Published On: Sun, May 3rd, 2015

Ethiopian Israeli Protests Turn Violent for The Second Time in Three Days

Just like in several American cities over the past year, Black Israelis have turned to rioting to condemn police violence against them.

Tel Aviv- protest by Ethiopian Israelis turned violent. May 3 2015

 

 

Dozens were wounded in a Sunday night demonstration against racism that descended into violence in Tel Aviv.

For the second time in three days a protest by Ethiopian Israelis turned violent. This time the setting was Rabin Square in the middle of Tel Aviv.

The first protest was held Thursday in downtown Jerusalem at the intersection known as Paris Square, where three major streets converge. That night Israeli police were caught off guard when things turned violent. Israelis were shocked by the pictures of protestors throwing rocks at the police.

The images that the people of Israel have been seeing over the past few days look like they could have easily come from last week’s riots in Baltimore.

The protests were sparked by a video which was released last week. It showed a young Ethiopian Israeli currently serving in the IDF named Damas Pakada being brutally assaulted by two police officers while he was in his army uniform. Pakada, 21, came to Israel with his family when he was a child.

 

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They are, however, also about the greater problem of discrimination in general meted out on a daily basis against Israel’s Ethiopian community.

Part of the problem is that the average white Israeli does not seem to notice how disenfranchised black Israelis feel.

At least eleven police officers have already been reported wounded after clashes with the demonstrators. After marching towards the location of the Tel Aviv City Hall – a tower which rises above the square – the protestors were prevented from entering the building by a wall of police. They clearly wanted to storm it.

Israel’s national police commissioner, Yohanan Danino, phoned into the live news broadcasts to call the rioters criminals and promised that the ones who were violent will be prosecuted.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich echoed Danino’s sentiments, calling the protest a riot and “illegitimate.”

 

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This came after the protest began peacefully enough. Several thousand Ethiopian Israelis marched down Tel Aviv’s main Ayalon freeway on route to Rabin Square.

Israelis were stunned by the violent images shown during the daily 8 PM news shows broadcast on all three of its broadcast networks. After demonstrators began to hurl empty glass bottles and other projectiles at the police line, the authorities responded with pepper spray and stun grenades.

Israelis may have to wake up tomorrow to the cold harsh fact that Ethiopians are really discriminated against in much the same way that Black people are in America.

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In an op-ed piece in Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Ethiopian-Israeli journalist Danny Adeno Abebe wrote, “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.”

We agree Mr. Abebe. Unfortunately, it has taken violent protests to wake people up to this fact.

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