Opinion

Israel Might Apologize to Ethiopians but Will Keep Shooting at Unarmed Gazans

Israel’s ludicrous attempt to create islands of morality and equality in a sea of racism and violence has once again blown up in its face

A protester stands opposite to a policeman during a protest for the death of 18-year old Solomon Tekah of Ethiopian descent, after he was shot by police, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 2, 2019.
\ CORINNA KERN/ REUTERS

Shooting an Ethiopian Jew is improper. Shooting an Israeli Arab is more proper, while shooting a Palestinian from the territories is the pinnacle of Israeli propriety.

Israel is deluding itself that it is possible to be periodically racist or periodically violent – supporting and even encouraging one type of racism and having reservations about another kind. It is allowed to shoot one kind of individual just because of his nationality, but is barred from shooting another only because of the color of his skin: Yawning over or even applauding in the face of the killing of Palestinian demonstrators, yet feeling a bit uneasy over the killing of Ethiopians of the same age.

Israel has developed a map of correctness for itself showing that some racism and violence are permissible and some are not. The police will be informed about it in the next few days.

Protestors shout slogans as they block a main road during a protest for the death of 18-year old Solomon Tekah of Ethiopian descent, after he was shot by police, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 2, 2019.
\ CORINNA KERN/ REUTERS

There will be a new sheet of instructions: Stop the racism against Ethiopians. As for everything else: carry on. It will be explained that beating and humiliating Ethiopians must stop, but it is allowed to continue toward other blacks, asylum seekers and also toward Israeli Arabs. And of course mistreatment of Palestinians in the territories is mandatory.

Educational seminars are already on the way about limited racism. It is a waste of the police staff’s time. There is nothing to explain to them and no reason to repeat the regulations. There is no such thing.

Either you’re a racist, or you’re not. Either you shoot for no good reason, or not. There is no middle ground.

Israel’s ludicrous attempt to create islands of morality and equality in a sea of racism and violence has once again blown up in its face. Israelis are united in their pretensions to present the country as a Western democracy, a model society with a tiny and unseen stain of the occupation on the side. Most are convinced that such a thing exists. That’s a fact.

All the values and beliefs have been enlisted for this campaign of self-justification: The worship of security, the Chosen People, the Holocaust, the “existential” threat and fear-mongering – to provide cover for the unbridgeable disparity between pretense and reality.

But once in a while the mask is ripped off this deceitful spectacle and the irksome truth is revealed. That is what has been happening over the past few days with the Ethiopian protests.

No one thinks the protesters are wrong. They shamefully condemn the violence of the protests: “anarchy,” the wedding that was postponed because of the traffic jams the protesters created, the girl with a fever who was stuck in traffic, the car that was torched – but it’s as if they really understand what the Ethiopians have been going through.

They express sympathy of sorts: The institutional racism and state violence have exceeded what is acceptable. The flames need to be lowered and things directed at the permissible targets. It’s not nice, you Ethiopians, to remind us that we’re racist. But you are the only ones who can.

All the other victims of Israeli racism – the “infiltrators,” “illegals,” “terrorists” – are illegitimate. You can go on shooting hundreds of Gazan protesters, and every so often again at Israeli Arab protesters, but leave the Jews alone.

Palestinians rush towards a Palestinian youth carrying away an injured protester during clashes with Israeli forces near the fence along the border, near Bureij in central Gaza, on June 28, 2019.
AFP

As usual, it is the security forces who are the standard-bearers. They are the ones who carry out the gradations of Israeli racism. The settlers riot, set fires, throw stones and shoot and are immeasurably more dangerous in their protests than any other group, but the soldier or policeman who would even think of shooting them has not yet been born.

A bit less restraint can be shown toward ultra-Orthodox protests, but of course in a measured manner. They’re Jews. Israeli Arabs can be shot as Ethiopians can be, but shooting Palestinians is mandatory.

Racism knows no boundaries. Racist policy is racist policy. It is not that the occupation is responsible for everything. It is racism that metastasizes in every direction, one time to the territories and another time to the Ethiopian-Israeli, Solomon Teka’s Kiryat Haim neighborhood.

The Ethiopians have exposed it in all its ugliness. There is no security and no fear here. This is a matter of skin color and nothing else. But it is a mistake to think that if the racism against Ethiopians is eradicated, Israel will stop being racist.

Racism is a global phenomenon and it’s growing stronger. But in Israel it is institutionalized, dictated from above and more proper than in any other country, as long as it is directed at the permissible targets. Even if the prohibited racism is eradicated tomorrow and the Ethiopians become the darlings and most distinguished members of Israeli society, little will change. Either racism against all its victims will be eradicated or there will be many more Solomon Tekas.