Ethiopian students film Israeli teachers chatting on racist WhatsApp group named ‘Black School Trip’

A group of Ethiopian-Israeli schoolgirls filmed their teachers making fun of them in an online group chat while on a field trip. The teachers were texting each other in a WhatsApp group named Black School Trip when the girls noticed them doing so.

There are around 150,000 people of Ethiopian descent who lives in Israel. Ethiopian Jews have had a difficult time integrating into Israeli society. They face challenges such as rates of unemployment and prejudice. However, things have started to look up in recent years but this incident has left open the faultlines once again. 

The racism incident occurred last Monday. A religious high school in Netivot in southern Israel had sent their teachers and students on a three-day trip. Girls seated behind one of the teachers saw the group chat messages. It had included insulting remarks directed against the Ethiopian-Israeli students.

Without the teacher’s knowledge, the girl recorded the texts over a teacher’s shoulder and later uploaded it on social media in a message that included images of the offending statements.

They called the teachers “a disgrace”. 

The event is being investigated, and the teachers were suspended after the matter came to light. The Israeli teachers have also issued an apology.

“Good morning to all the ‘educators’ of this school,” the girl wrote while sharing the images she clicked.

“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 realising 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 school’s headmaster termed the incident a “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.”

Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kisch has also condemned the act by the teachers. “The incident will be dealt with severely with all the tools at our disposal,” he said. “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.”

Israeli Mossad organised the immigration of Ethiopian Jews through camps for refugees in Sudan. As a consequence, initially roughly 7,000 Ethiopian Jews arrived in Israel. Later, Israeli security services rescued more Jews and brought them in Israel under various operations.  

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