Likening their battle to fighting the institutionalized racism that was once
present in America, hundreds of members of the Ethiopian community took to the
streets of Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday to protest reports of blatant racist
behavior publicized recently on national television.
“We believe in what
Martin Luther King did,” one of the protesters, 23- year-old student Shira
Esayas told The Jerusalem Post. “We believe that racism has an effect on all of
society and sadly Israel is very far behind America on this
are the most racist.
You signed a (racist)
- It's a lie, it's a
We are welcoming to Ethiopians, do you want to
buy an apartment right now?
You must accept everyone, we are all
Jews.Use your head!
No one here knew about the pledge,
Maybe it was the council, we don't know who
But they (Ethiopians) are amazing people.
The man's face (on the news report) was blurry,he
could have been from anywhere.
[Reporter:] So you are
saying it never happened in this building?
saying it didn't happen, I'm just saying I don't know who did it.
Esayas, who traveled with friends from Haifa to join the protest,
held a hand-written sign with the words “Injustice anywhere is a threat to
Many banners read “No to racism” and “I have a
dream.”RELATED:MK Molla to A-G: Investigate Kiryat Malachi
“This is a battle against social injustice and it is not just for
the Ethiopian community, it is for everyone in Israel,” commented an organizer,
Kiryat Malachi resident Avi Yalou. “There is institutionalized racism
everywhere against the Ethiopians, we see it on every level and in all areas of
society. Sadly, it is nothing new and today we are hoping that the rest of
Israeli society will take up this battle too.”
Tuesday’s protest was
sparked by a news broadcast last week on national television showing how a young
Ethiopian family had attempted to purchase an apartment in a certain block in
the town but accidentally discovered that the tenants had collectively signed an
agreement not to rent or sell their properties to members of the Ethiopian
“We have already moved on from that story, it happens
everywhere in Israel, in every town and city,” lamented Yalou. “There is a whole
phenomenon [of institutionalized racism] and although it might have started
here, there is nothing to stop it happening in Ashkelon, Beit Shemesh, Haifa or
Yaakov Tala, who has lived in Kiryat Malachi four years, said
that such discrimination against Ethiopians has existed locally for a while, but
most members of the community refuse to talk or complain about
“Ethiopians are very quiet people,” Tala explained.
that, the protest included a vocal march through the streets of Kiryat Malachi
from a community center for Ethiopian immigrants to the residential blocks that
are accused of signing the discriminatory document. The demonstration
ended in a rally in front of the local municipality.
Oshrat Masala, a local Ethiopian resident who joined the protest at the
apartment buildings that would not rent or sell to Ethiopians, arrived with her
face painted a ghostly white.
“Maybe now I will be able to buy an
apartment here,” she said, describing how this kind of racism has existed for a
long time. “Finally the time has come for everyone to speak out against
“Maybe our parents’ generation was quiet about this kind of racism
but we are the second generation [of immigrants] and we are speaking out about
what is going on,” continued Israeliborn Masala.
Elias Inbram, an
activist who utilized Facebook to help raise awareness of the protest, said:
“Enough is enough.”
“The authorities are always telling us to be patient,
that [immigrant absorption] is a process, but we are seeing that even in the
next generation things are the same,” he said. “We have been living in
this country for more than 30 years, we have university degrees, we have served
in the army, how much longer do we have to wait?”
Residents of the apartment
building that signed the discriminatory agreement told The Jerusalem Post
the media had grossly exaggerated the issue and no such document
One resident, who refused to give her name, said that she had no
problem selling her apartment to members of the Ethiopian
“Money is money,” she said, adding that her daughter had many
Ethiopian friends in school.
In light of the protest, Immigrant
Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said that her office was shocked and deeply
saddened by events in Kiryat Malachi.
“It is very sad to hear that in
2012 there is still this kind of racism in Israeli society against new
immigrants,” she said. “It is important to note that not so long ago all of us
were new immigrants to Israel and I am ashamed to discover that this kind of
intolerance exists among Israel’s population.”
MK Danny Danon, chairman
of the Knesset Committee for Aliya, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, announced
Tuesday that his committee would hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss