Rivlin says Police Chief's controversial remarks on Ethiopian-Israelis were misunderstood

Alsheikh came under fire on Tuesday after suggesting that it was somehow understandable for police to suspect Ethiopian-Israelis more than others.
Photo credit: Hadas Porush, Miriam Alster/Channel 2 News

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday expressed his support for Police Chief Roni Alsheikh, whose remarks on police mistreatment of the Ethiopian-Israeli community two days ago were widely condemned.

Speaking at an Israel Bar Association conference on Tuesday, Alsheikh said it was "natural" for police to suspect Ethiopian-Israelis more than other populations, and that studies around the world showed that immigrants tend to be more involved in crime.

On Thursday, Rivlin addressed the controversy during a meeting with high school students in Kiryat Motzkin, saying that Alsheikh's intentions were merely to point out a negative situation.

"Sometimes we don't understand things as they were truly meant," Rivlin said. "The Police Chief is very sensitive to these sorts of issues. What he meant was that this kind of behavior should be uprooted."

Following the uproar over his remarks, Alsheikh said in closed discussions that he had been "ambushed" by social activists whose ideology, he claimed, was "to crumble the social fabric of our country."

Alsheikh also said his choice of words may have been "clumsy" but insisted that his words were deliberately manipulated, saying police were doing "tremendous efforts" in regard to the Ethiopian-Israeli community.  

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