Ethiopian demonstration

Ethiopians permanent suspects

Op-ed: In an open letter to Police Commissioner Alsheikh, Danny Adeno Abebe, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, takes umbrage with being labelled a minority who should expect to be suspected; the commissioner's forebears were immigrants, too, after all.

Dear Police Commissioner Alsheikh,


I am not an immigrant or a minority. I am an Israeli with full rights. I'm here by right, not by charity. If I am an immigrant, then so are you. Your parents, or their parents, also immigrated to this country. Both of us are in the same boat.



Your comments, as if your lauded police officers see in the color of our skin a reason to suspect us as criminals, justify their feelings towards members of my community because they are arrested, beaten, and undergo abuse  just because they're the usual suspects.


Perhaps you don’t know this, but the State of Israel is a state of immigrants. Your father immigrated to Israel from Yemen, your mother is a daughter of a family of immigrants from Morocco.


They immigrated to Israel.. Once upon a time, they were also constantly treated as suspects.


Now, the tables have turned. You, their son, suspect that I am a criminal. I have three children, they are Israelis with curly hair and now they are suspects in your eyes because they are black.


Protests against racism (Motti Kimchi) (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Protests against racism (Motti Kimchi)


The brazen statements made by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh toward Ethiopians have let the cat out of the bag. As someone who associates himself with his ethnic community and meets young embittered and hurting youngsters, I feel an obligation say the following things to you:


We are close—very close—to violence similar to that taking place in America; violence that we didn’t want; violence against police. This danger is imminent, and words such as yours only spur on the same youth harassed by your police who open and check their bags left, right and center.


Go to Kiryat Malakhi, Ashkelon and Netanya and ask the young community—natives of Israel whose native language is Hebrew—to what extent your dark thoughts and your men in blue are responsible for making them feel persecuted and feel like by outsiders.


Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh (Photo: Tzvika Tischler) (Photo: Tzvika Tischler)
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh (Photo: Tzvika Tischler)


Ask them how it feels when they are idly sitting on the railings and every detective stops them because to every police officer a black person is always a suspect. Surely your words justify their feelings don’t they? Now they have nothing to lose and they are on the edge.


The alienation, the sense of lack of belonging, the suspicions and the violence by the police and, importantly, your miserable attempt to justify it, marks us as permanent suspects and pushes us to the edge.


No bridging program will reduce the pain and nothing will change in the twisted world view of the Israel Police if you don’t see Israeli children exactly as you see yourself—as Jews who came to this country not as immigrants, but as equal and innocent citizens unless proven otherwise—just like you.


פרסום ראשון: 08.31.16, 23:47
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