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Same story, just a different name

When a police officer's bullet killed Salomon Teka, I thought everyone in Israel would understand our pain. I was wrong
Screenshot from the film 'The Hate U Give': Same story just a different name
Screenshot from the film 'The Hate U Give': Same story just a different name

I recently flew to the United States to work in a Jewish summer camp. On the flight there I watched a movie called “The Hate U Give.” It’s about a police officer that shoots a sixteen year old African American young man because he thought that he was going to pull out a gun from his car, but actually he was just reaching for a comb.

At the end of the movie there was no justice for this murdered teenager despite the efforts of the main character to reveal the truth of what happened the night he was shot. I thought to myself, oh, this is interesting, why would God give me the opportunity to see this movie now? And then I found out that Salomon Teka had been shot by a police officer. I could immediately see the connections.

Click for more Ethiopian-Israeli Voices.

In the States, I was far away from everything happening in Israel, but I still felt the pain that Salomon Teka’s family had to go through; the reality of another injustice hit me like a ton of bricks. I understand the Ethiopian Jewish frustration and the anger that erupted as a result of this shooting. I figured that since this terrible thing had happened, everybody in Israel would now be able to understand our community’s pain, but unfortunately no one did. I clearly see the gap between how I feel and how others feel about this injustice.

Some Ethiopian-Israelis became enraged and went to violent extremes. I feel that the Nation of Israel has really lost its way. To me, it seems that it has become Israeli society verses the Ethiopians. I feel betrayed by my own country. I look at what has been put up on social media and all I can see are huge hateful lies about Salomon Teka in order to justify his murder by the police. There are actually  complaints that patients in ambulances have died en route to hospitals due to the protests that have been taking place throughout the streets of Israel.

Why?

Why do people have to be so cruel? There are many individuals working hard to spread these lies in order to hide the realities of prejudice and discrimination. Why aren’t they working this hard to expose what really happened and is happening on a regular basis? Salomon Teka was murdered by a police officer and there is a huge community that wants to put an end to violence like this. They want it to end so badly that they are willing to end it  in any way that they can. We need all of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel, to join us in this fight.

At the end of the movie ” The Hate U Give” they used the tragedy to build a stronger community. I deeply hope that is what will happen from this case. That we can love each other and will remember that we are one Nation together. There should never be a war between brothers.

This post was contributed with the assistance of Nishmat – The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women.

Find perspectives on this issue at The Times of Israel topic page for Ethiopian-Israeli Voices.

About the Author
Barhan, currently a staff member at Camp Shoshanim in Pennsylvania, studied in Nishmat’s Maayan (N.E.W.) academic advancement program for Ethiopian Israelis this year. Prior to her year at Nishmat, Bhran completed two years of National Service in education and educational touring. She currently lives in Ashdod with her family and plans to begin college in the fall.
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