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Israel Is a Racist Country. Take It From Me, an Ethiopian Israeli

Formal equal rights aren't enough. Equality must be seen on the ground, but on social media we still get 'Go back to Ethiopia.'

“Israel is one of the most racist countries in the world,” said Tahunia Rubel, an Ethiopian-born Israeli model and actress. The remarks by Rubel, who became famous on the Israeli version of “Big Brother,” were published in the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth last weekend.
Rubel said things like “We have a screwed-up government … and the police are total idiots.” She added: “People in Israel find it strange to see an Ethiopian woman who behaves like an Israeli.” According to a report this week by the Berl Katznelson Foundation, the interview stirred particularly violent posts on social networks.
That leads me to conclude that I’ve spent 21 years in Israel, the total number of my years on earth, in a country totally different from the one where Israelis so angry at Rubel live. For a moment it was nice to wake up in a parallel universe where Israel and Israeli society aren’t racist, and where people get angry at people who claim they’re racist.
Of course it’s possible to refuse to acknowledge that the experience of a black woman in a white space isn’t identical to that of a white man in a white space, and to believe that he will never be able to understand my subjective feelings. But why talk about subjective feelings? The pain and anger are a product of institutional practices.
Israel commits racist crimes. A prominent example is the police violence during the demonstrations by young Ethiopian men and women a year ago. (Police violence, incidentally, isn’t limited to young Ethiopians; many young Arabs encounter it as well.) Another example is the investigation that revealed the pressure on Ethiopian women to receive shots of the birth control hormone Depo-Provera before immigrating.
In Israel, women of Ethiopian origin suffer oppression on two fronts: gender-related and race-related. The furious reactions to Rubel’s statement that Israel is a racist country only prove the justice of her claims. They refer to the fact that she’s a woman, an Ethiopian (“Go back to Ethiopia”) and a black person (“a disgusting African”).
As far as they’re concerned, a black woman in the white mainstream should always be pretty, quiet, polite and filled with gratitude for the right to be a part of the mainstream. If you don’t play along you’ll pay a high price.
The reactions are a perfect illustration of the difficulty facing minorities in Israel. They’re accepted into the mainstream only if they refrain from criticism.
So you belong to a minority and you want to express criticism? They’ll immediately remind you that you shouldn’t take for granted that you're here and will suggest that you return to your country of origin. That’s if you’re Ethiopian, of course, because leftist Israel-haters are sent to Berlin regardless of their ethnicity.
Some people say that in other countries the situation is much worse, so we shouldn’t criticize Israel but only praise it because we’re better than the non-Jews. Well, I don’t think that’s love for one’s country. After all, anyone who loves the country must criticize it, put a mirror in front of it and take steps to change it. Formal equal rights aren’t enough. Equality must be seen on the ground. In life itself. Even on the Internet.

Revital Iyov
Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.727935Schermata 2016 06 30 alle 09.21.16

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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