Ethiopian Jews march against racism in Israel
For a clash with a rally against North African ‘infiltrators’ (illegal immigrants) see Tel Aviv rally spews hatred of black immigrants and the left
Jerusalem: Thousands protest against racism
Some 5,000 rally in Independence Park after march to protest discrimination against members of Ethiopian community
Yoav Malka, Ynet news
Some 5,000 protesters marched from the Knesset compound to Jerusalem’s Independence Park, where a rally was held to protest racism against Ethiopians. They carried Israeli flags and signs reading “Today it’s me, tomorrow it’s you” and “Stop racism.”
Avihu Ayelo, one of the leaders of the community declared that “a new page has been turned with this protest.” He added, “The young, the men, the women – we are one, one people. We demand our rights. It is unacceptable we will not be allowed to raise our children as all other Jews.”
Rami Yaakov, a law student, slammed the various Israeli governments claiming that they “hurt us and trampled over us and our parents.”
The leader of the march was 26-year-old student Mulet Hararo, who started his own personal march from Kiryat Malakhi to Jerusalem on Monday.
“I am a third generation of marchers,” he told the crowd at the Independence Park. “My grandmother, may she rest in peace, started marching following her hope and the 3,000-year dream of all members of our community,” he said sending the crowd into a frenzy. “They marched for weeks in impassable roads, men, women and children.”
He added, “I am a proud Israeli of Ethiopian decent. I marched with the Israeli flag because Israel is the home of all Jews. Israel is also our home. I have no other land. I have marched for this holy land to prove to myself it is mine, to prove to her that I love her. And it has proved me it loves me back.”
Prior to the march he said, “It was very heart warming to see people support me on my way to Jerusalem. It gave me the strength to go on. My goal is to expose the Israeli society and the Israeli establishment to the phenomenon of racism.”
Earlier, some Knesset members such as Labor chairman Shelly Yachimovitch and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni came to support the protesters. This was met by claims from some of the protesters that the MKs were trying to ride the media wave.
The protest was also attended by leaders of the [June 2011] social protest Daphni Leef and Oren Pasternak.
Prior to the March, Livni told Ynet that “the Ethiopian immigrants made aliyah for Zionist purposes and lost many on the way to Israel. Now, instead of accepting them we encounter severe racism in the Israeli society and a failure on the government’s part in dealing with the matter.”
Yachimovitch claimed that the protest was a reaction to escalation in racism against members of the Ethiopian community. “These young people are taking matters into their own hands. This will bring a change in Israeli society,” she said.
Minister: Ethiopians should ‘say thank you’ for what they got
Ethiopian social activist draws Immigrant Absorption minister’s ire after telling Knesset Committee they are ‘hypocrites’ who are ‘creating a 21st Century version of Apartheid in Israel’
Omri Efraim, Ynet news
In a case of new immigrants versus the more established immigrants, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver caused an already heated Knesset Committee meeting to get out of control.
Speaking at a Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee meeting on discrimination against the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Malachi, Landver told an Ethiopian social activist: “Say thank you for what you got.”
Her statements came in response to those made by the social activist, Gadi Yiberkan, who called the MKs hypocrites and said: “You have created a 21st Century version of Apartheid in Israel.”
Landver then replied: “While you hand out marks you need to understand that the State of Israel invests a lot in this matter,” and stressed “Say thank you for what you got.” MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) then joined the argument, screaming at Yiberkan: “When they were speaking against haredim no one said a word, I wish I was Ethiopian.”
The Ethiopian community is angered by what they believe is the racist behavior of Kiryat Malachi’s established residents who are unwilling to rent out or sell them apartments. Some of the residents have even signed contracts under which they have made a commitment not to sell or rent out apartments to members of the Ethiopian community.
Members of the Ethiopian community and their supporters numbering in the thousands demonstrated against the discrimination in Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday night.
Speaking at the Knesset meeting, Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) said: The Kiryat Malachi case is a warning bell but it isn’t the only case. We want to come out of the committee meeting not just with platitudes and empathy but with decisions on the legislative level.”
Danon announced his intention to promote a legislation package that would aggravate punishment and declare racial discrimination as a criminal offense with a NIS 100,000 ($26,000) fine and up to six months imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau announced that Netanyahu has directed his advisor on Ethiopian affairs Allali Admaso to act to strike out against the phenomenon of racism against Ethiopian immigrants.
Admaso met on Tuesday night with the organizers of the demonstration. According to the bureau, the prime minister stressed that “racist phenomenon are inciting [sic] and have no place in Israeli society.”