Hundreds Expected to Demonstrate Against Racism in Kiryat Malakhi

Hate graffiti against Israelis of Ethiopian origin sprayed on several vehicles and walls in Kiryat Malakhi Sunday.

Hundreds of people are expected to demonstrate in Kiryat Malakhi Tuesday against a recent spate of racist incidents aimed at Israelis of Ethiopian origin in the southern town.

Hate graffiti against Israelis of Ethiopian origin was sprayed on several vehicles and walls in Kiryat Malakhi on Sunday. The vandalism follows last week's report that more than 100 families had signed a confidential agreement with their residential committee not to rent or sell property to Ethiopian Jews on their block.

Ethiopian price tag - Shmil Ayoubi - 10012012
Shmil Ayoubi

Some graffiti said "Ethiopian price tag," using the term ("price tag" ) rightist extremists use for their attacks and vandalism against Palestinians and peace activists.

"People are coming to cry out, to say enough," said Uri Brihon, one of the demonstration organizers and founder of the organization United Ethiopians. "We may come from another country but we're part of this merging of exiles. We have served in combat military units, we have given all of ourselves. This is extremely painful."

Some 800 people from all over the country have joined a Facebook group calling to join Tuesday's protest in the Kiryat Malakhi neighborhood whose residents signed the agreement.

"We believe in coexistence," Yossi Menegisto, acting general manager of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, said on Monday. "Nobody has the right to tell anyone where to live and why. As long as someone rents an apartment by law, nobody can prevent him from doing so. We hope the mayor takes legal measures against those who don't want to sell apartments to Israelis of Ethiopian descent, as he promised in the media."

Menegisto blasted politicians and civil rights groups for not condemning the racist manifestations in Kiryat Malakhi.

"I haven't heard a single minister, not even the absorption minister in charge of all the immigrants, or the social affairs minister, say one word on the issue. Nor have any of the democratic social organizations advocating coexistence, which we saw on the streets in the summer, denounced it ... It's a matter concerning all of society. We are part of society, like it or not. Ignoring these manifestations only prepares the ground for the next racist incidents," he said.

Community leaders of Israelis of Ethiopian origin condemned the incidents, which they say are taking place in other cities as well, including Rishon Letzion, Ashkelon and Beit Shemesh.

"We expect the people to join us and support us. The establishment, the government have created this separation ... Our lives in separate communities are a stereotype the media inflicted on us," Brihon said.

On Thursday the protesters plan to demonstrate outside the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem.