The deputy mayor of Tel Aviv is Ethiopian. There have been 7 Ethiopian Knesset members. There are Ethiopian IDF officers. There are Ethiopian doctors, athletes and actors.
While the path has not been easy for them, and there’s still more to do, Israel did and is doing an amazing job integrating Ethiopian Jews into Israeli society.
The problem is not how Israeli society treats Ethiopians.
The problem is not how the Israeli police treat Ethiopians.
The problem is how the Israeli police treat everyone.
As investigation after investigation, and scandal after scandal exposes, the Israeli police are violent, they are corrupt, they are misogynists, and as the Israeli joke goes, if the Israeli police weren’t wearing uniforms, they’d be the criminals.
Last week’s police brutality against the Ethiopian IDF soldier was just one more case in a long string of cases of police brutality.
I’ve witnessed police brutality at protests. I’ve experienced it at protests, to personal injury.
My fellow blogger Jameel was nearly killed by a policeman at Gush Katif in front of my eyes. (And mind you, for those who remember that story, we had written permission from some very high ranking Ministry of Defense officials to be where we were).
Only the fast interception by a Druse policeman stopped the violent policeman’s truncheon from smashing Jameel’s head open like a watermelon. And the oblivious-turned-shocked Jameel, who had been just standing there looking the other way, didn’t even know he was almost killed, until he turned around from the noise and saw the Druse policeman blocking the violent policeman’s deadly swing.
The Israeli police need to be cleaned out from top to bottom.
They should start with Machash – the Police’s Internal Investigations unit, who as my friends (who have been victims of police violence) can attest to, are not interested in investigating the violent policemen and getting rid of them.
I will finish up with one story.
During the anti-Oslo protests in the 90s, the police would suddenly get extremely violent, rushing out at us, beating people up, and so on – even though the protesters were not violent at all.
We learned to expect it.
But one day, at one protest, it didn’t happen.
The police were just sitting there on their horses. The water canons weren’t blasting, and the protest was allowed to complete itself non-violently – as it was supposed to.
Quite surprised at the lack of police violence that I was used to seeing and experiencing, I (brazenly/stupidly) went over to one policeman on his horse and sarcastically asked him, “Why aren’t you beating us up? Usually this is when you get violent.”
I was surprised to receive an honest answer.
The policeman said, “We received orders to not attack you this time.”
I think that says it all.