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Media Coverage 2005

The Jerusalem Report, interview with educator Ayelet Ish-Shalom, 10/2005
The Jerusalem Report: Do you agree with Mayor Bokovza's [mayor of Or Yehuda, who refused enrollment of Ehtiopian students into his schools] criticism of government-designed "ghettos"?
Ayelet Ish-Shalom: What he said is true. All along, Israel has thrown its weakest populations and its immigrants into the same neighborhoods together. It's wrong. It perpetuates the gap between them and the rest of the country and ensures that they will stay weak forever. It's easy to lump all the poor people together, and that was, and is, Israeli policy - put them in apartment blocks and forget about them. The country's slums were created in a very thorough and well-planned way. This means that the schools in these areas are weak as well, and the kids can't get a good education.
Still, I'm not sure that this was the only reason behind what Bokovza said. He's right, but I'm not sure it came from the right place. I'm sure skin color had a lot to do with it as well. A lot of schools don't want Ethiopians. The ones that do usually want them because they are recognized as a weak population and get extra Education Ministry funding.

Ha'aretz: Jewish Cemeteries desecrated in Ethiopia 24/10/2005
Warteo Shai Sisa returned about a year ago for a visit to Belobokha, the village where his family is buried, and was informed by locals that the Jewish cemetery had been vandalized once again. It had recently been restored at a cost of some NIS 200,000, but now some bones of the deceased were scattered and the land was being used for agricultural purposes…
When he got to the graveyard, Sisa had trouble identifying his grandmother's grave, because the tree that had sheltered the grave had been burned and the tombstone shattered. Broken bones were scattered in every direction.
"The local residents believe that Jews' bones can heal medical ailments and bring good luck, so they even trade them," he said.

The Jerusalem Post: Up Front: Letters: A better beginning 21/10/2005
Sir,-
Thanks to the Jerusalem Post and to Larry Derfner for his in-depth coverage of the horrific plight of our Ethiopian manpower workers ("The black market," October 14). Having worked in Jerusalem's Har Hotzvim for the last five years I'm constantly impressed by the dedication and perseverance of the many Ethiopians in the janitor staff. Watching their gentle demeanor as they interact with each other and with us is always uplifting, especially in a high-pressure, hi-tech environment. I had tried to believe that the frequent staff turnover was a sign of their having moved on from these entry-level jobs to better opportunities. To hear then that they might not even be paid their already pathetically low wages, in the midst of "hi-tech heaven," with all its attributes, was infuriating. I have already contacted the Tebeka office to arrange a meeting with Yitzchak Dessie as soon as possible to explore ways to help.
I believe that one way to break this unfortunate cycle is to set up a model, reality-changing company: an Ethiopian, employee-owned manpower enterprise - a co-op - where the staff are all vested in the company's success and costs can be competitive by reducing margins and working on profit-sharing incentives. I have the business background and experiences to help them, and will be looking for funding and other help.
Today is the day I start writing the next installment of Mr. Derfner's story. Please join me and help make sure that "the good guys don't finish last." Let's give this story a happy ending - or rather, these workers a better beginning.
Raya Wasser
aliyahnow@yahoo.com
Jerusalem

Haaretz: Ethiopian keses demand equal wages 12/10/2005
Seventeen Ethiopian keses and rabbis wrote this week to the Prime Minister's Office, which has been in charge of religious services since the Religious Affairs Ministry was disbanded, demanding that their wages be made equal to the wages of rabbis who are not of Ethiopian origin.
The request was based on a government decision from 1992 that states the keses and Ethiopian rabbis are to be accepted as equal members in the religious councils, and receive the same wage as a neighborhood and regional rabbi, including social benefits, vehicle maintenance expenses and a pension plan.
"We are not seeking charity, but what is our due by law," said Reuben Yaaiso, 38, the regional rabbi of Gedera and Bet Shemesh, who earns NIS 3,600 per month. "The government ministries are not treating us as required by law. We are at the point where we have no money for a hot meal on the Sabbath and holidays."

Haaretz: Off the streets and into society 7/10/2005
When Eli Malesa and Dego Gudo met yesterday at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, they embraced for a long time. The friendship between the two men, aged 22 and 23, began when they were homeless on the Tel Aviv streets, committing petty crimes and theft, spending tortured nights sleeping wherever they could lay their heads, and drifting through long days of despair when "everything looked black and hopeless."…
The two young men and 90 other immigrants from Ethiopia are taking part in the Talam program which is being implemented in several kibbutzim (Talam is an acronym for Employment, Studies, and Housing). The program was established seven years ago by the Kibbutz movement and the Absorption ministry, to help youngsters who were born in Ethiopia integrate into Israeli society and become financially independent.

