Continuing his campaign against racism displayed by Israelis in Kiryat Malachi against Ethiopian immigrants, President Shimon Peres told students whose parents immigrated from Ethiopia in Jerusalem this morning that Israel appreciated them – and that it was Israel that owed them thanks for coming to Israel, not the other way around.
Speaking to a mixed class of Israelis and children of immigrants in the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood of Jerusalem Thursday morning, Peres said that Israel would not tolerate racism in any way. “We are against racism and Hitlerism anywhere, especially here,” Peres said. “All Israelis must feel ashamed at what we have seen in the past several days. We, all of us in the State of Israel, must thank the Ethiopian immigrants, and not the other way around.” Those who discriminate against the community “must be ashamed of their actions and statements,” he said.
Peres' statement was also a response to Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofia Landver, who on Wednesday said that instead of protesting, Ethiopian immigrants should thank Israel for taking them in. “You should be grateful for what you have received from the state,” Landver told a member of a delegation of immigrants who had come to complain about the situation in Kiryat Malachi.
“I realize that nobody is perfect,” and that there were negative behaviors among people in the Ethiopian community, Peres said. “But there is no place for racism. Racism and discrimination are terrible things,” Peres said.
Earlier this week, thousands of Ethiopian immigrants and their children protested outside an apartment complex in the central Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi, after a local homeowner's committee refused to sell several immigrants apartments.