|Jerusalem March Protests Escalating Racism against Ethiopians-Israelis|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
Several thousand Israelis rallied in front of the Knesset yesterday to protest new racist legislation seeking to prevent property from being sold or rented to Ethiopian-Israelis. With support from NIF and SHATIL, the demonstration was organized by Ethiopians United - an ad-hoc Facebook group of young Ethiopian-Israelis.
The “Admission Committees Law,” which was recently passed by the Knesset, entitles community villages, moshavim (collective farms) and kibbutzim to exclude Arabs and Ethiopians on the basis of “social suitability.” This latest demonstration follows last week's protest in the city of Kiryat Malachi where a group of neighborhood tenants signed a document pledging not to sell or rent their homes to Ethiopians.
"A dangerous line was crossed in Kiryat Malachi," explains Shlomo Berihun, Coordinator of Assistance to Ethiopian Immigrants at SHATIL. "But we can’t be surprised when the government and Knesset have set an example of racism. This fight is not against discrimination against Ethiopians; it is against racism in general."
Berihun said that the Kiryat Malachi protests were unique because they were organized spontaneously by a group of young Ethiopian immigrant leaders. SHATIL made contact with the protestors to advise on organization, logistics and media outreach.
The rally in Jerusalem featured considerable participation from NIF grantees including Fidel – Association for Education and Social Integration of Ethiopian Jews, Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, and Tebeka, Center for Legal Aid & Advocacy for Ethiopian Jews in Israel.
Tebeka CEO Itzik Dessie said that they are supporting the young activists in Kiryat Malachi and intensifying their efforts to raise awareness about racism against Israel's Ethiopian community. "We have asked the attorney general to open a criminal investigation against the residents of Kiryat Malachi who signed this racist document and are gathering evidence of violations of Israel's laws against racism and incitement."