Monday, May 4, 2015

Ethiopian Israeli Protest Chants & Signs

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post documents a few examples of chants and signage that have been used in Ethiopian Israeli protests. The protest marches and rallies that are highlighted in this post occurred in 2012 and in May 2015. This post also provides some information about protests gestures that occurred during those protests.

Brief background information about Ethiopian Israeli is also found in this post. Click for more information about this population.

This post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series on protest chants. Other posts in this series can be found by clicking the "protest chant" tag at the bottom of this post.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all of those who participate in non-violent protests for equality and justice for all. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the videographers & publishers of these videos on YouTube.

From Israel's Ethiopian Jews clash with police at race rally

At least 40 people injured during anti-racism rally in Tel Aviv sparked by brutality against a black soldier.

03 May 2015 22:44 GMT | Middle East, Israel
..."Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in dramatic, top-secret operations in the 1980s and 1990s after a rabbinical ruling that they were direct descendants of the biblical Jewish Dan tribe.

The community, which now numbers around 135,500 of Israel's population of more than 8 million, has long complained of discrimination, racism and poverty.

The Israeli government is regularly accused of racism for deporting African migrants. In 2013, it admitted to forcibly administering birth control injections to Ethiopian Jewish women without their consent or knowledge."...

Editor's notes:
Sentences that include protests, examples of protest signs, and/or mention of protests gestures are given in italics to highlight them.

Example #1: Ethiopians stage protest in Jerusalem against racism at Knesset and Zion Square, Tzipi Livni speaks

JewishNewsOne Uploaded on Jan 19, 2012

Ethiopians held a protest at the Knesset against racism and discrimination in Israeli society after an investigative television report revealed that over 100 Israeli families in the town of Kiryat Malakhi had signed an agreement not to rent or sell apartments to Ethiopians. They came because they want to send a message to lawmakers that they must do more to protect their rights. Their posters were in English, Amharic (a Semitic language in Ethiopia), and Hebrew. Many of them simply said "stop the discrimination." Protestors proceeded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's house and afterwards to the center of Jerusalem at Zion Square.

Kadima opposition leader Tzipi Livni had this to say at the protest, "The story of these Ethiopians coming to Israel is one of the greatest stories of Zionism, and they need to know that we respect them as a society, and that the Israeli government gives them what any Israeli citizen gets. This is something that matters to standard of living [and] respect, and this is something that needs to be done today. It's not an Ethiopian problem, it's a problem of the Israeli society."
Sign in English at 1:04 ”I’m Black & I’m Proud”

Another sign in English at 3:07: “Human Rights Comes By The Human Strugle
“Strugle” = struggle

Face Painting
Some Black men shown in this video had one side of their face painted white. One White man shown in the video had one half of his face painted white and one half of his face painted black. In another scene, a Black man had his face painted white with a column of black paint between his eyes to his nose and on his chin.

At 3:14 - 3:22 a reporter interviewed a Black man who had black and white paint on his face:
Reporter: “You have your face painted. Many people here do. What is the significance of this?
Man: The message is that whether we are Black or White we are a person. That is the message.”
Beginning at 4:31, there is a scene of call & response chanting in non-English language; caller says one thing, group repeats that same thing.

Example #2: 'Ethiopian price tag' attacks outrage Israel's Ethiopian Jews in Kiryat Malakhi - Racism condemned

JewishNewsOne, Uploaded on Jan 19, 2012

Thousands of Ethiopians protested in the streets of Jerusalem against discrimination after a recent report in Israeli media that more than 100 families in Kiryat Malakhi had agreed not to sell or rent real estate to Ethiopian Jews. Hate graffiti with the words "Ethiopian price tag" -- a reference to right-wing attacks against Palestinians -- was spray-painted on walls and vehicles in the town. Ethiopians at the rally waved banners and chanted as crowds gathered near the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to demand an end to the recent wave of racially motivated attacks.

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni came to the demonstration to show support, but was booed by the protesters. She had this to say, "It's a legitimate protest, it's an outcry from the bottom of their hearts. And even if along the way someone gets hurt, it's absolutely fine. It's their right. It's their right to shout."

