The viral video of Demas Fikadey, the Ethiopian-Israeli soldier who was attacked by police in Israel, has garnered international attention in the midst of protests against police brutality in Baltimore.
Although the violent protests were set off by video footage of police beating of a uniformed Israeli soldier, experts say the issues between the Ethiopian-Israeli community and the government are not new ones.
Police responded with stun grenades against a large protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Already, dozens have been reported injured and at least 26 demonstrators have been arrested.
On Monday, police estimated that at least 3,000 people took part in the demonstration, while media reports confirmed with organizers on the ground that the number of protestors is closer to 10,000.
Following the growing protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett met with demonstrators, and said Israeli society faced “serious soul-searching.”
While the law must be kept, we must all seek the real solutions for the problems that have surfaced in such a painful way,
his office quoted him as saying.
The protesters, in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, revealed an open and raw wound at the heart of Israeli society. The pain of a community crying out over a sense of discrimination, racism, and of being unanswered,
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said.
After the video went viral on YouTube and other social media platforms, police assured the public of coming repercussions for police officers that used violence against the Ethiopian community.
There are currently over 135,000 Ethiopian Jews that live in Israel, most of which immigrated in 1984 and 1991.
Despite the significant government assistance provided for Ethiopian Israelis, they have struggled to assimilate into Israeli society and are under represented in academia and public office. Employment is not the greatest issue, social inequality is. Regardless of their high rates of employment, the average income of an Ethiopian Jew is significantly lower.
It seems that Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, has recognized the severity of this social issue and agrees that the problem has grown due to neglect.
We must look directly at this open wound. We have erred. We did not look, and we did not listen enough,
While ‘Black Lives Matter’ rallies calling for police accountability are being organized across America, one thing is certain, black lives matter in Israel, too.
Watch the video here: