Ethiopian wins Likud's second immigrant slot

Aleli Admasu, an unknown father of five from Rishon Lezion, surprised everyone by winning the 30th spot on the Likud list.

Ethiopian protest 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Ethiopian protest 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Aleli Admasu, an unknown father of five from Rishon Lezion, surprised everyone by winning the 30th spot on the Likud Knesset candidates list in Monday's primary, reserved for an immigrant. "I didn't believe the results myself. It was a great surprise for me, too, but I am very happy and glad that this is what Likud members and especially the members of the [Ethiopian] community wanted and chose," he said Tuesday. Admasu defeated candidates endorsed by party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and Jewish Leadership faction leader Moshe Feiglin. "The Ethiopian community in Israel has been loyal to the Likud for many years and this achievement is a big hug from the Ethiopian community," Admasu said. The first slot reserved for immigrants, No. 21, went to Netanyahu's choice, current Kadima MK Ze'ev Elkin, who was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, in 1971 and made aliya at age 19. Admasu said he did not have the financial resources to promote his candidacy. "We did it with the help of my family, my friends and my community. I believe my friends and Israeli society really want to see a representative of the immigrants in general and of the Ethiopian community specifically, in the Knesset," he said. Admasu estimates his age at 47, noting he was born in a village where births were not documented and birthdays were not celebrated. He made aliya when he was around 18 or 19, served in the army, married and started a family, earned a master's degree in public policy from Tel Aviv University and has worked for the past 14 years helping immigrants integrate into the workforce. "I am interested in a social [committee] post in the Knesset. I will work to bridge between the new immigrants and the veteran sectors of Israeli society, to handle aliya in a way that it will be strong and healthy, and of course I will work to bring the rest of the Jews waiting in Ethiopia to make aliya to Israel. "Israel is a state that absorbs Jewish immigrants from all over the world and we should work to carry it out in the best manner and in a way that strengthens both Israel and the immigrants," he said. Admasu does not think society treats olim in general and Ethiopians in particular in a racist way, but he believes that more efforts should be made to close the cultural gaps between the immigrants and society. "The real difficulty emerges from the fact that Ethiopian immigrants come from a different world to a modern society, and this issue should be addressed seriously," he said. Likud members chose a team that was good, diverse and colorful, Admasu said. "I speak for myself only when I say that the list, in my opinion, includes all opinions and colors and I am sure we will do well and win 44 Knesset seats, just like in the days Likud was the strongest and the ruling party," he said.