Hours before Israel completed the final phase of Falash Mura immigration from Gondar, the Ethiopian community had cause to celebrate after Ethiopian-born model Tahunia Rubel, 25, won Israel’s Big Brother Tuesday night.
This season of Big Brother was notable for several conflicts surrounding Rubel, some of which had to do with race and identity and reportedly led to the disqualification of two contestants.
Rubel’s win, coupled with the crowning of Ethiopian Yityish Titi Aynaw, 21, as Miss Israel earlier this year, can be seen as signs of growing acceptance of the community across Israel.
Yet they have also served to highlight the ongoing plight of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, who are on average among the poorest and have often faced discrimination from greater Israeli society since they first came to the country 30 years ago.
The arrival of the final group of Ethiopian immigrants on Wednesday was clouded by protests by Ethiopian-born citizens of Israel calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reconsider allowing more of their landsmen into the country. Some 12,000 members of the Falash Mura community in Ethiopia, centered in and around the city of Gondar in the north of the country, have not been granted permission by the Interior Ministry to immigrate.