ethiopian jews riot in israel (may 2015)

Bibi – watch out! Baltimore comes to Israel

( translated from the French anarchist site “non fides” )

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On the placard: “Bibi, better watch out, Baltimore is coming to Israel”

Note: slight translation/typing errors corrected (31/5/15).

You arrived in Israel in the mid-1980s, and now, 38.5% of families from Ethiopia live below the poverty line, against an average of 14.3% for all Israeli Jews . You are only 2% of the Israeli population, yet you are 40% of prison inmates. You’re pejoratively called the “Falasha”. Since your childhood, you have suffered mockery, beatings and moral violence because your skin colour is not the same. Because you’re “bad Israelis” and “bad Jews”. But these days, you are no longer simply collateral damage of the old dreams of the movement of “national liberation” or Zionist expansionist Israel today; you are no longer mere victims – you hurt fifty cops, attacked the town hall with stones, and although the mounted police fired stun grenades to disperse you and to protect the municipal building of Tel Aviv, you blocked one of the country’s main motorways. It’s not so much the actions that count, but your determination to break the silence in which nationalism, capitalism and its various determinisms keep you.

 The interior minister (Yitzhak Aharonovitch), explained that scattering the “rioters” was complicated, because there was no leader to turn to, and that’s where all your strength and courage was. Leftists have already abandoned you even after having supported you in the past [1] as in all cases of leaderless revolts throughout the world. There are quite a few self-appointed leaders of the Ethiopian Jewish community who condemn the riots and who talk about  an “anarchist” conspiracy  [2].

This is the  video which set alight the powderkeg which propelled you  into the streets by the thousands – we see an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin being beaten for no reason (though he resisted) in the street by two racist police testing their Krav Maga. Images that inflamed the streets as others ignited  American streets in recent months. Images that refer to everyday racism and exploitation that many non-Jews also face: Israeli Arabs, migrants from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

As with Ferguson and Baltimore recently, you decided to stop suffering in silence and shame. Armed with your courage you clashed with the police regime that oppresses you after having “hosted” you, confronting the shame in which they would like you to drown. As with Ferguson and Baltimore recently, you attempted to recover your dignity with rage, and hopefully with hope.

For once in Israel the United States is imitated for something other than for the blatant bullshit of its leaders (and their democratic militarism) and of a good part of its population … With this there is something to celebrate, there’s something in it to find a bit of  hope, that we can add to the hope that’s expressed every day by those who refuse to serve in the IDF [3], those who every day, individually revolt against Israel’s militarist and colonialist regime and against the Palestinian Authority from the inside.

As we often say, our revolts create our solidarity and our solidarity create our revolts. Our hearts are with you, far from theirs. Against all authority, for the spread of revolt.


[1] The NIF, for example, a fairly ultra-left organization, released this obnoxious  communique  denying its participation in the events.

[2] In Israel anything Israeli, anti-Zionist and non-Arab is considered anarchist, particularly because of the existence of the extra-parliamentary left group, the self-proclaimed “anarchists against the wall,” who are more social democrats than anything else …

[3]  See, for example,  this video by a young Israeli explaining his refusal to serve  in the IDF.

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Protesters, whom are mainly Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, run away as a policeman on a horse tries to disperse them during a demonstration against what they say is police racism and brutality, after the emergence last week of a video clip that showed policemen shoving and punching a black soldier in a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv May 3, 2015. Israeli mounted police charged hundreds of ethnic Ethiopian citizens and fired stun grenades on Saturday to try to clear one of the most violent protests in memory in the heart of Tel Aviv. REUTERS/Baz Ratner - RTX1BDSA

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Protesters, whom are mainly Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, stand next to a garbage bin they set on fire at Rabin Square during a demonstration against what they say is police racism and brutality, after the emergence last week of a video clip that showed policemen shoving and punching a black soldier at a protest in Tel Aviv May 3, 2015. Israeli mounted police charged hundreds of ethnic Ethiopian citizens and fired stun grenades on Saturday to try to clear one of the most violent protests in memory in the heart of Tel Aviv. REUTERS/Baz Ratner - RTX1BDR5


From the News Of Opposition page:


Israel, Jerusalem: Ethiopian Jews riot against cop harassment “…some 1,000 protesters blocked roads and the Jerusalem Light Rail, and threw rocks and bottles at police sent to quell the rioting. At least three police officers and eight demonstrators have been injured. The protests over alleged police brutality and racism were sparked by the two beatings this week of Ethiopian-Israelis, both captured on video.” (video here)


