Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky responded on Monday to the ongoing controversy regarding the assault of an Ethiopian soldier by an Israel Police officer, calling for protests to calm as tensions escalate.
"We were all deeply shocked by the terrible video clip in which an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin was seen being beaten by a police officer in broad daylight," Sharansky said. "Yet although I was stunned by the awful images of a policeman beating a soldier, I was even more affected by the soldier's heartfelt words about his and his community's feelings regarding their experience of racism in Israeli society."
"The State of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel have invested tremendous effort over many years to bring our Ethiopian brothers and sisters home to Israel," he continued. "These efforts were based on a deep sense of Jewish solidarity and connection, as are all of our Aliyah efforts around the world."
"Our vision is based on the ingathering of exiles and full equality for all of Israel's citizens, as enshrined in Israel's Declaration of Independence," he added. "In light of that vision, we at The Jewish Agency view it as our mission to connect all immigrants to the State of Israel and to ease their integration into Israel's social fabric, where they must find their rightful place as full and equal citizens."
Sharansky also called for calm.
"At this time, as painful cries of protest rise up against discrimination and exclusion targeting Israelis of Ethiopian origin, we must all listen carefully, help foster a more constructive discourse, and mobilize to improve the situation in a real and tangible way," he said. "I call on the protesters to exercise good judgment and moderation, to respect the law and public order, and to utilize the societal conversation that has been started to achieve their worthy and legitimate goals using the democratic tools at our disposal."
"Only by working together will we find the path toward overcoming the obstacles that lie ahead and ensuring a common future for the State of Israel and the entire Jewish people."
For the past several days, the Ethiopian community has flooded Tel Aviv en masse to protest the beating of Damas Pakada, an Ethiopian Jewish soldier who was brutally assaulted by a police officer in Holon last Sunday.
One protester revealed earlier Monday that the "spontaneous" demonstrations are, in fact, being organized by the leftist New Israel Fund (NIF). NIF has long been criticized as being radically anti-Zionist, trying to portray Israel negatively in the world and undermining Israel's Jewish character while receiving international funding.