Malignant evil: The reality of anti-blackness in the Israeli State

A one year old Black baby

“In January 2014, an Israeli man walked up to an African refugee carrying her one-year-old baby in downtown Tel Aviv, and stabbed the baby in the head three times. Apprehended by the police and asked why he had attacked the toddler, the stabber said, “They said that a black baby, blacks in general, are terrorists.”

The stabber of the one-year-old African baby was not sentenced to jail time, because he was deemed to be mentally unstable.” -Al Jazeera


Hafton Zarhum, an African refugee

“Haftom Zarhum, an African refugee who was shot and beaten to death by a mob of Israelis the following year, in the central bus station of the southern city of Beer Sheva. Zarhum was pummeled into a pulp on the premise that he was a terrorist – although he had done nothing to deserve that designation.

[The] Israeli state lawyer offered four of the Israelis who pulverised Zarhum an easy deal: no jail time, only community service. One of the men has accepted the plea deal, while the three others have held out thus far, believing that they don’t deserve even that pitiful punishment.

Haftom Zarhum was the first African refugee to be lynched by Israelis in a public place, in full view of CCTV cameras, but he would not be the last.” – Al Jazeera


Babikir Ali Adhan-Abdo

“[In 2018], two Israelis were convicted of brutally beating an African refugee to death, but were spared long prison sentences when the judge agreed to reduce the charges against them from murder to manslaughter and grievous bodily harm, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported.

In November 2016, 20-year-old Dennis Barshivatz and a 17-year-old who cannot be named under Israeli law beat Babikir Ali Adham-Abdo, a 40-year-old Sudanese asylum seeker, for an hour and a half in front of the city hall of Petach Tikva, a Tel Aviv suburb that is a sister city of Chicago, Ill. Barshivatz will serve a maximum of 10 years in jail and will be eligible for release much earlier. The court has yet to determine sentencing for his teenage accomplice.” -Truthdig


Yehuda Biagada

“Jerusalem – An incident in which an Israeli-Ethiopian was shot to death by police on Friday is under investigation after his family claims he was wrongfully shot and the police say they were acting in self-defense. The incident began after the man who was shot, Yehuda Biagada, left his home in Bat Yam on Friday afternoon armed with a knife and after acting violently at home. His mother alerted the police, and they tracked him down and confronted him. The police say he charged at them with a knife and feeling their lives were in danger, shot him.Biagada’s family says that Yehuda was not mentally stable and was experiencing difficulties since his early discharge from the IDF, and that the police did not act according to its procedures and did not fire warning shots before shooting to kill. They also leveled charges of racism against the responding officers, saying that if Yehuda had been white the police would have reacted differently.” –


Yosef Salmasa

Yosef Salmasa has already become a symbol in the Ethiopian community in Israel. The young man, who died in 2014 under circumstances that have not been fully clarified to this day, put a spotlight on the problematic nature of the relationship between the police and the Ethiopian Jews in the country.”

“No one knows what happened from the time Yosef went on a break at the vinery where he worked and until his body was found at the bottom of a cliff at a quarry in Binyamina. How did he die? The Salmasa family is still looking for the answer.”

While there are other examples of more pernicious forms of structural anti-blackness in the Israeli state, these are just several of the stories of major violence against Black people that have occurred over that last few years. Institutional militarisation due to the paranoia of being an illegal state in region full of political enemies has meant that the ‘other’ in Israel faces an unprecedented degree of vetting, monitoring and intrinsic suspicion/harassment.

I will leave on this thought. David Sheen who has written an article called ‘The Emmett Till effect in Israel‘ points to a poignant and overlooked reality: the new world order appears to be looping back on itself in its treatment of minority communities, the perpetrators becoming more brazen with the proliferation and reification of far right rhetoric as cases of violence become increasingly normalised. So called democratic countries who theoretically pride themselves on the values that distinguish them from autocratic regimes are increasingly falling prey to the logic and reasoning that allowed for colonial domination, segregationist policies and the prominence of the colour line.

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