The disturbances experienced over the last four days have seemingly calmed.
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem had sections of their cities shut down over the protesting of Ethiopian Jews, most of whom were born here in Israel, over what they say is general racism in the Israeli society that brought them to this country decades ago.
These protests started peaceful, with a few hundred participating, and grew to well over a thousand people running pith battles with police.
In both instances officers and protesters were hurt as the crowd turned angry and rocks and bottles flew.
Police responded with tear gas, stun granades, and other riot disbursal methods.
In Tel Aviv alone, At least 46 police officers and seven demonstrators were hurt. Dozens of protesters were arrested.
It appeared that the Ethiopians made their point – as Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, in Friday’s protest as the crowd made their way to his residence in Jerusalem – called for calm and expressed his outrage over the video taped beating of an Ethiopian soldier by Israeli policemen.
In the tape the young man is seen with his bicycle standing and then, for no apparent significant reason, pushed to the ground and beaten. One of the two policemen has been dismissed and the other suspended. Police also say they are investigating further the incident.
In response to Sunday’s action in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Netanyahu called a photo op to show he was dialoging with the young soldier and community leaders.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has been described as handling the situation extremely well who bluntly stated that “We have erred”, and that Israel was not listening to it’s Ethiopian Jewish community.
The political objective of the protests was clearly to get into the mainstream – and the community did just that as they not only had blanket news coverage within Israel for days – but have made it into the mainstream politics at this important time of coalition building for Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.
Their calls for action can’t be readily ignored. There have been calls in the past, as the Ethiopian community has long said it is discriminated against in both education and jobs.
However the level of demonstrations, their intensity, and the large scale police operation to attempt to control and break up the protests caught everyone off guard.
Mr. Netanyahu has responded frankly that racism in Israel must be eliminated.
Everyone here knows that this is easier said than done – but it is a huge first step, and a positive development for this small, usually quiet community within Israel.
Middle East Correspondent