Ehud Olmert decried racism experienced by Ethiopian immigrants in Israel.
The Israeli prime minister opened Sunday’s Cabinet meeting with grave remarks in response to a newspaper expose last week about a religious school in Petach Tikvah where girls of Ethiopian descent are segregated from their peers.
Olmert described “a feeling of general hardship on the part of Ethiopian children and the community as a
whole within Israeli society.” He added, “I cannot say that this feeling is divorced from reality or is true only regarding a specific place in the country.
“There are problems, there are hardships, the sense of wrongdoing is not disconnected from real life, and
ultimately we can and must do something to change this,” he said, adding that the government will put together a comprehensive action plan next month.
Petach Tikvah authorities said the school segregation was prompted by differences between the religious
upbringing of the Ethiopian girls and the others. The incident was especially painful for many Ethiopian
immigrants given the reluctance with which many rabbinical authorities recognize them as Jewish.