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Daily Israel Report

Israel Appoints First Ever Ethiopian Ambassador

Foreign Ministry announces that Ethiopian-born Beylanesh Zevadia will serve as Israel's ambassador to Ethiopia.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/29/2012, 12:12 AM

Beylanesh Zevadia
Beylanesh Zevadia
Foreign Ministry

The Foreign Ministry’s Nominating Committee announced on Tuesday the appointment of Beylanesh Zevadia as Israel’s new ambassador to Ethiopia.

Zevadia is a member of the Ethiopian community in Israel and is the first Ethiopian Jew to serve as an ambassador of the State of Israel. One of eight children, her father was chief religious leader of the Jewish community in Ethiopia. She immigrated to Israel on her own at the age of 16.

The 43-year-old Zevadia was the first Ethiopian cadet at the Foreign Ministry and previously served in roles in Chicago and Texas. She holds an MA in Anthropology and African Studies and a BA in International Relations, and in light of her success in her previous roles, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to appoint her to the position of the Israeli ambassador in Addis Ababa.

“It is a great pride to be appointed an ambassador and especially to be the first ambassador from the Ethiopian community,” Zevadia said on Tuesday. “I came to Israel as a teenager and now I’m going back to Ethiopia as an ambassador. It's an honor for me and my family and I want to thank Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the Foreign Ministry’s people for their trust. This is proof that Israel provides an opportunity for everyone, both long time citizens as well as new immigrants.”

Foreign Minister Lieberman said about Zevadia’s appointment, “The decision to appoint Beylanesh Zevadia as an ambassador, beyond her being a gifted diplomat, is an important message to Israeli society which is fighting prejudice against Ethiopians these days.”

Lieberman added, “There is an importance to such an appointment, which sends a message about fighting discrimination, and I am proud to be the first foreign minister to appoint an Ethiopian ambassador on behalf of the State of Israel. I'm sure she will represent the State of Israel with dignity and will be a pride to the Ethiopian community. In Israel, people are not tested by their skin color or gender, but by their skills and their ability to contribute to Israeli society. “

Zevadia’s appointment was also welcomed by Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who said, “Israel has advanced a lot in eradicating prejudice, which finds expression in all areas of society. However, there are still many areas in which there is a need to improve the attitude towards immigrants, both old and new. I am confident that we will soon see full equality among all citizens of Israel in these areas as well.”

MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima), also a member of the Ethiopian community, said of Zevadia’s appointment, “I praise Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the appointment of Beylanesh Zevadia as the ambassador in Ethiopia. Beylanesh is worthy of this appointment because of her accomplishments and skills.”

Molla added, “I am sure that she will fulfill the role in the best way possible and I have no doubt that her appointment will serve as a model for young people who aspire to advance and succeed. As has been said [by founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, ed.], if you will it, it is no dream.”