Haaretz: Ethiopian law students to 'open the eyes' of Jews and Blacks in the U.S. 1/10/04
Ethiopian-Israeli law students are to meet with their African-America counterparts in a new program designed to foster leadership in the Ethiopian community here and improve Israel's image abroad.

Hamodia: Falash Mura on Hunger Strike to Demand Entry 28/9/2005
Hundreds of Falash Mura in Ehtiopia have gone on a hunger strike to protest against a delay in their relocation to Israel.
Many of the Falash Mura, or Beta-Israel as they prefer to be called, were forcibly converted to Christianity, but they say they can trace their roots back to the Ethiopian Jewish Community.
The Falash Mura are protesting against their "long wait" to immigrate to Israel. Israeli officials say they will all be allowed to travel by the end of 2007.


The Jerusalem Report: The Ethiopian Revolution 24/9/01
The stereotype is of a community beset by unemployment, its youngsters failing at school, its elders helpless. But while many Ethiopians do fit that image, a new generation of activists is quietly inspiring a turnaround - evident in the dramatic rise of those graduating high school and enrolling in university. Now, in partnership with American Jews and the Israeli government, these young leaders are about to take on a still-greater challenge…
The leading force in the self-empowerment movement is the Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews (IAEJ), the community's advocacy and lobbying organization. It was the IAEJ that led the successful effort in the 1990s, to end the Ministry of Education's scandalous policy of routinely sending Ethiopian students to vocational rather than academic schools, and to boarding schools that were almost entirely Ethiopian.


Haaretz: Affirmative action and investment 22/9/2005
This week the Justice Ministry announced a new affirmative action policy for Ethiopian law clerks in the ministry. This welcome initiative relies on changes in the law that were implemented in the last few years to allow affirmative action for women, Arabs, Ethiopian and people will disabilities in regard to hiring and appointments in the private sector…
There are 105,000 members of the Ethiopian community in Israel. Of those, some 3,000 have academic degrees, and an additional 3,000 are university students.

Haaretz: Law firms aren't opening doors to Ethiopian attorneys 21/9/2005
…Law students and recent graduates attending the conference described their difficulty in finding internships at legal firms. Some blamed a stigma, while others said the problem stemmed from the fact that Ethiopians don't have connections in the legal profession.

The Jerusalem Post: PM, Abdullah discuss Gaza border, In meeting with US Jews, Sharon launches Operation Promise, 18/9/2005
…Sharon also met leaders of UJC/the Federations of North America in New York to endorse and officially launch the $160 million Operation Promise, which aims to help Ethiopian Jews and Jews in the former Soviet Union.
Sharon vowed support for Operation Promise as he gathered with nearly 100 lay leaders and professionals from across North America who are contributing to the initiative, which will feed poor, elderly Jews in the FSU, strengthen Jewish identity among young FSU Jews, bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel and help mainstream the entire Ethiopian-Israeli community.

Haaretz: Ethiopian community addresses youth suicide 14/9/2005
Ethiopian leaders gathered yesterday to address suicide among children and youths, an increasingly common problem plaguing the community. The conference, held at Beit Hahistadrut in Tel Aviv, is the second of its kind in the last three months.

The Jerusalem Post: Knesset panel slams Ethiopian school policy 8/9/2005
Pushing for a new policy regarding the absorption of Ethiopian pupils into schools, the Knesset Committee on Immigration and Absorption announced on Wednesday that the current situation was not acceptable.
"Currently, schools have a policy announcing the maximum number of Ethiopian pupils they will enroll; we want to start a minimum policy," said a spokeswomen for MK Colette Avital, who sits on the committee.
Avital pushed for strong school districts to adapt a policy where they enroll a certain percentage of Ethiopian students each year, making them a constant demographic in the school body. She specifically mentioned high-income areas, such as Herzliya, Kfar Saba and Ra'anana for instituting this "minimum" policy.

The Jerusalem Report: Defying Type 9/04
While many Ethiopian men in Israel have struggled to find a balance between traditional community values and modern demands, increasing numbers of young women are translating their mothers' strength and determination into academic and professional excellence. Along the way, they are becoming something Ethiopian Israelis desperately need: role models…
"The younger generation of Ethiopians has come a long way, men and women," says Menberu Shimon, 31, a slim, thoughtful man with a goatee who is the strategic director of the Israel Association of Ethiopian Jews, a Jerusalem-based umbrella group. One measure is college students. In 1996, according to IAEJ statistics, a total of 724 Ethiopians were registered at institutions of higher education, 46 percent of them women; by the past academic year that number had tripled to 2,311, with women accounting for 49 percent. (Fifty-six percent of all university students are women.) There are Ethiopian women studying at all of Israel's universities.


The Jerusalem Post: Jewish film tops Copenhagen festival 30/8/05
Live and Become, the story of an Ethiopian child who is sent to Israel passing as a Jew to save him from famine, won the best film award at the Copenhagen International Film Festival on Saturday…
Live and Become is based on an Israeli Operation Moses, under which thousands of Jewish children were evacuated to Israel from Ethiopia during that country's 1984 famine.

Hamodia: Aliyah Down in First Half of 2005 17/8/05
Aliyah decreased in the first half of 2005, the Central Bureau of Statistic reported. Between January and June, 8,120 people made aliyah, a decrease of five percent from the same period in 2004…
However, aliyah from France increased in first half of the year…More Ethiopian olim, too, arrived in the first half than in the same period in 2004 (1,781 and 1, 682 respectively).

The Jerusalem Post: Resident of Neve Sha'anan oppose immigrant housing 5/8/05
Several dozen residents of Neve Sha'anan have sent a letter to Mayor Yona Yahav asking that the city not use the building it has rented at 64 Hanita Street to house new immigrants from Ethiopia. The residents fear that a high concentration of new immigrants in one area would reduce property values. Even before Yahav could respond, the new immigrants moved into the building. Chairman of the neighborhood committee, Shlomo Wahl, denied that the letter was motivated by racism but could not explain why the residents were opposed.

Ha'aretz: NIS 3.3b needed to absorb Falashmura immigrants 1/8/05
Some NIS 3.3b is needed to absorb about 13,000 Falashmura immigrants from Ethiopia, according to an Absorption Ministry plan presented yesterday to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The ministerial committee on the Falashmura convened yesterday to discuss implementing the government's decision in February to increase the rate of their immigration to Israel from 300 to 600 a month.

The Jerusalem Post: 1st Ethiopian deputy mayor struggles to take office 22/6/05
In what should have been recognized as both an individual and communal triumph, Baleynesh Ayeh in April became the first Ethiopian to be voted deputy mayor of a municipality.
However, Ayeh still hasn't taken over her position due to a drawn out altercation with the mayor of the city, Moti Malka, who claims that Ayeh's election is invalid.
Prior to the election in April, Malka and the municipal council had agreed to select Salomon Yayo, then head of the town's Ethiopian representative party, Hatikvah, as deputy mayor.
But in a last-minute maneuver, Ayeh was chosen by the town's council to become one of two deputy mayors after breaking with Yayo, the only other Hatikvah member, and gaining support from seven other opposition members of the council.
Since then, Malka has not allowed Ayeh to assumer her duties.


Haaretz: Gedera man kills wife, commits suicide; 'Mommy's dead,' child tells neighbor 19/6/05
A 37-year-old Gedera woman was stabbed to death during the night between Thursday and Friday, apparently by her husband, who then hung himself. Police say the couple's two children, aged 4 and 3, may have witnessed the murder.

Yated Ne'eman: Fundraising Initiative 17/6/05
The United Jewish Communities' voted for a campaign to raise funds for Ethiopian aliya and for elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union. The $160 million campaign will take place over several years and is a separate and additional campaign from the federation system's annual campaign.

Hamodia: Katsva: 'Affirmative Action' Needed to Jump-Start Ethiopian Community Success 8/6/05
Israel's Ethiopian community should be helped to get ahead with American-style "affirmative action," Presuident Moshe Katsav said at a memorial ceremony for thousands of Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia who died on their way to Israel during Operation Moses in the 1980s.
"I expect the government to use affirmative action and provide full support for the integration of Ethiopian Jews in Israeli society. I wish to tell (Jewish Ethiopians), the government should stand at your side to help you. You deserve and affirmative-action policy," Katsav said.
The president added that affirmative action, in which certain standards and requirements are suspended in recognition of the disadvantages faced by the community could help "jump start" successes for the younger generation of immigrants, despite their lower education levels and the disadvantaged neighborhoods most community members live in.
"The first generation your Israeli-born [children] can and must succeed," Katsav said.

Haaretz: Breaking the glass ceiling 5/6/05
The Israel Bar Association recently called on its members to hire law student of Ethiopian origin. This is the first initiative by a private body to assist Israelis of Ethiopian origin to enter a progfession considered prestigious and desirable.
In political circles and the media, Ethiopian-Israelis are often referred to as a "ticking social bomb." Some 105,000 people of Ethiopian origin now live here, incluiding 30,000 young people born in Israel. Born into a competitive and often cruel society, they start out with terrible disadvantages…
The glass ceiling will only be broken if employers take the initiative. The private sector has room for more initiatives like that of the Bar Association.
There should be affirmative action programs in the public sector; a cabinet decision in this spirit was taken as far back as the late '90s, but it has not been properly implemented.
Affirmative action can help the Ethiopian community overcome the disadvantages it starts out with and make it possible for its members to reach key positions in Israeli society. Affirmative action will help defuse the social time bomb.


