Ethiopian Israelis Are Protesting a Police Shooting. But Comparisons with the U.S. Are Dishonest and Unhelpful

Last month, an off-duty police officer in a suburb of Haifa shot an unarmed teenager of Ethiopian-Jewish parentage. While the preliminary reports from the police investigation support the officer’s claim that he fired at the ground while trying to break up a fight in which the teenager, Solomon Tekah, was involved, the shooting has already provoked mass demonstrations, some of them violent, that have in turn prompted comparisons between this shooting and those in the U.S. that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. Shmuel Rosner argues that the parallels, noted by both the American press and some of the Israeli protesters themselves, are fewer than one might think:

[First, take the] two very different histories of two black communities. Africans were shipped to America as slaves. Ethiopian Israelis were brought by their own country to play their part in the great Zionist saga of gathering Israel’s tribes. Moreover, African Americans had to fight for equality. Ethiopian equality, at least the principle of it, was a given. And yes, mistakes were made. And yes, there are clearly some issues that are not yet resolved. And yet, Israel invested more resources in helping the newcomers than it did for any other community.

Alas, what [the protestors] see is not yesterday’s achievements. What they see is today’s failures. The community, on average, is still poor. It still has a high rate of crime, suicide, and domestic violence. . . . The majority of Israeli Jews want Ethiopian Jews to integrate and succeed. The majority of Israeli Jews say that Ethiopian Jews contribute to the prosperity and well-being of the country. But it’s hard to deny that there is a problem connected to the fact that Ethiopians are easily identified because of their skin color.

The media were sympathetic to the unrest. The government will be quick to respond, by throwing more money at the situation and looking more seriously into making improvements that have the potential to tame the anger. . . . The most worrying aspect of the violent protests that we’ve seen in recent days is the prospect of the Ethiopian integration issue being Americanized. That is, of its becoming not a short-term difficulty in need of a quick and efficient response, but rather a long-term problem, maybe permanent, with all the associated baggage of cultural fissures, intrinsic anger and fear, and a great sense of alienation.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: African Americans, Black Lives Matter, Ethiopian Jews, Israeli society

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy