Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Ethiopian Jews Stage Massive Protest Against Police Violence in Israel

The story is here. The immediate spark of the protest was the fatal shooting of 24-year old Yehuda Biadga (he allegedly charged police with a knife; his family says he suffered from PTSD and claims the police used excessive force), but as one of the protest organizers put it that particular event was "the last straw" for a community that has long alleged it has been victimized by violent policing practices and other forms of discrimination in Israeli society.

In terms of demands:
The demonstrators are calling for a judge to look into Biadga’s death rather than the Justice Ministry department responsible for investigating police incidents. They are also calling for an emergency Cabinet meeting on police violence, beefing up a government task force on racism and the full implementation of the recommendations of the Palmor Committee on ending discrimination against Ethiopian Israelis.
Online, there's an interesting divergence going on among lefty-ish commenters who caught wind of the protest -- half of whom seem to think the march is against Zionism (it isn't) and are accordingly all for it, the other half of whom recognize that the marchers do not identify as anti-Zionist and accordingly think they deserve whatever they get. It's charming.

In any event, though, the Ethiopian Israeli community deserves our full support. Racism exists in Israeli society just as it exists across the world, and we cannot be in denial about it. All this talk about how "a Jew is a Jew is a Jew" just isn't reflecting the reality of Jewish experience -- if it was, we wouldn't be seeing protests like this. And I hope that Jewish organizations around the world -- inside Israel and out -- rally in support of our Ethiopian compatriots, standing with them as they define their ambitions, not imposing whatever narrative we wish they might be speaking of.

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