Sunday, July 20, 2008

Images of Israel: Ethiopian Israelis

For those of you who have never been to the Middle East it is easy to think that what you see on the news sums up what is like in this part of the world. What you find when you travel the world is that even though people have different believes and customs, we are not that much different. I am going to be providing some videos that show various aspects of life here in Israel. Especially in terms of the diversity that exists here in Israel.

One segment of Israeli society that many westerners vary rarely see is that of the Ethiopian Israeli community. I don't come into much contact with Ethiopian Israelis because there are not many where I live. I have met more of them at my job since Lod, Israel is a city with a larger Ethiopian Israeli population.

Ethiopian Israelis having a sort of block party

Ethiopian Israelis rapping (In Hebrew)

Various Images of Ethiopian Israelis

Now there are some unfortunate aspects of what has been happening in the Ethiopian Israeli community. Some of them have felt like they have no place in Israeli society, so they have been seeking outside influences and many of them have been trying to imitate what they see in American media about African Americans. For the most part what I have seen is them imitating the stereotypes more than anything else.

There are those who try to put all the blame for this on the Israeli government, or on racism from Israeli society. As someone who is not an Ethiopian Israeli, I am a Sephardic Israeli, I can say that the issue is one of economics and localized prejudice. When the Ethiopian Israelis came here in mass immagrations one of the problems was that they had come from an agricultural society in Ethiopia. The Jews of Ethiopia were kept in a lower status by the Ethiopian Christians and it was illegal for Ethiopian Jews to own land. So after they were airlifted to Israel in mass in the 1980's there were a number of problems in trying to integrate them into a society that most of them had no experience living in. Every mass immigration here has had its problems, especially from countries that where 3rd world, but there are many Ethiopian Jews who have made great strides in Israeli society. This is especially true of the Ethiopian Israelis who came here in the 1960's and 1970's, as well as Ethiopian Israelis who have used the military as a spring board.

Sigd - Ethiopian Jewish Celebration (Israel)

There has been an attempt by older Ethiopian Israelis to try and bring back their youth to their own traditions and away from Western influence. This isn't something that is just an issue in the Ethiopian Israeli community, but can also be found in other Israeli communities.

Sigd In Israel (2006)

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