Ethiopian Jews hold protest in Tel Aviv against racism

About 1,000 protesters chant slogans calling for social justice and condemning institutional racism in Israel.

Ethiopian Jews in Israel have staged several rallies against alleged police brutality and racism in recent weeks [AFP]

About 1,000 Israeli Ethiopian Jews have held a rally in Tel Aviv to protest against institutional racism in Israeli society.

Monday night’s march passed without incident under the watch of dozens of security officers, a police spokesman said.

Demonstrators chanted slogans demanding “social justice” and “the arrest of racist police”.

Ethiopian Jews in Israel have staged several rallies against alleged police brutality and racism in recent weeks, and some gatherings have turned violent as they clashed with security forces.

Earlier this month, a video of two police officers beating a black Israeli soldier sparked a massive protest by Ethiopian Jews, also in Tel Aviv.

The protest on May 4 drew thousands of demonstrators decrying racism and police brutality.

Although the protest began peacefully, violence erupted as police deployed stun grenades and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

Dozens of people were injured, including a number of police officers.

Following the May 4 protest, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, told the Ethiopian Jewish soldier who was beaten by police that racism “won’t be tolerated” in Israel.

Discrimination and poverty

Israel has about 135,500 Jewish Israelis of Ethiopian descent, including more than 50,000 born inside the country.

Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews affected by famine were airlifted to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s after a rabbinical ruling that they were direct descendants of the biblical Jewish Dan tribe.

The community, which includes many born in Israel, has long complained of discrimination, racism and lack of money.

More than half of the Ethiopians in Israel live in poverty and only half graduate from high school.

In 2013, Israel admitted to forcibly administering birth control injections to Ethiopian Jewish women without their consent or knowledge.

The Israeli government is frequently accused of racism for deporting African migrants.

Netanyahu has said that he is forming a government ministerial committee that will look at ending racism in the country.

Source: AFP, Al Jazeera