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

Our understanding of Ethiopian Israelis must improve

Something went wrong in the reporting of the Ethiopian demonstrations in the media and around me and it pains me.

However, let me first agree with this analysis that much has improved vis-à-vis Ethiopians in the last couple of years and that Israel is not terribly racist though there is still no ideal situation. That the situation is worse than ever is simply untrue, to put it lightly.

I find the situation among the public much better than among the police.

The police are in the process of rehabilitating themselves from a bully culture. But not only have police personnel generally been much too aggressive in the last decennia, they also often have put their very limb and life on the line protecting everyone against terrorism. It’s not so easy to criticize them.

And of course, the situation is not black-and-white (pun not intended). There are many excellent police people who would never participate in anything racist. More and more Israeli police have African heritage. And humble police chiefs should get credit.

Ministerial Committee on the Advancement of Integration in the Israeli Society of Israeli Citizens of Ethiopian Origin has not only given comprehensive recommendations, a few years ago. These have also been enthusiastically received by the PM with the intention and order to implement them in full and immediately. And there are results. What’s true is true.

And Israel is simply not that racist, compared to many other countries.

In addition to all of the above nuance, reasonableness, progress and optimism, we non-Africans need to be aware that accusations of racism are generally difficult to admit for us Whites. The first step is to listen to Blacks and not argue. It’s our turn to be nervous. We need to learn what it’s like before we can stop the interpersonal and institutionalized racism. Calling Blacks exotic isn’t good either. That’s never far away from plain classical racism. If you must, you can call Whites funny and strange.

People outside any oppressed group, when confronted, often try to turn the tables and play the victim. “Actually, they make me nervous.” This disputes that the oppression exist which is the most racist thing to do.

With the founding of the State of Israel, Jews from Arab countries were treated with disdain, as primitives, as second class, while in their lands of origin they often had belonged to the societal or religious elite. A real revolt was needed before things started improving. Fortunately, now the situation is so equalized that statisticians already can’t tell Ashkenazic from Mizrachic Jews because of the high frequency of ‘intermarriage.’

NB: Most Jews in Israel have Arab roots; most Arabs in Israel are Jews. There is nothing more racist (and false) that BDS fighting “White racist European Jewish colonialists who moved to Israel at the expense of the local Arabs” — totally ignoring the Jewish State’s Arab-Jewish majority. (Mind you, Jews are indigenous to Palestine; Philistines come from Europe.)

Of all Jews, only Ethiopians are (though rarely) attacked (remember these policemen who viciously attacked an Ethiopian soldier (!)? Though there was video from it, it took forever before they were punished.) and even killed by the police. This is racism. There is no other word for it. You can’t honestly call it a coincidence, happens, mistakes are made everywhere.

We don’t need to await an outcome of any investigation. It’s racism and murder. Maybe not for the law or not provable in court. Racist murder never the less. Even if this was an accident, it’s still racist manslaughter. Huh? Yes, because statistically there would have been no chance of a policeman pulling his gun on a non-Ethiopian Jew. And we don’t blame the victim. Especially not when he’s first insulted for his roots. (Also Ethiopians don’t get furious for nothing. Assuming that they do is racist too.) In any case, the Sages tells us, not to judge anyone [negatively] until we have stood in their shoes.

Most Israelis don’t need an investigation to know what happened when someone in France murdered his elderly Jewish neighbor. Maybe it was hate for the elderly? Maybe it was a robbery? Maybe he was just insane? Maybe she provoked him? Maybe she attacked him? Clearly not!

We Whites are often just too eager to excuse and neutralize our biased attitude. Admit it (at least about other Whites)! For decades, I’m actively involved in addressing psychological racism — it’s stubborn stuff.

Many Ethiopians have not been long in Israel. Different from Africans in the US, they don’t come from generations of slaves. They did not live for 2000 years as Jews in Europe in constant fear of extermination. When they are targeted for their skin color, they are livid in an instance — good for them. How dare anyone? Our (subconscious) wish that they’ll protest racist murder with meekness is racism. Yes, we are shook-up from their ‘lack of internalized inferiority.’ Glad to learn how proud we should feel. (Proud — not arrogant. Until now, I’ve never seen an arrogant Ethiopian.)

