President meets Ethiopian leaders on Ethiopian Jewish Memorial Day
President meets Ethiopian leaders on Ethiopian Jewish Memorial DayMark Neiman/GPO

President Reuven Rivlin today spoke at the official memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl in memory of the Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Minister of Immigrant Absorption Yoav Galant and a representative of the bereaved families also spoke at the event.

The president began by saying, "with great symbolism, the State of Israel chose to mark the memorial day for the Jews of Ethiopia who perished on their way to Israel on Yom Yerushalayim, the day celebrate Jerusalem. Their journey was not easy and unfortunately, it is not yet over. Not your journey and not the State of Israel’s journey."

"We have been told many times about the difficulties of absorption and mistakes made by Israelis of Ethiopian origin, and unfortunately we heard about racist harassment and harassment against Ethiopian workers last week,” he continued. “We must do more to improve the situation.”

“More and more Ethiopian Israelis are climbing the ranks in the army, advancing in science, medicine, the media, sports, yeshivas and ulpanot, academia and all walks of life, and Israeli society is committed to continuing to correct the failures created in the absorption process, to repair the rifts and to strengthen the faith of the members of the community in the institutions of the state. Thirty-five years since Operation Moses and the twenty-eight years since Operation Solomon, the time has come to stop talking about ‘absorption’ and treating Ethiopian immigrants as a separate group. Ethiopian Israelis are an integral part of the State of Israel, the Jewish people, Israeli society and the story,” he said.

At the end of his speech, the President mentioned the commitment of the State of Israel to the return of Avera Mengistu and sent his best wishes to his family. "May the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters who lost their lives on the way to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel be in our hearts forever," signed the President.