I believe that there is a little bigot inside each and everyone of us who makes us suspicious of those who are different. But with maturity and proper upbringing most of us learn to control the beast and keep it controlled.
Unfortunately sometimes that bigot is not contained, then, like cancer, it grows too big and takes over. A scary example is the shady character of the rapper The Shadow (Ha’tsel Yoav Eliasi) with his hateful declarations and vile outbursts especially against Arabs and the left.
But although The Shadow is quite popular and has thousands of followers on social media, who chant after him “death to the Arabs, I personally don’t know anyone who takes him seriously. It seems that he is yet another shameful manifestation of the new Likkud, similarly to the violent ultra right wing La Familia soccer thugs in the Jerusalem team of Beitar.
But when the Chief of Israeli Police Roni Alasheich speaks like a bigot in a conference of the Israeli bar association, then it is a serious matter. When asked why the police uses excessive violence toward Ethiopian youth, the chief explained that “in all studies around the world, with no exception, it was found that immigrants and youth are more involved in criminal activities than other segments in the population.
Of course there is no reason to use excessive violence toward anyone, but, in addition to that axiom, there are several other problems with Alesheich’s scholarly argument. First, he has not checked every study, without exception. Second, those young Israelis are not “immigrants,” as most of them were born in this country. Third, even if they immigrated as children with their families, here we don’t regard new immigrants as “migrants,” but welcome them home to Israel.
Based on that research Alsheich’s concludes that it is “natural” for a policeman to be more suspicious of an Ethiopian youth than, for example, of his “typical” Israeli counterpart.
Here lies the real problem, while it is almost brave for the chief of Israeli police to admit that the police has a bias against Ethiopian youth, the word natural should not be condoned or mentioned in that connection. What he should have said, and done, instead was to declare that in order to cure that prejudice within the Israeli police force, he initiated an educational program to teach policemen about diversity and cultural sensitivity.
As a religious Jew Roni Alsheich should be more attuned to the rampant discrimination against Ethiopian Jews within his own community. He must be aware of the fact that for years children of Ethiopian new immigrants have been sent to state religious school where they were never accepted as equals.
Like many other policemen on the force, our chief of police is biased. Thus it would be advisable for him to attend a cultural sensitivity workshop as soon as possible. As his first assignment he could write a proper apology to the Ethiopian community. In addition, he should make sure that in the meantime someone with proper training goes over his statements so he doesn’t continue to step on everyone’s toes.
P.S This is the Guardian article which reports the incident with Roni Alsheich, but I translated the quotes from the Haaretz in Hebrew since I felt they were more accurate.
The link to my other essay about Ethiopian Jews in Israel