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With Attention Focused on Soviets, Ethiopian Olim Fear Being Neglected

Ethiopian Jews having a hard time adjusting to life in Israel worry that, with national attention focused on the new influx of emigres from the Soviet Union, their needs will be neglected.

Members of the government coordinating team on immigration and absorption heard such fears expressed by Ethiopian immigrants Sunday during a visit to absorption centers in Kiryat Gat and Ashkelon.

The Ethiopians also complained they are not being allowed to settle where they wish. An example was their experience with Ma’alot.

The Ethiopians wanted to settle in the Galilee development town, but the town council rejected them. The predominantly North African community there said it was unfair to demand that they bear the burden of absorbing Ethiopian Jews with their adjustment difficulties.

They changed their mind after a public uproar, but resentment persists on both sides.

Many immigrants refuse to leave the absorption centers. They say they are not allowed to move where they want and that they will not be forced to live elsewhere.

The authorities are now considering eviction orders against immigrants whose periods at the absorption centers have long expired.

A different sort of complaint was heard at the Ashkelon absorption center from Soviet, European and Latin American olim.

They say they can find neither proper housing nor jobs, despite the fact that most of them are university graduates.

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