Police have finally fired the officer who was caught on video assaulting Damas Pakada and then arresting him for supposedly having attacked him.
Police commissioner Yochanan Danino explained that the unidentified police officer was not dismissed immediately because he “made several claims” and that discussions on in the incident included legal advisers.
The broadcast of the video of the assault set off violent protests by the Ethiopian community against police brutality and racism.
The fired police office still faces possible criminal charges, which Danino said are pending the outcome of an investigation and if there is enough evidence to indict him.
The video shows that the police officer approached Pakada, who was on a sidewalk with his bicycle, spoke to him and within one second started beating him.
A peaceful protest against police brutality by Israelis of Ethiopian lineage turned violent Thursday night when the demonstrators marched on the official residence of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Police used water cannons and stun grenades to disperse several hundred people who posed a threat to security at “Paris Square,” one mile from downtown Jerusalem. At least two police officers and five protesters were hospitalized in the melee, with demonstrators throwing rocks and bottles at police.
The Ethiopian community in enraged after footage emerged earlier this week of policeman beating a soldier from the Ethiopian community for no apparent reason. Original reports said he was told to clear the area because of a suspicious object.
Netanyahu stated Thursday night:
I unequivocally condemn the striking of the soldier from the Ethiopian community and those responsible will be brought to justice but nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands.
Immigrants from Ethiopia and their families are dear to us and Israel is making great efforts to ease their integration in society.
The two police officers who this week beat the soldier, who was wearing a kippa, face suspension, but that does little to reinforce trust in the law enforcement agency that has been rocked by sex scandals and has a reputation for beating up people, especially Jews, and even more so if they are religious or are settlers.
The video of the police assault showed two police officers hitting him mercilessly for two minutes on a street in Holon, adjacent to Tel Aviv. Somehow, the reported suspicious object evaporated from their agenda or simply was a fabrication.
Police brutality is a disease that exists around the world. Just ask the mayors of Ferguson, Illinois and Baltimore.
There was no indication that the police beat up the soldier because he was Ethiopian. Perhaps it was because he was wearing a kippa. Or perhaps it was because the policemen simply found an opportunity to hyperventilate.
Lacking in last night’s protest were settlers, Hareidim, national religious and secular Jews, leftists and right-wing Jews, and Arabs, all of whom have been victims of police brutality.
The protest also had no responsible leader who would have known better than to present a security threat to the Prime Minister’s residence.
The fact that almost all of the protesters were of Ethiopian descent underlined the feeling of racism, although Israeli police do not discriminate between race, creed and color when it comes to brutality.
Some of the protesters showed signs that they can be no less violent than police, with the leader of the Campaign for Equality for Ethiopian Jews telling Yediot Acharonot, “Apparently the streets of Israel must burn like they do in Baltimore, in order for someone to finally wake up. The apartheid regime is back, this time in 21st-century Israel.”
There is no doubt that the Ethiopian community suffers prejudice from some sectors in Israel, especially the elite Ashkenazi power-brokers.
But they are not singled out by the police, and Netanyahu has the chance to reform the police by appointing a Minister of Public Security who, unlike the outgoing minister, who wants to protect the public from investigations of crime and plain ineptitude.
Below is the video of the police attack on the soldier.
An Ethiopian-Israeli Knesset Member called racist statements attributed to Donald Sterling, the Jewish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, “disgusting” in a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“As a Jew, as a citizen of a country founded on the ruins of racism in Europe, it hurt me to hear Mr. Sterling, especially on this painful day,” Yesh Atid MK Shimon Solomon wrote in a letter dated Monday, Holocaust Remembrance Day. “It is sad to see someone of the stature of Mr. Sterling, who instead of choosing to lead and influence to change and fight these incidents, chose to make racist statements, so pathetic and disgusting like the last uneducated person in society.”
Solomon also called on Silver and the NBA to take the team from Sterling, who referenced Ethiopian Jews in the rant attributed to him.
“The dismissal of Sterling from his position as owner of the NBA team will send a message loud and clear: ‘NBA will not tolerate racism, and racism will not be tolerated. There are more important things than the game itself.’ This message will go all over the world, and is an important step in the war against racism in our global village,” he wrote, also saying, “Now the responsibility to deliver the message, sir, is on you.”
The NBA is scheduled to address its investigation into Sterling’s comments in a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The Israel Tennis Centers Foundation and the New York Junior Tennis League are teaming up for a special inner city tennis clinic on Wednesday, behind the Robert F. Wagner Middle School on East 75th Street.
The clinic will be conducted by Dvorah Marsha, an Ethiopian immigrant and coach at the Israel Tennis Centers in Tel Aviv and Ramat HaSharon, Israel.
Besides playing and coaching Israel’s national girls’ team, she is studying for a Master’s Degree in Child Development at Bar-Ilan University.
Israel also will be represented by Dudi Sela, currently Israel’s top ranked singles player who is nicknamed the “Hebrew Hammer.”
President Obama’s advance team insisted that Yityish Aynaw, the first Ethiopian Miss Israel, be included on the guest list for the official state dinner President Shimon Peres will host for the U.S. president. At the time, they probably did not think it was necessary to do extensive background checks on the young woman. What could be problematic about a beautiful African young woman who came to Israel as an orphan at the age of 12, and now reigns as the beauty queen of this Middle Eastern country?
But a potentially problematic YouTube video has surfaced. Unlike a video which tanked the former Miss Delaware, forcing her to relinquish her crown, Miss Israel’s video is unlikely to harm her reputation within her domain. The former Miss Delaware’s YouTube video confirmed rumors that she had made a pornographic movie, and it was later revealed that she was paid for her participation in that movie.