Israel, Tel Aviv: conflicts between Ethiopian Jews and cops continue “…protesters threw rocks and glass bottles at police, who responded with stun grenades and fired water cannons at protesters. As of midnight Sunday, almost 50 people were injured. According to Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, 23 of them were police officers.” More here Israeli mounted police charged hundreds of Ethiopian-Israeli citizens and fired stun grenades on Sunday to try to clear one of the most violent protests in memory in the heart of Tel Aviv. The protesters, Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, were demonstrating against what they say is police racism and brutality after the emergence last week of a video clip that showed policemen shoving and punching a black soldier. Demonstrators overturned a police car and threw bottles and stones at officers in riot gear at Rabin Square in the heart of Israel’s commercial capital. … tear gas was also used, something the police declined to confirm. “I’ve had enough of this behavior by the police, I just don’t trust them any more … when I see the police I spit on the ground,” one female demonstrator who was not identified told Channel 2 before police on horseback had charged. Earlier, demonstrators brought evening rush hour traffic to a standstill for over an hour by blocking one of the city’s main highways. …Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in dramatic, top-secret operations in the 1980s and 1990s after a rabbinical ruling that they were direct descendants of the biblical Jewish Dan tribe. The community, which now numbers around 135,500 out of Israel’s population of over 8 million, has long complained of discrimination, racism and poverty. Tensions rose after an incident a week ago in a Tel Aviv suburb where a closed circuit video camera captured a scuffle between a policeman and a uniformed soldier of Ethiopian descent.”…Netanyahu says “…there is no place for this type of violence” – we know the type he colonises several places for.

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9 responses to “ethiopian jews riot in israel (may 2015)”

  1. a 'self-proclaimed' aatw avatar

    i liked the piece and was gonna share it on my network until i read footnote #2.
    we’re anything but perfect anarcha-rebels, but relegating us as “social-democrats” just strikes me as a breech of solidarity… you can learn about us here:

    1. Sam FantoSamotnaf avatar

      I’ll check out the link later. Wasn’t personally intended to put you down (I know very little about you) – it was just a translation of the original non-fides footnote.

    2. Sam FantoSamotnaf avatar

      Just received the following email re. the comment about “Anarchists Against the Wall”:

      “If you want to trust my word for it and my acquaintance with them, then I can guarantee you the the truth lies more with “non-fides” than with the guy that commented and with what they proclaim themselves to be. I don’t know about their activities now, but at the time when I was still living in Israel, In almost every occasion when they spoke about what they do and why (in the media, politic talk-shows, and other occasions) they said almost nothing of any libertarian critique and mainly referred to “respecting the UN decision this-and-that”, “breaches of international laws”, “human rights”, and the usual liberal jargon. It could well be that perhaps they were pretty militant in the demonstrations which they took part in and even organized together with Palestinians (although of course less militant than the Palestinians themselves…), but there was nothing really “anarchist” or with any interesting political critique in them other than calling themselves “Anarchist Against the Wall”. And when you try to interest them in more radical contents (like I did once with a friend at a big demonstration in Tel Aviv) they usually avoid digressing from the “Palestinian question” and avoid trying to have an ACTUAL anti-hierarchical look on things and on the relation between the so-called Palestinian question and their everyday life and alienation, or even to see how the institutions they refer to such as the UN and the EU are main contributors to the “conflict” and oppression. Another example: there were a couple of incidents back then when a female friend of mine who likes to dress provocative came to their demonstration with clothes that allegedly offend the Muslim Palestinians and the “anarchists” physically prevented her from participating, or at least tried to. Her only crime at one incident was wearing shorts.”

  2. […] Tel Aviv: Ethiopian Jews clash again with cops (video). See also this and this “Prior to Monday’s demonstrations, Israeli-Ethiopian soldiers organized an online […]

  3. James MacBryde avatar
    James MacBryde

    “You [Ethiopian “Jew”] are only 2% of the Israeli population, yet you are 40% of prison inmates.”

    In 2016, according to Israel Prisons Service (IPS), out of a total of 20,568 inmates, 5,659 are Jewish; more than twice that number, 12,397, are Arab; and 2,512 are classified as “other” – including asylum seekers held in detention camps, as well as a handful of non-Israelis who are neither Jewish nor Arab.

    I could not readily retrieve a figure to ascertain what proportion of Jewish prisoners in Israel are of Ethiopian origin but assuming that the whole Jewish prison population was of Ethiopian descent, and none were Oriental or European or mixed or other, than the Ethiopian portion still only represents 25% of the whole prison population in the State of Israel.

