A manager at the Interior Ministry commits suicide days after being publicly shamed on Facebook for alleged racism against a black Israeli woman. What will it take for us to start treating each other like human beings first?
Last week, a black Israeli woman went to a branch of the Interior Ministry with her small children to renew a passport. She got stuck in various lines, and the versions about what happened (hers, or this one from an eyewitness) differ only in nuances. Frustrated, she spoke to the manager, telling him that she had been given the runaround on the lines because the clerk was racist. He got offended and, according to her, brusquely rejected her accusation (“get out of my face”). According to the manager, he was merely being firm.
On Wednesday, she wrote an angry Facebook post and asked people to share it. By Friday 6,000 people did so, Channel 10 interviewed her and another popular TV host picked up the story. On Saturday, the manager wrote a lengthy Facebook post expressing how hurt he was at being labeled a racist.
Then he committed suicide.
For a couple of days, Israelis spoke of little else. Everyone knows the rage that wells up when we receive foul treatment from bureaucrats or customer-service agents. There was the race aspect, dovetailing on terrible treatment of Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrating against discrimination recently.
When it turned out that the dead manager was a longtime Shin Bet agent before retiring in his 40s and moving to the Interior Ministry, the political angle exploded. Ugly responses from the Left said “I won’t shed a tear for him” — that his role in propping up the occupation was unforgivable, or that he must have been suicidal because all those terrible deeds at the Shin Bet ate away at his conscience.
Some on the right predictably decreed that the woman had manipulated her racial victimhood. Mainstream media covered the fact that he was active in organizations promoting Arab integration and in the center-left Council on Peace and Security. Those who knew him felt he was simply the wrong target for the accusation of racism.
But sometimes it is not about Israel. Often people are simply not nice enough to one other. I used to think the local version — gruffness or open hostility — was a charming idiosyncrasy, since it harked back to the...Read More