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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 7th October 2016 > ROUGH LANDINGS


Thousands of Ethiopian Jews are waiting to emigrate to Israel—but earlier migrants warn of growing discrimination


FLAGGING ENTHUSIASM: Three Ethiopian Jews hold the Israeli flag at a protest against police brutality in Tel Aviv in 2015. Clashes broke out at the demonstration between protestors and police, leaving 40 people injured.


FOR FIVE years, Avishai Baruch served proudly as an officer in the Israeli military. Since leaving active duty in 2003, he has been a willing reservist, ready to be called up whenever necessary. But following comments from Israeli Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich—who said at a conference of the Israeli Bar Association in August that it was “natural” to suspect members of Israel’s 140,000-strong Ethiopian community of criminality—Baruch says he will now refuse to serve if he’s called up. He will be joined by about 340 of his fellow Ethiopian reservists, according to a Hebrew-language petition he shared with Newsweek. “We have just had enough,” says Baruch, an Ethiopian-born filmmaker who lives in the central Israeli city of Ramla. “If the Israeli government wants to ask us to do reserve duty, we refuse to do that. If you give us our rights, we will do the obligation.”

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