Two dozen Ethiopian activists marched from their protest tent at the Prime
Minister’s Residence to the Jerusalem Municipality on Thursday afternoon to
protest the decision to evict them from the tent at the end of the month. The
activists have held vigil outside of the residence for 89 days to protest racism
against Ethiopians, on the same spot where the tent for kidnapped IDF soldier
Gilad Schalit stood for three years.
The eviction was the result of a
compromise between the protesters and the municipality, after the municipality
petitioned the courts to evict them because the tent was an eyesore.
city tried to remove the tent prior to the Jerusalem marathon on March 16, since
the route passed by the protest tent. According to the compromise, reached on
April 24, the original tent was replaced by a white canvas shade and activists
could no longer sleep on the premises. The canvas structure will be removed on
Activists said they would hold additional events in May to bring
awareness to discrimination against Ethiopians, including a major protest on May
“There’s sympathy for our struggle but apathy in society,” said
Yayauo Tegani, one of the central activists. “Discrimination doesn’t hurt them,
so it doesn’t affect them.”
Alemitu Ferede, the 30-yearold from Ashdod
who was the driving force behind the protest tent, said that the tent’s presence
in downtown Jerusalem at a high-traffic intersection was an important tool for
fighting racism. Between 30-40 new people stopped by each day to talk with the
activists and hear personal stories about discrimination in
“People are waking up that weren’t involved,” she
“Lots of people come by here and then they want to take part in our
In addition to passersby, some high school groups also visited
the tent to discuss racism. Tent representatives have also met with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other politicians during the course of their
Tegani is careful not to compare their struggle to
the Schalit family’s protest tent.
But he defended their right to stay in
the same spot as the Schalit’s, with the same goal of bringing public awareness
to their problem of widespread discrimination.
“We are standing up for
what we believe in, and that can’t wait,” he said. “It’s getting worse, and it’s
against the entire community, not just one person. We’re doing this because the
whole time you’re just trying to be equal. You do all the same things [as
Israelis], all the same paths and experiences, but at the end you still feel
like a foreigner.”
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