Israel 's Human Rights Violations Essay

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Racism in Israel: Israeli Jews to Ethiopian Jews

What is considered to be the main cause of the selected political issue (i.e., history, culture, etc.)?

With the high rise of racism throughout the world, Israel has contributed to the racism towards the influx of Ethiopian Jews migrating to their alleged homeland. Ethiopians had little to no exposure to Jews outside of Ethiopia; hence, were not educated of the other Jews in the world. This caused differences with the basic practices of both Israeli and Ethiopian Judaism. During the immigration period, the Ethiopians were named ‘Beta-Israel’ and were considered outsiders for centuries in their homeland of Ethiopia, because they were Jews. The religious discrimination is what caused the immigration to Israel in the 1980s. Majority of Ethiopian immigrants appeared in two groups to Israel. The first was called ‘Operation Moses’ in 1985-6, while the second was ‘Operation Solomon’ which was in 1991 (Ben-Eliezer, 2004). Roughly 100,000 Jewish Ethiopians migrated to Israel, causing an immeasurable confusion for both groups.

Within the Israeli government there is a Parliament or House of Representatives function, which is known as the Israeli Knesset. These seats are elected in by the citizens; however, the Israeli elections are unique compared to various democratic countries. As a democratic country, the electoral system in Israel does not eliminate the racism within the country. Additionally, the citizens of Israel do not vote for a specific candidate; but rather, vote for a political party. Furthermore, the front runners within the elected political party, which are determined by the specific political party, are then selected into office. This also dictates the amount of people within the same political party that will sit in the Knesset. This is very controversial for multiple reasons, primarily since the citizens that carry the responsibility in voting for the officials are prejudice towards Ethiopian citizens (Knesset Elections, 2014).

Representation is an extreme importance within the government. As stated before, the citizens of Israel are racist towards the Ethiopian Jews. Many Ethiopians are told that they are “not Jewish enough” or that their “blood is only good for army service, but not good enough after…” (Frantzman, 2015). Citizens dictate the majority political party, which ultimately controls the amount of Ethiopian representation. Currently, there are only two Ethiopian born representatives in the Knesset. This is controversial, especially since about two percent of Israel is made up of Ethiopian Jews and the representation is dependent on Penina Tamanu-Shata, a Deputy Speaker and Avraham Neguise, who holds a regular Chair position.

There are many legislative and social tendencies that have been set in place to advance the racism against Ethiopian Jews. Some of them include the following. There has been a fuming debate about the dismissal of people seeking asylum in Israel from an African descent. The interesting part about the discussion is the way the Israeli Government and supporters of the dismissal are trying to claim that the dismissal is not in any way associated with the skin colors of the deportees. The Israeli government claims that the asylum seekers are illegals and infiltrators to the Israeli nation[footnoteRef:1]. Yerday (2018) thought of attending one of Knesset hearings discussing the issue of expulsion of asylum seekers and provoking a discussion with one the Knesset members if only to trigger logic in the conclusion that any black woman should have equal rights as any other Israeli woman and should not be considered an infiltrator. According to Yerday (2018) any Israeli citizen notwithstanding their background should be made to feel comfortable .Further they should be able to openly criticize any decisions they feel is in violation of the human rights of asylum seekers and discriminated Israeli Citizens Ethiopian descent1. [1: Yerday, F. (2018, Feb 1). They Didn't Want Ethiopian Jews in Israel, Either. HAARETZ. Retrieved November 25, 2018]

There is a common phenomenon in Israel where confusion reigns for the people who are both Jewish and Black. It is a fact that racism practiced based on the color of skin does not pay respect to whether the victim is indeed an Israeli citizen or not or whether the victim is a Jew or a Muslim. The logic applied by Yerday (2018) was that an Israeli who is against a black person would also find a reason to stand against any other person depending on the circumstance1. Ethiopian Jews have found it quite difficult to become part of the Israeli society. The Israeli absorption ministry discussed the difficulty that Ethiopian Jews would have in the process of becoming integrated with other Jews. Some of the people serving in the Israeli government considered the Falashas as illiterate, sick, downtrodden, and primitive1.
The doctoral thesis report by Dr. Chen on Ethiopian Jews migration detailed the report about the genesis of the Jewish law that acknowledged that Ethiopian Jews are actually Jews in every way1.

Yerday (2018) claimed that the deportation of asylum seekers was beyond racism. It was actually a failure in the reasoning informed by the Ethiopian Jews History. The Israeli people were confronted with several situations where they had to deal with Black Jews and other black people. It is not possible to separate the issue of deportation of the black community from the Israeli government fierce opposition since the Black Jews Aliyah State was formed1. Even through the return law for Ethiopian Jews was passed the Israeli government raised several difficulties. Thousands of Ethiopian Jews died during the 11 years they stayed in the refugee camps in Sudan as well as on their way to the refugee camps. Israel delayed the return of the Jews until the 1984 Operation Moses. Israeli government was quite excited about the Aliyah Russian white and English speaking people. The government even changed the return laws to facilitate the return of the Aliyah.

