Above: Still from security camera footage of police attacking an Ethiopian IDF soldier Sunday in Holon
More Than 1,000 Ethiopian Jews Protest Police Racism, Riot In Jerusalem
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
More than 1,000 protesters, almost all of them Ethiopian Jews, came from across Israel to protest what they say are a string of racist attacks by police against Ethiopian Israelis, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The protest started peacefully but, as nightfall approached turned violent. Rocks and bottle were reportedly thrown at police, some of whom were injured.
The protest was prompted by an apparently unprovoked attack early this week in Holon by police against an Ethiopian IDF soldier. The attack was caught on security camera video and the soldier – who had been wrongly jailed after the attack - was freed while some of the police officers involved in the attack were suspended pending a full investigation of the incident.
Ethiopian leaders claim unprovoked police attacks and other types of police discrimination against Ethiopians are common, and note that just as police have repeatedly refused to take steps to stop these alleged abuses, non-Ethiopian Israelis have been slow to stand up for the Ethiopian community.
Getahun Kobi Tefare, an Ethiopian activist who brought a busload of Ethiopian Jews from Yavne to today’s demonstration, noted that most of those who protested today were Israeli-born Ethiopian Jews.
“You don’t see the other communities in this country here…we just celebrated 67 years of independence, but where are the cultural figures that attended those events to protest here?” Tefare asked the Jerusalem Post.
As they shouted “police state! Stop the violence, stop the racism!” protesters blocked Highway 1 and the light rail line in the capital, shutting down traffic for almost three hours. Protesters then tried to march towards Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence.
At first, police commanders ordered officers to stand down. But eventually they ordered officers to disperse the crowd. Police used tear gas and in the process, at least two police officers were injured, apparently by rocks and bottle thrown by the protesters.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat came to the site of the protest to try to calm things down, but failed.
Surprisingly, many of the commuters delayed by the protest – even haredim and Israeli Arabs – were reportedly sympathetic to the Ethiopians.
“They did it to Moroccans [i.e., the Ashkenazi power elites discriminated against Moroccan Jews and other Jews of Middle Eastern origin], we are with you,” a driver who had already been stuck for an hour in traffic backed up by the protest reportedly said.
Former Member of Knesset Pnina Tamano-Shata of the centrist Yesh Atid Party, the first female Ethiopian Jew to hold a Knesset seat, gave an impromptu speech to protesters.
“Where are the Knesset members?,” she asked the crowd, highlighting the fact that despite the wave of police abuse against Ethiopian Jews and despite the viral security camera video showing this week’s attack, none of the 120 members of Knesset had come to show solidarity with the Ethiopian Jewish community. “Look at your friends,” Tamano-Shata continued, “you all have a future; but the police must take responsibility [for what they have done wrong].”
The viral security camera video of Sunday's attack in Holon that sparked today's protest and riot: