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Ethiopian Israelis demonstrate against discrimination

JTA

January 11, 2012 | 11:03 am

Jews who migrated from Ethiopia, their descendants and other supporters take part in a protest against discrimination of Ethiopian Jews in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi on Jan. 10. Photo by REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Jews who migrated from Ethiopia, their descendants and other supporters take part in a protest against discrimination of Ethiopian Jews in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi on Jan. 10. Photo by REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Hundreds of Israelis of Ethiopian descent and their supporters protested in the southern Israeli community of Kiryat Malachi against housing discrimination.

Tuesday night’s demonstration, with estimates of up to 2,500 participants, came after what the Ethiopian residents of the city say is a pattern of refusal to sell or rent housing to them.

A residential committee of a block in Kiryat Malachi reportedly signed residents to a contract committing that they would not rent or sell to Ethiopian Israelis.

In a meeting Wednesday, just hours after the end of the demonstration, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver told an Ethiopian activist to “Say thank you for what you got.” Landver immigrated from Russia in 1979.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday instructed his adviser on Ethiopian immigrant affairs, Alali Adamsu, who met Tuesday night with the organizers of the demonstration, to act to eradicate racism against Ethiopian immigrants.

“We are full of admiration for Ethiopian immigrants. In the face of obstacles and difficulties, they came here and are integrating into Israeli society, which we are encouraging in every possible way,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued from his office. “Racist phenomena are infuriating and have no place in Israeli society. The ingathering of exiles from Ethiopia and everywhere else in the world is an inseparable part of the character of the State of Israel.”

On Sunday night, at least 18 cars in Kiryat Malachi were spray-painted with graffiti against Israelis of Ethiopian descent and the haredi Orthodox, according to reports.

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