• News

  • News

  • Benjamin Netanyahu Vows To Fight Racism Against Ethiopians Posted on 17 May 2015

    Top Israeli leaders on Sunday vowed to fight racism and discrimination in Israel against Ethiopian Jews during a ceremony commemorating some 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who died while trying to flee their homeland for Israel in 1980s.

    Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin gave speeches at the ceremony.

    The ceremony came amid protests in recent weeks staged by the ethnic Ethiopians across the country against police brutality and racism.

    "I heard complaints about racism, discrimination, deprivation and excessive use of force, and of fear to walk down the street because of your skin color," Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office.

    "I cannot accept this, not in our country. There's no place for racism and discrimination in our society," he added.

    The prime minister declared he would establish a ministerial committee that would examine the issue of racism and discrimination in order to put an end to them.

    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin vowed to tackle the frustration and anger harbored by Ethiopian Jews towards the racism.

    "In recent weeks we've seen and heard the cries of pain of Ethiopian Israelis," Rivlin said, according to a statement from his office. "It was the wound of a community uttering a heartfelt cry of discrimination, racism, insult and neglect."

    He admitted that the "Israeli society erred in its treatment of Ethiopian Jews," including their reception and absorption in the community. "We did not see, we did not do right, we did not pay enough attention," Rivlin added.

    Jewish descendants from Ethiopia migrated to Israel in two major waves in 1984 and in 1991. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the Ethiopian descendants in Israel amounted to 135,500 people out of an overall population of eight million by 2013.

    Many of them live in impoverished areas in Israel and according to the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, they earn 40 percent less than the average Israeli income, with 38.5 percent of them living under the poverty line.

    The Ethiopian community was enraged earlier as a video footage surfaced, showing two policemen in Holon, south of Tel Aviv, assaulting an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent without any apparent provocation.

    The community activists demanded during a recent press conference to improve welfare services, education and housing for the Ethiopian Community, as well as indicting the police officers beating the Ethiopian soldier.

    Protesters are planning to hold another protest on Tel Aviv on Monday, after the previous one saw violent clashes between protesters and police officers, leaving dozens of policemen and protesters lightly wounded.

    « Back to news archive