PM Netanyahu met with IDF soldier Damas Pikada who was brutally beaten up by an Israeli policeman, setting off protests by the Ethiopian community in Israel.
Pikada told Netanyahu his life story, which was a very tough one. Pikada is an orphan, his father died in Ethiopia and his mother died of cancer. He lives with his brothers, one of whom serves in the Air Force.
Pikada proudly serves in the IDF, and he praises the current protests, but condemns the violence by both the police and citizens.
President Reuven Rivlin said Monday morning that the Ethiopian protests against police brutality and racism “revealed an open and raw wound at the heart of Israeli society.”
Speaking at a meeting in his office with mayors and heads of the ultra-Orthodox municipalities and local council, the President added, “We must look directly at this open wound. We have erred. We did not look, and we did not listen enough. Among the protesters on the streets, were some of our finest sons and daughters; outstanding students; those who served in the IDF. We owe them answers.
“At the same time, it must be said in the clearest of terms. Protests are an essential tool in democracy, but violence is neither the way nor the solution. The demonstrators and the police notably maintained restraint throughout the protests, and we must not allow a handful of violent trouble makers to drown-out the legitimate voices of protest.”
Police said Monday morning that anarchists incited protesters to violence in last night’s march in Tel Aviv against police brutality and racism, undermining the demonstrators’ objectives.
Protesters were armed with rocks and metal objects which they hurled at police officers, 56 of whom were injured lightly. Police arrested 43 demonstrators and hurled stun grenades in the middle of a crowd blocking a major artery at rush-hour in Tel Aviv.
Both a senior police official and “Elazar,” who made Aliyah from Ethiopia years before the massive airlift in Operation Shlomo, told Voice of Israel radio (Reshet Bet) that the protest turned violent partly because of anarchists, whom the interviewer later said could be “leftists or rightists,” although the term “right-wing anarchist” in Israel is almost contradictory.
Left-wing elements, many of them funded by American Jews and non-Jews, often have been accused of inciting Arabs and illegal African immigrants to violence.
The charge of “racism,” which undoubtedly is true but not always to the Nth degree as sometimes described, is a good way to rile up the riff-raff. That is exactly what happened last night.
Mahratta Baruch-Ron, the deputy mayor Tel Aviv and an Ethiopian, tried to calm down the protesters, but to no avail; the anarchists and trouble-makers took over.
Like last week’s protest in Jerusalem that turned violent when nearly 1,000 protesters surged towards to the official residence of the Prime Minister, last night’s demonstration lacked responsible leadership.
Police did not interfere Sunday night even when protesters blocked major arteries near Rabin Square in downtown Tel Aviv, and it appeared that some people in the crowd were itching for a fight by deciding to proceed towards the high-speed intra-city Ayalon Highway.
Yediot Acharonot, which never misses an opportunity to whitewash leftist criminals and find cause against Netanyahu, reported that “social activists” joined the protesters.
The protests were sparked by a video shown on Israeli television last week of two policemen assaulting, without any provocation, an Ethiopian soldier, who was clad with kippa. Discrimination against Ethiopians is widespread while the police show no discrimination when it comes to excessive violence.
The protesters have concentrated on racism, while political leaders, including Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett, have hitched a ride on the “race card” rather than pursuing the opportunity to demand massive reform in the police force.
The plagues of racism and violence against police, as well as police violence against civilians, elicited an immediate response from Prime Minister Netanyahu.
He is meeting Monday with Ethiopian community representatives, soldier Damas Pakada who was filmed being beaten by the policemen. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, and representatives of the Public Security, Social Affairs and Social Services, Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, and Interior ministries.
They will make statements announcing funding for projects aimed at the Ethiopian community and will ignore police brutality.
The new protest movement is continuing Monday morning with a march in Jerusalem. Travelers are advised that major arteries, including Sderot Herzl, Rabin, Shazar, Ben Tzvi and Ruppin are closed as of 11 a.m.
The U.S. Embassy yesterday warned citizens that protests that are “intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence” and advised, “You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.”
Below, an Ethiopian protester tells Channel 2, in Hebrew, that outside inciters turned the peaceful march into a violent riot.
Israel’s first Ethiopian doctor, who lit one of the traditional torches on Yom Ha’Atzmaut give years ago, is leading the IDF medical team in Nepal.
