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  • WATCH: Is the IDF the 'great equalizer' of Israeli society?

    One of the foundational myths of the State of Israel is that regardless of one's ethnic or socio-economic background, recruitment into the army was the way to create social mobility that would place everyone on an equal playing field. Today, minority groups such as Ethiopian, Bedouin and Druze continue trying to integrate into society through military service. But it turns out that exclusion in Israeli society is more powerful than the military ethos, leaving many minorities asking why they should die for a state that excludes them from its culture, economy and educational system. Related: Poverty in the IDF: Thousands…

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  • In Israel's trade catalog, arms and asylum seekers are equal commodities

    With arbitrary arrest and detention, forcible transfer, withholding of basic human rights, the imposition of birth control measures and now an arms-for-asylum-seekers deal which amounts to little more than human trafficking, Israel has become a theater of horrors for Africans. By Natasha Roth Sudanese immigrants pose in front of an enlarged photo of the Saharonim Prison, in which 2,000 African immigrants are being detained, during the International Refugee Day event in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2013. (Photo by: Keren Manor/Activestills.org) A report in yesterday's Yedioth Aharonoth (originally in Hebrew, and translated into English for their website) revealed that the Israeli government…

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  • WATCH: 18 arrested in protest of Ethiopian Jews against racism

    The protest against the racism and discrimination against Ethiopian Jews continues. Yesterday a few dozen people, most of them Ethiopians, gathered for a small protest near the Tel Aviv Museum. No less than 18 were arrested; among them was Ulet Hararo, who marched last month from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to protest racism and discrimination against his community. According to police, protesters were trying to block a street and the arrests were carried out to maintain public order. The Ethiopian protests began last summer, as part of the J14 movement, but it erupted again after it was revealed that homeowners…

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  • An Ethiopian teen's principled refusal to join the IDF

    "Y.E.S. - Young Ethiopian Students" have published a letter from one of their readers, an 18-year-old  about to join the IDF. The story of the Ethiopian community in Israel is one of the most profoundly shameful chapters in the history of the state, which deserves a separate post; but I will only say the Ethiopian community is among the worst discriminated minorities in Israel, competing in underprivileged only with the Bedouins of the Negev (the situation of the community of migrant workers and refugees is quite beyond comparison on any local scale). Nevertheless, the state has no qualms about recruiting…

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  • Refugee "seder" tells modern day Passover stories

    By Nicole Hyman It was in Levinsky Park in South Tel Aviv eating matzah and charoset (traditional Passover food) with a group of non-Jewish men from Eritrea that I finally understood the meaning of Pesach (Passover).  But it had nothing to do with the unleavened bread we were eating, the glasses of wine or even the English-Hebrew Haggadahs on the table. This was a Pesach seder (ritual feast) with people from the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eretria and the Philippines organized by human rights organizations such as Adam LeAdam, Amnesty Israel, ARDC, Beit Tefilah and Kav L’Oved.  It was unlike anything I…

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  • Between the Lines (Oct 10): Loyalty law expected to pass

    The Headlines: Jews and non-Jews > The government is likely to approve today a proposed bill, which will require all new non-Jewish citizens to declare their loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state. Ha’aretz [Heb] and Yedioth focus their criticism today on Ehud Barak, leader of the Labor party, who supports the law despite opposition from all his party’s ministers. The tone of coverage in Ma’ariv and Yisrael Hayom [Heb] is indifferent and supportive, respectively (but not respectfully). > The head of Elad, an organization which promotes the settlement of Jews in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, hit…

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  • Between the Lines (8 Oct): On the loyalty oath and racism

    The Headlines: The Dollar declines, Israeli politics sink even lower > The dollar has sharply declined throughout the world. In Israel, the national bank has been trying to stop this development (which would hurt exports and economic growth) by buying huge amounts of foreign currency. Predictably, it is failing to exclude Israel from the global trend. This is an interesting and important story, but let us put it in perspective: the exchange rate is right now about 5-6% below what it was most of the year, and other currencies (and export markets) are unaffected by this trend. > Defense Minister…

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