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Photo: Gil Yohanan
Ethiopians' protest in Jerusalem. Roaring lions fighting for their rights
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Danny Adeno Abebe

All Ethiopians want is to be treated like real Israelis

Op-ed: Decades after embarking on a brave mission to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel, the state seems to have forgotten that they are still here and deserve equal rights.

Since the protest on Thursday, I have been receiving many text messages. Some of them congratulate me for the protest my community members organized. Others tell me that it was a fiery protest, and rightfully so.

 

 

But what mostly hurts me is that our protest is seen as focusing only on police violence against Ethiopian immigrants. The truth is that it's only the tip of the iceberg: The violence and racism against us are not just the police's problem; they are first and foremost your problem.

 

You, the common Israelis, meet us everywhere: In the army, at work, in school and at the grocery store. That's why you have to understand that the fiery protest which erupted here in recent days reflects our accumulated frustration over everything that has happened to us here in the past 30 years.

 

While you have felt sorry for us, you have never seen us as equal people: When I meet elderly women at bus stops, they say to me many times: "You Ethiopians are cute." Then they add, "It's good that they brought you here."

 

Ethiopian protestors face police. 'We are not transparent black people. We are citizens of the State of Israel just like you' (Photo: Ofer Meir)
Ethiopian protestors face police. 'We are not transparent black people. We are citizens of the State of Israel just like you' (Photo: Ofer Meir)

 

At first I thought you really like us, but only later I found out that you treat us with disrespect – not as human beings, but as babies. It's true that we seem non-harmful, but we're not useful either. In your eyes, I am basically your Ethiopian darling: I am seen as "cute" so as not to undermine your supreme status as "the real Israelis," the handsome sabras.

 

Like many others of my community members, I have a feeling that you embarked on a brave mission in the 1980s and 1990s to bring us to Israel in Operation Moses and Operation Solomon. But now, several decades later, you seem to have forgotten that we are still here.

 

Now all our pain is rising. Those young suppressed people, who took in the arrogance and haughtiness displayed by of some of you, have turned into lions that are roaring and fighting for their rights – those same rights which we deserve as citizens of the state who serve in the army and carry the burden like everyone else.

 

I don’t know a single young member of the Ethiopian community who is asking for more than he deserves. What do we want? What everyone wants – to be treated like human beings.

 

We are not transparent black people. We are citizens of the state, just like you. And the soldier in Holon who was beaten up for no fault of his own is not "only" Ethiopian. He is Israeli. But unlike many of your sons and daughters, he is also black. And until you understand that, you will fail to understand what this whole protest is about.

 


פרסום ראשון: 05.03.15, 13:55
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