An Israel Defense Forces captain in the Paratroopers Brigade who called one of his subordinates of Ethiopian origin "a dirty kushi" (the Hebrew equivalent of the N-word) has been discharged from the military, ordered to a substantial fine and forced to write a letter of apology.
The incident, which was reported three months ago in Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Aharonoth, occurred when the commander suspected the soldier of taking part in a prank to hide his car keys and was quoted as telling the company sergeant major that, "the dirty kushi did it."
The soldier of Ethiopian descent said he was "hurt to my very core," adding that the captain had been his commander for eight months and wasn't a random stranger.
He decided to report the incident to the battalion commander, and both the soldier and the captain were summoned for clarification.
At that meeting, the soldier said, the captain initially tried to deny the claims but quickly admitted he had indeed called the soldier a racist slur and apologized.
The commander, who held the rank of captain, he was summoned to the office of his brigade commander, Col. Yuval Gez, who decided to reprimand the captain and cancel his participation in a professional course.
Later, it was decided the captain would not continue his service in the Paratroopers, and later still it was decided he would be discharged from the IDF completely.
The soldier wasn't satisfied with the apology and although he conceded this was the first time he had encountered any racist behavior in the army, he decided to file a civilian lawsuit against his former commander.
"One of my considerations was to make sure this kind of behavior doesn’t repeat itself inside the IDF," he said.
In the ensuing court settlement, it was agreed the captain would pay up to NIS 18,000 in compenstion and write a letter of apology stating, "as you were offended by the things I've said, I deeply apologize."
Benjamin Malka, the lawyer representing the soldier, decline to divulge the settlement's details. " I will not refer to the agreement made between the two parties," Malka said. "I will say however, that I'm happy the case ended amicably."
Condemnation of the racist slur came from across Israeli society, both inside the IDF and in the political arena.
In an unusual step, 66 officers from the Ethiopian community, including 1st Lt. Damas Pikada, who was the victim of a racially motivated hate crime, sent a letter to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and other senio rofficers in the IDF, protesting recent racist incidents with in the army.
After receiving the letter, Kochavi met with Ethiopian soldiers, listened to their experiences, and assured them that the army would not accept racism.
"We will show no tolerance for racism of any kind," he said. "We demand equality from all those who serve in the IDF, we can forgive mistakes, but racism is not a mistake."