The Jerusalem Post: Ethiopian community stunned by teen murder 30/5/05

Considered "intelligent," "funny" and most of all "quiet" by members of his Rehovot community, the 16-year-old Ethiopian boy, who was remanded Sunday for the murder of Ma'ayan Sapir, 15, has set in motion a flurry of debate about the nature of violence within the Ethiopian community…
"This won't just be talked about as one teenager killing another," said Batia Eyob, director of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jewry (IAEJ). "We are talking about an Ethiopian teenager who killed a non-Ethiopian."
Although Eyob said she felt awful that such a tragedy occurred, she noted that it was unfortunate that it was "somebody outside the community who has to become a victim for the issue to get attention."

Yated Ne'eman: Affirmative Action Bills 27/5/05
Three separate affirmative action bills that would help boost the employment of Ethiopians, women and new immigrants in the civil service were approved in the first reading by the Knesset.

The Jerusalem Post: Alleged racism in Arad 13/5/05
Five Ethiopian immigrant families are demanding NIS 400,000 from the municipality of Arad and the Ministry of Education, claiming that their children were removed form municipal kindergartens because of their Ethiopian origin. According to reports on the Ynet Web site, three of the children have not attended pre-school for more than five months because of complaints that there were "too many Ethiopians in the kindergartens."

The Jerusalem Post: Exclusive: Ethiopian gov't kicks out key US Jewish aid group 13/5/05
In a move likely to further complicate the Ethiopian aliya effort, Ethiopia's government has decided to bar the key US Jewish aid group serving the Falash Mura population there from operating in the country, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
An official at Ethiopia's Justice Ministry confirmed that the government has decided to deny NGO status to the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ), which operates aid compounds in the cities of Addis Ababa and Gondar that provide schooling, some employment and food for about 15,000 Ethiopians awaiting aliya there.

The Jerusalem Post: Operation Moses victims honored 4/5/05
Two hundred members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community gathered Tuesday morning at Mount Herzl to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 4,000 people who died of starvation and disease in their trek across the deserts of Sudan en route to Israel.
The memorial ceremony, which only gained official state recognition last year, was held for the first time in its permanent home at Mount Herzl. The ceremony concluded with the placing of the cornerstone of the monument, which is scheduled for completion by Jerusalem Day 2006.

Haaretz: Ethiopians say they can't get into TAU, Hebrew U 25/4/05
The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University are closing their doors to Ethiopian students, especially those wishing to study in prestigious programs, Ethiopian activists and university graduates say.
These two universities consider the psychometric exam as the decisive factor in accepting students, thus significantly reducing the number of Ethiopian students compared to other universities.

Ynet: Police brutality in Israel? 14/4/05
An Israeli-Ethiopian said on Wednesday that policemen beat him up and degraded him by calling him racist names after searching his car for drugs. Nir Deseta, 23, said the officers called him "a Black who not long ago was still chasing sheep in the jungle."

The Jerusalem Post: Poraz: Extend Law of Return to great-grandchildren of Jews 15/3/05
Shinui MK Avraham Poraz has initiated legislation to equalize benefits the government has decided to give to Ethiopian immigrants from the Falash Mura community by giving the Law of Return status to great-grandchildren of Jews.
Poraz said the decision of the government made on Ethiopian immigrants in which it gave "wide interpretation" to the Law of Return, had created "discrimination" against potential immigrants from other countries, especially from the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Haaretz: Group of Ethiopian immigrants cram 12 years of schooling into just 6 4/3/05
A group of 25 Ethiopian immigrants celebrated the completion of their high school matriculation with representatives of the Houston Jewish Federation this week, after finishing the equivalent of 12 years of school in half that time. The group, which immigrated here in 1999 and has since received financial backing from the Texas community, has been studying at the Leo Baeck high school in Haifa. They arrived without reading or writing skills, but after two years in an intensive ulpan and another three devoted to rigorous coursework, they were able to finish the course with complete matriculation. Some 300 members of the Texas community arrived here for the close of the program, which was also sponsored by the Jewish Agency.

The Jerusalem Post: High Court asked to bar Ashdod principal for discriminating against Ethiopian pupils 3/3/05
The High Court of Justice ordered the state on Wednesday to prepare an affidavit detailing the behavior of an Ashdod principal accused of abusing and discriminating against Ethiopian students, according to lawyers involved in the case.
The Tebeka Center for Legal Aid and Advocacy for Ethiopian Jews is demanding that the principal be barred from teaching and running schools after he was twice suspended for mistreating pupils, for which he is currently under investigation by the police. While the criminal investigation continues, he has been allowed to resume his duties as principal of the Moriah Elementary School.
The incidents include his allegedly hitting a student, forcibly removing a child from a school bus, and throwing a youngster out of school for the day, leaving his without adult, according to Tebeka attorneys.

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