    1. Sam FantoSamotnaf avatar

      Assuming your figures are correct for 2014-15 (the riots were in 2015, remember – not 2016), the article might be referring specifically to Israelis in prison. I know there are many Arab Israelis but maybe the figures also refer to non-Israelis in prison. And probably it didn’t include “detention camps”.

  4. James MacBryde avatar
    James MacBryde

    The “21st century intifada” continues; or, intifada [shaking off] continues into 21st century [5775]

  5. Sam FantoSamotnaf avatar

    Some reflections on the state of Israeli politics & life (sent by various emails following the recent massacres on the border with Gaza)):

    “…specifically regarding the territories and all the different forces at work there, it is something that in order have a thorough grasp about you have to have some direct connection and communication with Palestinians (whether the Palestinian citizens Israel – the so-called “Israeli Arabs” – or Palestinians in the territories) or at least speak Arabic. Otherwise you can only have a partial understanding, which is okay to some degree and still better than nothing, if you pick your sources carefully…
    The one thing I can tell you is the most general thing about my experience in Israel. Without going deeper into the class distinctions and contradictions, about which I’m not educated enough, in the most general aspect there are two societies there: the so-called “Jewish” and the so-called “Arab”, even without the territories. So the “problem” with the territories is only one aspect of the general problem of the whole of this geographical and political area of Israel-Palestine. The alienation I felt there, and still feel every time I come to visit, is a double alienation from both the Israeli-Zionist apparatus (that alienation is of course connected to Israel’s and its Palestinian equivalent’s function in the wider spectacular apparatus) and from being detached and without links to the entire Arab population in Israel and the territories. In that sense I’m expressing here something that I don’t hear many people speak about: I’m regretting the fact that for me it’s a pity that I don’t speak Arabic and that I feel alien when I’m in an Arab neighborhood or city, for my own experience, not for them, the poor oppressed Arabs. And I think that until people in the “Jewish” population recognize how this alienation harms themselves there cannot really be a joint struggle against the forces of oppression.”

    “…my girlfriend…just said something interesting following her impression of some talkbacks/comments from Israelis regarding the latest wave of killings at the Israeli border. Unlike the “normal” routine of killings – to which the “common” Israeli (and also the state/army itself) responds with a denial of the facts or some sort of a lie as to show that it wasn’t really like what the Palestinian sources are telling us, that the dead person wasn’t really innocent, or that it was an accident, etc. – now it seems to her that even when it’s impossible to deny or to falsify “unjust” killings, the public still supports it almost 100 percent and accept the state excuses about “defending the border” etc. For me it’s not a surprise, but to her it was one, in a way. …”

    “If you want to learn more about the poor state of contestation in Israel, you may find this interesting:
    “Standing Together activists’ admiration for Podemos and British Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of politics, however, is clear. Podemos’s color, like that of Standing Together, is purple. And activists sometimes literally translate Corbynite slogans — like “for the many, not the few” — into Hebrew in their speeches.”

    Also this quite short book review:

  6. Sam FantoSamotnaf avatar

    According to the reporter “the demo organizers say that an extreme
    minority has taken the chance to create provocations and turn this
    peacful demo into a violent one.” He also says that the protesters tried
    to enter the police building and pelleted the police with rocks and

    I remind you again that throwing objects at the police (not to mention
    stabbing them…), in Israel, by non-Palestinians, has only ever taken
    place when the protesters where either Mizrachi Jews (back in the
    days… today they have been accustumed to respect police. Well, many
    officers if not the majority are Mizrachi now…), Ethiopian Jews and
    Ultra Orthodox Jews. There is no class consciousness among the Ashkenazi
    Jews, and hardly any history of class struggle. Non-violence is sacred
    among Ashkenazi Jews, most of which had fulfilled their obligatory
    military service and have an identification with the state apparatus not
    similar to any other country I know.

    Also notice how very little (almost non) national flags at these
    protests, compared to the widespread ongoing protest against the legal
    reforms etc. that people are calling an anti-dictatorship protests…
    Ethiopians have seen too many times the real face of this ethnocracty to
    brandish its flag:

    “The ban on using blood from Ethiopian-born Israelis came to light in
    1996 when the Ma’ariv newspaper revealed that samples from the community
    were being routinely destroyed by the Magen David Adom emergency
    services, which manages the national Blood Bank.
    The revelation prompted riots and a public inquiry and the issue has
    remained an open sore for the Israeli-Ethiopian community ever since.”

    As well as continuosly racist policing against them and a few murders by
    police who sparked similar riots.

    In a country where the riot police are not hardly equipped as in Europe
    (but non less violent), surprising that this didn’t happen before (not
    within a protest at least).

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