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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 7, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 61

Clinton and Netanyahu Meet Monday

President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the White House later today to discuss ways to move the Middle East peace process forward. Negotiations between came to a halt when Israel broke ground for a new Jewish neighborhood in traditionally-Arab east jerusalem last month. The White House is deliberately vague in describing what Clinton and Netanyahu will propose to get the talks going again.

Demonstrations Mark "Land Day"

Israeli Arabs and Palestinians marked 'Land Day' Sunday, an annual day of protests against land confiscation, with protests ranging from peaceful demonstrations to rioting. The clashes occurred during violent protests in several places. Mobs of protesters threw Molotov cocktails and stones at Israel Defense Force soldiers and those troops responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. One Israeli soldier, several policemen and at least three Israeli civilians were hurt in stone-throwing incidents.

Iran Sends Syria 25 Fighter Planes

Relations between Iran and Syria are getting stronger. The Iranians have transferred to the Syrians 25 advanced fighter planes, and the two are cooperating on oil and energy issues, as well as financial loans.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin called on Israel to make compensatory payments to Russia if it agrees not to close a lucrative arms sale with Iran. Yeltsin made the suggestion that Israel make monetary compensation, despite the fact the deal with Iran was a violation of an international agreement. If it obtained the high- tech parts, Iran would possess the SS-4 missiles, with a range of close to 1,000 miles, enabling it to strike out against Israeli targets as well as US troops in the Persian Gulf. The SS-4 has a much greater range then the Scud-C missiles used by Iran at present.

Ethiopians Accuse IDF of Discrimination

By Hilletework Mathias (VOA-Washington)

Israel Radio has reported that an Ethiopian Jew serving in the Israeli army was hurled out of a military clinic and subjected to racist abuse by a superior officer. The report prompted condemnation from Israeli politicians and leaders of the Ethiopian Jews in Israel. The episode comes as the formerly rural Ethiopians feel increasingly alienated by a modern society that once welcomed them as long-lost brothers and sisters.

Nearly 60,000 Ethiopian Jews -- known as the "Falashim" but who prefer to be called "Beta Israel" -- live in Israel. Almost all of them were brought from a remote area in northern Ethiopia in airlifts during the past two decades. The operations, carried out by the Israeli government, were generally hailed as great humanitarian moves, rescuing Jews from a land torn by civil war and poverty.

But the Ethiopians have been complaining more and more about discrimination against them because of their color. Addisu Massala is the first Ethiopian elected to israel's parliament. He articulates the latest complaint by the Ethiopians. "I cannot say the Israeli society and the Israeli government discriminate against Ethiopian Jews. But there are some native Israelis who call Ethiopian soldiers "blacks, in Hebrew, kushi, African, primitive, this is a Jewish military, what are you doing here? Go to Africa. Because of the social problem and racism, the Ethiopian young soldiers are committing suicide."

Addisu says three Ethiopian soldiers in the Israeli army committed suicide since the beginning of the year. He says while the Ethiopians make up less than half of one percent of the army's recruits, they comprise 10 percent of suicides among soldiers.

Israeli military officials say they regret the suicides, but insist that they are mainly due to family problems or other factors outside the army. They deny that the suicides result from racism in the Israel Defense Forces.

Addisu is calling for the dismissal of the officer who ejected the Ethiopian soldier from an army infirmary last month. He also wants the government to address the issue of racism. "Mr. Netanyahu met with the young Ethiopian soldier, and he apologized. But it is not enough to apologize. What the Israeli government should do and what we demand from the government is to speak about racism and discrimination, and to create a fertile condition, a fertile atmosphere in order to absorb Ethiopian youngsters in the army."

The charges of racism in the army follow complaints by the Ethiopians that they are given inferior housing. They are eligible for government grants of up to $120,000 for home purchases. Although the grants are said to be larger than those available to other immigrants, leaders of the Ethiopian Jews say some must still live in mobile homes far from job centers and schools.

The Ethiopians were cut off for centuries from the rest of the Jewish diaspora. Though they maintained Jewish traditions, their Jewishness was once questioned by some Orthodox Israeli rabbis who insisted that the Ethiopians should undergo ritual baths to be officially sanctioned as Jewish. The Ethiopians regarded this as demeaning and largely refused to do so.

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