At a ceremony Sunday memorializing those who perished en route from Ethiopia to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to eradicate racism in Israeli society.
“This is an alarming phenomenon among us. It’s something that is unacceptable,” he said at the national memorial ceremony held on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl. “We are against this with all our might, and it has no place in Israel. You are the flesh of our flesh, an integral part of our nation, equal among equals.”
The names of more than 1,500 Ethiopian Jews who set out for Israel but died on their trip, most in Sudan, are engraved on a monument at Mount Herzl.
Every year a ceremony is held to commemorate them on the eve of Jerusalem Day, in honor of their lifelong – but unfulfilled dream of reaching Jerusalem.
“Even in the darkest periods in our history, in the darkness of exile, the deepest of despair, there was always one light of hope that illuminated the way: Jerusalem, Zion,” Netanyahu told the assembled crowd.
“Who better than you know it. You saved the flame of Jewish life in Ethiopia, amid suffering and hardship. For many generations you clung to the dream of a return to Jerusalem, and that hope was fulfilled – you finally arrived home. You won, and we all won.”
President Reuven Rivlin also spoke at the ceremony, promising to spread the community’s story of devotion to their dream of aliya.
“I stand alongside the monument which tells your story – the story of the villages and towns from which you
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