Menu JTA Search

Israeli prime minister meets with target of racist incident

JERUSALEM, March 31 (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met this week with an Ethiopian soldier who was ejected from an army medical clinic by a major who told him that “no blacks” were allowed. The officer was reprimanded for the incident, which this week prompted outcry among top government officials, Knesset members, Ethiopian community leaders and the public at large. According to an Israel Radio report, the Israel Defense Force soldier with the prestigious Golani unit came to a clinic for treatment about three months ago. A major who was in the clinic at the time grabbed the Ethiopian-born soldier, pushed him outside and made a racial slur, the report said. According to the report, the major, Michael Valitzkin, then told the doctor on duty, “We need to put a sign up here saying, `No
blacks allowed.’ ” The soldier reportedly did not file a complaint about the incident because he thought that no one would believe him. But word of the event reached Valitzkin’s commander. Valitzkin has since said that he made the racial slur in jest. The Ethiopian soldier told the premier during their meeting this week that he hoped that his community would no longer have to face racism. In addition, the United Ethiopian Jewish Association has asked the Israel Defense Force to establish a board of inquiry to examine the way soldiers of Ethiopian descent are treated.