Newsletter : 7fax0407.txt
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>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
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
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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