Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Always being blind for race does not equal anti-racism

Kesim, Ethiopian rabbinical leaders, at a Sigd celebration at Jerusalem's Haas Promenade when thousands gather to pray and recite Psalms. (Flash90)
Kesim, Ethiopian rabbinical leaders, at a Sigd celebration at Jerusalem's Haas Promenade when thousands gather to pray and recite Psalms. (Flash90)

My third blog post in as many days, discussing death in homicide or through negligent manslaughter in Israel connected to ethnicity.

Two days ago, I discussed men murdering their wives or girlfriends. For many years already, this happens in Israel with a frequency of two per month (population: 8 million; 3 per million per year). (In The US (where women kill husbands too in great numbers) the rate is about 2.8/m, y, in the UK 1.5, Australia 2.4/m, y.) Most couples in this trouble here have been or Gentile Arabs or New Immigrants. The ‘uptick’ in uxoricide now reported does not exist. The only news is that it coincidentally happened one after the other to a couple of long-term-Israeli Jewish women.

Yesterday, I wrote about men dying in construction work accidents in Israel. Most of them are foreign workers and Israeli Arab Gentiles.

Black Lives Matter

Today, I will address the recent killing of an Ethiopian Youth, shot by an Israeli policeman. These kinds of deaths are nowhere-near happening here at the same frequency as in the US, where so often White policemen killed Black men (Black Lives Matter). There are ‘only’ a few cases here but they are on top of mounting racism Ethiopian Jews are subjected to, day-to-day.

There was no racism against Ethiopian Jews to be seen, 20 years ago. What happened? Perhaps then, the quiet shy Ethiopian new immigrants still kept more to themselves, staying under the radar of racists. When I first met Ethiopian Jews, they were all the sweetest of the sweet. They still are, but now often with something bitter on top of it. And with good reasons.

Let’s review what the press reported about the most recent killing. Ethiopian activists, allies, family of the victim, and friends refuse to let this case end up in a cover-up or be reasoned-away. Why?

Two Conflicting Defenses Means no Defense

At first, when I first blogged about this killing, the policeman’s story was that he felt threatened and only fired at the ground. The killing bullet indeed was found and turned out to have been a ricochet. Many said: End of case. Too quickly! My questions at the time were: But why did he pull his gun on an Ethiopian Jew in the first place? They’re not known to attack police people unprovoked. Why should we believe his neat story trying to clear himself if so clearly there are holes in it (what angered the youths)?

Now the press reports that the officer says that he was running from the three youths, ‘wildly’ shooting behind him. What happened to his earlier story that he aimed at the ground? Aiming and wildly don’t go together.

I’m not legally schooled and not his judge but here we have a police officer who shot an Ethiopian youth and claims contradictory things on why he’s innocent. In both cases, he claimed he felt in danger. But now we know that the victim was as drunk as it gets and drugged. An active policeman cannot outrun a drunk? The choice is only between standing safely and shooting? It is police forbidden to run away to avoid harm to himself?

To Ignore ‘Race’ Can be Racist

One should not take someone’s ethnic background or skin color into account when that is irrelevant. That’s how children seek playmates. But that doesn’t include (how uncomfortable for Whites): always overlook race. White people should roundly acknowledge feeling uneasy about race. Non-Caucasians who’ve been around Caucasians just see our uneasiness like Jews see the anti-Semitism in Gentiles. Pretending that ‘we’re all the same’ pushes any racism problems toward non-Whites. ‘It’s your problem, you solve it.’ And if racism is anyone’s problem, it’s ours — to solve.

About this case, three things should be regarded with racism in mind.

One. You can’t consider the drunk Ethiopian youth without seeing that, when society rejects you for your roots, being drunk is not just a flee from responsibility and distress but also caused by racism. This was a good guy floored by society. If you ignore that, you’re strengthening racism.

Two. Why in the world did the officer pull out his gun? Ethiopian Jews have never attacked policemen unprovoked. (While we have seen cases of the opposite.) Isn’t that is the ultimate humiliation, to threaten to shoot someone? I have all (fire) power and you have nothing. Why was it necessary to escalate the situation like this? Who wouldn’t have been infuriated by that, especially when uninhibited by alcohol? Would he as easily have pulled a gun on a whiter youth? Statistics show he would not.

Three. The Police Investigations Department sent a letter to the parents of the boy defending (sic) the findings of the police ballistics department and the state’s forensics institute that the killing bullet was a ricochet. A letter? They sent a letter? Really? Are they scared of them? Or rather afraid of arguments against this technical bull? How insensitive and humiliating.

That’s how I understand the anger of Ethiopian Jews and friends. Just ignoring the race part of the story, makes it all come out racist.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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