Israel's 110,000-strong Ethiopian community has long complained of prejudice against them in Israel. Israel's chief rabbis determined formally in 1973 that Ethiopian Jews were descendants of the Jewish biblical tribe of Dan and were entitled to immigrate to Israel. Tens of thousands arrived from Ethiopia in airlifts in the 1980s and 1990s.
Two examples of protests signs in English that are shown in this video:
"Stop Racism"
"Human Rights Comes By Human Strugle"

Editor's notes:
Sentences that include protests, examples of protest signs, and/or mention of protests gestures are given in italics to highlight them.

From "Ethiopian-Israelis Protest in Tel Aviv Over Police Treatment" By Isabel Kershner, May 3, 2015
...”Some here are dubbing the cry of this young, angry generation of Ethiopian-Israelis as Israel’s Baltimore or Ferguson, Mo., referring to the tensions that have roiled those cities against the backdrop of frictions between African-Americans and the police.

“Enough of racism, enough of violence!” the crowd in Tel Aviv chanted, the words rhyming in Hebrew. “A violent police officer should be in prison,” they shouted. Some raised Israeli flags or crossed their fists in the air.* During the initial, peaceful part of the demonstration, the police halted traffic and looked on as activists including Mr. Muallem [the Ethiopian Israeli soldier who was beaten by several White Israeli police officers], wearing fashionably ripped jeans with his long hair slicked back, sat down in the middle of a main junction during what should have been the afternoon rush hour...

Guy Ben-Porat, an associate professor in the department of public policy and administration at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, has been researching relations between the police and different sectors of Israeli society for the past three years. He said that Ethiopian-Israelis perceive themselves, much like African-Americans in the United States, as suffering from “overpolicing,” including racial profiling; being stopped and arrested more often than other, “white” Israelis; and being treated with a tougher hand.
* Another article indicated that protestors crossing their fists in the air symbolized people wearing police handcuffs.

From "Clashes as Ethiopian Israelis protest against police brutality in Tel Aviv", May 3, 2015
"The rally on Sunday which saw police officers injured comes three days after a demonstration in Jerusalem sparked by a video showing a uniformed Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin beaten by policemen...

Sunday's protest came three days after a stormy demonstration in Jerusalem sparked by footage showing two policemen beating a uniformed Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin.

Scores of other Israelis also joined Sunday's rally, chanting and holding up signs reading: "A violent policeman must be put in prison" and "We demand equal rights"....
A sign in English accompanying this article: "Stop police brutality”.

From, May 3, 2015
"TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Several thousand people from Israel's Jewish Ethiopian minority protested in Tel Aviv against racism and police brutality on Sunday, shutting down a major highway and clashing with police on horseback long into the night.
The protest was mostly peaceful during the day, but by nightfall became violent with at least 20 officers hurt and "multiple protesters" arrested, Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said...

Channel 2 TV said the protesters came from all over the country.

"I am here to fight for our rights," a woman named Batel from the northern city of Nazareth Illit told the station.

"I don't want to be beaten by police," said the 21-year- old, who didn't give her last name. "My parents didn't immigrate here for nothing. I want equality."

...Simmering frustrations among Israel's Ethiopian community boiled over when footage emerged of an Ethiopian Israeli in an army uniform being beaten by police last week. Thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many of them secretly airlifted into the country in 1984 and 1990, but their absorption into Israeli society has been difficult. Although they are Jewish, Ethiopian community members complain of racism, lack of opportunity in Israeli society, endemic poverty and routine police harassment.

Police chief Yohanan Danino told Channel 10 TV that "the use of violence by a small minority of the many protesters does not serve their struggle." He added, "Whoever harms police or civilians will be brought to justice."

Activists told the station they don't want violence to escalate to the level seen in Baltimore where the death of a man in police custody sparked riots. One man held a sign reading: "Bibi, you had better not let Baltimore reach Israel," referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his nickname.

Police said thousands of people took part in Sunday's protest. Protesters blocked roads in central Tel Aviv as well as a main highway leading to the city during the day.
It was the second such protest in several days and supporters say the demonstrations will continue. The first rally last week in Jerusalem turned violent as well, but on a smaller scale.
Protestor's marched in Tel Aviv, with some blowing whistles or chanting "violent police officers belong in jail."...

A protest by Ethiopian Israelis against police brutality turns violent

euronews (in English), Published on Apr 30, 2015

Shouting "Enough to police violence", hundreds of Israelis of Ethiopian descent took to the streets of East Jerusalem on Thursday.

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