A group of teachers in Israel was allegedly caught sharing racist WhatsApp messages about their Ethiopian Israeli students during a school trip last Monday. According to the BBC, the teachers were said to have exchanged those messages in a chat group named “Black School Trip,” which was seen by the female students.
Israel’s education minister has since rendered an apology to the schoolgirls. An investigation into the incident has also been launched, and the teachers involved have been suspended. The teachers and students are reportedly from a religious high school in the Israeli city of Netivot and were embarking on a three-day school trip when the incident happened.
One of the schoolgirls, who was seated behind a teacher, recorded the conversation when she saw her participating in the group chat. Unaware she was being filmed, the said Teacher engaged in the group chat, which allegedly included derogatory comments about the Ethiopian Israeli students. The student shared screenshots on social media after recording the chat and condemned the teachers for their irresponsible conduct.
“Good morning to all the ‘educators’ of this school,” she stated. “It saddens me as a member of the [Ethiopian] community to see the level you sank to today. Instead of being our teachers and setting an example and making us feel like we’re in our safest place, you did the exact opposite.
“Opening a group called ‘Black School Trip’ without even realizing that there were students behind you and mocking your students? I see the photos, and I just don’t believe that they come from our teachers.
“You are a disgrace, I’m ashamed that you’re our teachers and that you’re teaching the future generation.”
The teachers also rendered an apology in the wake of the incident. In a statement, the headmaster of the school expressed his “shock and devastation to miserable and extremely offensive comments from teachers about Ethiopian students who study in the school.”
“The school management looks at these comments severely. There is no place for racist comments, and we won’t allow them in our school,” he added.
The Middle Eastern country’s Education Minister, Yoav Kisch, also said, the incident “will be dealt with severely with all the tools at our disposal.” “I’m sorry for the distress that was caused for the students. There will be zero tolerance for these sorts of incidents on my watch,” Kisch added.
The Ethiopian Jew population in Israel is about 150,000, BBC reported. And though they arrived in the 1980s, there have been setbacks with regard to integration; the unemployment and poverty levels among the Ethiopian Israeli community are said to be high. They have also been facing discrimination.
“Since touching down in Israel, Ethiopian Jews have been reminded of the color of their skin and how that puts them out of favor,” Face2Face Africa Contributor, Nii Ntreh, previously wrote in a piece about their plights in modern-day Israel. “They have been denied economic and political opportunities. As a people who may perhaps think they have been saved from the worst in Africa, Ethiopian Jews have endured their suffering in silence.”
In 2015, Israel saw the biggest protest against the discrimination faced by Ethiopian Jews, which turned violent.