The same Israeli government rejected the return of the Ethiopian Aliyah. Five years after the Ethiopian Jews arrived into Israel Yosef Burg issued an order on the deportation of 5…

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…suffered long in the hands of the Israeli government and the white Jewish supremacists1. It is a known fact that racism against immigrants of African descent into Israel is mostly motivated not by the desire to enforce the law and protect the territorial integrity of the country but by the selfish, discriminative and racist ideological perspective perpetuated by the Israeli government. The transition of the Ethiopian Jews from black Ethiopians to Black Jews entailed a change in the construct of the Ethiopian migrants5. This was for both the host society and the migrant community alike. Racial hierarchies in Israel and the slave versus master mentality have dominated the racist ideology in Israel. The solution for this is to restructure the social construct and build awareness on the need to have a cohesive society built on the foundation of equality on all aspects including education, housing, human rights, and social justice.

Multiculturalism is another avenue through which racism can be defeated in Israel. The solution is to build a culture based on separation and diversity as Ben-Eliezer (2008) would have it[footnoteRef:8]. The creation of a national identity is essential to the Israeli community. Israeli immigrants should be assimilated and trained to synchronize with the dominating culture through abandoning or loosening their traditions and particular/specific cultures. Cultural communities and associations based on no single dominant culture can be useful in alleviating the entitlement mentality among the dominant culture in Israel therefore helping in the alleviation of racism. [8: Ben-Eliezer, U. (2008). Multicultural society and everyday cultural racism: Second generation of Ethiopian Jews in Israel’s “crisis of modernization.”]


Avraham Neguise. (2018). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from

Becoming a Black Jew: Cultural Racism and Anti-Racism in Contemporary Israel. (2004). Social Identities, 10, 245-266. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

#BlackLivesMatter, Israel and the fight against racism. (2016, July 14). The New Arab. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

Ethiopian Jews could be ‘left out’ of Israeli budget. (2018, March 12). The New Arab. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

Ethiopian Jews threaten mass hunger strike over Israel move. (2018, March 1). The New Arab. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

Frantzman, S. J. (2014). “They Will Take the Country from Us”: Labor Zionism, the Origins and Legacy of the “Other” in Israeli Mass Media, and Hegemonic Narratives. Digest of Middle East Studies, 23, 156-189. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

Frantzman, S. J. (2015, May 4). Ethiopian Jews: Not Jewish enough. Aljazeera. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

Gaffey, C., & Moore, J. (2016, October 7). Thousands of Ethiopian Jews are waiting to emigrate to Israel—but earlier migrants warn of growing discrimination. Newsweek Global. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

Lazin, F. A. (2002). ISRAELAND ETHIOPIAN JEWISH IMMIGRANTS. Society Abroad, 56- 62. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

Penina Tamanu-Shata. (2018). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from

Silverstein, R. (2013, June 11). Golda Meir Was First Israeli Leader to Expel African- (American) Refugees. Retrieved May 2, 2018, from pollute-israel/

The Electoral System in Israel. (2014). Retrieved April….....

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Ade-Serrano, Yetunde, and Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena. (2016). “Black Lives Matter.” Psychologist. British Psychological Society. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.1689.

Ben-Eliezer, U. (2008). Multicultural society and everyday cultural racism: Second generation of Ethiopian Jews in Israel’s “crisis of modernization.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 31(5), 935–961.

Behar, D. M., Yunusbayev, B., Metspalu, M., Metspalu, E., Rosset, S., Parik, J., … Villems, R. (2010). The genome-wide structure of the Jewish people. Nature, 466(7303), 238–242.

Sheen, D. (2016, July 14). #BlackLivesMatter, Israel and the fight against racism. The New Arab. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from fight-against-racism

Salamon, Hagar. (2003). “Blackness in Transition: Decoding Racial Constructs through Stories of Ethiopian Jews.” Journal of Folklore Research 40 (1): 3–32. doi:10.1353/jfr.2003.0008.

Zegeye, Abebe. (2008). “The Beta Israel and the Impossible Return.” African Identities 6 (4): 373– 91. doi:10.1080/14725840802417901.

Yerday, F. (2018, Feb 1). They Didn\'t Want Ethiopian Jews in Israel, Either. HAARETZ. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from didn-t-want-ethiopian-jews-in-israel-either-1.5785804

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