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Israel appoints first Ethiopian-born ambassador

Tigrai Online
Feb. 29, 2012

Belaynesh Zevadia Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has appointed Belaynesh Zevadia as Israel's envoy to Ethiopia on Tuesday. She is the first member of Israel's Ethiopian community to be named an ambassador.

Zebadiah, 43, was also the first Ethiopian-born Foreign Ministry cadet. She was previously stationed in Illinois and Texas. She has a Masters in African Studies and International Relations. Lieberman noted that Zebadiah's promotion sent "a message of anti-discrimination."

"Such an appointment holds a special significance, especially at a time when the Israeli society is fighting racism directed at the Ethiopian community."

The new ambassador, who made aliyah when she was 17, told Ynet: "I don't have the words to describe how excited and proud I am to be the first representative (of the Ethiopian community) to become an ambassador.

"I immigrated from Ethiopia as a teen, and I'm coming back as an ambassador. It's a great honor for me and my family, and I want to thank the foreign minister and the ministry staff for their confidence in me. This is proof that Israel gives a chance to everyone, even those who have made aliyah."

The integration of Ethiopian immigrants in the Israeli society has become a hot button issue recently after reports revealed that Kiryat Gat homeowners refused to rent out property to members of the Ethiopian community. Last month thousands of people protested against racism in front of the Knesset.

Last year, Petah Tikva's Ner Etzion elementary school became the focal point of the anti-racism protest, when it was reported that only one of its students is not Ethiopian. The students' families called the establishment "an Ethiopian ghetto," and demanded the municipality to fulfill the promise to allow the community's students to attend the city's other schools in order to allow them to integrate.

Source, Ynet News

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