Dr. Avi Yitzchak made Aliyah in the early 1990s in the Operation Shlomo airlift and has become a symbol of success for the Ethiopian community.
He arrived in Nepal five days ago, when he said there was absolutely nothing in the realm of first aid, and decided where to set up a field hospital, which went into operation immediately.
“We began accepting patients from the Nepalese army hospital that was not able to function well, especially in the field of surgery,” said Yitzchak, who specialized in surgery when he studied medicine at Soroka Hospital at Ben Gurion University.
“We are receiving citizens of Nepal with medical problems that the Nepalese army hospital cannot treat beaus they accept only soldiers and their families,” Dr. Yitzchak said from Katmandu.
When not in the army, Dr. Yitzhak works as a surgeon at Soroka.
When he was in Haiti in 2010, he said, “It’s unbelievable how the small State of Israel managed in 20 hours to establish the most advanced field hospital in Haiti. There is a huge amount of gratitude for Israel’s efforts… I am proud to be a part of this.”
Ethiopia is aiming to enhance access to affordable and environmentally-friendly renewable energy for its population, with the country’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy announcing last month that it had signed an agreement with an Israeli solar-hybrid power company to further this goal. The leading Israeli developer of solar-biogas hybrid power technology, AORA, will be the first to provide solar-biogas hybrid power solutions for rural communities in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia often suffers from blackouts due to its lack of lack of power and two-thirds of the country’s citizens have no electricity.
“We are pleased to partner with the Ministry and look forward to bringing our technology to Ethiopia to provide the population with affordable access to power,” said Zev Rosenzweig, CEO of AORA, whose offices are based in Rehovot.
“Such access will have significant social and economic impact on off-grid communities, helping to provide power to schools and medical facilities, refrigeration for food processing and post-harvest storage, groundwater pumping and much more,” added Rosenzweig.
In November 2011, Ethiopia launched the Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy which aims to achieve the development objective of becoming a middle income, green economy nation by 2025. A primary goal entails the generation of energy from renewable sources for domestic and regional markets.
“We are transforming our Green Economy Strategy into action and are pleased to partner with AORA to help achieve our vision,” said Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy.
“AORA’s unique solar-hybrid technology is impressive and well-suited to provide both energy and heat to support local economic development in off-grid rural locations in Ethiopia,” said Tegenu.
AORA’s technology runs not only on solar radiation, but also on almost any gaseous or liquid fuel, including biogas, biodiesel and natural gas. This enables a variety of operational modes – from solar-only mode, where electricity is supplied from ample sunlight, to hybrid-mode when fuel helps generate full power when sunlight is insufficient. At night time or during days of heavy overcast, the fuel-only mode goes into operation. This guarantees an uninterrupted and stable power supply 24 hours a day in all weather conditions.
The AORA tulip-shaped solar power plant, whose technology was developed by the Weizmann Institute, requires less land to generate usable power and heat than other systems as well as less water. Each Tulip station is small and modular, and adaptable to topography.
Construction of the first pilot plant in Ethiopia is expected to begin by mid-2015. Following the trial, the Ethiopian government intends to expand deployment of AORA installations for rural economic development to off-grid communities in selected areas of the country.
Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews take part in a prayer of the Sigd holiday on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade overlooking Jerusalem on November 20, 2014. The prayer is performed by Ethiopian Jews every year to celebrate their community’s connection and commitment to Israel. About 80,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many of them came in massive Israeli airlifts during times of crisis in Ethiopia in 1984 and 1991.
For some reason, this story does not appear on any “boycott Israel” website.
Two physicians from Rambam Health Care Campus, Dr Omri Emodi and Dr Zach Sharoni, recently participated in a medical delegation to northern Ethiopia, where they provided pro bono medical care to patients with cleft lip.
According to a press release from Rambam Medical Center, Drs Emodi and Sharoni were invited to participate in the “surgery marathon” by the humanitarian aid organization Operation Smile. Over the 11 days of the mission, the 40 participants examined dozens of children and adults with cleft lip, giving their patients hope for a better quality of life, and a big smile.
The Jewish Press tried to contact several BDS organizations in Israel and abroad for comment on this story. None had responded by press time. The Jewish Press will continue to update responses received by BDS groups as they come in.