JERUSALEM (Aug. 28)
Aliyah authorities have decided to shut down Israel’s largest absorption center, in the aftermath of a fierce brawl Monday night between hundreds of Soviet and Ethiopian immigrants housed there.
The authorities also decided, at a meeting here Wednesday, that they will no longer place Soviet and Ethiopian olim under the same roof.
The trouble erupted in the former Hotel Diplomat in Jerusalem, which has been doing double-duty as an absorption center for Ethiopian immigrants and providing low-rent housing for Soviet newcomers and homeless Israelis.
But even before it is shut down, the Ethiopians will be resettled in mobile homes around the country, provided by the Jewish Agency and the Absorption Ministry in cooperation with the Amidar Housing Co.
They will be invited in the next few days to inspect mobile home sites in Beersheba, Hatzor and Acre and make their choices.
Essentially a rural people used to a simple outdoor life, the Ethiopians have had great difficulty adjusting to urban settings. They prefer mobile homes, which remind them more of the villages they left behind and afford greater family privacy, to the high-rise absorption centers.
Soviet olim who come from a modern society are put on their own shortly after arriving in Israel. Each family is given a stipend for the first year, from which it is expected to pay rent and provide other necessities of life.
The Soviets will continue to occupy rooms at the Diplomat until the center is permanently closed.