Photo: Reuters
Ethiopian Jews in Israel mark the Sigd holiday
Photo: Reuters

Does anyone care about Israel's institutionalized racism?

Op-ed: The attack on an Israeli Ethiopian by a police officer left everyone shocked because demeaning the IDF uniform was more painful than demeaning a young man.

Incidents like the recent brutal assault on an IDF soldier by police officers no longer shock Israel's Ethiopian community; they've become a matter of routine for citizens who feel like the Israel Police's punch bag.



Yes, that's the reality in the neighborhoods in which the community resides. Police brutality is a daily occurrence. Not a day goes by without me getting a call from a mother whose son has been beaten for no reason, from a youth who is facing criminal charges, from a pedestrian who was stopped by police and slapped around a little. It's become the way of life – and it's all down to the color of our skin.


Police officers attacking an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin
Police officers attacking an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin


Something here just doesn't make any sense. Why is it that a significant number of Ethiopian youths are walking around with criminal records? What makes an Ethiopian youth cross to the other side of the street when he sees a policeman on the sidewalk? How come those who, as Mizrahim, once cried discrimination are now the ones who are racist and violent?


Yes, it needs to be said loud and clear: The police force – from the commissioner and down to the very last officer – is comprised primarily of members of the Mizrahi ethnic groups.


The latest incident left everyone shocked because the victim of the police brutality was a soldier. The demeaning of the uniform was more painful than the demeaning of the young man. So how come racism directed against Ethiopian immigrants no longer moves anyone? Why do we no longer get excited when police officers beat Ethiopian youths and the case against them is closed? How come no one speaks up? How can it be that no one cares about racism?


Now is the time to issue a warning: Failure on the part of the police leadership to put a stop to the unrestrained brutality against immigrants of Ethiopian descent will lead to a black intifada, with harsh acts of violence – and you, too, will pay the price. Many members of the Ethiopian community feel they have been paying the price for three decades now – and the despair is mounting.


The prime minister condemned the attack on the Israel Defense Forces officer in Mea She'arim – and rightly so. But he chose not to condemn an attack on a soldier by a policeman. Perhaps because the victim isn't an officer. Perhaps because he's black. Or perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu, like many Israeli citizens, tends to turn a blind eye to the rising violence against Ethiopians.


Beware; a battered woman can be pushed too far too. One day, she will fight back or walk out to save her life. And we, members of the Ethiopian community, like that battered woman, are at that point in time.


פרסום ראשון: 04.29.15, 00:32
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