Ethiopian Baby with Israeli flag
Ethiopian Baby with Israeli flagFlash 90

The government approved Sunday a comprehensive plan to improve the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants. The plan includes increasing housing grants to the immigrants and their children, and programs for improving the ability of the immigrants to be absorbed into the labor market.

"I have personally met with their representatives, from the Keisim [religious leaders – ed.] to young people and I am deeply impressed," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet.  "I have met with them several times; the Director-General has met with them dozens of times.  I was impressed by two things: One, is that there is a new generation, young, energetic, active, that takes the initiative, with achievements and aspirations, and especially with the willingness to be integrated into Israeli society.  I was also struck by the distress; there is considerable distress."

"Now I say this despite the fact that our Government has done more than any other to ease this distress and help Ethiopian immigrants integrate into Israeli society.  First of all, we decided to stop the unacceptable practice of schools for Ethiopians only and, in a gradual process, there will not be any more schools in Israel in which most pupils are Ethiopian.  We are bringing this phenomenon to an end."

"I think that in all of these steps," Netanyahu added, "we are delivering several messages to the Israeli public.  One, there is no place for racism in Israel, this is unacceptable, there is no place for racism and there is no place for the tolerance of racism."

"Perhaps most importantly," he said, "the Ethiopian immigrants, some of whom – and some of whose parents – marched through Africa and overcame deadly dangers… to our sorrow, some did not arrive. They all set out in order to reach Zion. They are flesh of our flesh and we are bound to them in mutual responsibility. They are part of us, they are fully equal."