Anti-racism Panel’s Initiatives for Ethiopian Israelis Not Fully Implemented

Following protests in the Ethiopian Israeli community four years ago, the government made 52 decisions to fight racism through education, media and police outreach. Only 9 were carried out

Ethiopian Israeli protesters face off with police in Jerusalem, July 3, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Nine of 52 decisions that were included in the 2016 government report on the fight against racism directed towards Ethiopian Israelis have yet to be implemented and eight have yet to be fully completed, according to the anti-racism unit at the Justice Ministry.

The unit’s report was assembled by an inter-ministerial staff, headed by the director general of the Justice Ministry, Emi Palmor. The program follows protests by the Ethiopian Israeli community against police brutality four years ago.

Ethiopian Israelis protesting police shooting of Solomon TekaHaaretz

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In enumerating decisions by the panel that have not been implemented, it was noted that the Education Ministry has not provided teacher training against racism, the Culture Ministry has not created a fund for Ethiopian Israeli artists and the Israel Police have not published a yearly report on the disciplining of police officers who have acted in a racist manner.

Among the other decisions that have yet to be implemented is one relating to the recruitment of academics of Ethiopian descent to government posts. The Education Ministry has also failed to implement a proposal to provide incentives for creative youth projects that combat racism, and the Communications Ministry has failed to instruct the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council to support channels or broadcasters that provide exposure for television shows depicting the experiences of Israelis of Ethiopian descent.

On the other hand, the committee data show that many of the panel’s decisions have been implemented, including setting specific identification procedures for police in the field, which is meant to reduce racial profiling; free legal counsel for Israelis of Ethiopian descent, which is provided by the Justice Ministry’s legal aid section; the appointment of supervisors to prevent racism in government offices; and police training and translations into Amharic, the main language in Ethiopia, of documents given to suspects and their families.

The Education Ministry took exception to the claim that the committee’s decisions pertaining to it have not been implemented. “The ministry views the fight against racism as a mission of the highest level and is working very carefully to uproot every incident of racism in the educational system,” the ministry said. “Through a program creating a positive atmosphere in schools, the ministry has developed many programs on the matter. We are also creating a continuing education program on social dialogue and emotional sensitivity on these complex issues.”