Holy Sticks

The Ethiopian community is part of the Israeli experience.

Shalom Pollack

OpEds Shalom Pollack
Shalom Pollack
Uri Yehezkel

When I  left the US to make Aliyah in 1977, I remember saying to myself that some of the problems facing the US seemed insoluble, but it wasn't my job to fix them.

First and foremost among them was race relations, or put simply, the exploding problem in the Black community.

Seas of ink have been spilled on this  problem from every angle. Much has been attempted to remedy it  - spending trillions on a myriad of government assistance plans, promoting preferential treatment and putting thousands behind bars.. 

With all due respect to the scholars, politicians and law enforcement experts , the answer is really simple; family.

As long as many Black families lack a man in the house, where is the hope?

What can one expect from a  culture that abandons responsibility?

Unfortunately,Baltimore was not the first and will not be the last example of a failed community that self-destructs.

When I  made aliyah, I knew that I was not coming to a problem-free country. 

The problems are  indeed existential, but  they are the problems of a people  returning home from the four corners of the earth; my people.

 As an immigrant,I delighted in the in pouring of Russian, Ethiopian, Indian, Peruvian,  French and American "Olim"; The great common denominator - we  were coming home.

Yesterday there was a demonstration in Jerusalem that turned violent. The trigger was a video  of policemen brutalizing an Ethiopian soldier on leave. Everyone who saw the film was aghast.

Now, I am aware that those who choose to be policemen or jailers are sometimes not the most sensitive  or introspective  bunch and I have seen plenty of examples of it, both in the US and in Israel. Haredim and "settlers" can attst to that in Israel but it is probably a universal phenomenon.

Still, Ethiopian Jews dreamed for thousands of years to "return to Jerusalem."

They were not snatched out of Africa to be slaves but were reunited with brothers in Israel. Many walked for weeks across deserts and jungles  to come home.. Some did not make it. Families torn apart , sometimes literally by lions, others sold into slavery...

I remember when they arrived. Modest, fine, sensitive people.Family was everything. They  had their challenges adjusting to modern life and a new world, but as far as I could see they were welcomed with open arms.

Perhaps I did not see enough. I do believe them when they accuse the police of brutality. I have seen the police in action in Amona, Gush Katif and other places as they brutalized their brothers -  of every color.

Just give some of these fellows a badge, stick and a wink from his higher ups and the sadistic orgy begins. How they enjoy stomping on the weak.I still find that  hard to accept as these are not the Italian and Irish anti Semites I knew in NY. They should be different. They aren't.

Now that I  am home, these problems are indeed my own.

The color of the rioters' skin may be the same as those burning Baltimore down, but my Ethiopian brothers and sisters  have a Yiddishe  neshama. 

They never terrorized Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn or mugged my grandfather. These brothers came home to  to us with a pure heart and soul.

Love your fellow Jew as you would yourself. All Jews are responsible for the other. We are all pieces of one soul....

If   some of  the Israeli policemen would have had a real Jewish education and  learned  these golden rules, we  would be in a different place.
 
Then again, if they were taught them , how many of them would choose to wield a stick for a living? 

A great man once said, "A Jewish fist is necessary, but it must be linked to a Jewish mind and Jewish neshama.

Surely we need cops -  good Jewish cops, with a good Jewish education. Then their sticks would be holy... as their Jewish  neshamot.
Israel would  do well to cultivate the Jewish neshama. That would solve just about all our problems.  


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