Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Jerusalem: Thousands protest against racism
Some 5,000 protesters marched from the Knesset compound to Jerusalem's Independence Park, where a rally was held to protest racism against Ethiopians. They carried Israeli flags and signs reading "Today it's me, tomorrow it's you" and "Stop racism."
Avihu Ayelo, one of the leaders of the community declared that "a new page has been turned with this protest." He added, "The young, the men, the women – we are one, one people. We demand our rights. It is unacceptable we will not be allowed to raise our children as all other Jews."
Rami Yaakov, a law student, slammed the various Israeli governments claiming that they "hurt us and trampled over us and our parents."
The leader of the march was 26-year-old student Mulet Hararo, who started his own personal march from Kiryat Malakhi to Jerusalem on Monday.
"I am a third generation of marchers," he told the crowd at the Independence Park. "My grandmother, may she rest in peace, started marching following her hope and the 3,000-year dream of all members of our community," he said sending the crowd into a frenzy. "They marched for weeks in impassable roads, men, women and children."
He added, "I am a proud Israeli of Ethiopian decent. I marched with the Israeli flag because Israel is the home of all Jews. Israel is also our home. I have no other land. I have marched for this holy land to prove to myself it is mine, to prove to her that I love her. And it has proved me it loves me back.``
Prior to the march he said, "It was very heart warming to see people support me on my way to Jerusalem. It gave me the strength to go on. My goal is to expose the Israeli society and the Israeli establishment to the phenomenon of racism."
Earlier, some Knesset members such as Labor chairman Shelly Yachimovitch and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni came to support the protesters. This was met by claims from some of the protesters that the MKs were trying to ride the media wave.
The protest was also attended by leaders of the social protest Daphni Leef and Oren Pasternak.
Prior to the March, Livni told Ynet that "the Ethiopian immigrants made aliyah for Zionist purposes and lost many on the way to Israel. Now, instead of accepting them we encounter severe racism in the Israeli society and a failure on the government's part in dealing with the matter."
Yachimovitch claimed that the protest was a reaction to escalation in racism against members of the Ethiopian community. "These young people are taking matters into their own hands. This will bring a change in Israeli society," she said.