Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged that he will fight racism against the Ethiopian Israeli community on Sunday at the annual ceremony on Mt. Herzl for those who died while making their way to Israel.
“We will fight with all our strength against those unacceptable phenomena,” he said. “We will uproot this from our lives. We will turn it into something inferior, despicable.”
“We, the Jews, brought the idea of the dignity of man to civilization,” Netanyahu said. “And we will make sure that the dignity of man will be expressed in this — our one and only state.”
The prime minister repeated his promise to establish a special ministerial committee which will formulate a plan to address the communities’ grievances.
Making reference to a meeting held last week with Ethiopians, he said,“I heard complaints about racism, prejudice, discrimination, and the use of excessive force. I heard concerns about walking down the street because of the color of your skin. I cannot accept this, not in our country.”
In an emotional speech, President Reuven Rivlin told the gathering that of the 12,000 Ethiopian Jews who set out for Israel in the early 1980s, some 4,000 died on the way.
Rivlin said Israeli society has made mistakes in its absorption of the Ethiopian immigrants, and has not done enough for them.