Someone murdered in Israel for being a Jew by a terrorist gets a high-ranking political figure at his funeral. Someone murdered in Israel for being Black by (no less) a policeman gets no official from the State?

Our President Rivlin is known for his life-long fight against racism. Why was he absent from the internment? He should have represented us all and spoken for everyone saying: “There is no place for racism in Israel. Ethiopians are us and we will not tolerate any White supremacy. Also not from people who have been targeted because of their roots (Jews) or cultural background (Mizrachics) of beliefs (the Orthodox).”

As I motioned before, loudness by people hurting comes from them believing that no one sees or hears them. Where was the President, representing us all? I tell you where. At the advanced celebrations of US Independence Day at the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Very important. But the Hebrew Bible already teaches that when we could go to a wedding or a house of mourning, we should go to the latter.

It is really not OK that leftwing politicians (Barak, Gantz, Peretz) immediately went to call on the mourners while rightwingers (Lieberman, Netanyahu, Rivlin) spoke only through the media of their solidarity. What took Erdan so long? This is racist too. (The mourner could have called for calm earlier if the suspect wasn’t immediately released and if the authorities had come earlier to comfort them. After the calm returned, Israel’s Chief Rabbis, never missing a chance to prove their redundancy and uselessness, called for calm on both sides.) And anti-racism should not be a competition between left and right. No one should be rejectedeveryone should be invited to fight racism.

Immediately after the killing, the police themselves were the first to have the chutzpah to call on demonstrators to exercise restraint. If anything would infuriate! And then politicians called for peacefulness. I’m all for non-violence. Yet, this sounds like Israel getting rocket fire and then the UN calling for restraint “from all parties.” Also, the Sages tell us already: Don’t pacify an angry person when his dead is still lying in front of him.

Thousands of demonstrators paralyzed intercity traffic for hours. It should have made everyone as happy as not being able to travel because of a flower parade. How could we let such a murder go by without any great outcry? Everyone stuck in traffic who couldn’t get through at all, should be proud to have been part of this historic protest.

One (1) civilian’s car got its windows smashed and was later put on fire. But it’s all over the news as if it typifies all three days of demonstrations. We only hear from the “terrified driver.” He admitted that there first was a quarrel. We don’t know what was said. No other drivers or cars were targeted like that. Why believe the driver that the content of that argument was immaterial? He was driving with a demonstrator on the hood. But he should be praised for not killing him? From the pictures, we can safely deduce that the driver must have said something terribly racist. Yet, now he’s the victim and the demonstrators the aggressors? He only lost his car. That’s not murder on top of year-in-year-out persecution by police.

Yes, many police persons got injured. And I’m sorry about that. But why blame only the demonstrators? The Israeli police are not exactly known for their diffusion of tension tactics. Where two fight, two are guilty. They should have been the first, under these circumstances, to be meek and far away from the demonstrators. And why don’t we hear about the number of injured activists? That is fair reporting?

And mind you, the formerly respectable Palestinian Post had no trouble quoting lots of Israel-hating Muslims that claim that the police randomly shoots Ethiopian and Arab men alike. No one in the West believes that equation, or that Arabs are just shot by the police in Israel. See how freely and fearlessly they walk the streets. But the Post prints in any way, without any questioning of the accusations. Statistically, Arabs who get furious might kill; Jews who get furious damage property. But anti-Zionist Haaretz lies as if the police have shot at violent Arab mobs because they were Arabs, not because they were a danger to life.

Racism can’t be overstated. It hurts as much as rape. And it kills.

If you like biology: Whites are the mutants! And Judaism rejects racism.

I was happy to hear that there were many Whites among the protestors. (Never mind that the police then discredited them too.) I didn’t see that in the reporting. As if this would be a case of them against us — which would be really racist. No, Israelis, on the whole, are OK.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), 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, 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. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * 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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