#SayHerName is a hashtag that remembers Black women who were killed by either by police or in police custody.
It is populated with names like Sandra Bland, who, in 2015, was found dead three days after being arrested in a routine traffic stop for supposedly assaulting a police officer, and Korryn Gaines, who, in 2016, was shot and killed by Baltimore County police after a long standoff with them. Last week, Gaines’ family was awarded $37 million in a civil lawsuit against Baltimore County for her death.
According to The Root, 19-year-old, Cpl. Toveet Radcliffe, the first African American woman to die in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), died in a suspicious manner. However, the Israeli government recently decided to permanently close her case. Now her family, friends and community want people to #SayHerName because they do not believe she received justice.
Feb. 21, marks three years since the death of Radcliffe, who was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head at Palmachim Airbase, which is just south of Tel Aviv. While investigators ruled her death an accidental or intentional suicide, her family, friends and community, African Hebrew Israelites, are not satisfied with the investigation and do not believe she killed herself.
Radcliffe, who is said to have been popular, beautiful and outgoing, was born in Israel to African American parents who moved there to practice and live with Hebrew Israelites, an Afrocentric version of Old Testament Judaism. Although born in Israel and growing up in Dimona, where Hebrew Israelites are approximately 10 percent of the population, Radcliffe was neither an Israeli citizen nor a practicing Hebrew Israelite.
Hebrew Israelites are not automatically granted citizenship, which some say is part of the discrimination people of African descent face in Israel. Similar to the discrimination African Americans have had to face over time, Hebrew Israelites say they are often treated as second-class citizens, being denied public education and state health care because of their “unorthodox” practice of Judaism.
Despite her lack of citizenship, Radcliffe joined the IDF in October 2013, as all Israeli young adults must do, to serve the country she called home. A little over a year into service, Radcliffe was found bleeding from her head, just after midnight, by the soldier who was supposed to take over her shift, and declared dead by a military doctor just 30 minutes later.
After almost three years, Judge Major Meir Vigiser ruled it was “highly likely” that no one else was with Radcliffe when she was shot. Vigiser rejected several of the experts presented by Radcliffe’s family that suggested foul play.
“I am absolutely not surprised. I would have been surprised if they had done the right thing,” Shayarah Baht Yisrael, a member of the Hebrew Israelites said, according to The Root.
“I think the whole investigation was flawed from the beginning. And that alone is jail time, as far as I’m concerned. The fact that they tried to sweep it under the rug so quickly, I’m very, very frustrated by that,” said Ketreyah Fouch.
Besides the various discrepancies found in the IDF’s report of her death, at a rudimentary level, the family said they found it hard to believe that at 5 foot 2, Radcliffe could have shot herself in the head with a massive M4 carbine assault rifle.
Since the case is officially closed, the Hebrew Israelite community is now trying to bring more awareness to Radcliffe’s death. Even with threats to their citizenship, Radcliffe’s supporters want the world to #SayHerName.