Members of the Ethiopian community reacted with cynicism Wednesday to comments made one day earlier by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemning all acts of racism and to his signing of a declaration committing to take further action against discrimination.
The prime minister’s pledge to “encourage integration and absorption of Ethiopians in society and the economy and to fight racism and discrimination,” comes nearly one year after it was revealed that large numbers of Ethiopian students were learning in segregated schools and following several key incidents of extreme discrimination in society.
Ethiopian Knesset Member Shlomo Molla (Kadima) called the declaration, which was ceremoniously signed by Education Minister Gidon Sa’ar, Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) Executive Director Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a public relations ploy.
He said it was up to the government to uphold the law, making sure that qualified and educated Ethiopians were not continually blocked from holding key employment positions and to make sure those responsible for any acts of racism were brought to justice.
“It is not enough to say 'we have done it, we have now signed a document,'" scoffed Molla. “I don’t think that signing a document can solve these deep problems of racism that we face in Israeli society.”