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#BlackLivesMatter: Ethiopian-Israelis Take To Streets To Protest Discrimination, Police Brutality

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Israel continues to be rocked by protests by Ethiopian Israelis claiming to be facing discrimination in the country due to being black. Protesters and police clashed as protesters blocked roadways and surrounded government buildings leading to multiple arrests and injuries. The protests have drawn international attention to an issue long bubbling beneath the surface of Israeli society.

Ethiopian Israelis, though Jewish, encounter widespread discrimination and police harassment and brutality in Israel due to their racial background according to the protesters. The protests appear to have been influenced by the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and come on the heels of the Baltimore riots.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried the “lawlessness” of the protesters other figures from serving in Israel’s national government conceded demonstrators had a valid point even if they disagreed with the confrontational tactics.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said on Sunday evening that the police will bring to justice anyone who hurt civilians and policemen, adding that the rally “was not a legitimate protest in a democratic state” and blaming a handful of agitators for harming the Israeli Ethiopians’ struggle. He added that “most of the claims made by Ethiopian Israelis are not police-related at all. There is a deeper problem here of their assimilation. I do take responsibility and I think we have a problem with some of the cases mentioned, and we will handle it.” 

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitz said that “some of the complaints against the police were justified. There were events that need to be examined, and the police also has to check itself. All government and municipal offices need to provide a comprehensive solution.”

Organizers of the protest, while expressing solidarity with black protesters in the United States, claim the disorder and violence that resulted from the protest was completely the result of the police with one protester telling Haaretz “The police documented every moment of the demonstration and I want to see the documentation, whether we really started the violence as the police claim. We marched in the streets and they fired stun grenades at us.”

Whether the protests will lead to any immediate change is difficult to say, but the issue can no longer be ignored.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.