Ethiopian-Israelis rally against racism

2012-01-10 21:03

Kyriat Malachi - Roughly 2 000 Israelis of Ethiopian origin staged a rally against racism on Tuesday, seeking to highlight discrimination they face, notably when trying to find housing.

The protesters marched through the streets of Kyriat Malachi following a call by some of the town's residents to stop renting or selling accommodation to Ethiopian Jews.

"We have black skin and pure hearts and they [the racists] have white skins and a black hearts," said the protesters as they brandished signs calling for a "Stop to Racism".

An army reserve officer of Ethiopian origin, Rahamin Adna Yaakov, who served as a protest spokesperson, denounced "those who have forgotten the racist laws of Nazi Germany".

"To all the racists, we say we are proud of the colour of our skin," Yaakov said.

More than 120 000 Jews of Ethiopian origin live in Israel.

For centuries, Jews in Ethiopia were largely cut off from other Jewish communities, and religious authorities in Israel belatedly recognised them as members of the faith.

That recognition led to two waves of immigration to Israel, in 1984 and 1991, but Ethiopian immigrants have struggled to integrate into Israeli society, despite massive government aid.

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