Miss Israel’s YouTube video, which is a clip of an interview aired on Israeli Ch 2 news on Wednesday, March 13, reveals something quite interesting, but utterly non-salacious.
The interviewer asks Aynaw, “What will you tell Obama when you meet him?”
She answers, “That he is a role model for me, and second, that he should free Pollard.”
Aynaw explains that she was very active while in high school – she was head of the student council – working on many different activities to help free Pollard. She explained to the interviewer that she knows the story very well, and that if she has the opportunity, “lama lo? (why not?)”
So far there has been no response from the White House.
Jonathan Pollard has been in prison since 1987. He was an American naval intelligence analyst in the early 1980’s when he passed certain classified information to the Israeli government. No other person who was convicted of obtaining classified information for an ally of the U.S. has served in prison as long as has Pollard, and several who were convicted of spying for enemies of the U.S. were released after serving shorter sentences.
On Wednesday, March 13, Jonathan Pollard and his wife, Esther, released a statement calling on all Israelis to show the utmost respect to President Obama during his visit to the Jewish state, according to the Jerusalem Post. This statement was made in response to a call from an Israeli politician to boycott President Obama’s speech if the president does not bring the Pollard home to Israel with him.
“Esther and Jonathan Pollard join the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home in urging the public to refrain from any action that may impugn the honor of the State of Israel by conveying, even inadvertently, any hint of disrespect or dishonor towards our official distinguished visitor,” the Pollards said in a statement. “We call upon the Israeli public to welcome President Obama to our country and to behave at all times with all due respect and honor towards the president of the United States.”
The 2013 Israeli Beauty pageant provided the usual amount of tears of joy and of disappointment from the contestants, but also managed to record a historic moment: Yityish Aynaw, 21, of my home town of Netanya, was turned in an instant from a shoe store manager into a queen.
She broke out in tears as soon as she heard her name announced. A former Israeli army officer, she became the first Ethiopian-Israeli to win the Miss Israel pageant.
I’d like to think that all of us here, in Netanya, have become queens, even if for only a moment, as we basked in Yityish Aynaw’s glory.
A panel of judges at the International Convention Center Haifa on Wednesday awarded the title to the young and gorgeous model, who came to Israel only about a decade ago.
“It’s important that a member of the Ethiopian community wins the competition for the first time,” she told the judges during the spoken word part of the competition. “There are many different communities of many different colors in Israel, and it’s important to show that to the world.”
Aynaw came to Israel with her brother after their parents had passed away, when she was 12. Acclimating to Israel was difficult at first, Aynaw said, but she picked up the language quickly with the help of a friend.
She has been working as a shoe store manager since her army discharge.
During the competition, Aynaw, who said Israel badly needed more dark skinned models, cited the slain American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. as one of her heroes.
“He fought for justice and equality, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here: I want to show that my community has many pretty qualities that aren’t always represented in the media,” she said.
Orna Levy is a fourth generation Jerusalemite whose family has been in the jewelry-making business for the past 100 years. Orna and her husband Itzik Levy, an immigrant from Argentina, created the Yvel company in 1986, and their jewelry line—featuring pearls, sapphires, diamonds and other gems—is internationally known. Today, Yvel (Levy spelled backwards) manufactures its jewelry in Israel and exports to 650 retail outlets on five continents including Neiman Marcus. Katy Perry, Rihanna, Maria Sharapova, Scarlett Johansson and Isla Fisher have been seen wearing Yvel-designed jewelry at celebrity functions and on magazine covers.
The company’s employees are mostly immigrants who have come to Israel from places like the United States, Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia. The Levys’ business philosophy is firmly rooted in social responsibility and philanthropy.
“Itzik’s father lost all of his family’s savings in a bad business deal upon arriving to Israel,” explains Orna. “Itzik has never forgotten this and has always aimed to strengthen weaker immigrant populations in Israel.”
This is why Itzik and Orna celebrated Yvel’s 25th anniversary in 2010 by establishing the Megemeria School of Jewelry and Art, which offers professional training in jewelry crafting and design to new Ethiopian immigrants.
Partnering with the Association for Community Empowerment (Yedid), which assists Israelis in becoming self-sufficient members of society, the Levys opened the school within the Yvel complex, outside Jerusalem. The school gives the students, who are all recent immigrants from Ethiopia, jewelry-making training followed by employment opportunities in the Yvel factory once they complete the program.
While learning the jewelry trade, including gem-setting, gold and silver-smithing, and the design process, the students also receive Hebrew lessons, family budget and management training, math courses, and Israeli cultural lessons. For many of the Ethiopian students, who had little if no formal education back in Ethiopia, these supplementary courses are critical for a better integration into Israeli society and finding employment.
Yedid’s executive director Sari Rivkin says that the first graduating class of Megemeria has produced a special collection which was inspired by the immigrants’ personal and collective journey from Ethiopia to Israel. “Many of the jewelry designs feature words from the students’ native Amharic language. This is a very unique social enterprise,” Rivkin explains.
Once the students graduate and take the Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor certification exam, they can begin working at Yvel’s Design Center either in jewelry design or in sales and administration. For the graduating class this year, eight will continue on with Yvel, making and selling jewelry, with profits helping to cover their salaries and the costs of the school.
Abbito Einalem, an Ethiopian student who came with no background in crafting jewelry, now looks on proudly at a pendant she has created, inscribed with the Amharic word desta, which means happiness. “I want to continue in this profession in the future,” she says. “It has given me so much already.”