An argument between an Ethiopian-Israeli student and a lecturer at College Peer Tafnit Holon escalated into a racially charged dispute, during which the teacher was heard admonishing, “The Ethiopians are taking over this country. You forget where you came from — go back to Ethiopia.” Footage of the incident, which took place on Monday, was aired Tuesday by Channel 2 News.
The remarks were made at Osnat Terunech, an Ethiopian-Israeli student, during a heated classroom discussion on the Ethiopian community’s protest in Tel Aviv earlier this week, which had turned violent. Terunech had participated in the protest.
As the dispute was waning, the lecturer asked Terunech to leave class. When she refused, the former called campus police.
After Terunech left the classroom, several of her classmates — still recording the event — told the lecturer that there was no room for the degrading language she had used. The lecturer replied by saying, “Those people [Ethiopian-Israelis] have some nerve. A few years ago they wouldn’t have dared to open their mouth. They don’t understand one thing — they’re different from us, and they need to accept that.”
The college strongly denounced the lecturer’s conduct and statements, saying she had been suspended pending a hearing on the matter.
Terunech told Israel Hayom she felt humiliated. “It’s the first time in my life that I’ve experienced something like this,” she said. “Everybody in class was in complete shock and decided to leave the room as well. They supported me 100%.”
The lecturer’s role, Terunech said, “is to teach me, to educate me — and this is what she has to say? She had no change of heart in class, she just continued saying that Ethiopians ‘are pitiful and they should say thank you.’ It was humiliating. I was taught to respect all human beings.”
The lecturer has refused to apologize for her remarks. “What’s the big deal? I started class and she raised the issue [of the Ethiopian community] and she went berserk, cursing me, the government, the police and the school. She was screaming like a crazy person. If you don’t like it here, you shouldn’t stay here — that is all I said,” the lecturer told Channel 2.
Terunech denies she had cursed her teachers, saying she was “shocked by the lies.”