Fidel’s statement following the killing of Solomon Tekah and the ensuing demonstrations:
Events of the past few days have left us heartbroken, angry and concerned. The shooting in Kiryat Haim that took the life of Solomon Tekah tore away at the delicate fabric that we, as educators and social activists, are trying to sew every day in order to heal old and new wounds.
This was not how we planned to mark the beginning of the summer vacation. A senseless shooting devastated an entire family and severely damaged the feeling that we had progressed into being a more inclusive, accepting and egalitarian society where skin color is no longer viewed as an obstacle.
We understand the expressions of hurt and frustration that have erupted on the streets in Israel. This is the result of exclusion, racism, poverty and neglect – the true threat to the lives of our precious children. This pain should be felt by everyone who holds Israeli society’s well-being close to their hearts. This call should resonate throughout the country, because the price of ignoring it is greater in the end.
Occasionally we receive a stark reminder that we have a duty as members of society to affect change in perceptions, presumptions and actions. Ethiopian youth hanging out on a street corner or in a park does not constitute a ticking bomb. This is merely a group of Israeli teenagers. The true threat is the over-policing that should have been dealt with long ago.
The Ethiopian community remains a loyal Zionist, non-violent community that is an inseparable part of this nation and its institutions. We oppose turning the demonstrations into violent protests that threaten public order, the police and citizens from both within and outside of the community. We condemn any deliberate harm to people and property. Torching cars and throwing stones does not reflect the spirit or values of the community and only harms the struggle.
In recent years, we have repeatedly warned that a major reform is required in the way the country’s institutions address issues of the second generation – Israeli-born Ethiopian children and teens. This generation requires and demands equal opportunity, fair treatment from the police, access to higher education, and that their voices be heard. In recent years, Government decisions to advance the issue were made but never enacted.
The public’s resentment of the disruptions is understandable, but the community is fighting for its life and for the lives of their children while there are those who continue to shift their gaze and not take notice.
We all have a decisive role to play in this struggle. The resilience of the entire society depends on the ability to draw the other closer rather than to exclude, to nurture and not to threaten, to empower rather than to neglect.
This is the message that must resonate not only among the decision makers, but also in the hearts of each one of us.
Maj. Gen. (ret) Amos Yadlin, Chairman of the Board
Members of the Executive Committee
Fidel Association Management and Staff