Ethiopian Jews take to streets against racism

Hundreds of members of Israel's Ethiopian community gather on Rothschild Boulevard to protest discrimination and racism

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Members of Israel's Ethiopian community gathered on Rothschild Boulevard in central Tel Aviv on Monday to protest discrimination and racism, marching towards the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and eventually to Rabin Square.

Demonstrators began marching towards Ayalon Highway, but police - which said they would not allow any roads to be blocked - kept them away from the freeway. The confrontation led to the brief closure of Shaul Hamelech street.

“We wish to show that things haven’t dissipated – we’re continuing to protest,” one of the demonstration leaders, Inbar Bugale, told Haaretz earlier Monday, referring to recent protest events by the community elsewhere in the country.

“Nothing has been done for 30 years and we want to show the prime minister that this time we are not giving in, even if he commits to doing something, we won’t be quiet until we see results,” she added.

“Everything is being done after obtaining a license. We’re not against the police. We’re against the laws and directives they are given, and we’re opposed to them taking the law into their own hands,” said Bugale.

Israel has a significant population of Jews with Ethiopian origins, most of whom migrated to the Jewish state between 1984 and 1990. 

However, the Ethiopian Jewish community has so far not been integrated properly into the Jewish society and have allegedly been exposed to racism, lack of opportunity, endemic poverty and routine police harassment.  

The protesters at the weekend called on re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find a solution to the issues they face before the violence rises to the levels seen in Baltimore. 

"Bibi, you had better not let Baltimore reach Israel," said a protester on a TV broadcast.   

Two weeks ago clashes erupted in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square as thousands of people gathered to protest police brutality towards Israeli Jews of Ethiopian descent.

Dozens of people were injured, many of them police officers. Police made 43 arrests. 

Later police stated that 56 police officers were lightly wounded in the protest and one was moderately wounded.

TRTWorld and agencies