See H. Pearson, The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America (1994).
At the beginning of March 1971, the Israel Police denied the Black Panthers a permit for a demonstration; the Panthers ignored this decision and proceeded with the demonstration illegally, protesting the distress of the poverty, the gap between poor and rich in Israel, and the ethnic tensions within Jewish Israeli society. The movement successfully built a base of supporters, both in the public and in the media.
On 18 May 1971, "The Night of the Panthers", between 5,000 and 7,000 demonstrators gathered in Zion Square in Jerusalem in a militant protest against the racial discrimination. The demonstrators even demanded to change the name of the square to Kikar Yehadut HaMizrah (Eastern Jewry Square). This demonstration was also held without police permission. The security forces which came to disperse the demonstration encountered an angry mob who threw stones and Molotov cocktails. Both police and demonstrators were injured in the clash; 20 were hospitalized, and 74 demonstrators were arrested by the police.
Prior to the demonstration, representatives of the Panthers had met with Prime Minister Golda Meir on 13 April, who characterized them as "not nice people". She saw the leaders of the movement as lawbreakers and refused to recognize them as a social movement. The violent protest of 18 May brought the government to discuss seriously the Panthers' claims and a public committee was established to find a solution.
According to the conclusions of that committee, discrimination did exist at many levels in society. Following this, the budgets of the offices dealing with social issues were enlarged significantly. However, the Yom Kippur War soon changed the government's list of priorities, and most of these resources were turned, again, towards security needs.
The Panthers eventually moved into electoral politics, but without success, at least in part because of internal disputes and struggles. Some of the movement's leaders integrated into either the main Israeli parties specific, ethnic parties such as Tami or Shas, and through them promoted the Mizrahi Jews' agenda. Charlie Biton became a member of Knesset with Maki and was re-elected four times. Former Black Panther member Reuven Abergel has since been active in the struggle for social justice and peace in Israel/Palestine as a member of various groups and movements. He currently serves on the board of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow.
The young Black Panther activists raised public consciousness to the "Oriental question" which subsequently played a role in Israeli political debate in the Seventies and Eighties, contributing to Likud success in that period. Although inequalities remain, many Mizrahi Jews have over the years entered the mainstream of Israeli political, military, cultural and economic life, including Moroccan-born Amir Peretz and David Levy, Iraqi-born Shlomo Hillel, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Yitzhak Mordechai and Iranian-born Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Katzav.
United -- and defiant: the New Black Panthers seek empowerment, but that doesn't include helping the police.
Aug 23, 2006; Byline: Robert Moran Aug. 23--The area around the 3100 block of North Sheridan Street in North Philadelphia is menacing. Seventh...