In a short respite from coalition politics, the Knesset turned its attention to the allegations of racism against the Ethiopian population which, along with large, angry demonstrations, have made headlines in Israel in recent days.
Dozens of Ethiopian-Israeli activists met with MKs in a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the problem, which they said has been festering for many years.
Former MK Pnina Tamano-Shata charged that the Knesset is not doing enough for the Ethiopian-Israeli community. “We must not settle for the fact that there is an Ethiopian MK,” she was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying.
Tamano-Shata said that the recent mass protests were the result of 30 years of discrimination, and that the young generation of Ethiopian-Israelis are tired of “adhering to the polite ways of the Ethiopian community.”
Ziva Mekonen-Degu, executive director of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, said that the time for talk was over. The many discussions about the problems in the community in recent years have produced no real change, she said.
Israeli textbooks don’t tell the story of the Ethiopian Jews, the Absorption Ministry keeps Ethiopian-Israelis in the same neighborhoods, and police brutality is a daily event, Mekonen-Degu said.
“The president was astounded by the facts we put before him,” she said. “The question now is whether we will turn a new page. The solutions aren’t easy. We are talking about equal rights and providing targeted solutions.”