of health, education and welfare all discriminate against Ethiopians.
He related of how his brother had tried to buy an apartment in central Tel Aviv, only to be told that it was a good neighborhood, with no place for him.
"We feel humiliated. There's general discrimination and something has to be done about it. Many of my friends get their bachelors and masters and still end up working as security guards because (of) their skin color," he said.
Yossi Brahah (25) marched from the Ben Gurion airport to Jerusalem on the day he heard of the blood drive affair. "It is unheard of that they would throw away blood that was donated for such an important reason. They spilled our blood."
"They took blood from a person and threw it away as if it was from a mouse or a dog."
"This protest is to demand a state investigation into the matter. Another demand is to establish a special body to address racism in the community, particularly regarding Ethiopians," he explained.