Fighting racism one step at a time

Molat Araro walks from Kiryat Malachi to Jerusalem to protest discrimination against the Ethiopian community.

January 18, 2012 06:28
2 minute read.

MOLAT ARARO 311. (photo credit: Benny Voodoo)


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Ethiopian-born Israeli Molat Araro admits it’s a media stunt.

Since Sunday morning, he has braved the wintry weather walking from Kiryat Malachi towards the country’s capital in order to raise awareness to ongoing racism and blatant discrimination against his community.

MK Molla to A-G: Investigate Kiryat Malachi racism

“It’s the only way,” stated the 26-year-old Wingate student, who on Tuesday began the ascent to Jerusalem and is expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon in time for a mass anti-racism demonstration opposite the Knesset.

“Today, in the age of the media the only way to draw attention to something is by doing it differently,” he said. “I knew that the media would be interested in a story of me walking and I was determined to get that attention.”

Araro’s cross-country march was in direct response to a Channel 2 report two weeks ago that revealed how 120 families from four residential buildings in Kiryat Malachi have allegedly signed a collective agreement not to sell or rent their apartments’ to families of Ethiopian descent. Those interviewed for the story referred to the Ethiopian immigrants, who make up a sizable portion of the city’s residents, as “jukim” or cockroaches.

Over the past few months, several other key incidents of extreme racism against the 110,000 community have also been exposed and thanks to social media tools such as Facebook, the younger generation of Ethiopians – including Araro – has vowed not to remain complacent.

“We are the younger generation and we have to tackle this problem head on,” Araro told The Jerusalem Post, admitting although he has never directly experienced discrimination “it does not matter.”

“I am part of this community and I very am proud of it,” he said. “I know that it is only a matter of time and it will eventually happen to me too unless we speak out against it.”

Araro, who arrived in Israel in 1991 as part of Operation Solomon said “It is time that all of Israeli society speaks out against this phenomenon, it is time for us to move forward. We have no other choice, it is a matter of social justice.”

Araro, who was accompanied on his trek by Meretz MKs Nitzan Horowitz and Ilan Gilon, will, after a visit to the Western Wall plaza, make his way to meet up with the thousands expected to demonstrate outside the Knesset against racism.

Last week, activists from the community spoke at an emergency session of the Knesset’s Aliya, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee about the need for stronger legislation to combat racism in society. They called for better enforcement of existing anti-racism laws and stiffer punishments for those expounding discriminatory statements or acts.

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