Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night received the conclusions and recommendations of a team that studied eradicating racism against Israelis of Ethiopian origin. Netanyahu received the report from Justice Ministry Director General Amy Palmor, who headed the inter-ministerial team on eradicating racism against Israelis of Ethiopian origin.
The team was established by the Prime Minister following a decision by the special ministerial committee on advancing the integration into Israeli society of Israelis of Ethiopian origin, which he chairs. The ministerial team is convening Monday to discuss the report and, most likely, approve its recommendations.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said after receiving the report, “I am not prepared to tolerate racism in our state. I am not prepared for people to be tripped up by the color of their skin. This is terrible. We, on the ministerial committee, have heard heart-rending and hair-raising stories and we started to take action against racism even beforehand. But now, in the wake of this report, which is part of our decisions, we will take further steps and I am pleased that there are people, men and women, who are determined to uproot this phenomenon from our lives. This befits neither our country, our citizens nor our people.”
The report is 170 pages long and includes 52 recommendations intended to help correct institutionalized and societal racism. It says: “For years, those of Ethiopian descent have experienced discriminatory treatment from Israeli institutions and citizens, exclusion from the public sphere, discrimination in education and employment, stigmatization and negative stereotypes, and have even been exposed to physical and verbal abuse.
“Claims by those of Ethiopian descent of institutional and police racism, and alternatively, of the forgiveness of the heads of institutions for such displays, have been heard throughout the team’s work. At this point, we have the obligation not to miss the opportunity to heal the rifts. Wide implementation of the recommended steps in this report is intended to provide the conditions required for zero tolerance for expressions of discrimination and racism.”
The report details the scandals related to the mistreatment of the Ethiopian-Israeli community in recent years, including the healthcare system’s practice of destroying blood donated by Ethiopians, injecting Ethiopian women with contraceptives without their consent, segregated maternity wards, segregating students in educational institutions, a lack of recognition of Ethiopians’ Jewish roots by the religious establishment, the use of Tasers against Ethiopian-Israeli Yosef Salamsa who later killed himself, the police assault on the soldier Damas Pakada, and Israel’s failure to retrieve Avra Mengistu, who crossed the border into Gaza.