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Since September, over three hundred Black Jews have announced their intention to refuse any military order to report for reserve duty, accusing the Israeli government of state-sponsored racism against citizens of Ethiopian origin. The soldiers, who include fighters from all Israel Defense Forces infantry brigades, as well as some of its most specialized commando units, say that as long as the state does not respect their civil rights, they will in turn refrain from fulfilling their civic obligations.
Demanding an end to institutional anti-Black racism by the Israel government, hundreds of Jewish citizens of Ethiopian heritage marched through the streets of downtown Tel Aviv on July 3, renewing demonstrations that had galvanized the community a year earlier. The mostly young Ethiopian-Israeli protesters called for abusive police officers to be jailed and blocked a main street in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense.
Over 1,000 Black activists, artists, scholars, students and organizations have released a statement reaffirming their “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people.” “We urge people of conscience to recognize the struggle for Palestinian liberation as a key matter of our time,” the statement asserts.
As activists across the United States struggle to keep the topic of systemic discrimination against Black people on the national agenda, African communities in Israel are also increasingly speaking out against state racism. For the last month, Ethiopian-Israelis – Jewish citizens of African descent – have rallied across the country, demanding an end to racial profiling and police brutality.