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Government names team to target racism against Ethiopian Israelis

Following last year’s protests, Justice Ministry DG to head interministerial panel that seeks to combat prejudice

Israeli-Ethiopians and activists shout slogans during a protest march in Tel Aviv.
Israeli-Ethiopians and activists shout slogans during a protest march in Tel Aviv.

Justice Ministry Director-General Emmy Palmor will head a new committee that aims to uproot racism and violence against Ethiopian Israelis, the government announced Tuesday.

“The appointment represents a continuation of the Justice Ministry’s efforts to offer equal opportunities, eradicate discrimination and increase representation of different communities in the country,” the ministry said in an announcement Tuesday.

The new team will include leading members of the Ethiopian community, in addition to senior representatives from various ministries, among them the ministries of finance, defense, public security, housing, health, education, economy, immigration and absorption, culture and sports, social affairs, and social equality, as well as the Prime Minister’s Office.

The subject of racism and violence directed at Ethiopians in Israel has received greater attention over the last year, after police violence against an Ethiopian soldier sparked demonstrations throughout the country in May.

Protests culminated in violent clashes between Israeli Ethiopian demonstrators and police forces in a large demonstration in Tel Aviv on May 3.

During the demonstration, 35 police officers and 11 protesters were injured, and 26 protesters were arrested.

An Ethiopian Israeli is detained by police officers during a protest march in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, June 22, 2015.
An Ethiopian Israeli is detained by police officers during a protest march in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, June 22, 2015.

According to the Justice Ministry, the newly formed team will focus on reducing the occurrence of incidents of a racist or discriminatory nature, and helping Ethiopians integrate better into Israeli society.

“The Justice Ministry has been working hard over the last few years to bring about appropriate representation of groups that are under-represented in the civil service, including the Ethiopian community,” said Emmy Palmor in the announcement.

The interministerial team has called on the public to submit any information pertaining to the scope and nature of racist acts against Ethiopians, in order to better understand the issue.

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