Opinion

Ethiopian Israelis, Just Be Thankful You’re Not Arabs

Police carry a protester in Tel Aviv on July 2, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

One can only imagine what would have happened if Arab protesters had closed the Ayalon Highway for hours, stranding tens of thousands of people in a traffic jam. Rather than the onslaught by social and political analysts on our television screens to offer insight into the stormy protests by Ethiopian Jews, we would have been regaled by an arsenal of military and security analysts and spokespeople for the various intelligence organizations.

We also would have heard from strategic analysts and historians, and you can bet we would have been reminded again about the mufti of Jerusalem’s evil plots against the Jews that he whispered in Hitler's ear (in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s telling).

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The front page of Yedioth Ahronoth would have featured a huge picture of a Palestinian teen with a bunch of stones he was about to use to bring down the Jewish state. Then we would have heard about “the incited mob,” “the hatred in their eyes” and “the cries of ‘slaughter the Jews’” that only seem to be heard by the well-trained ears of patriotic reporters about lynchings of Jews that never took place.

Despite the choking off of major roads by the furious demonstrators, this time there were no heroic declarations like we heard during the Arab protests of October 2000 – that the police wouldn’t let any roads be blocked, even if it meant that protesters would be shot and killed. After all, everyone knows that an Israeli traffic artery is a blue-and-white Maginot Line whose fall would spell the end of the Jewish state. The other day, these Maginot Lines fell one after the other, and lo and behold, the Jewish state is still standing.

It’s true that drivers suffered. It’s true that they felt angry and helpless. But that’s the price of a painful and just protest. My Ethiopian Jewish brothers and sisters, just be thankful that you aren’t Arabs! If Arab youths had attacked a car, thrown stones at it or tried to hurt the driver (things that everyone agrees are unacceptable), I guarantee you the attackers wouldn’t have escaped with their lives. They and whoever else happened to be around would have been met by a hail of bullets.

So here’s another insight from the events of recent days: A stone in the hand of a Jew is just impertinent child’s play, while a stone in the hand of an Arab is a murder weapon. But it’s not just the government. It’s also the people whose minds have been poisoned by the government and its propagandists into thinking that a state armed to the teeth is in danger – mortal danger.

And when faced with mortal danger, everything must be done, even the killing of 13 Arab civilians in October 2000 and the wounding of dozens when the security forces who did the shooting certainly weren’t in mortal danger, or any other danger for that matter.

The police say they had information about the intention of a few Ethiopian protesters to shoot police officers. Thankfully, the protests have not seen any loss of life. In October 2000, there was no information about Arab demonstators who might open fire at the police, and yet snipers were positioned on rooftops and in other strategic locations in what amounted to a hit operation that wouldn't disgrace our organized crime groups.

Despite all the chaos, we haven’t yet heard the public security minister hurl false accusations. When the minister in charge of the police tells Arab protesters that “we are all brothers,” as he told the Jewish protesters, we’ll know that a new day has dawned. Until then, we still have a long way to go. Here’s to you, my Ethiopian Jewish brothers.