Israeli Police Confront a Demonstration by Ethiopian Jews
If the primary fault
line in Israel is between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, we should not overlook
the racism within the Israeli Jewish population. Ethiopian Jews and Black Hebrews also
experience extreme discrimination and brutality at the hands of the state . The attack below by the Border Police, who
are known for their brutality, on a Black Israeli is typical. As the article points out, a death squad of
Border Police had killed an unarmed and defenceless Palestinian inside Hebron’s
hospital the previous day.
Israeli border Police officer brutally
assaulted a Black Hebrew Israeli citizen at a security checkpoint in Eilat.
The victim, Yair Israel and his wife Anat, were en route to a local hotel where
he had planned a relaxing weekend celebrating his wife’s birthday.
Yair Israel’s natural foods business, Otentivee
is a well-known businessman in Dimona, where he runs a natural foods boutique, Otentivee (“Authentic Natural”),
whose products are known by vegetarians throughout the country. He’s been
interviewed on a number of Israeli TV shows where he’s showcased his passion
for natural and organic products.
brutal attack would’ve been just another anonymous, unseen incident of Israeli
official racism had not, Oded Zamora, an Israeli native who has lived in
Maryland for the past 14 years, been in the car following Israel at the
Yair Yisrael being choked during Border Police beating (Oded Zamora)
he saw the attack unfold, Zamora bravely exited his own vehicle and asked
officials why the attack was happening. When no one responded he took out
his cellphone and began videotaping. He told the attacker that he was
filming him. Unfortunately, this did nothing to abate the assault, which
increased in ferocity.
entire incident began with a policeman asking Yair to present his ID. He
did so. Then the policeman asked for his wife’s ID. Though he found
this unusual, he then presented his wife’s ID. At this point, a Border
Policeman who was sitting inside the security booth came on the scene and
began shouting angrily at Yair: “What’s your problem?” Then the attack
escalated. The Border Policeman began punching him. He tried forcing
Yair’s car door open. So the victim opened the door for him. He
then grabbed him and ejected him from the vehicle, continuing to brutally
strike him. He then dragged him behind the security booth where he beat
him even more.
entire scene unfolded in front of the victim’s wife, who was forced to see her
own husband brutalized by a bully in uniform. Both the victim and witness
attest that the former did nothing to provoke the attack, that he continually
asked in a civil manner why he was being assaulted, that he told the security
forces then he was a citizen of Israel and had at a local business. None of
this helped at all.
they handcuffed Israel, who repeatedly asked them why he was being arrested and
received no answer, and took him to the local police station. At the
station, he was questioned but could not explain to them what he had done to
provoke the attack. He was taken to the investigations unit and after two
or three hours released.
a reporter asked him why he thought the incident had occurred he replied:
don’t know. I only know there are many racists in Israel. Each day
I have similarly unpleasant experiences because of the color of my skin.
Everyone from our [Black Hebrew] community faces this. I know that
there are people in Israel who believe there is no value to a person and no
equality possible for someone of a different skin color [than them]. It’s
simply unbelievable what happens here. These are things we face every
her husband was taken away from the checkpoint, Anat was told by the
police to leave the scene. She told them she had no driver’s license. They told
her that as far as they were concerned she could walk to Eilat.
eyewitness, who remained at the scene, was asked by the police to leave the
area. He refused, telling them they should be ashamed and that the whole
incident was on video. He thought that might cause them to restrain
themselves. But it didn’t help. Instead, they demanded that he give
them his cell phone. They lied telling him it was illegal to film them.
He refused again. They told him that if he did not do so they would open
a criminal investigation against him
ran to his car and called his sister who is a member of a local kibbutz in
Eilat. He told her to drive urgently to the checkpoint. He said that if he was
no longer there, she should drive immediately to the police station. When she
arrived, Zamora asked his sister to drive Anat to the Kibbutz while he drove to
the police station to be with Yair.
asked by the reporter to explain why he understood Yair had been attacked, he
of the color of his skin. I see no other reason this should happen to a
young couple celebrating a birthday in Eilat. Yair offered his ID.
He didn’t attack anyone. He was inside his car the entire time.
I can’t even imagine how long it will take him to recover from this.”
asked if he regretted intervening in the incident, Zamora added:
one wants to go through such a thing. Maybe it will be a blemish upon
me, but when you see policemen behaving with such brutality you must get
involved. I thought about Yair. He had no one. He was lying
on the ground handcuffed. His powerlessness obligated me to get
Zamora is a true mensch. He stood up to injustice without fear.
Some, but likely very few Israelis would’ve done the same. So if
there are any readers who are going to say that Zamora’s courage redeems
redeems Israel or shows it to be a decent, liberal, humane society–think again.
He likely intervened because he’s been living in the U.S., where we are
becoming less & less tolerant of police abuse and executions. Even if
that’s not the case, the individual righteousness of citizens cannot compensate
for the overall evil that infects the official state apparatus.
is not a one-off act of racism by an lone-wolf Israeli police bully. This is
official racism and brutality. This is official sanctioned violence by the
state against its own citizens. Though they happen to be citizens who are not
White and therefore not worthy of the full rights of every other Israeli
citizen. Israel is a state seeped in racism and violence: not just
against Palestinians (which is half to be expected) but against its own
Palestinian and Black citizens.
often remarked here upon the special reputation for brutality and cruelty
“enjoyed” by the Border Police. They take torture to an entirely new
level. The assassination
in a Hebron hospital a few days ago was perpetrated by a Border Police
death squad, Yamas.
must end. There is only one way to do it: Israel must become a state of
all its citizens. Everyone must be treated the same. No person,
religion or ethnicity deserves superior treatment. Separation or
privilege based on these criteria must be rooted out. I am not saying
that religion should be rooted out, just that religions must be treated the
same. They must all receive respect and none treated better or
differently the other. And no religion may replace the state or supercede
the state or compel the state to act politically to achieve a religious
objective. Religions must occupy a spiritual space, not a political one.
The Thugs Respond
Border Police spokesperson responded to the charges against his force by
claiming that the level of force used in the incident was proportional and
reasonable. He lied, claiming that Israel refused to identify himself and
attacked the officers. He further claimed that while the victim was being
arrested he continued to resist. There is no evidence whatsoever to
support his account and the video completely repudiates this version. Further,
it makes no sense whatsoever that an Israeli citizen at a checkpoint would
refuse to identify himself. Every Israeli understands security protocols
and why they’re necessary. No one refuses to participate.
a straight face, the flack noted that because of this incident, the Border
Police were asking all citizens to behave with restraint and to coöperate fully
with security forces so that they could perform their duties. No one can
get Israeli border police to except any responsibility for its actions. It is
above the law, because it is the law.
the spokesperson claimed that Zamora had interfered with the arrest.
He also falsely claimed that the police asked him to accompany them to
the station as a witness to the event and because the video was evidence.
When he refused, he too was detained and brought to the station.
further claimed that the police lied when they told the media he’d been
released with conditions placed upon him. He was released without anyone
telling him anything about any conditions. He told the reporter that he
would continue to fight against this injustice:
am the second generation born in this country. And I must continue to
fight for change because there are new generations behind me. I must not
give up because the generation before me suffered from the same things, but had
no power to change anything. God gave me the strength to fight this so
that it won’t happen again.
want people to know the good things about our community. To give us
respect. Though we are a community that prefers to remain quiet, we can’t
ignore these things anymore.”
example of the grievous suffering inflicted on the Black Hebrew community,
this time by the IDF, read of the suspected murder of Toveet Radcliffe, a young
woman serving in the army. It claimed she committed suicide by shooting
herself with her own rifle.